Why This Recipe Works
- Marinating the pork results in more flavorful, tender meat.
- Lemon juice and red wine vinegar lends the pork a pleasant tang.
Out of all the Greek establishments in my neighborhood, my absolute favorite gyro and souvlaki joint is BZ Grill in Astoria, only two short blocks away. The proximity has left me little reason to cook the staples at home, but with a looming move that will find me farther away from these beloved pita sandwiches and platters, I realized that I had some learning to do in the kitchen.
I never really thought about the ingredients inside a souvlaki marinade before; I just knew that the meat always tasted bright and fresh. So I scoured souvlaki recipes and came up with a formula that I thought would best replicate the flavors I'm used to. After letting cubes of pork loin marinate overnight in a mixture of olive oil, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and Greek oregano, I skewered and grilled them off.
The pork was everything I imagined it would be--the lemon juice gave it a nice tang and the mixture of onion, garlic, and oregano made it taste distinctly Greek. The souvlaki just wouldn't have been complete to me unless there was pita and tzatziki nearby, so while the pork was resting off the grill, I heated up some pita, adding a dollop of tzatziki to the plate, and found comfort in knowing that even though I'll miss my around-the-corner souvlaki haunt, a fitting replica is only as far as my backyard.
This recipe was cross-tested in 2023 and updated to guarantee best results.
Pork Souvlaki With Pita and Tzatziki
For pork souvlaki with maximum flavor, marinate it in a mixture of olive oil, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and Greek oregano.
For the Marinade:
1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (2 1/2 ounces; 71 g), from 1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons (60ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30ml) red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Greek oregano
2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds (680g) boneless pork loin or tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
For the Tzatziki:
1 medium English cucumber (12 ounces; 340g), peeled (1 cup)
2 cups Greek yogurt (16 ounces; 454g)
4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons (30ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
For the Marinade: In a medium bowl, stir together olive oil, onion, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, salt, and black pepper until well combined. Place pork cubes in a large zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat pork evenly with the marinade, then open the bag and reseal, removing as much air as possible. Place the pork in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and no longer than 2 hours.
For the Tzatziki: Using large holes of a box grater, grate cucumber into a medium bowl. Transfer grated cucumber to a fine mesh strainer, gently press the cucumber against the strainer with the back of a spoon or silicone spatula to get rid of excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl and add yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until well combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight. Presoak wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes prior to use.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, thread the pork cubes onto the skewers.
When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly. Alternatively, set all the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Grill the pork skewers, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until char marks appear on all sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 145°F, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the skewers to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. While the pork rests, grill the pita until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the pita from the grill and quarter. To serve, place pita slices on a plate, lay the souvlaki on top, and place a dollop of tzatziki on the side.
Wooden skewers, chimney starter, grill, instant-read thermometer
This Recipe Appears In
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 51g||65%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||49%|
|Total Carbohydrate 74g||27%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||55%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|