Chicken Souvlaki for the Soul

Chicken marinated in bright lemon juice and fresh herbs is skewered and grilled in this easy chicken souvlaki recipe.

As children, we would look forward to the summer, not only for the lack of school, our endless days stretching before us like a blank page waiting for their story to be written, but also because it meant our menu changed.

My mom, an oft-bored and harried home cook with five kids, did not vary the menu often but for the summer season. Suddenly, spaghetti night was swapped with hamburgers. Fresh vegetables replaced frozen. The grill that sat covered in snow on the deck more months than not was fired up and ready to roast all manner of meals. As for my siblings and me, we shucked corn and chopped vegetables, and more than once we begged that dinner should come on a stick. There was something about skewering tiny potatoes and slices of onion and pepper, of pulling the meat not off the bone but off a thin piece of wood that delighted us.

Perhaps it was the fair-like nature of being served dinner on a stick, or maybe it was simply how these skewers of marinated and grilled meats resembled lollipops, but we ate them like they were candy, skewer after skewer.

Souvlaki refers directly to those skewers, be it lamb or fish or chicken or vegetables you happen to be threading on the pointed ends. While you can use any cut of chicken, my favorite way to prepare these is to use whole chicken tenders. There’s no cutting or other prep necessary. If you have a good source, this is the way to go. If not, simply remove the skin and trim any excess fat from your chicken before marinating.

The tang of lemon and a bit of summer’s finest fresh herbs turn any cut of chicken into a dinner worth eating on a stick. Everyone could use a little candy for dinner, after all, big or small.

Chicken Souvlaki
Prep Time: Overnight marinade
Cook Time: 15 minutes


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 pounds skinless chicken tenders or chicken breast pieces cut into 1-inch cubes


  1. Place the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, fresh oregano, thyme, garlic and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Place the chicken and the marinade in a large zip-top bag or in a large shallow bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Soak the bamboo skewers in water.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the grill. Thread the chicken onto the soaked skewers.
  3. Place the chicken skewers on the preheated grill. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 minutes. Flip twice more, cooking 2 additional minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from the grill and allow the skewers to rest under foil for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serve souvlaki with Greek salad and rice, or pull the meat from the skewers and wrap it in a pita and fixings. We served ours with plenty of grilled pita, an assortment of olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and other fixings.

Makes 6 servings.

Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson