Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers

by heidi on June 20, 2013

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers |

I wish I had a joke for you about when a chicken walked into a bar and met a lemon, some garlic and olive oil and they all got bagged together. But I’m not very good at jokes, that’s my Uncle T’s job.

But this recipe does indeed call for lounging in a bag. Not sure where the joke went but there’s got to be one in there somewhere.

This is one of those recipes that no matter what the season—or how bad the humor—whether I’m grilling outdoors or baking inside, is a go-to, never-fail, crave-worthy dinner option. And the best part is after a good soak—in the bag, in the refrigerator—it’s beyond easy to deliver to the dinner table with practically zero clean-up.

Skewers and kabobs can be really, really good, or go really, really bad. Small pieces of meat left unattended can turn into crispy little burned nuggets of unrecognizable char or simply become dry and overcooked when you’re distracted by obsessively checking your Instagram feed.

And while I do enjoy a good vegetable laden skewer, more often I like my protein to hang out on its own with just a simple flavoring in between, and set the cherry tomatoes, zucchini discs and bulbs of mushrooms off to their own devices to mingle on their own skewered line.

That’s why I’m such a fan of my Greek-inspired Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers in all of their glorious, lemon-marinaded simplicity

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers | 

Growing up, one of my favorite dinners from the grill was Greek Souvlaki. But back when I was at home, in the late afternoon if my mom didn’t have a plan for dinner, she would ask if I wanted to go with her to the store, which for a bored kid too young for her own set of wheels sounded like a welcome excursion.

My mom would drive up 40th Street to Snider Bros. Butchers where they sold far superior than grocery store variety meats. Stepping out of the car onto the hot, blacktop parking lot, we’d walk into the store’s doors with a blast of air conditioning to the face. There was always a flurry of mothers waiting for their ticket to be called, strolling about choosing choice cuts for their families to light up on the grill as only a mom, or a dad, can do.

We’d arrive home from Snider Bros. with a butcher paper wrapped selection of pork and chicken Souvlaki skewers, already marinated and ready to go.

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers |

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers |

It was a happy day when I’d hear the crackle of the butcher paper unwrap over the hum of the swamp cooler and the mumbles of the nightly news that was always turned on in the kitchen, then hear my mom tell dad to put down his clippers—he is a serious back yard weed eliminator—and get the grill going or we wouldn’t be eating until 10 o’clock.

I guess that’s where I get my late night dinner schedule from.

Due to the big box stores overtaking much of the butcher market in my little hometown, Snider Bros. sadly closed their doors about two years ago. Lucky for me there is still a location in Salt Lake City that I frequent to get my Pork Souvlaki craving in order and it gives me and Smudge an excuse to take an afternoon drive now that we’ve become a shopping force to be reckoned with.

But since I usually have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s almost easier to make my Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers from scratch, to the hum of the swamp cooler and the songs of One Direction, than to jump in the car and make that drive.

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers |

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers |

A few recipe notes:

While 4 cloves of garlic may seem a little vampire laden, I find the amount to be just right given the sauce is used only for the marinade and not for basting. Repeat, do not use the sauce for basting! It’s been cuddling with raw chicken and the rule of the kitchen is to toss anything that’s had raw chicken relations.

Feel free to switch up the herb combos in the recipe. Tarragon, rosemary and even dill would make a great compliment to the lemon flavors. 

The lemon zest is what really infuses the lemon flavor into the chicken. Don’t skip this step.

If the chicken sticks to the grill, its not yet ready to be turned. The chicken will release from the grate when it’s ready to flip and if you’re of the checking the temperature type, the chicken will be done when it reaches 165 degrees.

No skewers in your future? This is still a great marinade for whole breasts and chicken thighs both on the grill and in the oven.

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers

Yield: makes 5 skewers

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers

Greek flavors inspire citrus infused chunks of chicken thanks to a tart marinade that keeps the chicken juicy with a lemony punch.


2 boneless chicken breasts
3 lemons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
7-8 green onions


  1. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise into thirds, and then slice again into about 1-inch chunks. Place chicken chunks in a freezer bag and set aside.
  2. Zest one of the lemons and add to a medium size bowl. Juice that lemon plus one more, add to the lemon zest and then add the minced garlic and oregano and stir. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk to combine. Add kosher salt and pepper. Pour the marinade into the freezer bag with the chicken chunks and let marinade for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. When ready to grill, prepare the grill by lightly oiling the grate with vegetable oil or cooking spray and set to medium high heat.
  4. If using wooden skewers, prepare them by soaking in water for 10 minutes. If using metal skewers, no prep is necessary.
  5. Slice the remaining lemon in thin rounds and then slice the rounds in half. Trim the bottoms of the green onions off and cut into 1-inch lengths.
  6. Thread one piece of the chicken onto a skewer then two slices of green onion, and then another piece of chicken. Fold a slice of lemon in half and thread next to the chicken, grouping closely on the skewer. Add another piece of chicken, then green onions and repeat the pattern until you've reached the end of the skewer, ending with chicken. Discard any of the remaining marinade.
  7. Grill chicken, turning often so each side browns and has light grill marks, until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

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Posted in: chicken and turkey,entrees,recipes

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Tieghan June 20, 2013 at 6:06 am

So pretty and I love all these flavors. Prefect simple, quick and easy summer meal! Plus, I love using the grill! It’s my favorite kitchen tool in the summer for sure!


Liz @ The Lemon Bowl June 20, 2013 at 6:07 am

Is there anything better in life than lemon, garlic and olive oil? I vote no. Gorgeous recipe Heidi!!


heidi June 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

I actually thought of you as I was writing it! Fits right into your recipe repertoire!


Erika June 20, 2013 at 6:37 am

I just loved this story. My grandfather was a butcher and had a little shop in our small town but went out of business when a large supermarket moved in. So the crackle of the butcher paper, def brings back memories. These skewers look amazing and the photos are so gorgeous.


Kathryn June 20, 2013 at 7:03 am

Oh yes, you can’t beat the smell of grilling in the summer. Especially when what you’re grilling is as flaovurful as this!


cassie June 20, 2013 at 7:48 am

I absolutely love everything about this, Heidi! From the green onions on the skewers to that bath of oil, garlic and lemon for the chicken. I can nearly taste it!


Nessa June 20, 2013 at 7:50 am

These look so packed with flavor! I have to try :)


Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective June 20, 2013 at 7:51 am

Wow! These look amazing! Making them ASAP!


Becky June 20, 2013 at 8:21 am

you had me with lemon and chicken – one of my favorite combos!! Hope you are doing well friend!


Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig June 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

An amazing summer combo. Lemon and chicken are a classic flavor my family loves too.


Jamie @ green beans & grapefruit June 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

Love everything about this!


Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking June 20, 2013 at 9:46 am

Your stories of childhood butcher trips made me think of going to the butcher with my Grandpa. Thinking about unwrapping that white or brown paper wrapped goodness brings a smile to my face. I need to find a little butcher in my neighborhood. Damn you big box stores!!! I am in love with any kind of lemon chicken so you can bet this will be on my grill this summer!


Jennifer June 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

This looks delcious!

xo Jennifer


Laura (Tutti Dolci) June 20, 2013 at 11:43 am

Perfect summer meal (and gorgeous photos!).


Rachel @ Baked by Rachel June 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Love your tips and of course the photography! Can’t wait to try this.


Deborah June 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Love, love this! I have been grilling like crazy lately, and just found another recipe I want to try.


natalie @ wee eats June 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

These look so good! I usually make a similar marinade for regular chicken breasts but skewers would be a great way to spice up the dinner rotation.


Cecile Hamel-Roy June 20, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Love the flavor combinations in the marinade -and also love the idea of marinating chicken breasts etc. using this recipe. As always – lovely photos and great recipes!


sally @ sallys baking addiction June 21, 2013 at 5:58 am

There is quite nothing like firing up the grill in the summertime. One of my favorite parts about these few months! I love all the flavor here between the lemon, oregano, and green onions. So good!


Nisa Homey July 6, 2013 at 9:45 am

Oh my! it is raining here and this looks perfect….bookmarked and pinned :)


T October 27, 2014 at 11:19 am

Sounds yummy but no BBQ :(. Could these be baked? Time and temp??


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