This Greek chicken souvlaki is easy to make, full of flavor, and the resulting grilled chicken skewers are juicy! Serve with my homemade tzatziki - perfection!
It’s one of the most famous Greek chicken recipes, and one of the most popular street foods, both in Greece and here in Canada.
Most outdoor festivals will have at least one Greek souvlaki vendor, with the smoke from their charcoal grill enticing people over to buy their freshly grilled slices of meat.
I’m sure it seemed a bit odd when this classic Greek street food was included in “More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from My Home and Native Land”!
The thing is, when asking for what recipes fellow Canadian expats wanted in this book, souvlaki came up frequently.
Yes, it's a Greek dish... but for some reason, a lot of Canadians living away can't find GOOD souvlaki - if they can find it at all!
We are totally spoiled for various ethnic foods, here in Canada ... and that’s how my recipe for the famous juicy chicken skewers ended up in a Canadian themed cookbook.
Anyway, this is a super easy recipe to make, great for an easy weeknight dinner. Let’s get to it!
A Note on Timing
I like to start this Greek chicken souvlaki out the night before: Marinating the chicken, and allowing the yogurt for my Tzatziki Recipe to strain in the fridge.
The next morning, I finish making the tzatziki, and return it to the fridge. Chilling the finished tzatziki for a few hours allows the flavours to come together nicely.
Souvlaki Chicken Ingredients
This flavorful Greek chicken souvlaki recipe requires only a few simple ingredients to make:
I find that boneless, skinless chicken breasts is the best chicken for this, but feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. While this is written as a chicken recipe, feel free to use pork tenderloin, or even lamb!
(That would be pork souvlaki or lamb souvlaki, not chicken... LOL)
The marinade is made from the following ingredients:
Fresh lemon juice & lemon zest
Ground black pepper
Making chicken souvlaki skewers is a fantastic excuse to throw on a batch of my Tzatziki - the Greek yogurt sauce with grated cucumber!
Note: You’ll want to start that going the day before making your souvlaki.
There are two main pieces of equipment you’ll need for this, and both have options.
Assuming you don’t have a vertical rotisserie at home - who would? - you’re going to want some kind of Kebab Skewers to cook your grilled meat on.
“Wooden skewers” are usually actually Bamboo Skewers.
These are a great option if you can plan ahead and don’t want to bother washing them afterwards - you can just toss them in your compost when you’re done eating.
You will want to soak them in warm water for an hour or so before using them on an open flame, though. (Less necessary if you’re using an indoor grill as your cooking method)
Metal Skewers are a great option if you’re not into planning ahead, don’t want to worry about them catching fire, and don’t mind washing them afterwards.
You can grill these any way you like - indoors or out.
Personally, I prefer the taste of these grilled outside, over charcoal... but outdoor / propane works also.
... and I’m not going to forgo souvlaki in the winter months - when my husband doesn’t want to grill outdoors - when indoor grills are a thing!
The photos on this post are of chicken done both ways - outdoors and indoors. The flatter looking skewers were cooked on our Cuisinart Indoor Grill
How to Make Greek Chicken Souvlaki
The full recipe is in a recipe card at the end of this post, this is a pictorial overview with additional information and tips
Marinate the Chicken
Trim chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. I usually aim for 1" cubes, but small pieces of meat will cook faster.
Place chicken pieces into a into a non-metallic bowl / dish (with a lid), or a ziplock baggie.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Pour chicken souvlaki marinade over chicken, stir well to coat. Seal your baggie / cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
This is an important step - the marinating is what makes it juicy!
Grill The Chicken
Several hours later - or the next day - get your chicken skewers ready.
If you’re grilling over a flame and using anything other than a metal skewer, soak in water for an hour or so. This simple step will help prevent scorching/burning to some degree,
If I marinated the chicken in a baggie, I’ll usually transfer the marinated chicken to a large bowl before proceeding, to make it easier to see and access the pieces of chicken.
Thread a piece of chicken onto a skewer, pushing it down as far as you’d like it. Follow with more pieces of chicken, aiming to keep an even thickness up the length of the skewer.
As you finish threading each, place chicken skewers on a large baking sheet.
I like to do this not only to make them easy to bring to the outdoor grill, but also to keep kitchen work surfaces free from raw chicken contact.
Place skewers on the hot grill - medium-high heat or high heat for the best grill marks!
Grill until cooked through - until the internal temperature registers 165F on a meat thermometer, if you’re using one.
Serve hot, with tzaziki sauce, vegetables, and pita.
Allow any leftovers to cool to almost room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
Serving Chicken Souvlaki Kabobs
There are two main ways that we serve this dish:
Traditional Souvlaki Skewers
These are fantastic when served right off the grill, with a traditional Greek salad on the side.
Sometimes I’ll drizzle both with balsamic vinegar, sometimes I’ll heavily sprinkle the skewers with fresh herbs - usually chopped fresh parsley, sometimes we’ll just serve them up straight.
The only real constant is that there will always be a ton of freshly made Creamy Tzatziki Sauce on hand!
Chicken Souvlaki Pitas
Is there anything better than freshly grilled, juicy chicken on warm pita bread, smothered in your favorite toppings?
Also known as chicken gyros, we love doing up our souvlaki in DIY sandwich form. As my husband grills up the chicken, I prepare a tray of toppings, and everyone prepares their own.
Some of our personal favorite toppings:
Chopped or sliced red onion
Crumbled Feta cheese
Kalamata olives (pitted, sometimes sliced)
Need gluten-free pitas? I've got you covered: Check out my Gluten Free Pita Bread recipe, over on Beyond Flour!
And, of course, a big bowl of that Tzatziki Dip ! (I might have a minor addiction issue here, LOL).
Pro tip: Have a roll of paper towel on hand, this can get messy!
More Grilling & Smoker Recipes!
Looking for an excuse to fire up the grill? I've got you...
Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil & Gouda
Cold Smoked Potato Salad
Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings
Grilled Jambalaya Skewers
Hop Marinated Chicken & Vegetable Skewers
Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce
How to Cook Corn on the Cob
Montreal Smoked Meat
Montreal Steak Spice & Marinade
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers
Replica Diana Sauce
Smoked Cheese Balls
Smoked French Fries
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
Spinach Feta Salmon Burgers
Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mango
Vegetarian Chorizo Burgers with Grilled Poblano & Cilantro Pesto
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Greek Chicken Souvlaki
- 2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken
- ¼ cup Olive oil
- ¼ cup Lemon juice
- 1 Lemon zest of
- 4 Garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon Dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- Trim chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes. Place prepared chicken into a non-metallic bowl or dish (with a lid).
- In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Pour marinade over chicken, stir well to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
- Thread chicken onto skewers, grill until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve hot, with tzaziki sauce, vegetables, and pita