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Souvlaki

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Bring a taste of Greece to your own backyard with souvlaki: succulent skewers of lemony chicken, grilled to perfection.

Souvlaki

“Chicken again?” That’s the familiar chorus in our home every time I mention it’s chicken for dinner. My husband starts the refrain, and the kids chime in with melodramatic groans and eye rolls. But I love a good challenge and nothing pleases me more than turning their collective “not again!” into “more, please!” Enter souvlaki: marinated and skewered chicken, grilled to perfection, and served alongside cooling tzatziki sauce. It’s a little taste of Greece that adds a twist to the usual chicken dinner, and I promise you, it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

“The best souvlaki ever. We used to go to Greektown for our fix. Not anymore.”

Sandy

The key to making good souvlaki lies in the marinade, which infuses the chicken with lemony, garlicky goodness while also ensuring each bite is tender and juicy. Similar to my go-to grilled chicken recipe, I don’t use lemon juice in my marinade. Despite popular belief, the acidity doesn’t tenderize the lean chicken breasts but can actually toughen them, resulting in a leathery texture. Instead, I use fresh lemon zest to impart a bright, lemony flavor. For the perfect meal, serve the souvlaki with warm pita bread, creamy hummus, and a colorful Greek salad. This combo is a feast fit for any gathering or just simple weeknight dinners in the backyard.

What You’ll Need To Make Souvlaki

what you'll need to make souvlaki

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prep and Cook the Chicken

One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag; using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-inch thickness. (Skip this step if using chicken tenderloins.) Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.

pounding chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness

Mix all the ingredients except for the chicken together in a large bowl.

oil, garlic, oregano, honey, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a bowl

Stir to combine.

marinade ingredients combined after stirring

Add chicken pieces to the bowl.

chicken pieces added to the bowl

Stir until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

chicken coated in marinade in the bowl covered with plastic wrap

Thread marinated chicken onto skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You’ll need about 6 skewers.)

chicken threaded onto skewers

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and, using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and carefully wipe the grill grate several times to prevent sticking. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, covered, turning to brown evenly, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes total.


souvlaki on grill

Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, briefly grill the pita bread until warmed through.

Alternative Broiler & Grill Pan Instructions

To use a broiler: Preheat your broiler to high. Arrange an oven rack so that the skewers will be 5 to 6 inches away from the broiler element. While the broiler is heating, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place a wire rack on the baking sheet and spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the skewers on the wire rack. Once the broiler is preheated, broil the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, turn the skewers over, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and has a nice golden color.
souvlaki skewers cooking on the grill

To use a grill pan: Heat the pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot, brush it lightly with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the skewers in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Cook the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to turn the skewers, if necessary, until the chicken is fully cooked and all sides have nice grill marks.

Step 2: Prepare the Tzatziki

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and chill for up to 2 days or until ready to serve.

ingredients for tzatziki in bowl

Serve the souvlaki with tzatziki sauce and lemon wedges.
souvlaki on platter with tzatziki sauce, warm pita, and green salad

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Video Tutorial

Souvlaki

Bring a taste of Greece to your own backyard with souvlaki: succulent skewers of lemony chicken, grilled to perfection.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus at least 4 hours to marinate

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, from one large lemon

For the Tzatziki

  • 1½ cups plain 2% or whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium English or hothouse cucumber, seeded, coarsely grated and squeezed as dry as possible (about 1 cup)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Scant ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill or mint

For Serving

  • Lemon wedges
  • Warm pita bread

Instructions

For the Chicken

  1. One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag; using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-inch thickness. (Skip this step if using chicken tenderloins.) Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except for the chicken together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and stir until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You'll need about 6 skewers.)
  4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and, using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and carefully wipe the grill grate several times to prevent sticking. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, covered, turning to brown evenly, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, briefly grill the pita bread until warmed through. Serve with tzatziki sauce, warm pita, and lemon wedges.

For the Tzatziki

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and chill for up to 2 days or until ready to serve.
  2. Note: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using to prevent them from burning on the grill.
  3. ALTERNATIVE BROILER & GRILL PAN COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:
  4. To use a broiler: Preheat your broiler to high. Arrange an oven rack so that the skewers will be 5 to 6 inches away from the broiler element. While the broiler is heating, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place a wire rack on the baking sheet and spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the skewers on the wire rack. Once the broiler is preheated, broil the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, turn the skewers over, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and has a nice golden color.
  5. To use a grill pan: Heat the pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot, brush it lightly with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the skewers in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Cook the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to turn the skewers, if necessary, until the chicken is fully cooked and all sides have nice grill marks.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 skewer
  • Calories: 412
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 42 g
  • Sodium: 670 mg
  • Cholesterol: 114 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Yum delicious and definitely a keeper. Thank you, Jen!

    • — Nataliya on October 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made the chicken souvlaki, hummus and Greek salad. All tasted amazing! Everyone loved it. Fresh and healthy ingredients with no preservatives and still tastes like restaurant style. I made the souvlaki on my George Foreman grill and they turned out great. You just have to make sure you don’t overcook them or they become too dry. I put less oil in the salad and it was great. The hummus was addictive.

    • — Sara on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is wonderful! So good and I’ve made it multiple times already since my husband keeps asking for it! Served it with naan, tzatziki, and a tomato/cucumber salad. Just perfect for summer!

    Jenn, all of your recipes are fabulous…think I’ve done at least 50 so far from your website and also both cookbooks. Huge fan! You are my go-to for all recipes!

    • — Carolyn Hess on September 1, 2023
    • Reply
    • ❤️❤️

      • — Jenn on September 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • Really terrific. Prepped the night before, came home from work and had company dinner in no time. Served it with the Greek salad, warm pita and tzatziki. And leftovers for lunch next week! Thanks!

    • — Debbie on August 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another winner. So delicious! We made it for company after making it for ourselves a week earlier. Rave reviews tonight. We served it with your fabulous Greek salad — also made that a week ago. Thank you for both recipes. The chicken is tender and so flavorful. My husband added a big 2” square of bell pepper at either end of the skewer to prevent the end pieces of chicken from overcooking.

    • — Renee on July 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • Just made this tonight. No modifications other than I used store bought tzatziki since I ran out of time. I will definitely make homemade next time. My whole family loved this recipe! My son who typically complains about chicken dishes ate 2 skewers. Thank you for another great recipe!

    • — Stephanie on July 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • The best souvlaki ever. We used to go to Greektown for our fix. Not anymore. And this is a superb recipe for the tzatziki that compliments the chicken so well! Thank-you Jen.

    • — sandy Callahan on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I was so excited to see this new recipe on Jenn’s website because I loooooove chicken souvlaki with tzatziki and pita 🤤 this recipe is probably the best chicken souvlaki I’ve ever had! Chicken is moist and tender, and the tzatziki is perfection, light, and flavorful. My husband has never been a big fan of tzatziki but he loved this recipe as well. Paired it with Jenn’s hummus which is also excellent. Bonus: leftover chicken, tzatziki, and hummus for later! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Lilee on July 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious and can’t wait to make these again and again! Big hit with the whole family.

    • — Whitney on June 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Chicken was moist and flavourful. Will make it again!

    • — Joanne on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe was awesome. My whole family loved it. I followed the directions exactly and followed the suggestions of pairing it with the tzatziki and greek salad. Those recipes were also delicious. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes with us!

    • — Sandra Peterson on June 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made these last night ended up letting the chicken marinate overnight. Wonderful recipe and I love, love your recipe for the Tzatziki, best ever! Served with warm pita bread as suggested and a side salad with tomatoes, Kalamata olives and feta with Greek salad dressing. Having it again tonight.
    Thank you Jenn

    • — Phyllis L Green on June 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • I didn’t think I had enough zest and contrary to what was said about using lemon juice I opted to add the juice of the lemon I zested. For me, it worked great! A wonderful tasting dish.

    • — Rick on June 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • We made this tonight and it was fantastic! I kept to everything per the recipe and paired it with the Greek Salad. Thank you Jenn for your recipes. They are always approachable and give me confidence in my cooking abilities.

    • — Joanna on June 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Turned out fantastic! Made it for myself… but will make it for my boys when they come home, so easy and so good!!

    • — TELA THOMASON on June 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and it was amazing! Everyone loved it! So good!

    • — Amy on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Souvlaki came out delicious, even after only 4 hrs of marinating. Tzatziki was really good too! This is going into the summer dinner rotation!

    • — Inna on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Fabulous! Made tonight along with the recommended Greek salad and Jenn’s naan (a long time favorite). This a a great light summer supper though I wouldn’t hesitate to make it any time of the year!!! I used boneless thighs because I had them. Especially love this version of tzatziki. Delicious!!!!

    • — Mindy on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, this recipe is absolutely amazing!! I am a long-time fan of your site and cookbooks (so is my mother-in-law 😊) and just wanted to thank you for all your hard work in creating and sharing these recipes!!

    • — Noriko on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this last night and served it with Jenn’s Greek salad recipe. Turned out great and much better than my local Greek restaurant. Thank you!

    • — Steph on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hello from Canada!
    I love all your recipes and frequently use them to make great meals. I did Greek night the ither day. My husband loved the Greek Souvlaki recipe. I forgot to add the honey but it tasted delicious anyway. I added a bit more oregano. The lemon zest was a game-changer. Thank you Jen!

    • — Rose on June 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Once again … perfection! Restaurant quality. Absolutely loved it!

    • — Sharon on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Can’t wait to try these! If I’m out of skewers, can I just put on the grill flat instead? Also, how many minutes would you take off for a Forman grill? Many thanks!

    • — Sara Kahn on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sara, Yes, you can grill them whole; I’d cook them, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Make sure not to overcook.) And I don’t have any experience with a Forman grill so I don’t know if the cooking time would be different — sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    I never can go wrong with any of. your recipes…but is it possible to bake/roast these instead of on the grill? Also, can I simply use chicken tenders?

    Thanks!!
    Batya

    • — Batya Ansell on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Batya, glad you like the recipes! You can cook these in the oven, but I’d broil them. See the bottom of the recipe for broiling instructions. And, yes, you can definitely use chicken tenders. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was really delcious! The chicken is unbelievably tasty. The tzatziki was so easy to make and just garlicky enough with a nice balance from the mint.

    My husband declared this one to be in the Pantheon of Great Recipes 🙂

    Thanks once again for a super nice recipe.

    • — sws on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • Am I overlooking the metric conversion option on this recipe? I know your recipes normally include the metric measurements, which is always quite handy for those of us living abroad. Looking forward to trying these this weekend and am confident they’ll be a hit!

    • — Jill on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sorry about that, Jill! I forgot to add the metric measurements, but have updated the recipe to include them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    Your recipe calls for breasts but we generally use thighs on the bbq. I noticed most of your bbq chicken recipes also use thighs and was wondering why breasts were used instead. And if we were to use thighs, would there be any changes? (I wouldn’t think so but just checking in case there was a reason to use breasts over thighs). Thanks Jen, we use you recipes on a weekly basis!

    • — Bry on June 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, There’s no significant reason I used breasts here, other than trying to maintain a balance of different cuts of chicken throughout my recipes. If you use thighs, you could add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to the marinade if you’d like. The thighs will take a bit longer to cook, so just keep an eye on them. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on June 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • How can you cook this in grill pan on stove or in the oven?
    Don’t have outdoor grill.

    • — Zen on June 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Zen,
      For the broiler: Preheat your broiler to high. Arrange an oven rack so that the skewers will be 5 to 6 inches away from the broiler element. While the broiler is heating, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place a wire rack on the baking sheet and spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the skewers on the wire rack.

      Once the broiler is preheated, broil the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, turn the skewers over, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and has a nice golden color.

      For the grill pan: Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot, brush it lightly with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place the skewers in the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Cook the skewers for 3 to 4 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to turn the skewers, if necessary, until the chicken is fully cooked and all sides have nice grill marks.

      Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • Made this for dinner tonight. One bite from my teenage son (while he was on the phone with his friend 😉 and he was like, “OMG-my mom just made the best chicken for dinner”.
    Thanks for always making me look like a rockstar!

    • — Jen on June 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Just last week I was searching your site for a souvlaki recipe and was so bummed you didn’t have one. It’s like you were in my brain!! Thanks for posting, cannot wait to try!

    • — Christina on June 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • Could you keep these chicken breasts whole, and cook them whole instead of skewers? What would cooking time be, if yes.

    • — Debbie B on June 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Debbie – but I would still pound them first. You can follow the cooking guidance here.

      • — Jenn on June 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • I am looking forward to making this!!

    • — Kim L Wilczyk on June 15, 2023
    • Reply

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