If you love Greek street food, this Mediterranean Greek Chicken Souvlaki recipe is for you. Tender, juicy grilled chicken wrapped in warm pitas is an incredibly simple, delicious, and authentic dish to make at home.
And it’s so, so easy!
Perfect to make on warm summer days, or any time you’re craving a taste of the beautiful islands of Greece. You can grill it outdoors or in… all year long.
Serve this easy, authentic dish of tender pieces of grilled chicken wrapped in warm pitas with ripe juicy tomatoes, slivers of red onions, a few tender greens, and Tzatziki Sauce.
Oh — and play some Greek music in the background too!
What is Souvlaki?
Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish using small pieces of chicken, beef, pork, or lamb that are grilled on a skewer. The word souvlaki has roots in the Greek word “souvla,” which literally means skewer. Souvlaki means small skewer.
If you love grilling skewers, you might also like my Easy Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Skewers too. Or if street food is your thing, you may also want to take a look at Traveling the World with Street Food Recipes to Make at Home or Easy German Street Food Ideas to Make at Home.
How Do You Pronounce Souvlaki?
You pronounce souvlaki like this: soov·laa·kee or “So la key” with stress on the second syllable in English.
What are the Origins of Souvlaki?
Souvlaki has origins dating back to ancient Greece. “It was known by the name obeliskos (dim. of obelos –spit), mentioned by among others in the works of Aristophanes, Xenophon, and Aristotle.”
Early references in Homer describe this favored skewered dish in ancient Greece during Archaic times.
Excavations held in Akrotiri, on the Greek island of Santorini, also “unearthed stone sets of barbecues for skewers (Greek: krateutai) used before the 17th century BC. Even later on, during the Byzantine era, references survive describing street vendors selling souvlaki with pita in Constantinople.”
How to Serve Souvlaki
It may be served on a skewer for eating out of hand, or as we are doing sandwiched in a pita with tomatoes, red onions, greens, or fresh herbs, with a Greek dill sauce.
Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients
Are you hungry yet? Me too!
Here are the simple ingredients you’ll need to make your own authentic-style souvlaki at home. Specific measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
All you need are cubes of boneless chicken breasts that will marinate in a combination of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, dried oregano, and salt and pepper.
I like to sometimes add additional flavor to the marinade, and because I grow my own herbs, I often throw in 2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary and a handful of thyme sprigs, just the leaves of both.
For serving you will need warmed pitas, thinly sliced red onions, tomatoes, and Tzatziki Sauce, which can be store-bought or homemade. Or you can also make a quick 2 Minute Greek Dill Yogurt Sauce instead.
How to Make Chicken Souvlaki
This is one of the easiest dishes you can make. And it can be ready in under an hour, most of that time is spent hands-off while waiting for the chicken to marinade. But you don’t want to skip that step because it’s what makes the chicken so incredible.
Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is an overview:
Step 1: Marinade the chicken
Add cubed chicken to a marinade consisting of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, dried oregano, and fresh herbs, if using. Marinade for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare the condiments
While the chicken is marinating, soak the wooden skewers in water to cover (for at least 30 minutes) and prepare the condiments; tzatziki sauce, slice tomatoes, and red onions, and wash the greens.
Step 3: Grill the chicken
Thread the marinaded chicken onto soaked skewers loosely and preheat the grill to high.
Grill the souvlaki skewers for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed until all sides are golden and cooked through. Remove to a platter and drizzle with additional olive oil and lemon juice.
Tips for Making Souvlaki
- Chicken Breasts: Some grocery meat markets provide cut-up chicken breasts. I never hesitate to ask the butcher, very nicely, if he would have time to cut the breasts into 1-inch squares. This is a great time saver. Otherwise, it’s a simple chore at home.
- Cutting Chicken Breasts: If you’re preparing the chicken at home, cut it into equal size pieces; about 1-inch cubes.
- Marinading: Be sure to let the chicken breasts marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. I love it best when I can give them a couple of hours.
- Skewers: If using bamboo skewers, be sure to let them soak in water for at least 30 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill.
- Threading the skewers: Thread the chicken pieces loosely onto the skewers. This will allow them to cook evenly in between the pieces.
- Grilling: I like to frequently turn the skewers as they are grilling to give them an even color on all sides. Grilling only takes a few minutes so watch them carefully.
Place grilled chicken souvlaki on a warm pita with tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, red onions, and fresh greens or herbs.
How to Wrap Souvlaki
Cook’s Illustrated has created an easy diagram to follow if you want to wrap your souvlaki. They prefer using foil, which is easy to do.
- The filled pita is centered on the square and ready to be swaddled.
- Fold one side of paper/foil over the pita.
- Fold up the bottom.
- Fold over the other side.
More Greek Recipes You May Also Enjoy at 31Daily!
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- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- Make the chicken marinade: cut the chicken into equal bite-size pieces, about 1-inch cubes, and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, and dried oregano. If you're using additional herbs, add those here. Toss the ingredients together until the chicken is well coated. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes up to 4 hours.
- While the chicken is marinading, gather the condiments for the souvlaki; tzatziki sauce (or 2 Minute Greek Dill Yogurt Sauce), wash any greens your using, thinly slice juicy tomatoes and red onions. Have ready rounds of pita bread. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes or avoid burning.
- Once marinaded, thread the chicken loosely onto wooden skewers and preheat the grill or griddle pan to high.
- Grill the souvlaki for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed, until all sides are golden and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove to a platter and drizzle with additional olive oil and lemon juice.
- To serve: Place chicken souvlaki on a warmed pita with tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, red onions and greens or fresh herbs. Enjoy!
- Pita bread
- Olive oil
- Sliced tomato
- Sliced red onions
- Lettuce or fresh herbs
- Tzatziki sauce (store-bought or homemade)
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 82mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 19g