Grilled chicken souvlaki is a delicious and easy Greek-inspired skewer that will become a favorite in your summer grilling routine.
Grilled Greek Chicken Souvlaki
Easy grilled chicken souvlaki is a classic grilling recipe that deliciously combines the Greek flavors of oregano, lemon, and garlic.
My husband lived in Greece for a while after high school, and learned secrets to perfect Greek souvlaki - it's one of our favorite grilled dinners, especially served with tzatziki!
Souvlaki is different from the classic gyro because it is cooked on a skewer rather than a vertical spit like a gyro. It’s small pieces of meat or vegetables on a skewer and is grilled over charcoal fires. It’s cooked in street-corner cafes and food carts and is essentially Greek fast food. It’s a whole lot more delicious than American fast food, and a whole lot better for you! The name comes from the Greek word for a skewer.
Grilled chicken souvlaki is delicious hot off the grill and tasty cold as leftovers in a host of different applications. The bright lemon and earthy oregano flavors are sure to please even the pickiest eater.
How to Make Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Chicken thighs - I used deboned and skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. They have a deeper flavor and more inter-muscular fat than chicken breasts that hold up to high heat grilling better.
- Lemon - Use both the zest and the juice for this recipe. The zest is the colorful outer part of the peal. It’s highly aromatic and tastes of the essence of lemon, without the bitterness of the white pith. The juice is tart and bright. The acid helps soften and tenderize the meat while bringing fresh lemon flavor to the chicken.
- Garlic powder - Garlic powder brings deep and earthy flavor to the dish, without the sharp spice often found in raw garlic.
- Oregano - Oregano is a traditional herb for seasoning meat in the Mediterranean region. Its earthy and pungent flavor pairs well with cumin, garlic powder, and meats.
- Basil - Basil provides sweetness and floral notes that help round out the earthy flavors of the other spices.
- Garlic cloves - Raw garlic is full of flavor, and brings a traditional share spicey taste. There is an enzyme in the garlic that is released when it is crushed that helps tenderize the chicken.
- Olive Oil - use a good quality olive oil with a flavor you love.
- Salt and pepper - Salt enhances the flavor of the chicken and the other spices, while the pepper brings a mild heat that pairs well with the earthy and acid flavors of the other spices.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Prepare your chicken. Remove excess fat, skin, and bone from your chicken thighs. Cut the chicken into small, but uniform pieces.
- Marinate the chicken. Dice the raw garlic cloves. Zest and juice your lemon, and add to the diced garlic and remaining dry ingredients, and olive oil. Mix well and then add your chicken. I like to store the marinading chicken in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I recommend you allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30-45 minutes.
- Skewer the chicken. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, place it on skewers keeping pieces of the same size together.
- Grill your chicken souvlaki skewers. I used a Lodge Sportsmall grill to cook my chicken skewers. It is a small cast iron grill that is portable and great for grilling. You can find the grill here. I used Jealous Devil Onyx Binchotan Charcoal because a relatively small amount burns very hot and clean. Cook the skewers, turning regularly until it is brown on all sides and reaches an internal temperature of 165o degrees.
- Rest the chicken souvlaki and serve hot . Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165o, remove it from the grill and let rest for 5-7 minutes before serving. You can serve still on the skewer, or remove it from the skewer before serving.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Chicken Souvlaki:
Chicken souvlaki is incredibly easy to make, but these tips will help make it even better.
Tip 1 - Substitute breasts for thighs. While I used chicken thighs, the traditional cut for chicken souvlaki is chicken breasts. If you or your family prefer chicken breasts go ahead and use them.
Tip 2 - Cut the chicken into uniform pieces. One of the most important parts of getting this recipe right is to ensure the chicken is cut into uniform pieces. Uniform pieces ensure that the chicken will cook evenly on the grill.
Tip 3 - Use reusable metal skewers instead of wooden ones. Greek souvlaki is traditionally cooked with disposable wooden skewers. They’re soaked in water before cooking to prevent them from burning and reduce the chances of splintering when the chicken is skewered. I find this doesn't always work, and we don’t like the splintering of wooden skewers. Reusable metal skewers are hygienic, easy to clean and skewer meat much more easily. I use these skewers.
If the weather isn’t conducive to grilling, you can cook your chicken souvlaki in the oven. Cook it on a sheet pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Broil at 400o turning every 5 minutes until chicken is browed evenly and reaches and internal temperature of 165o F.
You can freeze your cooked chicken souvlaki for up to four months in a plastic freezer bag, and reheat it before serving.
You can marinate the chicken up 36-48 hours before cooking. You can easily prepare the chicken ahead of time, and cook when your guests arrive.
You can keep leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.
What to Serve With Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki Recipe
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Delicious grilled greek chicken souvlaki skewers are a simple keto dish everyone loves!
- 4 Chicken Thighs
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil
- 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
- 6 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 teaspoon of black pepper
- Remove excess fat, skin, and bone from your chicken thighs. Cut the chicken into small, but uniform pieces.
- Dice the raw garlic cloves.
- Zest and juice your lemon, and add to the diced garlic and remaining dry ingredients, and olive oil. Mix well and then add your chicken. I like to store the marinading chicken in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I recommend you allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30-45 minutes.
- When you’re ready to cook the chicken, place it on skewers keeping pieces of the same size together.
- I used a Lodge Sportsmall grill to cook my chicken skewers. It is a small cast iron grill that is portable and great for grilling. You can find the grill here. I used Jealous Devil Onyx Binchotan Charcoal because a relatively small amount burns very hot and clean.
- Cook the skewers, turning regularly until it is brown on all sides and reaches an internal temperature of 165o degrees.
- Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165o, remove it from the grill and let rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
- You can serve still on the skewer, or remove it from the skewer before serving.
Amount Per Serving Calories 222Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 24gCholesterol 166mgSodium 1295mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 2gSugar 0gProtein 31g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.