Chicken Souvlaki Recipe


Chicken Souvlaki holds a significant place in Greek culinary history. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was originally prepared as a simple skewered meat. The term “Souvlaki” itself translates to “skewer” in Greek, reflecting the cooking method used to prepare this delectable dish.

Traditionally, Souvlaki was made using lamb or pork, but over time, chicken emerged as a popular alternative due to its milder flavor and leaner profile. The recipe has evolved and adapted through generations, incorporating various marinades, spices, and herbs to enhance the taste and appeal of the dish.

Ingredients For Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

There are several ingredients you’ll need to prepare Chicken Souvlaki. The ingredients you’d need to prepare the Chicken Souvlaki Recipe: 

  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), cut into chunks (optional)
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent burning

Additionally, you may want to gather the following optional ingredients for serving and garnishing:

  • Pita bread or flatbread
  • Tzatziki sauce (Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce)
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges for squeezing over the cooked chicken

Note: These quantities are meant to serve approximately 4 people. Adjust the amounts accordingly if you need to prepare a larger or smaller portion.

Step-by-Step Cooking Direction For Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Here is a step-by-step Guide to Cooking Chicken Souvlaki:

Step 1: Prepare the Marinade

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until well combined. The marinade should have a tangy and herbaceous aroma.

Step 2: Marinate the Chicken

Place the chicken cubes in a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring each piece is evenly coated. Massage the marinade into the chicken, allowing the flavors to penetrate. Cover the dish or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to allow the chicken to marinate and absorb the flavors.

Step 3: Preheat the Grill

If you’re using a grill, preheat it to medium-high heat. This will ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and develops a slightly charred exterior while remaining juicy inside. If you don’t have a grill, use a grill pan or a skillet over medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Step 4: Skewer the Chicken

Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and thread the chicken cubes onto the soaked wooden skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece. Skewering the chicken helps it cook evenly and allows easy flipping on the grill.

Step 5: Grill the Chicken Souvlaki

Place the skewered chicken on the preheated grill or grill pan. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure all sides are cooked evenly. The chicken should be cooked with no pink in the center and have a slightly charred exterior. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken cubes.

Step 6: Rest and Serve

Once cooked, remove the Chicken Souvlaki from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in tender and juicy chicken. Serve the Chicken Souvlaki on a platter, garnished with fresh parsley. 

Equipment For Preparing Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

To make Chicken Souvlaki, you will need the following equipment:

1. Skewers

Skewers are essential for threading marinated chicken cubes. Traditional Souvlaki is typically prepared using wooden skewers. Soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before using them to prevent them from burning on the grill. Metal skewers can also be used if preferred.

2. Mixing Bowls

You will need mixing bowls for marinating the chicken and preparing the marinade. Use separate bowls to avoid cross-contamination and ensure the even distribution of flavors.

3. Whisk or Fork

A whisk or fork will come in handy for blending the marinade ingredients. This helps create a homogeneous mixture, ensuring the flavors are well incorporated.

4. Grill or Grill Pan

The chicken in the Souvlaki recipe is traditionally cooked on a grill to achieve a smoky and charred flavor. If you don’t have access to a grill, a grill pan or even a regular skillet can be an alternative.

5. Tongs

Tongs are essential for flipping the Chicken Souvlaki on the grill. They provide a secure grip on the skewers, making turning them easier and ensuring even cooking.

6. Basting Brush

A basting brush can be useful for brushing any remaining marinade onto the Chicken Souvlaki while grilling. This helps to enhance the flavors and maintain moisture.

7. Plate or Platter

Once it’s off the grill, you will need a plate or platter to transfer the cooked Chicken Souvlaki. This allows for easy serving and presentation.

8. Serving Dishes

Optional, but if you plan to serve the Chicken Souvlaki with accompaniments like pita bread, tzatziki sauce, sliced onions, tomatoes, or lemon wedges, have appropriate serving dishes or plates ready.

9. Knife

A sharp knife is useful for cutting chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes before marinating. It’s also handy for testing the chicken’s doneness while grilling.

10. Measuring Cups and Spoons

While not equipment specific to Chicken Souvlaki, measuring cups and spoons are essential for accurately measuring the marinade ingredients to ensure a well-balanced flavor profile.

Tips & Tricks for the Perfect Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

Preparing the perfect Chicken Souvlaki requires attention to detail and a few expert tips and tricks. Here are some valuable insights to help you elevate your Chicken Souvlaki game:

  • Choose the Right Chicken: Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the best results. They cook evenly and are easy to cube. Make sure to trim any excess fat or connective tissue before cutting it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Marinating Time: Give the chicken enough time to soak up the marinade flavors. While a minimum of 1 hour is recommended, marinating the chicken overnight allows the flavors to penetrate deeply, resulting in a more flavorful and tender final dish.
  • Thread Chicken Securely: When skewering the chicken cubes, ensure they are tightly packed but not squeezed together. This helps the chicken cook evenly and prevents them from sliding or spinning around on the skewers.
  • Soak Wooden Skewers: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before threading the chicken. This prevents them from burning on the grill. Alternatively, consider using metal skewers for convenience and ease.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat before placing the Chicken Souvlaki on it. A properly heated grill ensures a seared exterior and juicy interior. If using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are white and glowing before grilling.
  • Grill Lid Closed: Grill the Chicken Souvlaki with the lid closed whenever possible. This helps retain heat, allowing for even cooking and adding a smoky flavor to the chicken.
  • Don’t Overcook: Chicken breasts can dry out if overcooked. Grill the skewers for approximately 8-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until the chicken is cooked with no pink in the center. Use a meat thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).
  • Rest Before Serving: Allow the cooked Chicken Souvlaki to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in tender and juicy chicken. Covering the skewers with foil during the resting period helps retain heat.
  • Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Just before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over the Chicken Souvlaki. The vibrant green color and herbaceous flavor add a refreshing touch to the dish.
  • Serve with Accompaniments: To complete the experience, serve the Chicken Souvlaki with warm pita bread or flatbread, tzatziki sauce, sliced red onions, tomatoes, and lemon wedges. These accompaniments provide a burst of freshness and beautifully complement the Souvlaki flavors.

Nutritional Benefits of Chicken Souvlaki

This Greek dish satisfies the taste buds and offers numerous nutritional benefits. Packed with lean protein, essential vitamins, and minerals, chicken souvlaki makes for a wholesome and delectable meal. 

  • Lean Protein for Muscle Health: Chicken souvlaki is an excellent source of lean protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, including muscles, skin, and bones. With its tender chicken marinated in a blend of flavorful herbs and spices, chicken souvlaki provides a generous amount of high-quality protein, promoting muscle health and aiding in recovery after physical activities. So, if you’re looking for a protein-packed meal to support your active lifestyle, chicken souvlaki is a fantastic choice.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Alongside its protein content, chicken souvlaki boasts an array of essential vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall well-being. Let’s explore some key nutrients found in this Greek delicacy:
  • Vitamin B6: Chicken souvlaki is a rich source of vitamin B6, which plays a vital role in brain development and function. This water-soluble vitamin produces neurotransmitters that regulate mood, memory, and cognitive function. Including chicken souvlaki in your diet can provide a flavorful way to support brain health and enhance cognitive abilities.
  • Vitamin C: The marinade used in chicken souvlaki often contains lemon juice, which is abundant in vitamin C. Vitamin C is well-known for its immune-boosting properties, as it helps protect against infections and supports the body’s natural defense mechanisms. By indulging in a delicious serving of chicken souvlaki, you not only savor the citrusy tang but also give your immune system a much-needed boost.
  • Iron: Chicken souvlaki contains iron, an essential mineral that aids in producing red blood cells and oxygen transport throughout the body. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness, so incorporating iron-rich foods like chicken souvlaki into your diet can help prevent such deficiencies and promote optimal energy levels.
  • Selenium: Selenium is a trace mineral found in chicken souvlaki, a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and supports a healthy immune system. Enjoying this delectable dish can nourish your body with selenium and enhance its defense against oxidative stress.
  • Low-Calorie Option for Weight Management: Chicken souvlaki offers a low-calorie alternative without compromising flavor. This makes it an excellent choice for those who manage their weight while indulging in delicious meals. The lean chicken used in souvlaki, combined with the vibrant assortment of vegetables and fragrant herbs, creates a satisfying and wholesome dish that won’t derail your healthy eating goals.

Chicken Souvlaki Is Best Served With?

Now that we’ve explored the nutritional benefits of chicken souvlaki let’s turn our attention to the delightful accompaniments that enhance the flavors and complete this Greek culinary masterpiece.

1. Traditional Tzatziki Sauce

No chicken souvlaki experience is complete without a generous dollop of traditional tzatziki sauce. This creamy, tangy condiment made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill adds a refreshing and cooling element to the dish. Its creamy texture and a hint of garlic perfectly complement the tender chicken, creating a harmonious combination that tantalizes the taste buds.

2. Fresh Greek Salad

To further elevate the dining experience, serve chicken souvlaki with fresh Greek salad. Bursting with flavors and vibrant colors, this salad features a medley of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, tangy feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and a drizzle of olive oil. The refreshing nature of the salad provides a delightful contrast to the warm and aromatic chicken souvlaki.

3. Warm Pita Bread

Warm pita bread is the perfect vessel to enjoy the succulent chicken souvlaki. The soft and fluffy texture of the bread pairs harmoniously with the flavorful chicken and adds a fun element of comfort to the meal. Tear off a piece of warm pita, stuff it with a morsel of chicken and a dollop of tzatziki sauce, and relish the explosion of flavors in each bite.

Storage Tips for Chicken Souvlaki

Proper storage is essential to ensure your chicken souvlaki’s freshness and safety. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Refrigeration: If you have leftover chicken souvlaki, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it promptly. Consume within 2-3 days to maintain optimal taste and quality.
  • Freezing: To extend the shelf life of chicken souvlaki, you can freeze it. Wrap individual portions tightly in plastic wrap or place them in freezer-safe containers. Remember to label and date the packages. When ready to enjoy the frozen souvlaki, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheating: When reheating chicken souvlaki, heat it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure food safety. You can reheat it in the oven, on the stovetop, or using a microwave.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Chicken thighs can be used as a juicier and more flavorful alternative to chicken breasts.

How long should I marinate the chicken?

Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to develop fully.

Can I cook Chicken Souvlaki on a stovetop?

Yes, use a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat if a grill is unavailable.

Can I make Chicken Souvlaki ahead of time?

Yes, you can marinate the chicken in advance, but grilling it just before serving for optimal freshness is best.

How do I prevent the chicken from drying out?

Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C) and avoid overcooking.

Can I use metal skewers instead of wooden ones?

Yes, metal skewers can be used as a convenient alternative to wooden skewers.

Chicken Souvlaki

Chicken Souvlaki is a delicious Greek dish consisting of marinated pieces of tender chicken skewered and grilled to perfection. This mouthwatering street food is typically served with pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and garnished with fresh vegetables. The juicy and flavorful chicken combined with the zesty sauce creates a delightful culinary experience that will leave you craving for more.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Servings 4
Calories 300 kcal

Equipment

  • Skewers
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk or fork
  • Grill or grill pan
  • Tongs
  • Basting brush
  • Plate or Platter
  • Serving Dishes
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 bell pepper (any colour), cut into chunks (optional)
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent burning

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined to prepare the marinade.
  • Place the chicken cubes in a shallow dish or a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring an even coating. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Cover the dish or seal the bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator. Thread the chicken cubes onto soaked wooden skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece.
  • Place the skewered chicken on the preheated grill. Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through with no pink in the centre and has a slightly charred exterior.
  • Remove the Chicken Souvlaki from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes.
  • Serve the Chicken Souvlaki on a platter, garnished with fresh parsley.

Video

Keyword dried oregano, red onion, Sliced cucumbers, Sliced tomatoes

Conclusion 

The Chicken Souvlaki Recipe offers a taste of Greece in every bite. The chicken souvlaki’s tender and marinated chicken, infused with a medley of herbs and spices, delivers a burst of flavor. We have explored the steps for preparing chicken souvlaki and the tips for the perfect chicken souvlaki. Try out this recipe using the steps we have enumerated. 

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