I'm planning to do a Barbeque at the end of the month and I'd like to serve a variety of different 'Greek' style kebabs. I'm not looking for recipies, but what is the essence of creating grilled / barbeque food that tastes Greek. Whenever I have kebabs in Greece or in a Greek restaurant they taste different to kebabs I have had elsewhere but it's really difficult to tell what the difference is. One issue I think that might be important is the particualr mix of aromatic herbs such as Greek Basil. Does anyone else have any ideas what I can do?


The primary flavors of Greek meats are lemon, oregano, and olive oil. Typically either (or both) thyme and mint are present as well. I'd start with the following base for a marinade:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (2-ish lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1.5 tsp thyme
  • 1.5 tsp mint

I'd also suggest adding some garlic and onion to this. Maybe 1/2 an onion and 4 cloves of garlic. Adding a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red wine could add some depth as well (I'm assuming lamb or steak, use white for pork or chicken).

A good soak in this overnight, perhaps with some tweaks, should equate to Greek kebabs.

Other herbs & spices common in Greek cuisine include: marjoram, paprika (sweet & hot), and pepper. You can also find, in small quantities: cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, anise, coriander, fennel, and allspice.

  • I have tried similar, but it still doesn't quite taste Greek. I'm not sure if I've got the Greek Salad problem that a Greek Salad doesn't taste the same as it does in Greece?
    – Ian Turner
    Aug 2 '10 at 18:19
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    I've never heard of that problem, but I've also never been to Greece. When I eat Greek kebabs I definitely taste lemon and oregano. You could try adding marjoram and basil perhaps. It might also be Greek oregano? I've never seen any, but I know it exists.
    – hobodave
    Aug 2 '10 at 18:47
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    Yes, if you can get Greek (or at least Sicilian) dried oregano, it'll have a substantially more authentic taste than a standard supermarket oregano. If you don't happen to have Greek groceries where you live, you might have an Italian grocery, and they should have dried Sicilian oregano on the branch, which is damn good stuff.
    – Harlan
    Aug 2 '10 at 20:12
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    Have you considered togas? It's all about the atmospherics.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 3 '10 at 3:06
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    TBH, we don't really use that much mint in Greece. I'm not sure where that misconception came from. Same with lamb. It's customary to eat lamb on Easter, but not that often during the rest of the year.
    – surfmadpig
    Jun 5 '12 at 22:59

In Greece, traditionally, they used Chicken or Goat as a white meat and lamb as a dark meat.

As for a marinade, try, Olive Oil, minced Garlic, fresh Tarragon and Oregano. I especially like this on Chicken.

Alternatively, try a Tarragon, Garlic and Yoghurt marinade. This is good on Goat or Lamb as the Yoghurt also acts as a tenderizer.

Leave it in the marinade for at least a couple of hours or preferably over night. Salt after you remove from the marinade.

  • 2
    I think the yogurt-tenderized meat is key here.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 3 '10 at 7:39

Real Greeks do use a lot of white wine vinegar so this may add to the taste.

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