Can You Eat Kebabs When Pregnant? Doner + More

Kebabs are a common craving during pregnancy because they can be anything from salty to fatty, spicy, and anything in between. Because they’re made of different cuts of meat, it’s sometimes hard to tell if they’ll be pregnancy safe or not.

Kebabs are safe to eat during pregnancy provided they have been prepared well and cooked to the minimum internal temperature.

What different types of kebabs are there, and what should you look out for when preparing them at home or ordering at a restaurant? Read on!

Are Kebabs Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

Kebabs are safe to eat during pregnancy as long as they have been prepared well and cooked to achieve the minimum internal temperature.

However, what one person – or country – defines as a “kebab” can be completely different. For the purposes of pregnancy safety, when we say “kebab” – it can mean any of the following types:

CountryKebab
TurkeyDoner
Shish
GreeceGyro
Souvlaki
IranJujeh
ChinaChuan
IndiaShami
IndonesiaSatay
FranceBrochette

(source: Cranehouse, Illinois Extension)

In the U.S., the two most popular varieties are doner and shish kebabs, which are both discussed below. First, a few more notes about safety.

Temperature requirements vary based on the kind of meat used:

  • 145 °F (62.8 °C) for lamb, mutton, and beef
  • 160 °F (71.1 °C) for ground meat
  • 165 °F (73.9 °C) for poultry (ground and whole)
kebabs on skewers at grill

Kebabs can be made with lamb, mutton, goat (these are traditional meats), or beef, turkey, and chicken (these are popular regional meats).

Traditional kebabs are made with lamb, skewered along with vegetables, and grilled over coals (source: Illinois Extension). To learn more about eating lamb during pregnancy, read this article.

One of the most common concerns when it comes to kebabs is whether or not the meat is done enough. This is what you have to ensure, to make it safe to eat kebabs when you’re pregnant. This applies no matter how the meat is cooked.

Kebabs, like other meat products, are susceptible to microbial growth. According to a study, traditional kebab meat is not immune to Listeria monocytogenes, even when cooked to the traditional maximum temperature of 140°F (60°C) (source: NIH). 

Listeriosis is among the most severe types of foodborne illnesses. Pregnant women are 20 times more susceptible to listeriosis than healthy individuals. The worst risk of listeriosis is stillbirth or miscarriage (source: WHO).  

To help prevent listeriosis, all meat should be thoroughly cooked and reach its respective minimum internal temperature, as listed in the following table:

Kebab Meat TypeSafe Minimum Internal Temperature
Steaks, chops, roasts
Lamb, veal, mutton145 °F (62.8 °C), let rest for a minimum of 3 minutes
Beef145 °F (62.8 °C), let rest for a minimum of 3 minutes
Chicken, turkey165 °F (73.9 °C)
Ground 
Ground meat 160 °F (71.1 °C)
Ground poultry165 °F (73.9 °C)

(source: USDA). 

Pregnant women shouldn’t eat rare meat. You can tell that meat is getting close to being cooked if the juices run clear and the meat has shrunk compared to when you first started cooking it.

These methods should only be used to tell if the meat is close to cooking, and are not markers for food safety. The only sure way to know whether or not meat is cooked enough is to use a food thermometer (Source: South Dakota State University Extension). 

If you don’t have a thermometer on hand, another way to check is to look at the surface of the meat. Kebab meat’s surface should be crusty when it is done (source: Journal of Food Protection).

Apart from the above, the risk of foodborne illnesses can be lessened by thorough defrosting, adequate hygiene, and strict sanitation procedures (source: NIH).

Kebabs are often paired with other ingredients such as vegetables, which are cooked with the meat or separately. They may also be added fresh or put into sauces. 

Whether these vegetables are cooked or not, they have to be washed thoroughly under running water to help eliminate possible pathogens.

Some popular side dishes that go well with kebabs are yogurt dips, rice pilaf, coconut rice, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, orzo, corn on cob, fresh green salad, or cucumber tomato salad (source: Insanely Good Recipes)

doner kebab with cherry tomatoes and herbs

Can I Eat Donner Kebab Meat When Pregnant?

Doner kebab is safe as long as it is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature stated above and heated to a safe heating temperature.

Like gyro meat, it is best warmed after cooking at 140 °F (60 °C), and as a leftover at 160 °F (71.1 °C) to 165 °F (73.8 °C) or higher (source: Journal of Food Protection).

When making kebabs at home, make sure to follow safe, sanitary, and hygienic procedures, especially when dealing with meat. 

When ordering at a restaurant, order from a reputable and reliable source. Ask to have your meat well-cooked, and make sure it is sliced as thin as possible. Eat your kebabs within two hours of ordering (source: Coventry City Council).

Shish kebab, unlike doner kebab which is shaved, is threaded on a skewer (source: Mediterranean Diet). This is the kebab that comes to mind for many people.

If you make shish kebabs at home, you can freely add whatever vegetables and meat you prefer – so long as it’s cooked through.

Kebabs are great no matter the season, and you can still safely enjoy them when pregnant if you know what to look for. We hope you found this article helpful!

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

Gina Waggott

Gina is the owner and founder of Pregnancy Food Checker. She holds a Certification on Nutrition and Lifestyle during Pregnancy from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a Diploma in Human Nutrition.

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