Authentic Chinese Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers – Yang Rou Chuan Recipe

Authentic Chinese Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers - Yang Rou Chuan Recipe

Elevate your grilling game with these irresistible Beijing-style lamb skewers that will transport your taste buds straight to the streets of China’s capital.

There’s something undeniably enticing about succulent meat sizzling on a stick over an open flame. While every culture has its own take on kebabs, Beijing’s spicy cumin lamb skewers, known as yang rou chuan, stand out as a true flavor sensation. Now, you can bring this popular street food right to your own backyard grill!

These skewers are the perfect fusion of portability, bold flavors, and quick cooking time. They’re an ideal choice for your next cookout or casual dinner party.

Choosing the Perfect Lamb Cut

The key to mouthwatering yang rou chuan lies in selecting the right cut of meat. Opt for shoulder chops, which offer an ideal balance of meat and fat. Remember, fat equals juiciness and flavor, so don’t trim it off! The shoulder chop is also budget-friendly, making these skewers a delicious and economical choice.

Crafting the Signature Spice Mix

The heart of yang rou chuan’s distinctive taste lies in its spice rub. While traditionally, cumin and chile flakes are the stars of the show, our recipe adds a few extra ingredients to amp up the flavor profile. We’ve incorporated granulated garlic, fennel seeds, and a splash of Shaoxing wine for an extra dimension of taste.

For the best texture, use a mortar and pestle to grind your spices. This method ensures you maintain some coarseness, preventing the mix from becoming a paste when wet. If using an electric grinder, pulse carefully to maintain some texture.

Preparing and Grilling Your Skewers

Once your lamb is cut and your spices are ready, combine them thoroughly. Reserve a small portion of the spice mix to add just before serving for an extra flavor boost.

Thread the seasoned meat onto skewers, then start grilling. Begin with indirect heat until the lamb is nearly cooked through, about four minutes per side. Then, move the skewers to direct heat for a quick sear, adding that final sprinkle of spices for maximum flavor impact.

These skewers are so packed with flavor that they don’t need any sauce or dip. Serve them hot off the grill, preferably with an ice-cold beer for the ultimate summer dining experience!

Spicy Cumin Lamb Skewers (Yang Rou Chuan) Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon red chile flakes
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, meat cut into 1-inch pieces (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine


  1. Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 2 hours or overnight to prevent burning.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, coarsely grind chile flakes, cumin, and fennel. Mix in granulated garlic and kosher salt.
  3. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. In a large bowl, thoroughly coat lamb with remaining spice mix, oil, and Shaoxing wine. Thread lamb onto skewers, leaving a 3-inch handle at the bottom.
  4. Prepare a two-zone fire in your grill. When coals are covered with gray ash, arrange them on one side of the grill. Set the grate in place and preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grate.
  5. Grill skewers over indirect heat, covered, for about 4 minutes per side until nearly cooked through.
  6. Move skewers to direct heat, sprinkle with reserved spice mix, and sear for about 1 minute total.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy the explosion of flavors!


  • Type of fire: two-zone indirect
  • Grill heat: medium-high

For maximum flavor and juiciness, keep all the fat on the shoulder chops. Don’t forget to pre-soak your bamboo skewers to prevent them from burning on the grill.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
175 Calories
8g Fat
2g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 238mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 370mg 8%
*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.

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