Monday, March 29, 2021

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas with Greek Relish

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The spring rains were relentless this weekend but I managed to dodge the showers, lightning storms, and flash floods long enough to make these audaciously flavored chicken pitas. The brightly seasoned chicken and pungently flavored relish rock this dish.

Recipe for Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas

I knew the storms were going to be coming in wave after wave, so I intentionally chose a fast grilling protein.

Proteins That Grill Quickly

When storms or a hangry crowd are breathing down my neck, I turn to a handful of quick-cooking favorites, including: 

  • Chicken tenderloins
  • Chicken cutlets
  • Shrimp, scallops
  • Shaved steak or beef milanesa 
  • Medallions of beef tenderloin or petite top sirloin roast
I went with chicken tenderloins, which in addition to being a quick grilling protein, are also budget-friendly. 

Don't Get Tendon-Bite-Us

Chicken tenderloin's name can be deceptive because they have a tough tendon right smack down the middle of each one. That sinew will make the chicken chewy. Fortunately, these are easy enough to remove with a fork and a paper towel.

To make this bird fly, I marinated the tenderloins with Greek salad dressing, hit them with Greek seasoning, and then towards the end of grilling, I brush them with lemon-oregano butter. I got the idea of the relish from the Greek Salad Tomato Salsa recipe in the May 2020 issue of Eating Well.

Recipe for Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas with Greek Relish

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas with Greek Relish

Published 03/29/2021

Greek seasoned chicken grilled and basted with lemon oregano butter served with a sharp-tasting Greek Relish, creating an explosion of flavor.


  • 1.5 pound chicken tenderloins, tendons removed
  • 1/2 cup Reduced Fat Greek Dressing [Amazon Affiliate Link]
  • 1.5 teaspoons Greek Seasoning (We use The Daring Gourmet's recipe but store-bought Cavender's works as well [Amazon Affiliate Link]
  • 4 tablespoons un-salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
For the Greek Relish
  • 1 cup tomato, finely diced
  • 1 cup English cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Mediterranean Herb Feta 
  • 1/4 cup olives, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flake or for an upgrade, use Olde Virden's Red Hot Sprinkle
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken tenders in a zip-top bag, pour the Greek dressing over the chicken, push out excess air, and seal the bag. Massage the chicken around to ensure it is all coated with dressing. Place in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours before grilling.
  2. Make the relish.  Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving. It is best fresh but you could refrigerate it for up to 1 day but after that, it starts to get mushy.
  3. Preheat the grill.  Set up the grill for direct, high heat (450-500°f). It will help to have an indirect area that is not directly over the coals. For a charcoal grill, have the coals banked to one side of the grill. For a gas grill, have at least one burner not turned on, the cooking area above that will be the indirect area.
  4. Make the lemon oregano butter. Melt the butter in a small pot or dish and stir in the lemon juice, oregano and garlic salt.
  5. Grill the chicken.  Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade and shake off the excess.  Season the chicken all over with the Greek seasoning. Grill the chicken for 2 1/2 minutes per side. 
  6. Baste the chicken.  At this point, your chicken should be getting close to done. Frequently flip and baste the chicken with the lemon-oregano butter until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°f, just a minute or two. Like any oil, the butter will cause flare-ups. It may be easier and safer to shift the chicken away from being over direct flames when you baste it and then shift it back. I live dangerously and just try not to spill too much below.  Remove from heat when the chicken hits 165°f.
  7. Make the pitas.  Warm the pitas over the flames or in a skillet until they are warm and flexible. You have two options for serving. Option 1: Top a whole pita with some of the chicken, Greek relish, and roll it up to eat it. Option 2: Cut the pitas in half and open each half into pockets that you can stuff with chicken and relish. 

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Total time: 40 mins.

Tags: chicken, grill

We used Fat-Free Greek Dressing from Maple Grove Farms [Amazon Affiliate link] for the marinade. Most vinegar-based salad dressings can double as an excellent marinade.

We had some store-bought pitas but Alexis was kind enough to make a batch of them from the NY Times Homemade Pita Bread recipe. We've used this recipe quite a few times with good results. The silicone mat [Amazon Affiliate link] with inch gradients marked off come in quite handy when trying to roll the dough out to a specific size, such as these pitas which had to roll out to 8 inches.

GrillGrates on a PK Grill
For this cook, my grill of choice was my PK Grill. Usually, my choice of grill is strategically based on cooking style, fuel choice, or just preference. But today it was 100% based on the fact it was raining and the PK grill was the closest to the door.

I normally lightly apply oil to my food and use clean grill grates. But in this case, I didn't want to wipe off the marinade so I spritzed my GrillGrates with peanut oil instead. My older son got me this oil spray bottle [Amazon Affiliate link] so I don't have to go through so many cans of Pam-type sprays. It works quite well, but with most of these bottles you just have to press quickly and firmly or you'll get a squirt instead of a spray.

Be careful when basting with butter or any oil-based baste because they will cause flare-ups when they hit the flames. That's why I used the GrillGrates, in addition to laying down serious grill marks, they help prevent or at least minimize flare-ups. If you aren't using them, one trick you can do is to shift the food to an area that isn't directly over the heat. Brush them on the indirect side and then shift the chicken back over the hot coals.

Grilled chicken tenderloins sizzling on top of GrillGrates on a PK Grill
Sizzle, sizzle, little chicky.

After the chicken was done, I poured any leftover lemon-oregano butter over it just for a last kiss of flavor.

Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas with Greek Relish
The delectable lemon-oregano chicken, the powerfully flavored Greek relish, and the fresh-made pita bread all came together for a thoroughly satisfying meal.

Grilled lemon oregano chicken pitas with Greek relish
An absolute winner for us.

Leftovers served pita pocket style. 

Want more inspiration, ideas, and recipes? Please check out my two books from Ulysses Press: 
The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook and 
The Offset Smoker Cookbook.