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Marinated chicken souvlaki is delicious on the grill or broiled in the oven! Serve the tender, flavorful meat and tzatziki sauce tucked inside pita, over rice, or piled on top of a crisp salad.

Front shot of chicken souvlaki in a bowl with tzatziki and pita.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. What is Chicken Souvlaki?
  3. Ingredients
  4. Directions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

If you love Mediterranean-inspired chicken recipes, be sure to try this chicken shawarma, a pan of dump-and-bake chicken tzatziki with rice, these Crock Pot chicken gyros, this one-pan Greek chicken and potatoes, and this dump-and-bake lemon chicken orzo, too!

This dish totally reminds me of summer dinners from my childhood! It’s one of my mom’s favorite meals, so she served it often during the warm weather months. When I recently got a hankering for a chicken souvlaki pita of my own, I snagged a copy of my mom’s recipe from the binder in her kitchen…and now I’m sharing it here!

I have made this recipe twice and everyone has loved it!

– Robin

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Healthy. Thanks to the lean protein and the healthy fats from the olive oil in the chicken souvlaki marinade, this meal is a nourishing, satisfying way to feed your family.
  • Easy. This simple and nourishing meal comes together with a few simple steps — marinating the meat, skewering the kabobs, and grilling (or broiling) the chicken.
  • Versatile. Wrap the meat in a sandwich as chicken souvlaki pita; serve it on a bed of rice with the homemade tzatziki sauce and your favorite toppings; or keep it lower carb by adding the meat and sauce to a bed of fresh salad greens. This is one of those versatile build-your-own meals that everyone at the table can agree on.
Chicken souvlaki marinade in a Ziploc bag.

What is Chicken Souvlaki?

Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It is usually eaten straight off the skewer while still hot, but is also delicious on a platter with pita bread, fried potatoes, lemon, and yogurt sauces (such as tzatziki). A Greek national dish, souvlaki it’s typically made with pork; however, chicken, beef, lamb, and even fish are also common.

While they’re both Greek fast foods made with meat, souvlaki is not the same as gyros. The distinction between the two dishes comes in how the meat is prepared and cooked. Souvlaki is made with small pieces of grilled meat skewered on a stick, while a gyro consists of slices of meat shaved from a vertical rotisserie.

Marinating chicken souvlaki in a Ziploc bag.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite Greek chicken souvlaki marinade. As always, you’ll find specific measurements and step-by-step instructions in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Extra virgin olive oil: adds flavor, helps to keep the chicken moist, and acts as a carrier for other flavors in the marinade, helping to distribute them evenly and ensuring that they penetrate the meat.
  • Red onion: for zesty, savory flavor. Feel free to sub with green onions, white onion, yellow onion, or a sweet onion.
  • Garlic, oregano, kosher salt, and ground black pepper: for even more flavor. Feel free to add other fresh herbs as well, such as chives, parsley, thyme, basil, or rosemary.
  • Lemon juice: the acidic component that brightens up the marinade and tenderizes the meat.
  • Chicken: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts but boneless skinless chicken thighs will also work. For a beef souvlaki recipe, use the same marinade with cubed beef. You can thread the beef on skewers and grill it just as you would the chicken.
  • Plain Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and dill: come together to make the tzatziki sauce for serving with the chicken. For a shortcut, feel free to purchase store-bought tzatziki (which you can usually find in the deli section of a grocery store — near the hummus). I prefer 2% or whole milk Greek yogurt (not non-fat Greek yogurt) for the richest texture and flavor.
  • Pita, Naan, cooked rice, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, additional fresh herbs, feta cheese, olives, quick pickled red onions, or roasted vegetables: optional ingredients to serve with the chicken souvlaki.
Process shot showing how to make tzatziki sauce.

Directions

The best chicken souvlaki recipe comes together quickly and easily! You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the overview with my notes:

  • Prepare the chicken souvlaki marinade. The souvlaki seasoning consists of fresh herbs (such as oregano), red onion, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. You can whisk everything together in a small bowl, or just shake it together in a large Ziploc freezer bag (one less dish to wash)!
  • Marinate the chicken. Add the bite-sized pieces of chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Prepare the homemade tzatziki. While the chicken marinates, you’ll have time to stir together the sauce. This is a classic sauce from Southeast Europe and the Middle East, consisting of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley, and thyme. Just stir the ingredients together, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the chicken. It’s a perfect cool, creamy balance to the warm grilled meat.
  • Skewer. Thread the chicken onto wooden skewers and discard the marinade.
  • Cook. Grill the chicken or place under the broiler until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Grilling chicken souvlaki skewers.

Serving Suggestions

There are a few classic sides that go well with the Greek chicken skewers. You can assemble the ingredients in bowls with rice, you can serve the grilled chicken on a Greek salad, or you can wrap it up in warm pita bread for a chicken souvlaki sandwich! Garnish the meat with the tzatziki sauce, grilled or roasted veggies, olives, feta cheese, chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber and tomatoes, lemon wedges, or fresh herbs.

If you’re serving wine with your souvlaki chicken, good options include Reisling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.

Square overhead image of Greek chicken souvlaki with a side of tzatziki.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: You can marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours, but I don’t recommend marinating for much longer than that. Too much time in the acidic marinade can cause the chicken to become mushy. You can also assemble the tzatziki up to 12 hours in advance.
  • How to Store: Leftover chicken souvlaki will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or wrapped tightly in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: Wrap the chicken in foil and warm in a 350°F oven just until heated through. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Overhead shot of chicken souvlaki in a bowl with rice, veggies, and pita.

More Chicken Marinade Recipes

Square overhead image of Greek chicken souvlaki with a side of tzatziki.

Chicken Souvlaki

5 from 4 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total: 58 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 248.7 kcal
Marinated chicken souvlaki with tzatziki is delicious grilled or broiled in the oven!

Ingredients
  

FOR THE MARINADE

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE

  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • ½ of an English seedless cucumber, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • Dash of ground black pepper

OPTIONAL, FOR SERVING

  • Pita, warmed
  • Cooked rice, warm
  • Fresh, grilled, or roasted vegetables, such as sliced cucumber, chopped tomatoes, chopped lettuce
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Quick pickled red onion
  • Olives

Instructions

MARINATE THE CHICKEN

  • In a large bowl or large Ziploc bag, combine marinade ingredients.
    Chicken souvlaki marinade in a Ziploc bag.
  • Add the chicken, toss to coat with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir the chicken once halfway through the marinating time.
    Marinating chicken souvlaki in a Ziploc bag.

PREPARE THE TZATZIKI SAUCE

  • While the chicken marinates, prepare the sauce. In a bowl, stir together the tzatziki ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Process shot showing how to make tzatziki sauce.

GRILL THE CHICKEN

  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes before using.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard marinade. Thread the chicken onto skewers.
    Marinated chicken souvlaki on wooden skewers in a glass dish before cooking.
  • Heat a grill pan or an outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Brush the grates with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Add the chicken to the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes, turning once. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
    Grilling chicken souvlaki skewers.

ALTERNATE BROILED METHOD

  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20-30 minutes before using.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Adjust one of the oven racks to the top position (about 6 inches from the broiler). Preheat the broiler on HIGH.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard marinade. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, or let the excess marinade drip off and just add the chicken directly to the sheet pan.
  • Place under the broiler for 11-14 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Flip the chicken halfway through for even cooking.

SERVE

  • Serve the chicken with the tzatziki and other optional ingredients.
    Square overhead image of Greek chicken souvlaki with a side of tzatziki.

Notes

  • You can marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours, but I don’t recommend marinating for much longer than that. Too much time in the acidic marinade can cause the chicken to become mushy. You can also assemble the tzatziki up to 12 hours in advance.
  • It’s important to squeeze the liquid out of the grated cucumber before adding it to the tzatziki sauce. I like to wring it out in a dish towel over the sink. This extra step helps to ensure a thick, creamy sauce!
  • If you want to pan-fry the chicken instead of grilling or broiling, you can skip the step of threading the cubed meat onto the skewers. Instead, just brown the marinated chicken in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink inside.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the chickenCalories: 248.7kcalCarbohydrates: 5.7gProtein: 33.6gFat: 9.9gSaturated Fat: 2.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 69.6mgSodium: 522.2mgPotassium: 346.8mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 3.6g
Keyword: chicken souvlaki, chicken souvlaki marinade, chicken souvlaki pita, Greek Chicken Recipe, souvlaki chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Greek
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in May, 2020. It was updated in May, 2024.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Ed says:

    5 stars
    I make a LOT of tzatziki sauce for my Greek wife and her community, and I use a few different tricks. Almost everyone uses regular cucumbers and seeds them, grates them and presses the juices through a wire strainer (which makes a refreshing drink!). I cut the sour Greek yogurt by thickening it up with an equal amount of regular sour cream (but never Daisy brand), and I add much less lemon juice, if any at all (lemon zest or extract are less sour). My two main spices are dill and mint, and sometimes oregano. I also add a splash of raspberry red wine vinegar for a taste that can’t be identified but adds a lot of flavor. And most recipes call for some EVOO, which not only adds flavor, but solidifies when chilled and thickens up the sauce.

    1. Blair says:

      Wow, those are great tips, Ed. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Loretta J says:

    5 stars
    I am so happy to have come across your wonderful site, thanks for sharing your “Great recipes”, I have made the Gyros using Lamb….The first time I tried a Gyro, it was at a local fair….talk about delicious!!!! I have been hooked on them ever since….

    Your “Chicken Souvlaki” recipe is for supper tonight …. they sound yummy……I will be using the chicken thighs as they are nicer than the Breast meat…

    Looking forward to trying all your recipes…..thanks again….
    I am looking forward to trying all of your collection of recipes…..

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Loretta! I hope that you enjoyed the chicken!

  3. Robin Weber says:

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe twice and everyone has loved it!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so happy to hear this, Robin!

  4. Lorraine says:

    5 stars
    My family loves this recipe and I make the taking dip for snacks. Non fat yogurt still tastes great and is a healthy alternative to store bought dips. One question though…have you ever tried freezing the sauce? Just wondering if that was an option.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Lorraine! We’re so glad you enjoy it. We wouldn’t recommend freezing the sauce as the dairy is not likely to thaw well.