Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Chicken Souvlaki
Chicken Souvlaki plus a tomato and cucumber salad is a perfect summer meal!

(Updated with new photos and better instructions, August 2012.)   Souvlaki is a dish that's so classic it's part of Wikipedia, which defines it as small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. If I were writing the definition, I'd add that the Greek cooking trinity of lemon, garlic, and oregano would have to be included, and since I was using chicken this time I also added a touch of thyme to the marinade.   I like traditional Souvlaki made from pork, as well as Lamb Souvlaki, but for a light summer meal I don't think you can beat the combination of Chicken Souvlaki and a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden.  I made that this week when my sister Pam and brother-in-law Kelly came for dinner and took a few photos to update this favorite recipe. 

I cut the chicken breasts into crosswise strips. This shape allows each piece of meat to be folded over when it's threaded onto the skewer, and prevents the meat from spinning on the grill.

Mix lemon, garlic, oregano, and thyme, plus a healthy dose of olive oil to make the marinade for the chicken.

Let chicken marinate in the refrigerator all day while you're at work, and when you get home it will be ready to grill.

I love my double skewers, which really keep the meat from spinning on the grill, but if you don't have skewers like this it's even more important to fold over each piece of chicken when you put it on the skewer.

Spray the grill with non-stick grill spray or brush with oil before you preheat; then cook the chicken on the first side until you see grill marks.

Turn over and continue to cook until the meat is just starting to feel firm and nicely browned.  I cooked these about 12 minutes total cooking time on a medium-high grill.

Chicken Souvlaki
And just for fun, here's the original Chicken Souvlaki photo from back in 2008, definitely not bad for those days!

Chicken Souvlaki
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn.)

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (You can cut the marinade in half for only four chicken breasts.)

Marinade Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T finely minced garlic (or garlic puree from a jar)
1 T dried oregano (use Greek or Turkish oregano)
1 tsp. dried thyme

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts, then cut each piece into 5 or 6 crosswise strips. (I made the strips about 1 inch thick.) Put chicken strips into large Ziploc bag or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and thyme and stir together with a whisk or spoon. Pour marinade into Ziploc bag or plastic container, seal, and squeeze bag or turn container over and shake gently so all pieces of meat are well-coated with marinade. Put into refrigerator and marinate 6-8 hours or more.

To get ready to grill, remove chicken from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, then drain chicken pieces and thread onto skewers. I put six pieces on each skewer, and folded over each piece of chicken so it wouldn't spin around on the skewers. Spray grill with non-stick spray or mist with olive oil, then preheat gas or charcoal barbecue grill to medium high. (You can only hold your hand there for a few seconds at that heat.)

Grill skewers about 12-15 minutes, turning the first time as soon as you see nice grill marks. Souvlaki is done when the chicken is slightly browned and firm, but not hard to the touch.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Chicken cooked like this is a perfect main dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet or any other low-glycemic eating plan. I served the Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce and a simple cucumber and tomato salad for phase one. For phase two or three, you could serve the meat inside 100% whole wheat pita bread, or serve something like Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi on the side.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Versions of Souvlaki to Try:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Lamb Souvlaki, Grilled Lamb Cubes Cooked Greek Style
Kalyn's Souvlaki (pork)
Halibut and Red Pepper Souvlaki from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Lamb Souvlaki from Closet Cooking
Santorini-Inspired Souvlaki from A Wee Bit of Cooking
Pork Souvlaki from Kalafagos - Greek Food and Beyond
Pork Souvlaki from Kopiaste - To Greek Hospitality
Pork and Halloumi Souvlaki from Little Foodies
Chicken Souvlaki from The Culinary Chase
Chicken and Lamb Souvlaki from Gustoso
(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure: Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon! 

counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Chicken souvlaki has become more popular of late (in Greece & abroad) and your's just as succulent as the red meat variety.

    Thanks for linking to my pork souvlaki!

  2. I've only ever had Chicken Souvlaki from street vendors so it will be interesting to see how a homemade version compares. Thank you for the great recommendation.

  3. Peter, thanks for the info. I didn't realize the use of chicken in Souvlaki had spread to Greece, but it is really tasty with chicken.

    Erin, I think the combo of lemon, oregano, and garlic is pretty classic. Hope you like this version.

  4. Gorgeous! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Just curious, why turn the chicken often and not just grill on each side for half the time?

  6. Yum...this looks so beautiful. I really want to add peaches to that skewer...

  7. Joe, there are really four sides, and I just prefer to get it evenly browned on all the sides, but you could certainly turn it only once if you prefer.

  8. Catering EquipmentJuly 25, 2008 at 3:54 AM

    Great idea and lovely picture!

  9. You just made my mouth drool. I have Lamb Souvlaki since May when I went to this Greek place with my parents. The Chicken looks as delicious too.

    I'm going to have to bookmark this page and make some tomorrow.

  10. Mmm, drooling now, dreaming of fragrant BBQs. Thanks for reminding me that I love souvlaki!

  11. We had souvlaki at our wedding and everyone loved the food!

  12. Hate to be redundant here... but you had me drooling as well!! Yum to the yum to the yum... I will definitely be making this! Thanks Kalyn:)

  13. That looks like a tasty dish.

  14. What is the side dish pictured with the chicken Souvlaki? It looks yummy too.

  15. Anonymous, the side dish is simply garden cucumbers, chopped mint, chopped parsley, and a bit of Italian dressing stirred together. Not really a recipe, but it did taste delicious with this.

  16. I just returned from 10 days in Greece, and chicken and lamb souvlaki were offered on most menus. I'm going to try your version tonight!

  17. Wow, this is the best chicken that I've ever made. The marinade made my chicken so delicious. This will be my "go to" recipe! Thank you!

  18. Hi Kaylyn- I have been spending a lot of time looking through your blog lately, and I really enjoy it. I have looked high and low for the recipe for the cucumber salad pictured with this chicken. Can you provide some direction? Thanks so much!

  19. Anonymous, I described the salad in a comment above and I'm afraid that as much of a recipe as I have for it: garden cucumbers, chopped mint, chopped parsley, and some Italian dressing from a bottle stirred together. Here's my best guess for a recipe:

    2 cups peeled, diced cucumbers
    1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
    1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
    2-3 T Italian salad dressing
    salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
    Stir together and eat!

    If you're on South Beach just look for a dressing with olive oil and less than 2 grams of sugar per serving.

  20. Is salt left out of the recipe for a reason?

  21. Anonymous, It doesn't really need salt with the lemon juice, vinegar, and herbs, but you can certainly add some salt if you'd like.

  22. What is the white dipping sauce you have in the picture?

  23. Melissa, the sauce is Tzatziki Sauce. It's a sauce made with Greek yogurt, cucumbers, lemon, garlic, and dill (or mint.) This is the classic Greek sauce for Souvlaki or Gyros.

  24. Does the big T represent a tablespoon?

  25. Yes, T = Tablespoon, tsp. = teaspoon.

  26. Thanks for linking to Gustoso! It's one of my favourite recipes.

  27. Gustoso, you're welcome; definitely one of my favorites too!

  28. I tried this last night with 2-1/2 ounds of Chicken Tenderloin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. Marinade for 24 hours. Grill for 3 minues per side. It was delicious. Thank you for keep this recipe posted from 2008. It was so easy and so tasty. I will be making this dish often. Next time I will try the chicken breast.

  29. I love souvlaki. This looks so good!

  30. Thanks Andrea! One of my favorites as well!

  31. Kalyn, you have in this fantastic recipe: "1 T dried oregano (use Greek or Turkish oregano)." I have never seen any description of the origin on my bottle of dried herbs -- do the ones you get from Penzey's specify? I have oregano growing in a pot but I have no idea from which country it came! I only know it is delicious in a salad. Thanks, Maura

  32. Maura, some brands do indeed specify Greek Oregano or Turkish Oregano (which are pretty much the same). There is also Mexican Oregano, which is quite different. If the bottle doesn't say it would be the Mediterranean Oregano like Greek or Turkish. Most of the oregano plants you buy are also probably Greek oregano!

  33. I'm going to try substituting some of my favorite Greek seasoning for the oregano. I love souvlaki flavorings, especially with chicken.

  34. I make something similar throughout the summer, sometimes in souvlaki form on skewers and sometimes just grilling boneless chicken breasts so I can make sandwiches for the kids during the summer. Love the updated photos.

  35. Lydia, Greek seasoning would be perfect in this!

    Thanks Jeanette; such a versatile mix of flavors.


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips