Chicken Souvlaki is one of the most popular Greek street foods amongst tourists and locals alike. And trust me, one bite of this soft and juicy Mediterranean delicacy and you’ll fall in love with it as well.
What is Souvlaki?
Souvlaki translates to meat on a skewer. To most Greek people, particularly those from Athens, Souvlaki is synonymous with meat encased in Pita bread.
Souvlaki became particularly popular in the 1950s when it came to America through immigrants and soon took over.
Souvlaki is essentially chunks of marinated meat or chicken on skewers that are grilled on an open fire. They are then served with grilled vegetables and traditional Tzatziki sauce in pita bread pockets.
Tips For Making Greek Chicken Souvlaki
Make the Tzatziki sauce at least 30 minutes in advance as that will give the flavors time to blend together.
The chicken also needs to be marinated a minimum of 30 minutes in advance. The longer the chicken sits in the marinade, the more flavors it will absorb.
If you don’t have metal skewers, soak the wooden skewers in water before threading the chicken onto them and cooking them on the grill.
When placing the chicken onto the skewers, thread it loosely. If you squeeze the chicken pieces together, some of them will cook faster than others resulting in an uneven cook.
Do not overcook the chicken souvlaki. The chicken will become dry and tough, and there’s nothing worse than eating dry chicken.
This is why it’s essential to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F / 75°C. Cooking the chicken to the correct temperature will keep the chicken nice and tender and prevent it from drying out and becoming tough.
Can I Make Greek Chicken Souvlaki In Advance?
Of course, you can make this Souvlaki in advance. You can season and marinate the chicken and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Alternatively, you can also cook the chicken souvlaki and store it in the fridge for later. Once you’re in the mood for it, you can reheat it in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.
Can I Freeze Greek Chicken Souvlaki?
Yes, you can freeze chicken souvlaki. It’s the best option if you will not cook the chicken within 24 hours.
Simply season the chicken and place it into a freezer bag. Press the excess air out of the bag, then label it with the name of the dish, as well as today’s date, and place it into the freezer.
When you are ready to cook the Souvlaki, place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight.
How To Cook Greek Chicken Souvlaki In The Oven?
If you don’t have a grill or a griddle pan, you can easily make this Greek Chicken Souvlaki in the oven. It will still be very delicious.
Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers and place them onto a baking sheet. Cook for 12-13 minutes at 480°F / 250°C or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F / 75°C. To give the chicken some color, set the oven to broil and cook for 1 minute.
An important thing to remember here is to not walk away from the skewers once you set the oven to broil. The chicken will burn very easily so you need to watch them closely. As soon they are golden brown, take them out of the oven.
How To Store Greek Chicken Souvlaki?
If you have any leftover Souvlaki, you can easily store it and have delicious leftovers the next day.
To store the Souvlaki in the fridge, take the meat off the skewers once they have cooled down. In the fridge, you can easily keep them for 3 days.
If you want to freeze the Grek Chicken Souvlaki, it is better to do so without cooking them. Simply take a large freezer bag and add your chicken and marinade inside. Spread the chicken so it is in a single layer and store in the freezer for a maximum of 3 months.
Greek Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients
Although Chicken Souvlaki is a Greek dish, you will find the ingredients to make it easily at your local store.
Greek Seasoning: I used a homemade Greek seasoning that consists of spices and herbs such as basil, dill, oregano, cinnamon, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. However, you can also use a store-bought Greek seasoning.
Chicken Breast: Chicken breast is the star of this Souvlaki. However, you can use chicken thighs if desired.
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice gives the chicken a zesty flavor which pairs really well with the tzatziki sauce.
Olive Oil: Olive oil adds a slight Mediterranean taste to the chicken and allows the Greek seasoning to stick to the chicken.
Ingredients for Tzatziki sauce
English Cucumber: English cucumbers add a refreshing bite to the tzatziki. English cucumbers are the best for this sauce, but you can also use regular cucumbers. Remember to peel the regular cucumbers as they have waxy skins which may be bitter.
Kosher Salt: Salt helps draw the moisture out of the cucumbers. If you do not add the salt to the cucumbers, you run the risk of having a watery Tzatziki sauce.
Garlic: Garlic adds a rich, savory punch of flavor to the sauce.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar adds an acidic flare that balances out the flavor of the sauce.
Olive Oil: Olive oil adds a depth of flavor to the Tzatziki.
Plain Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor to the sauce.
Black Pepper: Black pepper adds a mild peppery bite which contrasts beautifully with the other ingredients in the Tzatziki sauce.
Dill: Dill adds a grassy, slightly tangy flavor that also pairs well with the other flavors in the sauce.
How to make the perfect Greek Chicken Souvlaki?
Simply mix together your spices for the Homemade Greek seasoning. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of seasoning and mix to form the marinade.
Marinade the chicken for 1-2 hours before threading it onto skewers and grilling until cooked through and golden brown in color.
Serve warm with Pita bread and Tzatziki sauce for the most authentic Greek experience.
Steps for a perfect Tzatziki Sauce
Nothing pairs better with Souvlaki than Tzatziki sauce. Shred your cucumber and add salt and pepper to it. Let it sit for a while and then drain the water out of it using a tea towel.
Add the shredded cucumber to a bowl and mix with garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, Greek yogurt, dill, and black pepper.
You can store the Tzazik in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
How do they make Souvlaki in Greece?
Traditionally Souvlaki was made using pork which was grilled on skewers. The pork skewers were then served with bread and a sauce. Nowadays, however, Souvlaki is made from all kinds of meat and even has vegetarian versions.
Is Greek Souvlaki healthy?
Souvlaki is essentially grilled pieces of chicken, beef, or pork. Meat contains many beneficial nutrients and vitamins such as protein which means Souvlaki at its simplest is a healthy dish. You can add or subtract toppings and sauces to make it more healthy if you like.
Are Souvlaki and Gyro the same thing?
Souvlaki and Gyro are both very popular Greek dishes. Souvlaki is meat on skewers that you serve with a slice of pita bread. Gyro, on the other hand, is meat in stacks. The main difference between these two dishes is the way that the meat cooks.
Are Souvlaki and Kebab the same thing?
These two dishes differ in how the meat is marinated. For Souvlaki, you marinate and cook on a skewer while for kebabs, you mix the meat with different ingredients before cooking. Kebabs are served on their own whereas Souvlaki is served with or inside a Pita bread.
What goes well with Chicken Souvlaki?
If you’re looking for an authentic Greek experience, serve your Souvlaki with warm pita bread and some Tzatziki sauce. You can also serve rice, a simple side salad, or roasted potatoes with this Greek Souvlaki.
What toppings can I use with Chicken Souvlaki?
Traditionally, Souvlaki is grilled meat inside a slice of pita bread. In Greece, they top it with Tzatziki sauce but you can add more toppings to it if you want. You can use fresh vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, or lettuce. You can also use puffed rice or tortilla chips to add a bit of crunch to your Souvlaki.
Can I make Tzatziki sauce with Sour Cream?
Yes, you can. If you can’t find Greek yogurt or you just like Sour Cream more, you can substitute one with the other. Sour Cream has a tangy flavor so if you’re using that, lessen the amount of Apple Cider Vinegar you’re adding.
Can I use another sauce instead of Tzatziki Sauce?
If you’re looking to use a different sauce to serve with your Souvlaki, there are many options you can choose from. Souvlaki is a dish that will work with any kind of sauce so use whatever you desire. You can use Ranch dressing, Tahini Sauce, Cucumber Salad Dressing, or even simple Sour Cream.
How do I store leftover Tzatziki sauce?
Depending on the freshness of the ingredients used in making the Tzatziki sauce, you can store it in the fridge for anywhere between 4 days and 2 weeks. Make sure it is in an airtight container so no air can get in. You can also freeze the sauce in an airtight container after tightly wrapping it in plastic wrap.
Easy Greek Chicken Souvlaki
For the Tzatziki Sauce;
- 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, shredded
- 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp fresh Dill, minced
- 2 slices of Cucumber, for garnish
For the Greek Seasoning;
- 1 tsp kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried Basil
- 1/2 tsp dried Onion flakes
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried Dill weed
- 1/2 tsp Thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
For the Chicken Souvlaki;
- 4 Chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- Homemade Greek seasoning
- Place the shredded cucumber in a bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to it. Toss to combine.
- Put this mixture on a cheesecloth and squeeze all the water out of the cucumber. Take as much moisture out as you can to avoid a runny sauce.
- In another bowl, whisk together the garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and the remaining salt.
- Add the shredded cucumber to this mixture along with the Greek yogurt, dill, and black pepper.
- Mix it and cover the Tzatziki sauce and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
- Mix all ingredients and set aside.
- Place the chicken in a bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning to it. Mix until the chicken is covered in the marinade completely.
- Cover the chicken and place it in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
- Set your grill or griddle to medium-high heat and let it come to a temperature of 375°F-450°F.
- Thread the marinated chicken cubes onto metal skewers and place them onto the grill or griddle.
- Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side with the lid closed. You're looking for a golden brown color on the outside and an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Place the skewers on a platter and serve with warm pita bread. Serve the Tzatziki sauce in a bowl and garnish with two cucumbers on top.
- Serve and enjoy!