Chicken Souvlaki is the best recipe to satisfy your Greek cravings! We marinate the chicken in a Greek marinade first and then grill the skewers to a tasty smoked perfection. Serve it in a warm pita bread with red onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.
If you’ve ever been to a Greek restaurant, you’ve likely seen Chicken Souvlaki listed on the menu! It’s not hard to see why this chicken dish has become so beloved in the states. Put simply, it’s Greek marinated chicken that’s grilled on a stick – everyone loves grilled meat on a stick!
What separates Chicken Souvlaki from other grilled chicken recipes is the Greek marinade. It features bold ingredients like fresh dill weed and parsley, white wine vinegar, and garlic. All of those ingredients, along with a few others, combine to make the chicken taste delightfully Greek.
Once the flavorful chicken is grilled, it also adapts a smoky flavor that’s pretty irresistible. While you can eat it right off of the skewer, it’s traditional (and delicious) to serve it on some warm pita bread with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and as much tzatziki sauce as your heart desires.
If you’re hosting a summertime get together, this is a great entrée to consider serving. Hot dogs and hamburgers may be good, but it’s nice to shake things up by grilling recipes like Chicken Souvlaki or other types of chicken in a Greek Marinade.
What is Chicken Souvlaki?
Chicken Souvlaki is one of the most popular street foods in Greece. “Souvlaki” literally means meat-on-the-stick, but it represents the chicken (or other meats) grilled on skewers that are served on warm pita bread with veggies and tzatziki sauce.
It’s also a great addition to the traditional Greek meze. Meze is a word that refers to a Greek appetizer platter that usually includes things like veggies, pita bread, dips, spreads, cheeses, dolmas, keftedes (meatballs), and more.
How to Make Chicken Souvlaki
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Chicken – Chicken breasts are best for this recipe. Trim the fat off of them as necessary.
- Oil – You can use canola or olive oil.
- White Wine Vinegar – This combines with the lemon juice to create the best acidic flavor for the marinade.
- Lemons – You only need the juice from the lemons. It’s very important to only use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not juice from concentrate or bottled.
- Garlic – for the best flavor use fresh garlic only, not pre-minced or paste.
- Herbs – You’ll need fresh dill weed, fresh parsley, and dried oregano to create the herbaceous flavor palate. (See recipe notes for using dried herbs.)
- Salt – try to use coarse or sea salt rather than table salt.
- Pepper – Freshly cracked black pepper will yield the best flavor.
- Greek Pita Bread – Make sure you warm it up a little bit before assembling. Warm pita bread always makes for a better bite than room temperature.
- Red Onion
- Tzatziki Sauce – While this recipe calls for 1/2 cup of tzatziki sauce, you can use more or less. If you really love it, feel free to measure with your heart!
Marinate the chicken.
Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Toss them into a large zip top bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and mix everything together to make sure each piece of chicken is fully covered.
Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Grill the chicken.
If you’re using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in water for 45 minutes prior to grilling.
Preheat the grill to a medium high heat. I like to have two temperature zones on my grill, that way if I need to move the chicken to a cooler zone, I can.
Place 4-5 pieces of marinated chicken on each skewer.
Grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side, turning them a quarter of the way. The overall grill time should be around 16-20 minutes.
Assemble the Chicken Souvlaki.
Lightly brush the pita bread with olive oil. Place the pita bread on the grill to warm it.
Slice the vegetables and place them on a serving dish.
Top each warmed pita bread with grilled chicken, slices onions, tomatoes, and of course, tzatziki sauce!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I serve with Chicken Souvlaki?
Chicken Souvlaki itself usually refers to Greek marinated chicken that’s grilled on skewers and served on warm pita with some onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.
If you are looking for some sides to serve it it, try some potatoes (like roasted or fried), simple Greek Salad, Mediterranean Orzo Salad, Greek Tortellini Salad, a side of Rice Pilaf, or Cauliflower Rice.
Can I use dried herbs in the marinade?
While I usually prefer using fresh herbs, there are times when they are not accessible. That’s when it helps to have dried herbs in stock in the pantry.
Dried herbs are usually a little more potent than fresh herbs so if you are substituting dried herbs instead of fresh, use less than what the recipe calls for. A good rule of thumb for me is to use half the amount that the recipe calls for. You can always try to make your own adjustment, starting with a third.
Greek Chicken Souvlaki
- wood or metal skewets soaked, if using wood
- 2 lbs chicken breasts about 4
- 1/2 cup canola or olive oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 lemons – juice only 3 is lemons are not very juicy
- 6 garlic cloves smashed
- 3 tbsp fresh minced dill weed*
- 3 tbsp fresh minced parsley*
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 – 1.5 tsp coarse salt more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 6-8 Greek pita bread warmed
- 2 tomatoes sliced
- 1/2 red onion sliced thin
- 1/2 cup tzatziki sauce more or less
- Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and whisk well. Taste to see if you have enough salt. (Make sure to taste before you add the chicken!)
- Cut the chicken into about 1-inch cubes and add into a large zip-top bag (or a glass food storage container for marinating). Add the marinade and mix well to make sure all the chicken is coated well.
- Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. (Don't exceed 12 hours of marinating time.)
To cook the chicken:
- For the best results, cook the chicken kebabs on the grill.
- If you will be using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water first for about 45 minutes.
- Prepare the grill and preheat it to medium-high heat. (As always, it's best to have two temperature zones on the grill so if you need to move the chicken over to the cooler side, you can.)
- Skewer the chicken into the soaked skewers, fitting 4-5 pieces onto each skewer.
- Grill the chicken kebabs for about 4-5 minutes per side, turning them a quarter of the way. (Total time will be about 16-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces.)
- While chicken is cooking, lightly brush pita bread with olive oil and place them onto the grill to heat through. Slice the vegetables and place them onto a serving dish.
- To serve chicken souvlaki, top each warm pita bread with some grilled chicken, sliced onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.