This Greek Souvlaki Recipe will transport you straight back to your favourite Taverna! Serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread and prepare to be hooked!
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Whenever I think of Greece, I picture intense heat, blazing blue skies, Frappé coffee, giant sweet watermelons, ice-cold beer and night skies littered with thousands of stars. And Greek souvlaki with tzatziki and pita bread of course!!
WHAT IS ‘SOUVLAKI’
Souvlaki comes from the word ‘souvla‘ meaning skewer, literally the rod on which meat is skewered. I sometimes see food bloggers using ‘souvlaki’ as a catch-all term for Greek meat dishes – if it’s not skewered, it’s not souvlaki, by definition!
Souvlaki is the perfect street food – meat grilled on a skewer and served on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, onions and, sometimes, fries. Made well and served fresh, it is absolutely delicious – just the thing to eat after swimming all day.
Turns out it is also easy to make at home – the ideal food to share with friends. Copy the souvlaki stand method of having all the fillings and sauces prepared and laid out and everyone can fill their own pitas as soon as the skewers are off the grill.
SECRET TO BEST SOUVLAKI? IT’S THE MARINADE!
Use my easy Greek marinade to infuse the meat with true Mediterranean flavour. Simply combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dried Greek oregano and a pinch of spices then add your choice of meat.
Cover and let the meat to soak up all these wonderful flavours for 30 minutes or ideally an hour. You can also use this marinade for lamb chops, chicken breasts and so on!
WHAT MEAT TO USE FOR SOUVLAKI
You can use chicken, pork, or lamb to make souvlaki skewers. Pork shoulder steaks are great cooked in this way.
If you are using chicken, then opt for skinless chicken thighs as breast is a little too lean and will be quite dry if cooked in this way. Lamb is a really good choice as the meat is very succulent cooked on skewers.
WHAT PITA BREAD TO USE
Greek pita bread is soft and fluffy and sturdy enough to hold the souvlaki and all the fillings. It resembles naan bread – not the thin pita bread with pockets.
IS SOUVLAKI HEALTHY?
Good news! Souvlaki is actually pretty healthy as well as super tasty, unlike Greek Gyros which is usually made with really fatty meat. Try my Chicken Gyro recipe for a healthier version of gyro!
HOW TO SERVE SOUVLAKI THE GREEK WAY!
SOUVLAKI PITA Spread a generous amount of tzatziki on a warm flatbread. Add the meat (off the skewer) and top with the tomato and sliced onion. Sprinkle with a little paprika and wrap tightly, using greaseproof paper to hold everything together. Eat immediately!
DITCH THE CARBS – KETO SOUVLAKI
Remove the meat from the skewers and serve with the onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce over a crisp lettuce leaf salad. Add some chopped avocados (not very traditional but super yummy) and dig in!
Love Greek Food? Try these recipes!
- Sheet pan Greek bifteki with potatoes
- Slow cooker Greek lamb kleftiko with potatoes
- Greek orzo pasta salad with tomatoes and feta
- Greek sheet pan chicken with potatoes and feta
Greek Souvlaki Recipe
For the tzatziki
- 450 g (1 ½ cups) strained Greek Yogurt full fat
- 1 g large cucumber seeds removed
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint very finely diced
- ½ tbsp fresh dill chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil to drizzle
For the souvlaki & marinade
- 900 g (2 pounds) skinless chicken thighs or pork shoulder steaks
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice or wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- pita bread
- large vine tomatoes sliced thinly
- red onion sliced very thinly
- flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- smoked sweet paprika to dust
Make the tzatziki sauce
- Coarsely grate the cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt.
- Let it stand for 5 minutes and then use a cheesecloth (or your hands) to squeeze most of the moisture out.
- Mix well with the yogurt, garlic, herbs and lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. Cover and put in the fridge until needed to allow the flavours to develop.
Marinate the meat
- Slice the chicken or pork into chunky even pieces, removing any large pieces of fat.
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Add the diced meat, mix to combine, cover and leave to marinate for 30-60 minutes in the fridge.
Grill the skewers
- If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes so that they don't burn. Thread the meat on the skewers.
- Heat a large frying or griddle pan and wipe with olive oil. Grill the skewers over high heat, turning frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Taste and season with additional salt (if needed) and pepper.
Serve the souvlaki
- Mix the sliced onion with the chopped parsley and have all your souvlaki fillings ready.
- Briefly pan fry the pitas to warm them up (or brush with a little olive oil and briefly grill on the barbecue) then add a little onion, tzatziki and sliced tomatoes.
- Add the meat (off the skewers) and season with a little smoked paprika. Wrap the pitta around the fillings, using a little greaseproof paper to hold everything together if you like. Eat immediately!