How to Make West African Grilled Beef (Suya)

How to Make West African Grilled Beef (Suya)
In this video, Chef John shows you how to make his take on West African grilled beef, otherwise known as Suya. This skewered beef recipe is made by mixing together a rich and spicy marinade using ingredients such as peanut butter, smoked paprika, ground allspice, and cayenne. After marinating the beef slices in the fridge for two hours, grill the slices evenly on both sides. This dish is packed with flavor and if you’re a fan of Mediterranean or Caribbean meals, you’ll love this dish.
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Marinate Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8

This incredibly flavorful, West African-style skewer started out as a geographically appropriate main course to pair with a batch of Jollof rice, but quickly turned into my new favorite marinade for beef. 

How to Make Suya

The detailed suya recipe is below, but here are some chef’s notes: 

  • Peanut butter is key: The key to the whole operation is peanut butter, which isn’t the first ingredient when you think of classic marinades for meat, but it really works wonders here.
  • Perfect caramelization: The first time I tried it, I was a little bit skeptical, since I thought the peanut butter would burn on the hot grill, and if you’ve ever eaten burned nuts, you know it’s not a very pleasant flavor. But, somehow it doesn’t burn, and instead caramelizes and browns beautifully. Yes, I very much loved how this came out visually, but the taste and texture were even more impressive.
  • Crowd-pleasing flavor: I’d describe the flavor as unusual, but at the same time, familiar and comforting. As I touched on in the video, this reminds me of some of my favorite foods, from some of my favorite places, and I will be grilling this again soon. 

I’d also like to try the more authentic method, using ground peanuts instead of peanut butter. But, in the meantime, I absolutely loved this version. I really hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


  • 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter


  • 1/2 small yellow onion, grated


  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fine table salt)


  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika


  • 1 teaspoon allspice


  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger


  • 2 pounds top sirloin steak cut into 1.5-inch cubes


  1. Combine peanut butter, grated onion, tomato paste, olive oil, salt, paprika, allspice, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and powdered ginger in a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.

  2. Add steak pieces to the marinade bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

  3. Preheat an outdoor grill with coal for high heat and lightly oil the grate.

  4. Thread marinated steak pieces onto large metal skewers.

  5. Grill over the hot white coals until desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side.

    West African grilled beef skewers with parsley and green onions


    Cook's Note:

    Garnish beef skewers with red onions, lime wedges, green onions, chopped cilantro, and chopped peanuts if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

349 Calories
22g Fat
4g Carbs
33g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 349
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 104mg 35%
Sodium 568mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 506mg 11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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