Souvlaki

Souvlaki (Greek Beef Kabobs) is the juiciest, most flavorful meat you ever tasted!  

This Greek Beef Souvlaki with tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and onions are crazy tender, exploding with flavor and a complete meal in one, not to mention an impressive crowd pleaser!  Serve your souvlaki with Tzatziki or dunk each tender morsel in my irresistible refreshing, creamy, heavenly Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip along with a side of curried cauliflower, lemon rice, hummus and pita bread for a complete feast!  I’ve included instruction to make this Souvlaki both in the oven and on the grill because you are going to want to make these beef kabobs year round!   

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

Souvlaki Recipe

One of my favorite fast sit-down places is Luna Grill.  I love the fresh Mediterranean flavors from Chicken Gyros, Chicken Souvlaki and my favorite, Greek Beef Kabobs.   I wanted to be able to devour this favorite any time  – in my slippers – so I developed this sensational Souvlaki recipe.  I think it is every bit as delicious as your favorite Greek restaurant – and then some.

The marinated steak is melt-in-your-mouth tender, wonderfully smoky, juicy and just plain delicious.  This Souvlaki can also be very quick to assemble IF you get some helping hands to skewer.  We made kabobs in Cabo, and with everyone skewering at once, our kabobs were assembled in minutes!

What is Souvlaki?

If you aren’t familiar with Greek Steak Kabobs (Souvlaki), Souvlaki is one of the most popular street foods in Greece that dates way back to 200BC.  It consists of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer served with cooling tzatziki sauce, so basically our modern day kabob, or kebab or shish kabob or skewer.  By whatever name, we have the Greeks to thank for this epic smoky, bite size deliciousness.

I also can’t wait to tell you what Souvlaki is not. Souvlaki is not a Gyro, or Shwarma, which often are used interchangeably. First, Let’s discuss what Souvlaki is. What the power of this yummy and simple meat dishes to offer.

To pare it down, Souvlaki is the fast food of Greece.  Some liken it to McDonalds in the United States.  However, I think Souvlaki cannot be compared to our version of fast food.  I am not alone in this thinking either; a renowned tour guide said this about the two fast foods.

“To give you an idea of the power of souvlaki, Greece is the only country in the world where McDonalds loses money, caught between the Goody’s hamburger chain and the resurrection of the souvlaki.”  -Matt Barrett, Athens Guide

Basically, we are talking yummy power that everyone needs to be making and eating!

What kind of meat is souvlaki?

Souvlaki meat is cooked horizontally, on skewers that are rotated on a grill.  The meat usually used in Greece and Cyprus is pork.

In other countries (and for tourists), souvlaki may be made with meats such as lamb, beef, chicken, and sometimes fish. In Europe, the tourist’s favorite is swordfish.  In the US, chicken and beef are the most common.

I chose to make my souvlaki recipe out of beef because it emerges wonderfully juicy and is loved by all but literally ANY protein can be used so try out everyone’s favorite meat in your family with this versatile souvlaki recipe!

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

What are the differences between Souvlaki, Gyros, Doner, Shwarma and Kebabs?

A million years ago man invented fire and since then he has figured out many ways to cook meat over it.  Every culture has its own unique ways of cooking meat over a fire.  Here are some of them from the regions around Greece:

  • Souvlaki:  Greek meat dish which is traditionally pork. Meat is cooked on skewers and rotated in a grill, or spit (Greek for spit is souvla). They are cooked horizontally over the flames. Some souvlaki are served on the skewer, but they can also be taken off the skewer and served in pita bread with a sauce and garnish.
  • Gyros:  Greek dish traditionally made with lamb, beef, pork or chicken. The meat is marinated with Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Gyros means “turn” in Greek named for the turning rotisserie and shaved off. The main difference between a gyros and a souvlaki is the way the meat is cooked. Gyros are cooked as vertical cones of meat, not horizontally on a spit.
  • Doner kebaba:  Has the oldest heritage and dates back to the ottoman empire in Turkey. Meat is cooked in a large Cone shape, on a vertical spike that is turns as meat is roasted.  Like the Gyros, the meat is shaved off as it is cooked.  The Doner Kabab is the grandfather to the Greek kebab.  The main difference is the robust, earthy, complex seasonings.
  • Shawarma:  Is an Arabic dish.  It is their version of the tacos al pastor in Mexico. Shawarma is more about the flavor of the meat than the plethora of toppings on it.  The meat (mainly beef, lamb and chicken) marinate for up to 24 hours.  Bay leaves, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon and coriander are all spices used and the meat is topped with tabbouleh, fattoush and hummus with the sauce is usually being tahini.
  • Kebab:  kalamaki in Greek, is where the meat is cubed into 1-inch chunks, marinated overnight in lemon juice and olive oil. The main spices in the marinade are Greek herbs such as oregano and on occasion thyme. Middle eastern and Asian culture all have versions of kababs.  In American culture we associate with being cooked on a skewer, but that’s not necessary.

What does Greek Souvlaki taste like?

Is Heaven the right answer?  Souvlaki is tender and juicy.  Lemon juice and oregano are the two main ingredients which translate to zesty, fresh and earthy but not overpowering.  I also infuse my souvlaki marinade with balsamic vinegar like I do in m Greek Chicken.

By using both lemon juice and balsamic as well as layers of spices such as garlic, paprika, onion powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper, we ensure our souvlaki isn’t flat/one note but seeping with a symphony of flavors and oh so tender!

This souvlaki recipe is very flavorful but with all familiar taste, you should not be afraid to venture out of routine to try Souvlaki.

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

How is Souvlaki made?

To make traditional souvlaki, the meat is trimmed, spices are added, and time is given to marinate (for the magic to happen).  Traditionally the meat is cooked on skewers and rotated in a grill, or spit (Greek for spit is souvla) over open flames.  Today, we can cook it in the oven, BBQ, or at a campfire.  For this Souvlaki Recipe, we are going to use the grill and you will LOVE the smokey, tender results.

Step 1: Chop Beef

Chop your beef into  1 ½ inch cubes in order to keep them juicy.  Avoid cutting the beef too small or it can overcook. Try and chop the beef roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Step 2:  Chop Veggies

Vegetables are optional in this souvlaki recipe, but I love how they create a meal-in-one so you don’t need any additional sides.   I’ve used bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and red onions but you can substitute with your favorite vegetables.

Step 3:  Marinate 

These Greek Steak Kabobs (Souvlaki) owe their mouthwatering Mediterranean flavor to the easy dynamic beef kabob marinade.  Marinating not only tenderizes the beef but helps it stay juicy and moist while cooking and infuses it with flavor all at the same time.  To marinate, simply whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and our hand picked herbs and seasonings then add a few tablespoons to the vegetables and the rest to the beef.  Let your steak bathe in the tenderizing/flavor infusing marinade for 4-6 hours.

REPLACE

Step 4: Soak Skewers

You can use metal or wood skewers but just take care you soak your wood skewers for at least 30 minutes otherwise they can catch fire!  For this souvlaki recipe, I recommend soaking your skewers when you start marinating your beef.

Step 5:  Assemble

Thread the beef and vegetables onto the skewers in alternating fashion.  If you don’t want to worry about alternating the ingredients, you can make all beef skewers or all vegetable skewers.  You can also add a few lemon or tomato slices to the skewers, which not only makes them look great, it helps keep the meat extra moist on the grill.

How much space? As far as spacing, I like to pack everything pretty close together –  not smashed together, but touching.  Having the cubes closer prevents overcooking and promotes juicier beef.

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

How to Grill Souvlaki

Grease and preheat grill to medium high heat.  Grill skewers until lightly charred all over, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. You can check a beef cube for doneness if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before serving, so the juices can be redistributed and absorbed, otherwise they will seep out. 

Can I Bake Souvlaki?

Absolutely!  Your souvlaki won’t boast the same smokey char, but it will still be delicious.  To bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Evenly space kabobs on baking sheet and bake 12-16 minutes, turning once OR until beef reaches desired doneness (cooking time will vary depending on steak size, so you can check a beef cube for doneness if desired). Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

What to Serve with Souvlaki?

I love to serve souvlaki with tzatziki – especially my Whipped Feta Tzatziki!  This indulgent dip is creamy, tangy and positively addicting!  Think of your traditional Tzatziki Dip with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill but with the addition of whipped cream cheese and feta – I’m drooling.  Are you drooling?

You are welcome to make traditional Tzatziki if you wish and it will still be cool and refreshing, but for an extra delicious oomph, you are going to want to try this luscious Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip.

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

These Greek Steak Kabobs (Souvlaki) with Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip are a stand-alone meal or I like to serve with warm pita bread, fried potatoes (French fries) lemon rice, Greek pasta salad, Greek orzo salad, hummus, fattoush as well as fruit such as grapes or a big fruit salad for a dazzling Mediterranean feast.

How to Store Souvlaki

Remove the meat and vegetables from the skewers and place in an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

Can I prepare Souvlaki ahead of time?

Yes!  Meat loves to marinate.  You can keep in the ridge for up to 2 days.  Therefore, you can make the sauce one day, add the meat the next and cook the next day.  Alternatively, make the meat, sauce together and leave to marinate in the fridge in an airtight container.

How to reheat Souvlaki?

  1. Brush the meat lightly with olive oil to keep it from drying out.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Wrap beef and veggies in foil.
  4. Place foil pouch(es) on a baking sheet and cook until warm or 165 degrees internally.
  5. Or, skip reheating and eat cold on a sandwich or salad!

Can I Freeze Souvlaki?

The rule of thumb is that you can freeze meat/chicken once when raw, and once when cooked.  Place the meat in a a freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn, or place in an aright container.

Pop the meat in the freezer, and freeze for up to thee months.  When ready to grill,  grill straight from frozen. No thawing required. Yes, it really is that easy!

The veggies will not freeze well and will become a funny texture, so I would skip freezing them.

Consider making a batch of beef kabobs for the freezer. This smart method means a fast dinner is always on hand to go from the freezer to grill at a moment’s notice — no thawing required.

Now gather your family around and dig in for some souvlaki AKA heaven-on-earth!

Looking for more Greek recipes?

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

Want to try this Souvlaki recipe?

Pin it to your STEAK, GRILL, or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

These easy Baked or Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs are so crazy juicy and exploding with flavor in every mouthwatering bite!  And the creamy, refreshing Whipped Feta Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip is out of this world!  

Greek Beef Kabobs with Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip

These easy Baked OR Grilled Greek Beef Kabobs (Greek Souvlaki) with tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and onions are crazy juicy, exploding with flavor and a complete meal in one, not to mention an impressive crowd pleaser!  I’ve included instruction to make this Souvlaki both in the oven and on the grill because you are going to want to make these beef kabobs year round!  Not only is the beef crazy juicy and exploding with flavor from the beef kakob marinade but each tender morsel get’s dunked in refreshing, creamy, heavenly Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip!
Servings: 12 -14 kabobs
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

Kabobs

  • 2 lbs. top sirloin cut into 1 1/2” cubes
  • 2 red bell peppers sliced into 1 1/2” chunks
  • 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini cut into 1/4” slices
  • 1 large red onion cut into 1 1/2” chunks

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tsps EACH paprika, garlic powder
  • 1 tsp EACH onion powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, sugar, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH cayenne pepper, pepper

Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip

  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. oz. cream cheese cubed and softened (I use ⅓ less fat)
  • 2 oz. feta at room temperature (about ⅓ cup loosely packed feta)
  • 8 oz. plain Greek yogurt (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Marinade

  • Add vegetables to a freezer bag or large bowl. Set aside.
  • Whisk all of the Marinade ingredients together in a large bowl or large freezer bag (whatever dish you are going to use to marinate your beef). Remove 2 tablespoons Marinade and add to vegetables. Toss to coat. Refrigerate.
  • Add beef to remaining Marinade and toss to coat. Marinate 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.

Whipped Feta Tzatziki

  • Meanwhile, dice cucumber and add it to a fine mesh sieve. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and stir. Let sit at least 15 minutes then press down on cucumbers with the back of a spoon to release extra juices. Set aside.
  • Add feta and cream cheese to food processor and pulse until cheeses are mixed. Continue to mix 3-4 minutes until cheeses are very smooth. Add remaining Whipped Feta Tzatziki ingredients, including cucumber, and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate. Stir in milk a little at a time if needed when ready to serve in order to thin to desired consistency.

Assemble

  • NOTE: Soak wooden skewers for at least 30 minutes in water before grilling or broiling.
  • When ready to cook, thread beef, and veggies onto skewers.

GRILLING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Grease and preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill skewers until lightly charred all over, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. You can check a beef cube for doneness if desired. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with chilled Whipped Feta Tzatziki. Kabobs are also delicious with couscous/rice/quinoa and/or pita bread.

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Evenly space kabobs on baking sheet and bake 12-16 minutes, turning once OR until beef reaches desired doneness (cooking time will vary depending on steak size, so you can check a beef cube for doneness if desired). Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with chilled Whipped Feta Tzatziki. Kabobs are also delicious with couscous/rice/quinoa and/or pita bread.

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25 Comments

  1. Barry says

    Jen, these look fantastic, but the recipe as written seems to be a Greek vegetable kabob. I’ve read it three times and don’t see the beef. How much beef is needed and what cut of meat should I use?

    • Jen says

      hahaha! A vegetable kabob was definitely not my intention! So sorry about that Barry, I still have vacation brain! I edited the the recipe – should be 2 lbs. top sirloin cut into 1 1/2” cubes. Enjoy!

  2. Mary Jona says

    On the recipe for Greek Kabobs (Souvlaki), you did not include how much beef to use. There is no mention of the beef until you mention it in the directions. Can you please tell me what type of beef you used and how much,

    Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Sorry Mary Jona – I must still have vacation brain – I edited the the recipe – should be 2 lbs. top sirloin cut into 1 1/2” cubes. Enjoy!

  3. Allie says

    Now listen hear Jen!

    You’ve been to Cabo and back,??? …….not to mention the IV setback.!…………..

    and I still haven’t made your “Thai Orange Peanut Chicken (Grilled or Baked)”!!!! Yep the recipe is still open in one of my windows on computer.

    ….alright, I’ll calm down and consider this recipe also. I may not gt to the Kabobs, but I’ll make the Tzatziki Dip (your way) today.

    Glad you got “a good shot” of energizing love from your family.

    Allie

    • Jen says

      haha! We were gone for a week and I actually posted the Thai Orange Peanut Chicken while I was there – so you aren’t as behind as you might think 🙂 Cabo was just what I needed though, so nice to get away! I hope you love the Whipped Feta Tzatziki Dip! Have a beautiful Sunday Allie!

  4. Darice says

    Hey Jen, Where’s the Beef? What kind of beef did you use? I’m just curious what cut of beef you used. I didn’t see it mentioned in the post or in recipe.

    • Jen says

      Sorry Darice – i must still have vacation brain – I edited the the recipe – should be 2 lbs. top sirloin cut into 1 1/2” cubes. Enjoy!

  5. Nikki says

    Maybe I missed it, but what kind of beef did you use? Your Cabo instastories were beautiful! I was so happy you got to go.

    • Jen says

      Hi Nikki, you are so sweet, I’m happy I was able to go too, thank you! And no you didn’t miss the beef, I must still have Cabo brain – I edited the the recipe – should be 2 lbs. top sirloin cut into 1 1/2” cubes. Enjoy!

  6. Linda says

    These look AMAZING!! Does this recipe make 12 of your huge kabobs, or 12 of the standard 8-10 inch skewer?
    Thanks in advance!!! Love all of your recipes!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Linda! The recipe makes 12-14 of the 10″ kabobs. Hope this helps, enjoy!

  7. Beth Grimm says

    Jen I stumbled upon your website about 6 months ago and absolutely look
    forward every week to see what recipe shows up in my email! I really admire
    you with all your struggles with cystic fibrosis and hope to read your book sometime.
    I recently tried your chicken foil packets,honey balsamic beef and grilled steak
    fahitas…wow were they great! I look forward to a vacation next February to the
    Pacific coast and will be staying in Carsbad! Keep up the great work Jen and
    know that you have one great fan from Iowa cheering you on! Beth

    • Jen says

      Hi Beth, thank you so so much for your awesome comment! I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement and I am honored you might read my book – you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about me 🙂 I am also so happy you are enjoying my recipes – I always love hearing what recipes readers are drawn to, you have great taste 🙂 What a small world you are vacationing in Carlsbad next February – I hope you absolutely love it!

  8. Sam says

    Can you marinade this overnight? Looks delish, can’t wait to try it out!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sam! No I wouldn’t marinate it overnight as the beef is chopped and more likely to get mushy due to the lime juice. Hope that helps!

  9. Dimitri says

    This is a great souvlaki recipe. The flavours are very authentic, and the taste would be very hard to find if you wanted to pay for this meal. It was an excellent meal, very easy to prepare and cook.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Dimitri! I’m so happy you loved it and found it easy and authentic!

  10. Lori says

    Hi Jen! Is the cucumber the large hot house variety or a large (but the smaller variety) regular cucumber? There’s a big difference between them so wanted to clarify. Looks YUM!

    • Jen says

      Hi Lori, I use the slicing cucumber with the wax and not the extra long English cucumber. I hope that helps!

  11. Jack Smith says

    OMG these look soooo damn good! I could got for some RIGHT NOW! I love me some Greek!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Jack! I can’t wait for you to try them, I think you’ll love them!

  12. Karen says

    Made these kabobs tonight and impressed the family. The marinade was so flavorful! Thank you for sharing our new go-to week night dinner.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Karen, I’m so pleased they were a hit and will be a new repeat favorite!

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