Pork shoulder makes the most amazingly flavorful and intensely meaty pork souvlaki! Thin slices of meat, a simple marinade, and a little time on the grill will have you enjoying this Greek specialty any time you’re in the mood.
It’s spring here and I’m starting to grill. As soon as the weather gets warm enough for me to spend any time outside, I just can’t resist making all sorts of tasty grilled foods.
Like souvlaki! I’ve made it many, many ways over the years. Different meats, different cuts, and different marinades. And I have to say using pork shoulder makes for the meatiest souvlaki I’ve ever had.
Grilling Pork Shoulder
This is a part of the pig which is usually slow cooked, since it tends to be tough and it’s a muscle which gets a lot of use. However, it also has TONS of flavor. Flavor we want in this recipe!
And it is well marbled with fat. This keeps the pork juicy as it cooks, unlike souvlaki made from loin. Pork loin is so lean it is difficult to cook without drying it out.
The way to get around the toughness is to cut the shoulder very thin and then fold up the slices onto the kebabs. This is not going to turn it into a tenderloin, but it will keep the meat fibers nice and short while also giving you lots of surface area for the marinade. Double bonus!
And by folding up the slices you will keep the meat juicy while also having enough time on the grill to get it all browned and flavorful around the edges.
What do you need?
- Pork – You are going to be using the shoulder (though you can switch to a picnic roast), which is a very meaty and flavorful cut.
- Marinade – Simple is the watchword here! Olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Tzatziki Sauce – Yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, and garlic are the main ingredients.
- Toppings – Anything you enjoy in a gyro is perfect here. I like red onion, tomato, lettuce, cucumbers, hummus, and pita.
How to make this
To make pork souvlaki, take pork shoulder and cut it into strips then toss it with a simple olive oil marinade and let it sit overnight. When ready, thread the meat onto skewers and grill until cooked through and crispy around the edges. Serve with tzatziki sauce.
The first step is to use those thin slices I keep talking about!
Cut the pork between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick and about 1 1/2 inches wide. Make sure to cut against the grain since you want short fibers. And hold onto to some of the fat you’re trimming off! Put that between the layers of meat in the skewers to keep it juicy.
To flavor it, use a very simple marinade: olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. That’s it! Make sure you marinate it at least 8 hours though. That is going to give you the best flavor.
To grill thread the slices onto skewers, folding up the meat as you go. By folding you are making sure it will need some time on the grill and the outside bits will get browned and crispy.
3. Tzatziki Sauce
I have a few secrets to my tzatziki sauce and I’m willing to share them with all of you. My daughter knows these secrets well since it’s usually her job to make the sauce while I grill.Persian cucumbers are crispy and sweet. Shredding makes the pieces the perfect size. And squeezing the juice/using Greek yogurt makes for a thick sauce perfect for dolloping into your gyro or as dip for the meat.
Can you freeze it?
Once you have sliced the pork and mixed it with the marinade, you can seal it up and put it right in the freezer for up to 1 month. Just take it out and let it thaw in the fridge. Then you can put the meat on skewers and grill it up.
If you try my recipe for Grilled Pork Souvlaki, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Grilling, Annemarie
Grilled Pork Shoulder Souvlaki
- 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup grated cucumber
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2-3 sliced tomatoes
- 4 cups lettuce
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
- pita bread
- Trim the pork shoulder of excess fat. (Reserve the fat.) Cut the trimmed meat into slices about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick and 1 1/2 - 2 inches wide.
- Place the slices along with some of the reserved fat into a sealable bag.
- Mix together the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour the marinade into the bag with the pork and seal the bag.
- Refrigerate it and let it marinate for at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
- If using wooden skewers, begin soaking them 1 hour before you are going to use them.
- Heat a grill on high.
- Thread the pork onto skewers, fold the strips of meat up like an accordion. Add bits of fat between some of the strips.
- Grill on high, turning occasionally, until the outside is browned and crispy and the inside is just a little pink.
- Serve immediately with tzatziki sauce and any toppings you want.
- Wrap the grated cucumber in a paper towel or some cheesecloth and squeeze it dry.
- Combine the cucumber, yogurt, garlic, olive oil, and salt in a bowl and mix together.
- Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and either use immediately or refrigerate until you are ready to eat.
- Tzatziki sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead. (It will last 4 days in the refrigerator but the quality drops off a bit after 2 days.)
- Cucumber: I like the small Persian cucumbers often found on trays or in bags in the supermarket. Another option is an English cucumber. If you can't find either, peel the cucumber and scoop out the seeds before grating.
- Garlic: If you are grating the garlic, use the smallest holes on the grater or a microplane. Also, you can tame the bite of the garlic by cooking the whole cloves in boiling water for 30 seconds before using them (parboiling).
- Pork Shoulder: Make sure you cut the meat against the grain so that you have short fibers in the strips.
- Nutrition Info: Calories are an estimate and only for the pork and tzatziki sauce.