Grilled Italian-Style Lamb Skewers (Arrosticini Abruzzesi) Recipe

A special grilling setup recreates the traditional canalina grill used to cook these Italian lamb skewers.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Alternating pieces of meat with morsels of lamb fat keeps these skewers juicy and tender.
  • A special skewer setup for a charcoal grill recreates the type of rig traditionally used to cook arrosticini, without the need for a specialty grill.

Grilled arrosticini are a staple skewer from the Italian region of Abruzzo, which has a rich shepherding history. Traditionally, meaty and fatty pieces of mutton are threaded onto skewers, seasoned simply with salt, and grilled over charcoal on a long, narrow, channel-like grill called a canalina. Here, we use easier-to-source lamb shoulder in place of mutton, and grill the meat using a regular charcoal kettle grill that has been rigged for optimized skewer-cookery. This is a recipe for the Ron Swansons of the world who don't want frivolous fixings, sauces, or marinades getting in the way of their meat enjoyment.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 2 pounds (900g) boneless lamb shoulder roast, with fat cap

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Using a sharp chef's knife, trim lamb of fat cap, reserving the fat. Cut fat into 3/4-inch-wide, 1/4-inch-thick pieces; set aside. Cut remaining lamb shoulder into 3/4-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-thick pieces; make sure to trim and discard silver skin and tough sinew as you go.

  2. Thread 3 to 4 pieces of lamb onto a skewer, followed by one piece of lamb fat. Continue alternating pieces of meat and lamb fat, ending the skewer with 3 pieces of meat. Make sure meat is bunched tightly together, leaving no parts of the skewer exposed except for a 2-inch handle at the bottom, and the pointy tip at the top.

  3. Set up grill for skewers, making sure to adjust distance between bricks to the length of your skewers. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly in the channel between the bricks.

  4. Brush lamb on all sides with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place skewers directly over the hot coals, balancing them on top of the bricks, with the handles overhanging the bricks closest to you, and the tips balancing on the farther wall of bricks. Cook, turning frequently, until lamb is lightly charred, and a piece of lamb looks cooked through when removed and cut in half, 6 to 9 minutes; if flare-ups occur, move the skewers around as needed to get them away from the flames. Transfer to serving platter, season to taste with salt, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Grill, chimney starter, pastry brush

Make-Ahead and Storage

The grilled skewers are best enjoyed immediately. The lamb can be cut, threaded onto skewers, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours in advance.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
238 Calories
12g Fat
0g Carbs
30g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 238
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 96mg 32%
Sodium 628mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 18mg 1%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 431mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)