Piquant Chicken Souvlaki (Πικάντικη-Κοτόπουλο-Σουβλάκι)

Be it in Greece or abroad, I’m finding more Greek restaurants offering img_2446-2chicken souvlaki as an alternative to the pork or lamb variety. Eating a souvlaki can be an indulgence as it’s in a red meat category, some pork fat is usually in the cut of meat and they are so damn delicious!

I’ve rarely been satisfied with the taste or texture of the chicken souvlaki. Bland & dry are the usual descriptives (not appetizing) and again…the pork souvlaki is just too good to resist…until now.

This recipe is an amalgam of different applications I’ve seen done with chicken and the chicken souvlaki. I use Greek ingredients as a marinade for this Greek favourite.

There’s strained Greek yogurt, there’s oregano, lemon juice, paprika, garlic, grated onion and bay.

To really test this recipe out, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I cut them into strips and skewered the meat like a stitch (over & under). What I got here was a moist, juicy and very flavourful chicken souvlaki that I served family style (or as part of an array of Greek appetizers).

The key to a good souvlaki marinade here is the strained Greek yogurt. The enzymes in the yogurt help tenderize the meat the the remaining ingredients pack it with flavour.

Another departure I take from the usual souvlaki with Tzatziki sauce is to pair the chicken with a Greek-inspired Relish. Diane Kochilas shares this sauce in her book  “Meze” and it turned out to be a wonderful accompaniment to the meat.


Diane’s relish has some heat by I skipped that as my chicken souvlaki already has the heat. Tzatziki is also skipped here as yogurt is part of the chicken’s marianade. Let me clear one thing up here though…don’t think you’re missing out on any of that powerful garlic breath one gets from eating souvlaki with Tzatziki.

You have minced garlic in the chicken’s flavour profile and garlic is prominebt in the tomato-pepper relish.

What you have here is juicy and delicious chicken souvlaki, a touch of heat and enough garlic to make you please to your friends and guests…KISS ME I’M GREEK!

Piquant Chicken Souvlaki (Πικάντικη Κοτόπουλο Σουβλάκι)

(makes 1 appetizer/meze platter or serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless

1/3 cup strained Greek yogurtimg_2459

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

couple of bay leaves (or 1 tsp. ground bay)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, grated

1 Tbsp. good mustard (Dijon)

1-2 dry chillis, crushed

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. dry Greek oregano

salt and pepper to tasteimg_2449

Tomato-Pepper Relish

2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded & diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. of tomato paste

1 tsp. paprika

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

wooden skewers, soaked in water overnight.

  1. Chop all your relish ingredients and stir in a bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and allow the flavours to marry for at least a couple of hours in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
  2. Prepare the souvlaki by first rinsing and patting dry the chicken. Cut the breasts lengthwise into long, thin strips. Set aside and wash your hands.
  3. Into a zip lock bag, grate the onion and mince the garlic, add the remaining marinade ingredients (except salt, pepper and chicken). Squish the contents to blend and taste and adjust flavouring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your chicken strips into the bag and squish the contents so that all the meat is coated by the marinade. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 3 hours. Return to room temperature before grilling.
  4. Take your chicken strips out of the bag and discard it, plus the marinade. As if your were stitching with the skewer, Secure the strips of meat in a over and under fashion. Repeat until all your strips are on skewers.
  5. Preheat your gas grill or stovetop grill pan. Lubricate the grill surface with a vegetable oil and over medium-high heat, grill your chicken souvlaki for about 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with some warm pita bread, grilled sweet lemons, sprinkle some sea salt and dry Greek oregano Serve with a dollop of Relish and serve as part of an array of greek mezedes or as a meal with some rice pilaf and a salad.

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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56 Comments for “Piquant Chicken Souvlaki (Πικάντικη-Κοτόπουλο-Σουβλάκι)”


you know, i go to so many restaurants where yogurt is the primary ingredient to so many of my favorite dishes – but i’ve never cooked with it.

this sounds lovely, and motivates me to reconsider my yougurt laziness when it comes to cooking :)


Peter, just looking at those photos makes me hungry. I can’t wait for BBQ Season to come again. Just a couple more months. I added this recipe to my list of must makes this season.


This looks perfect! I love everything grilled, and this is a low-fat dish as well. Thanks for posting this one- I don’t have to starve while I diet!


Whoa, those souvlaki skewers look terrific! I just realized that I’ve been pronouncing it incorrectly. Um, I’ve said slou-va-ki instead of souv-la-ki. Oops. Now I know better. No matter how it’s said, it tastes terrific. I was surprised to see bay in the ingredients, and happy to see the 3 cloves of garlic! That relish is wonderful, too. I really like that serving dish with the little compartment for the relish. YUM! Happy Valentine’s Day!


Mwahh!!!!!you’re Greek aren’t you!!! I want to try this,because I have only had chicken souvlaki that is dry and tasteless.


the way you skewered the meat is the way we do it to make good bbq chicken – they’re excellent freshly cooked. if they don’t all get eaten in one go, i put them into the bean stew the next day towards the end of cooking time, and they stay tender


The chicken looks delicious but the relish really intrigued me. I thought at first ‘how different, a cooked relish” because of the tomato paste — but, happily, discovered it wasn’t. Either way, it sings out to me.


Delicious! I’m absolutely making these – maybe even tomorrow. BTW, D and I had your pasta with feta and romano (I’m sorry, forgotten the name right now) for our Valentine’s Day repast and just loved it – it was perfect. That, a good salad, some good wine and chocolate – nothing better!



This recipe is a keeper; as soon the BBQ thaws, I will be trying it out. Peter, you are such a romantic: garlic breath for V-day! What better way to say you care! LOL


I make souvlakia often both with pork and chicken. Your approach to the chicken souvlaki sounds interesting as well as the relish sounds delicious.


Peter, these look fabulous! I agree that most of the time chicken souvlaki is very dry and overdone at restaurants. This looks fab!


Well young man, first let me welcome you to your new home! I wish I could virtually send a plant or better yet a bottle of wine. But you can just pretend I did and have a glass on me! ;-)

Now as to these Chicken Souvlaki… They look fab but I am so craving some sort of white sauce… yogurt or that garlic skordalia… Can you put some of that on mine please!!!


Oh Peter, you eat so well.

I’m making pastichio on Tuesday for your challenge! It will be a challenge for me too so I’m excited. I hope it at least turns out better than Rachel Ray’s!


Funnily enough I just bookmarked a similar recipe yesterday. I thought the yogurt might do for souvlaki what it does for tandoori.Does this mean that you have been able to make it out to your BBQ this season and not shovel a path:D


i have to tell you, good chicken souvlaki may be my favorite greek entree. clearly, you have a winning recipe on your hands here. :)


I want that now.. Peter that looks absolutely gorgeous!!! Its my fav, always order when we go to a Greek joint. this needs to be bookmarked!


Τι να πω ! Πειναω σαν λυκος και τωρα μου τρεχουν τα σαλια…
Καλη σου εβδομαδα !


Sounds wonderful!
I made pork souvlaki for hubby for V-day, because nothing says lovin’ like garlic breath.
Plus, now that the deep freeze has let up, we can BBQ again, Yay!



OK…you got me on this one! I have been a reader for a while now..never commented till today…but boy that looks delish! And I plan to make it. I worked for many years in Greek Diners in NY and have a love for greek food…I cannot wait to try this out.Thnaks so much Peter..and I enjoy your blog very much!


you know how there are some pictures of food where you can just tell how moist, juicy and delicious the dish must be? that’s how i felt when i saw the chicken in the first picture. you can tell it just doesn’t suck. you can tell how moist is is and how flavorful it must be. this kind of thing is so easily f-ed up and made into a dry piece of poo, but this… now this looks so good.


When I lived at Broadview and Danforth (1991-1993) there was a very small family run restaurant on the Danforth (closer to Broadview than Pape) and for 5 bucks I got chicken souvlaki and a Canadian. Keeping in mind that I was a starving student at the time, it was perfection. That place made me fall in love with chicken souvlaki and I am ashamed to admit that I have never made it myself. I don’t think the place had a name, just the words *Greek Restaurant* in large letters across the front window. (Have I told you this story before?) Anyway, thanks for posting this, I look forward to trying it.


It’s almost 80 degrees here today and I was searching for a good recipe for the grill—something a little different. This is IT!



Peter, I made these recipes on Sunday and all I can say is WOW. My mouth is still tasting the chicken which was succulent and the tomato relish I am still having to explain to my friends why there was not enough.Thank you.