Hop Marinated Chicken & Vegetable Skewers
Over the years, we have marinated a lot of chicken. Commercially available marinades, homemade marinades... whether thrown together or planned out.
... this is probably the best chicken marinade that either of us has ever had.
Perfectly balanced flavours, oil vs acid... works great on chicken, veggies, pork, and even fish/seafood. We could live on this one!
The variety of hops you choose will impact the flavour of your marinade... so let’s discuss that whole thing before getting to the recipe, shall we?
“Aromatic” Hops vs “Bittering” Hops
As hops are rated by their bitterness, this rating is used to - for the most part - determine the function of a hop.
Hops high in alpha acids are generally considered to be “bittering” hops, while hops low in alpha acid are used more for their aromas and flavours - and thus, are “aromatic hops”.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to use hops designated as “aromatic” or “dual purpose” when cooking,
Hop Flavour & Aroma Profiles
When choosing the hops you’ll use for your marinade, it’s important to know what to expect from the variety you choose! So, let’s look at some popular aromatic/dual-purpose hop varieties.
First of all, there are hundreds of hop varieties out there. Some may be popular everywhere, others may be more regional.
Some are easier to come by than others.
Some you have to buy as finished hops, as the growing of them is proprietary and protected by licenses.
So, for various reasons, this is not an exhaustive list - more like a starting point. See what’s readily available in your area, get a feel for what you love.
Once you’ve gotten into it, you can get creative with obtaining hops - ordering online, swapping with home growers, etc!
Noble hops are a group of hops with low alpha acids. They’re used for flavouring less intense beers, rather than offering a lot of bitterness.
Because of the lower acid levels - and lower bitterness, as a result! - the Noble hops are great for getting into cooking with hops. They’re not as finicky or daring to use.
The main Noble Hops are:
Hallertauer: A German “noble” hop, 3.5-5.5% acid. Floral, herbal, and spicy notes.
Tettnanger: A German “noble” hop, 3.5-5.5% acid. Herbal and spicy aromas.
Spalt: A German “noble” aromatic hop, similar to Hallertauer, 4-6% acid, Floral and spicy characteristics.
Saaz: An aromatic Czech hop, 4.5% acid. Earthy, floral, and a bit spicy.
“Almost Noble” Hop Varieties
Noble hops aren’t the only hops with low Alpha acids, however. The following are just a few that are considered to be ALMOST “Noble”.
Fuggle: Fuggles are an aromatic hop, with 3.5-5.5% acid. Earthy aromas, Fuggles go really well with chocolate desserts and meat dishes.
Kent Goulding: Aromatic hop with 4-5.5% acid. Floral and earthy with a bit of citrus and spice.
Liberty: An aromatic, “noble” hop, 3-5% acid, notes of spice.
Mt. Hood: Aromatic hop, 4-7% acid. Mild aromas of florals and spice.
Styrian Golding: An “almost noble” aromatic hop, and 4.5-6% acid. Mildly spicy aroma.
Vanguard: Another “Almost noble” aromatic hop at 4-5.5% acid. Mild aroma of spice.
Willamette: Aromatic hop, at 4-6% acid. Known for its smooth blend of earthy, floral, fruit, and spice aromas.
Other Aromatic Hop Varieties
Bramling Cross: A dual purpose hop, at 5-7% acid. Fruity and mild aromas of black currant, lemon, and spice.
Cascade: One of the most popular hops, this is an aroma hop with 4.5-7% acid. Citrus and Floral, with hints of grapefruit and spice.
Centennial: Primarily a bittering hop, but also used as an aromatic, with 9.5-11.5% acid. Very similar to both Cascade and Chinook, citrus aroma.
Chinook: Another dual purpose hop, used for both bittering and aromatics. 12- 14% acid, piney and spicy aromas.
Columbus: A bittering hop, but also used for aroma. 14-18% acid, citrus aromas.
Crystal: Crystal is an aromatic hop, with 3.5-6% acid. It’s floral and spicy, with notes of black pepper and cinnamon.
Galaxy: Dual purpose Australian hop, with 11-16% alpha acid. Very fruity, with citrus, passionfruit, and peach aromas. One of my husband’s favourites, when it comes to beer. One of my favourites, when it comes to dessert making!
Equinox®: Flavour/aroma hop, with 13-16% acid. A newer hop, this one has a complex aroma -floral, herbal, and tropical fruit aromas, with a touch of cedar. A fun one!
Huell Melon: A mellow, aromatic hop with distinct fruity aromas, including melon, peach and .. strawberry? 6.5-7.5% acid.
Mosaic® : Dual purpose hop, but usually aromatic. Fruity, earthy and a bit of pine. 11-13% acid.
Nelson Sauvin: Dual purpose hop, at 12-14% alpha acid. Known for having flavours of fruit and white wine.
Northern Brewer: Dual purpose, 8-12% acid. Earthy and woody, with a bit of pine.
Pacific Jade: Dual purpose hop at 12-14% acid. Citrussy with black pepper notes. A great all around hop to cook with. Use as an extract if worried about bitterness.
Sorachi Ace: Dual purpose hop, 10-16% acid. Unique flavour profile: citrussy and dill!
Sterling: Dual purpose hop, 6-9% acid. Citrus, herbal, and spicy, hint of floral.
As I mentioned in my Homemade Hop Extracts post, you can buy hops in a variety of formats. We tend to use powdered hop pellets for this recipe.
That is, we buy the pellets, crush them, and measure the resulting powder for use in the recipe.
If you can’t find your desired variety in pellet format - or you just want to use up bits of hops you have on hand - you can use other formats for this!
Feel free to substitute 1 tsp of dried hops - or a Tbsp or so of fresh hops - that have been blitzed in a spice grinder.
Fan of hops? You'll LOVE my cookbook, Hedonistic Hops: A Hop Head's Guide to Kitchen Badassery"!
Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops! Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!
More Hops Recipes!
Are you - or do you know - a die-hard hophead? Just interested in learning more about adding a punch of flavour to your culinary repertoire? Either way, I have some more recipes for you!
Homemade Hop Extracts
Homemade Hop Spa Bath Set
HopCorn - Hopped Popcorn!
Hop Flavoured Beer Lollipops - Lollihops!
Hop Flavoured Dark Chocolate Truffles
Hopped Cheesecake with Citrus Glaze
Hoppy Citrus French Macaron Recipe
Hoppy Citrus IPA Glazed Wings
Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce
Hoppy Dill Pickle Relish
Hoppy IPA Pickles Recipe
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Hop Marinated Chicken and Vegetable Skewers
- 3 Chicken breasts
- 8 oz Button mushrooms
- 1-2 Zucchini
- ⅓ cup Olive oil
- ½ cup Cider vinegar
- ¼ cup Light brown sugar packed
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 4 Garlic cloves pressed or finely minced
- ½ tsp Pellet hops powder
- Salt & pepper
- Trim chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes. Wash mushrooms and zucchini, slice zucchini into ½" thick slices.
- Place prepared chicken and vegetables into a non-metallic bowl or dish (with a lid).
- Whisk together all remaining ingredients, aside from salt and pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour over chicken and vegetables, stir well to coat. Chill for 1 hour.
- Thread chicken onto skewers, and vegetables onto separate skewers (they’ll have different cook times).
- Grill until chicken is cooked through, and vegetables are as cooked as you like them.
- Serve hot.