Grilled Chicken Souvlaki marinated in yogurt, lemon, garlic, and spices tastes just like your favorite restaurant version but are easy to make at home on the grill or on the oven.
Is there anything better than chicken souvlaki? Served on pita bread with loads of tzatziki, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions (plus whatever else you want to add on), it's the most perfect sandwich, in my opinion. Plus, they are so easy to make, healthy, and the chicken can be served in so many different ways.
The inspiration for these Grilled Chicken Souvlaki came from my trip to visit my girlfriends in southern California. There are so many restaurants to choose from, we always have such a hard time deciding where to go. But this time we were impulsive and went to the first restaurant we passed that looked good when we were ready to take a lunch break after doing some serious shopping. It was a Mediterranean restaurant that served, hands-down, the best chicken Souvlaki I have ever had in my entire life.
Of course, when I got home I had to try to recreate it and I think I got pretty darn close! I used chicken thighs because I love the taste of them but you could just as easily substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast as well. I also like to keep mine simple in terms of toppings but you can pile on as much or as little as you like!
What is chicken souvlaki?
Chicken souvlaki originated in Greece. It's a dish made from meat that's been cooked on a skewer and quite literally translates to "meat on a skewer." Sometimes it's chicken and sometimes lamb or beef. Typically it is served as street food piled into a pita with a generous serving of tzatziki.
This at-home version eliminates the skewer, although you could easily add it if you like. The meat is marinated in yogurt to make it super tender. It's flavored with all the traditional components - lemon, garlic, and lots of herbs. Many times chicken souvlaki is marinated in olive oil, but using yogurt is a great way to cut back on the calories while still adding all the same great flavors.
How do you make Grilled Chicken Souvlaki?
First, mix together the marinade: yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper, then put the chicken and the marinade in a ziplock bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken and place the sealed bag in the fridge, for up to 2 hours, but overnight is best.
When it's time to grill, take the chicken out of the marinade and let the excess drip off. Grill the thighs over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side or until it's cooked all the way through. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes once you take them off the grill.
To serve: Slice the chicken and serve on top of a pita with tzatziki sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and thinly sliced onions, or whatever toppings you enjoy.
Ideas for Leftovers
- Slice the leftover marinated chicken and serve on a bed of lettuce or thinly sliced kale with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and thinned tzatziki sauce as a dressing.
- Add the leftover chicken to a wrap with zucchini ribbons, pickled red onions, and tomato slices. Top with hummus.
- Make a Greek quesadilla using chicken, onions, tomatoes, and feta or goat cheese — or a combination of both!
- Chop leftover chicken and make chicken salad. Adapt the recipe to one of my favorite chicken salad recipes.
- Stuff the chicken into a baked potato with feta crumbled on top.
- Create a healthy Greek bowl dish, using quinoa, chicken, and more of your favorite healthy additions.
Is souvlaki chicken healthy?
Yes! My version of souvlaki is very healthy and generally speaking, this is usually a healthier option on the menu at your favorite restaurants as well. It will likely have more calories since more it will have more olive oil, but overall, it's usually a safe choice.
Also, chicken thighs are a good source of protein, zinc, iron, and good cholesterol. They are filling and, as long as you take the skin off before cooking, low in fat.
What's the difference between a chicken gyro and chicken souvlaki?
The main difference between a chicken gyro and chicken souvlaki is how the meat is cooked. While gyro meat is generally cooked on a vertical rotisserie, souvlaki is cooked on a skewer, horizontally over coals or a grill.
Can I cook this in the oven?
If you don't have a grill or grill pan, you can cook this in the oven instead. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade, making sure all the excess yogurt drips off. This will help prevent burning. Then cook for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Broil for the last 2-3 minutes for a crispy exterior.
I think you'll soon find this Chicken Souvlaki is much easier than you thought to make and much healthier than take-out! Put them in your meal plan rotation this week!
Side Dish Ideas
- Since you are already using the grill, think about making some grilled vegetables and topping them with a sprinkling of feta cheese, lemon juice, and oregano.
- Make a yummy Greek Salad or Greek Pasta Salad with all the fixings.
- Hummus is delicious with Souvlaki as a dipping sauce or served right in the sandwiches. This artichoke version is especially tasty.
- Follow the street food traditional and make some fries to stuff in your pita like these Baked Parsnip Fries or Baked Skinny Fries.
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
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For the oven, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade, making sure all the excess yogurt drips off. This will help prevent burning. Then cook for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Broil for the last 2-3 minutes for a crispy exterior.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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