Chicken Souvlaki (Σουβλάκι) Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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The Chicken Souvlaki is not only a nutritious and delicious meal, but it is also a cultural experience of Greek gastronomy. Just close your eyes, give a bite, and let yourself be transported to the sunny shores of Greece.

Are you finding it challenging to recreate that zesty, grilled goodness at home? This article is here to whisk those worries away. Not only will I equip you with a foolproof method to make perfect Chicken Souvlaki, but I’ll also divulge handy tricks and the ideal companions for this Greek classic.

You’ll learn the art of proper storage and the subtle differences between Souvlaki and Gyro, as well as Souvlaki and Kebab. Also, broaden your culinary horizons with other tantalizing Greek dishes worth exploring.

So, ready to cook up a storm and experience Greek cuisine at its finest? Let’s get started!

What Is Chicken Souvlaki?

Chicken Souvlaki is a traditional dish from Greece, made with grilled marinated chicken, pita bread, and fresh vegetables, served with a refreshing tzatziki sauce. Certainly, a combination made of Greek Gods.

“Souvlaki” comes from the Greek word “souvla” which means skewer, which is exactly how the chicken is prepared. After marinated in a mixture of herbs and olive oil, it is skewered and grilled, and then served on a fluffy pita bread, with vegetables and tzatziki sauce.

You can enjoy the Chicken Souvlaki as the only dish, or you can add a side salad to it, or even some roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables. All the deliciousness of Mediterranean cuisine in one dish.

This is also a very versatile dish; aside from the traditional meat souvlaki, you have various other options, with grilled vegetables, halloumi cheese, or even tofu. And although it is considered street food, you can find more refined versions in many restaurants.

Tools

Chicken Souvlaki Tools
  • Skewers: Pick your preference between metal or wooden, perfect for grilling that juicy chicken to perfection.
  • Cutting board and knife: A dynamic duo in any kitchen, essential for all your slicing and dicing needs.
  • Frying pan: The arena for frying your pita bread, crisping it to golden perfection.
  • Large bowl: Your marinating haven where the chicken gets its flavorful bath.
  • Small bowl: The perfect cradle for your creamy, tangy tzatziki sauce.
  • Spatula: To mix the dough.
  • Basting brush: Your secret weapon for slathering your pita bread with rich olive oil and a medley of seasonings.
  • Kitchen towel: A cozy cover for your rising bread dough, ensuring it remains warm and undisturbed.

Ingredients

Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients
  • Chicken breast: The main protein of the dish, juicy and tender.
  • Olive oil: A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, used for dressing salads, cooking, and marinating.
  • Garlic clove and garlic powder: Garlic will give flavor to both the marinate and the tzatziki sauce.
  • Active dry yeast: This is what will make your bread dough rise and give it those nice bubbles.
  • White flour: Used to make fluffy pita bread.
  • Greek yogurt: Thick and creamy, the Greek yogurt will make a perfect sauce for the Chicken Souvlaki.
  • Fresh vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce. Mediterranean cuisine is known for using an abundance of fresh vegetables.
  • Red onion: With a vibrant color, this type of onion will give a slightly sweeter taste to the dish, than the regular onions.
  • Seasonings: Paprika, salt, cumin powder, garlic powder and oregano will give all those delicious flavors to your chicken.
  • Spring onions: Adding to the Tzatziki sauce.

How To Make Perfect Chicken Souvlaki

Step 1: Marinate The Chicken

Get your chicken party-ready with a marinade! Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cumin powder, 1 tsp of oregano, and 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt in a large bowl. Add cubed chicken to this mix. Mix well, cover with plastic, and reserve in the fridge for an hour.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 1 Marinate the Chicken

Step 2: Prepare The Pita Bread Dough

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in a cup of warm water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

In another bowl, mix 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Now, time for magic – add the yeast to the flour mix. Once you see that the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl, shape it into a bowl and add a little bit of olive oil on top. Cover it with a towel, and give it an hour to rise and shine.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 2 Prepare the Pita Bread Dough

Step 3: Make The Pita Bread

Once the dough has doubled in size, pour it into a board covered with flour and divide it into 4 equal slices (one cut horizontally and one cut vertically). Cover it for another 5 minutes, and then gently flatten each ball into a pita bread shape. Finally, brush each pita with a dash of olive oil, oregano, and garlic.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 3 Make the Pita Bread

Step 4: Grill The Chicken

Grill or bake the marinated chicken – whatever floats your boat! Put about 6 pieces of chicken in each skewer, and cook it for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 4 Grill the Chicken

Step 5: Fry The Pita Bread

While your chicken is working up a golden tan, grab a pan, add a drizzle of olive oil, and fry each pita bread for about a minute on each side.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 5 Fry the Pita Bread

Step 6: Whip Up The Tzatziki Sauce

Pour Greek yogurt into a bowl, and add minced cucumber, spring onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Stir until well combined.

Chicken Souvlaki Step 6 Whip Up the Tzatziki Sauce

Step 7: The Grand Assembly

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Lay out a pita bread, and pile on your juicy grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, and onions. Crown it with a spoonful of your homemade tzatziki sauce. There you have it, your Greek feast is ready to be savored! Enjoy!

Chicken Souvlaki Step 7 the Grand Asembly

Tricks To Make Chicken Souvlaki Even More Delicious

Chicken Souvlaki3
  • Mastering the Marinade: Drawing from my own experience in the kitchen, I’ve found that letting the chicken marinate overnight truly enhances the flavors. The longer it sits, the more delicious it becomes. So, plan ahead and let those flavors meld together for a tantalizing Souvlaki that’s worth the wait.
  • Spicing It Up: Love a kick to your dishes? Try adding a bit of sriracha or a pinch of chili flakes to your marinade. Trust me, it takes the flavor up a notch and adds a delightful zing to your chicken Souvlaki.
  • Veganizing Souvlaki: For those following a vegan lifestyle, you need not miss out on this dish. Swap the chicken for tofu – it soaks up the marinade beautifully. And instead of Greek yogurt, opt for a plant-based variant. The end result is just as mouthwatering.
  • Gluten-Free Alternatives: Opting for a gluten-free or healthier version? Use gluten-free flour, or simply swap the bread for a big lettuce leaf. It adds a refreshing crunch and lightness to the dish.
  • Skewer Smarts: From years of barbecuing, I’ve learned that leaving a bit of space towards the handle of the skewers is key for easy handling on the grill. And if you’re using wooden skewers, remember to pre-soak them in water to prevent burning.

A little trick I use is to cover the tips of the skewers with aluminum foil for that extra protection while grilling.

  • Choosing Skewers: From my experience, bamboo or wooden skewers work just fine, but if you have the opportunity, go for metal skewers. These are a superior choice for a few reasons: no pre-soaking is needed, and they distribute heat evenly, promoting perfect cooking.
  • Oven Magic: No grill? No worries. Preheat your oven, line a sheet with foil or parchment, place the skewers on it, and broil. About 5-7 minutes each side should do it, but always make sure your kabobs are fully cooked through.
  • Priority on Safety: As someone who has spent countless hours in the kitchen, I can’t overstate the importance of food safety. It’s essential to remember that raw poultry and meat could harbor bacteria. Hence, it’s crucial to follow the food safety guidelines established by the FDA and USDA.

A golden rule to always keep in mind: never repurpose marinades that have been used with raw meat or poultry. If you wish to use some of your marinades as a dressing or sauce, set a portion aside before it touches the raw ingredients. It’s a simple step that can prevent potential health risks.

What Should I Serve With Chicken Souvlaki?

Chicken Souvlaki4
  • Salads: To keep with the Greek theme, a classic Greek salad with its crunchy veggies and tangy feta cheese is a brilliant companion. But don’t forget, alternatives like Balela, Fattoush, or a Grilled Zucchini Salad can bring their own unique flavors to the table.
  • Dip Companion: You’ll want something creamy and garlicky to compliment your juicy souvlaki skewers. What better than homemade Roasted Garlic Hummus? Its savory depth is the perfect counterbalance to the tangy, smoky chicken. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.
  • Potatoes: One thing I’ve discovered from my cooking escapades is that you can never go wrong with potatoes, especially with Greek cuisine. I usually opt for roasted or fried versions. They’re the perfect vehicle for soaking up those extra flavors and adding a satisfying heartiness to the meal.
  • Sweet Finish: Now, you wouldn’t want to end a Greek feast without something sweet, would you? Baklava is my personal favorite. Those layers of filo pastry, sweetened with honey and sprinkled with chopped nuts – it’s the best way to round off your Greek culinary journey.
  • Drink Pairing: Chicken souvlaki pairs excellently with light to medium-bodied red wines that have a hint of spice, making Grenache and Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre (GSM) perfect choices. Other alternatives could include Pinot Noir, Nero d’Avola, or Merlot.

How To Store Chicken Souvlaki?

Although it will be very hard to leave these Chicken Souvlaki for later, you can. Just cover, separately, the bread and the chicken in aluminum foil, and reheat later in the oven. Then, when serving, add the fresh vegetables and the tzatziki sauce.

  • In the fridge: You can store the Chicken Souvlaki for about 3 days in the fridge.
  • In the freezer: You can freeze the pita bread for about 3 months, but remember, the longer you keep it, the drier it will get.

Chicken Souvlaki Vs. Chicken Gyro

Similarities

Chicken Souvlaki and Chicken Gyro are two popular Greek dishes. They both can be made with various meats, but chicken is quite common. Both dishes are traditionally served in a pita wrap or as a main course with sides. Tzatziki, a tangy yogurt-based sauce, and fresh vegetables often accompany both dishes.

Differences

The main difference between the two lies in their cooking method. Chicken Souvlaki is prepared by skewering marinated chunks of meat and grilling them. The result is a flavorful, charred exterior with a tender interior.

In contrast, Chicken Gyro is made by thinly slicing the marinated chicken, which is then cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The thinly sliced meat makes Gyro a bit more tender than Souvlaki.

In summary, while the ingredients and presentation can be quite similar, the preparation method defines the difference.

Souvlaki Vs. Kebab

Similarities

Both Souvlaki and Kebabs involve skewering small chunks of meat and cooking them over a flame. The outcome is a tender and flavorsome meat dish, eaten across many cultures.

Differences

Originating from Greece, Souvlaki traditionally uses pork as its main ingredient, although chicken and lamb versions cater to a wider palate. This dish often incorporates garlic in its marinade, offering a unique twist. Souvlaki can be enjoyed straight from the skewer, in a pita sandwich, or served on a plate.

On the contrary, Kebabs, tracing their roots back to the Middle East, Central Asia, and some parts of Europe, are typically made from a variety of meats, including lamb, beef, goat, and chicken.

The kebab marination varies significantly, offering an array of taste profiles. Kebabs are generally served on a plate, often accompanied by flatbreads.

Other Dishes To Try

  • Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: This smooth and creamy spread is made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and roasted red peppers.

With its rich, smoky flavor and beautiful color, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus not only adds an attractive element to the plate but also pairs perfectly with the savory Chicken Souvlaki.

  • Greek Salad: This iconic Greek dish is a lively medley of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and ripe olives, topped with a slab of Feta cheese and a sprinkle of oregano. The Greek Salad, with its fresh and crunchy texture, works wonderfully as a side dish to Chicken Souvlaki, balancing out the rich flavors.
  • Moussaka: A celebrated Greek classic, Moussaka is a rich layered dish typically made from eggplant or potatoes, minced meat, and a creamy béchamel sauce. This hearty dish offers a complex balance of flavors and textures, which can be a delightful contrast to the straightforward, grilled goodness of Chicken Souvlaki.
  • Spanakopita: This savory type of Greek pie is a blend of spinach, feta cheese, onions, and egg, all wrapped in flaky filo pastry. The robust flavors of the spinach and feta, along with the crisp texture of the pastry, provide a delightful counterpoint to the smoky, tender pieces of Chicken Souvlaki.

FAQs

Absolutely! You can marinate the chicken for up to a full day in the refrigerator. Moreover, you could fully cook it ahead of time and simply reheat it for convenient meals later. I’d suggest reheating it on a stovetop pan, though microwaving is an option too. While fresh-off-the-grill souvlaki is optimum, the reheated version is equally tasty.

Indeed, grilling is one of the healthier cooking methods as it doesn’t involve the high-fat content of frying or sautéing. Chicken, being a lean protein, is beneficial for health too.

Plus, this dish includes nutrient-rich ingredients like onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon. However, remember that a healthy diet is about balance, and overconsumption of olive oil or meat can have negative effects.

Though fresh herbs are my preference, dried ones can certainly be used when fresh ones aren’t available. Since dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, use them sparingly – about half of what the recipe suggests for fresh herbs. Feel free to adjust the quantity, perhaps starting with a third.

The trick lies in marinating the meat in a concoction of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and a variety of herbs and spices. This process infuses the meat with an irresistible flavor and ensures it’s delightfully tender.

Souvlaki, which consists of grilled meat served with vegetables, fried potatoes, tzatziki, and pita bread, is analogous to American fast food like burgers. It’s widely recognized as a staple fast food in Greece.

A Closing Ode To Chicken Souvlaki

Chicken Souvlaki would not only present a feast for their eyes and a delight to their taste buds but also spark engaging conversations about Greek culture.

Think of the Chicken Souvlaki I’ve prepared as a cornucopia of taste on your plate. It’s an utterly delicious and nutritionally balanced dish, replete with protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and a medley of fresh vegetables.

I encourage you to share this recipe and leave your thoughts in the comments section. It’s my pleasure to have crafted this dish, and I’m eager to hear how you enjoy the taste of Greece right at your table. Enjoy!

Chicken Souvlaki

Greek Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Chicken Souvlaki (Σουβλάκι) is a quintessential Greek delight, loved for its tangy, succulent flavors. Discover the secrets to creating this mouth-watering dish at home, including the art of marinating and grilling.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 471kcal

Ingredients

For Marinating The Chicken:

  • 1 pound chicken breast in cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

For The Pita Bread Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 0.25- ounce active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A cup of warm water

For The Sauce:

  • 7 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 0.5 cucumber minced
  • 0.5 cup spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove minced

For Serving:

  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes sliced
  • 1 red onion sliced

Instructions 

  • Blend 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of cumin powder, 1 tsp of oregano, and 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt in a large bowl. Add cubed chicken, mix, and refrigerate for an hour.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 1 Marinate the Chicken
  • Dissolve yeast in a cup of warm water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
    In another bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Then gently add the yeast to the flour and mix. Mix until the dough isn't sticky. Form into a ball, coat with olive oil, cover, and let rise for an hour.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 2 Prepare the Pita Bread Dough
  • Once the dough has doubled, divide into 4 equal parts on a floured surface. Let rest for 5 minutes, then shape into pitas and lightly brush with an olive oil, garlic, and oregano mixture.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 3 Make the Pita Bread
  • For the chicken, skewer 6 pieces each and grill for 4-5 minutes per side.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 4 Grill the Chicken
  • Simultaneously, pan-fry the pita bread in olive oil for 1 minute per side.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 5 Fry the Pita Bread
  • In a small bowl, combine 7 ounces of Greek yogurt, minced cucumber, spring onions, minced garlic, and a dash of salt.
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 6 Whip Up the Tzatziki Sauce
  • To assemble, place a pita on a plate and top it with chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and a spoonful of tzatziki sauce. Enjoy!
    Chicken Souvlaki Step 7 the Grand Asembly

Video

Notes

  • The total time and the ingredient quantities are based on 4 servings of Chicken Souvlaki.
  • You can reduce the preparation time to 30 minutes if you use store-bought pita bread.
  • If you would like to make a Vegan Souvlaki, substitute the chicken with tofu (use the same marinade) and the Greek yogurt with a plant-based yogurt.
  • Once finished, you can cover the Souvlaki with aluminum foil and reheat it later in the oven.
  • Feel free to add other ingredients to your Souvlaki: cheese, grilled vegetables, fresh herbs, a spicy sauce, etc.

Nutrition

Calories: 471kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 1326mg | Potassium: 914mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1052IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 5mg
Liliya Balinska

Liliya Balinska

Content Writer

Expertise

Content Writer, Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Translator & Proofreader

Education

Universidade do Minho, Portugual

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures
  • Focus: The languages, cultures, and societal aspects of Eastern countries.

Nankai University, China

  • Program: Exchange Program, Chinese Studies
  • Focus: Improving understanding of Chinese language, culture, history, and possibly other specific areas related to Chinese studies.

Universidade do Minho, Portugual

  • Program: Master’s degree, Intercultural Studies Portuguese/Chinese
  • Focus: Preparing students for markets involving Chinese and Portuguese cultures, focusing on linguistic skills, communication, and cultural sensitivity

Escolas do Turismo de Portugal

  • Program: Culinary Arts
  • Focus: preparing students for technical and managerial roles in food service and restaurant business. It emphasizes solid technical training, creativity, and ethical awareness, with the goal of promoting sustainable development in the tourism and hospitality sectors​.

Liliya Balinska, based in Lisbon, is a culinary content writer with an impressive educational background in Oriental and Intercultural Studies, complemented by a specialization in Culinary Arts. Her broad expertise enables her to cover a wide array of cuisines, from European classics to global dishes, captivating food lovers worldwide with her deep cultural knowledge and captivating writing style.

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