Chicken Souvlaki is a Greek street food classic that is bursting with flavor. It consists of chicken kebabs marinated in lemon, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. It's delicious served with a classic Tzatziki sauce in a pita wrap, on top of a Greek salad, or as skewers with your favorite Greek side dishes.
Why this recipe works
This dish uses a simple marinade that is bright, tangy from the lemon juice and savory from the garlic and herbs. It packs a ton of flavor and it's super easy to prepare. Combined with smoky char you get from the grill the taste is AMAZING!
How to prepare souvlaki marinade
This chicken souvlaki marinade is a really simple mix of classic Greek flavors, you'll need:
- olive oil
- 1 large lemon
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- dried oregano
- dried thyme
- Kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until their well combined.
How to prepare the chicken
I typically use chicken breast for this chicken souvlaki recipe. Boneless skinless chicken thighs will work too and are a little more forgiving on the grill. You'll want to cut your chicken into bite sized pieces, trying to get them evenly sized. I aim for around 1 inch cubes.
Place your cut chicken in a large resealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over top, then seal the bag. Toss until all of the chicken is well coated and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Turn occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
Some recipes call for marinating the chicken overnight, but the acicidty from the lemon juice will affect the texture of the chicken. I recommend keeping the marinating time to around 3-4 hours if possible.
When you're ready to cook, thread the marinated chicken onto skewers. Try to keep the pieces on each skewer around the same size so you can cook them evenly. I usually end of with one or two skewers of smaller pieces depending on how well I planned out my cuts.
How to cook chicken souvlaki
- Prepare your grill by cleaning the grates and brushing them with a light coating of olive oil.
- For a charcoal grill: spread an even layer of hot coals in your grill and fully open the vents. Cover and allow it to preheat.
- For a gas grill: set all of your burners to medium-high, then close the lid and allow it to preheat.
- Cook the souvlaki skewers for around 8-10 minutes until cooked through. Rotate them every few minutes during the cooking so all sides get evenly cooked.
- Transfer the chicken souvlaki skewers to a platter and serve.
How to make Tzatziki sauce
No chicken souvlaki would be complete without a side of tzatziki sauce. The creamy yogurt sauce is a must have and it's really simple to make! For the tzatziki sauce you'll need:
- Half of a large English cucumber
- 1 cup of greek yogurt
- 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater. Then put into a fine mesh strainer and drain as much of the liquid as possible. I usually use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much as I can and then dump the cucumber onto a few paper towels to soak up the rest.
Put the grated cucumber and the rest of the ingredients into a small bowl and stir to combine. It's best to refrigerate the tzatziki sauce for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving to allow the flavors to combine.
I typically go ahead and make the sauce when I make the marinade. It's a lot of the same ingredients and will give you plenty of time to let it rest in the fridge before serving.
How to serve your souvlaki chicken kebabs
My favorite way is to serve the skewers family style on a large platter with warm fluffy pita or naan bread, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, feta, chopped lettuce and of course the tzatziki sauce.
You can put the chicken and veggies into a pita to make a chicken souvlaki wrap with your favorite toppings, or use the veggies and lettuce to make a salad and top it with the chicken, or just eat it right off the skewers dipped in that yummy creamy tzatziki sauce! If you have leftovers it also goes great on top of a Quinoa Greek Salad the next day.
For sides try my herb roasted potatoes with a little squeeze of lemon juice. They go great with this dish! Or for a lighter option try my Greek orzo pasta salad. A simple grilled summer vegetable platter is another great option.
Tips and FAQs
The grill works best to get that yummy char, but the broiler in your oven will work too.
To cook chicken souvlaki in the oven, place an oven rack in the top position then preheat your broiler to high.
Set the chicken skewers on a broiling pan or on a sheet pan with a wire rack. Cook for around 8-10 minutes turning occasionally until they're cooked through.
This Greek chicken souvlaki is great for leftovers too. It's perfect served chilled on a greek salad or reheated in a souvlaki pita wrap. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
More recipes for the grill
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- zest from 1 lemon
- juice from 1 lemon around 2 tbsp
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lbs chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
- ½ large English cucumber grated
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh dill chopped
For the Chicken
- Combine all ingredients but the chicken in a medium bowl and stir until well combined. Place chicken in a large resealable bag and pour marinade in then seal the bag and toss until the chicken is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to 4.
- Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto skewers. Discard any remaining marinade.
- Grill the chicken for around 10 minutes until cooked through, rotating the skewers occasionally so that all sides are evenly cooked. Transfer to a platter and serve.
- Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater then drain in a fine mesh strainer pushing out as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon. Use a kitchen towel or paper towels to soak up any remaining moisture.
- Combine the cucumber and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow flavors to combine.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.