Healthy Puerto Rican Foods, Recipes

Puerto Rican “Pinchos” (Shish Kabobs) Plus Secret Sauce

“Pinchos” is what Puerto Ricans call good ol’ shish kabobs. They are considered one of the best street foods on the island. Mainly because they are delicious, and pretty affordable when you are on the go. They are typically made with chicken or pork, but chicken are definitely the most popular. Here I will teach you how to make them as they have the potential to be a sensation during your next bbq. Plus, I will also share the SECRET SAUCE that made my best friends dad a hit during the 90’s when he lost his job and put up a little stand in front of their house. They would sell out every time! That’s how I learned how to make pinchos and the secret sauce… I’d come over to visit my best friend, and was offered to work for a bit in exchange for free food. It was a win win, and I was one a happy teenager with my belly filled with pinchos. 🙂 

What you’ll need: (Makes approx. 24 pinchos) 

  • Approximately, 6 lbs of chicken thighs (boneless & skinless)
  • Adobo for seasoning (check out our no-junk healthy adobo HERE)
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 3 large green peppers
  • Shish kabobs sticks
  • 16 oz or 2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 16 oz or 2 cups of Thousand Island dressing (yup! that’s the secret sauce)


  • Cut the chicken thighs into square pieces. Between 2-3 inches thick. Cut off the fat (white chunks) if needed. Depending on the size, you can get 4 to 6 pieces from each thigh. Add chunks to a large bowl.
  • Season the meat thoroughly with the Adobo seasoning. If Adobo is not available, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
  • Chop the onions and peppers into approximately 1-2 inch squares . (See picture below)
  • Prepare the pinchos/shish kabobs by adding a chunk of meat, one slice of each of the onion and pepper, and repeat the process until the stick is full. To avoid the meat from flopping out, you can fold or twist the meat before adding to the stick. (See picture below)
  • Cook on a charcoal or gas grill on medium/low heat to avoid burning. Slight burning might occur on the outside, especially when cooking with charcoal. That is why low heat is recommended to allow the meat to cook thoroughly.
  • Depending on the thickness of the meat, it will take approximately 45 – 60 mins to cook. The thinner you cut the meat, the faster it cooks.
  • For the sauce, add 2 cups of bbq sauce, and 2 cups of thousand island into a large bowl. Divide into 2 bowls. One is for applying onto the raw chicken, and one to apply right before serving.
  • Add the sauce mixture onto the raw pinchos immediately after placing them on the grill.
  • Close/Cover the grill.
  • Half way through, flip the pinchos, and add another layer of sauce. Continue to add sauce, every time you flip the pinchos.
  • Be careful and do not use the same utensils used to add the sauce onto the raw meat, onto the cooked meat.
  • Add the last layer of sauce right before serving.
  • Serve with a slice of Italian style bread (or how we call it “pan de agua”) on top (not shown in pictures).
  • Enjoy!

Made with lots of love,

Mayra – Your Nutrition Dork Guide 

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