I got pockets full of Greek salad

How much salad can you fit in your pocket?

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Read Time: 9 minutes

What is this sandwich?

This is a marinated and grilled chicken-focused salad tossed in a homemade Greek dressing with crumbled feta and various veggies stuffed into freshly baked pita pockets. This is a Greek salad stuffed into the pocket of a freshly made pita.

What is a Greek salad?

I’m going to blow your mind with this one, but a Greek salad is from Greece and it’s a salad. If your mind is still intact, you also probably won’t be shocked to learn that the people in Greece do not call this a Greek salad. At first, I figured they probably just called it whatever the Greek word is for “salad.”

According to Wikipedia’s article about Greek Salad and other sources on the internet, this sort of salad when made in Greece is called horiatiki and it’s made from tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, onion, and feta cheese tossed with a dressing that is made from olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt.

A Greek salad I made last week with half a pita.

When this salad started appearing outside of Greece the main ingredients still typically stuck around but lettuce was added to turn it into what non-Greeks thought of as a salad. Nowadays if you see a Greek salad on a menu in most places, you’ll get the version with lettuce. And that’s what we’re making today.

First, as always, we need some bread for this handheld sandwich, and I’ve decided that we’re making a flatbread that also originated near the Mediterranean Sea.

Pocketable pita

Pita bread requires a bit of a fickle baking process in my experience. It’s super easy to make soft, tasty flatbreads, but achieving the perfect pocket in each pita in a batch can be a challenge. I created this recipe back in May of 2022 when I shared content about falafel pita and have made it several times since. While making this blog post, I baked 5 different batches of pita to hone some of my techniques and to test a few theories.

To simplify the process of making your own pita bread here’s what I do:

  1. make the dough (combine ingredients and knead)
  2. let the dough rise (typically 1 hour)
  3. weigh and shape the dough into balls (85 to 100 grams)
  4. let dough balls rise a short bit (15 to 20 minutes)
  5. roll out dough balls into a rough 6-inch circle
  6. bake and wait for the flattened dough to puff into a pocket

It’s somewhere around bullet points 5 and 6 where things could get inconsistent. I can roll the dough into pretty good circles, I can get those circles on a pan and into the oven, but sometimes they puff into pockets and sometimes they do not. It appears that a lot of home chefs also have this issue.

When I first started digging into what makes a good pita and some strategies for making sure the pocket forms I found a lot of pita tips over at Wordloaf. This post is locked behind a monthly subscription, but if you want to learn to make pita or even sourdough pita, it’s a great and informative read and the Wordloaf newsletter in general is helpful if you want to learn more about baking. There is also a super helpful blog post about pita at King Arthur Baking.

My pita recipe makes six pitas and in my normal way of baking them, I cook three at a time on a sheet pan in my normal oven. But for testing and photography purposes a lot of the pita for these sandwiches I baked one at a time in my toaster oven.

This is a very informative YouTube video about making pita from King Arthur Baking. The video is shot vertically, which is why I’ve shared it like this.

Shape the dough into 85 to 100 gram-sized balls (or just guess at five or six per recipe batch).
Roll each ball into a six or seven-inch circle. After they’re rolled out, they go on a sheet pan for baking.
For some of my testing I used my toaster oven and cooked one pita at a time.
For reference, you can do this one at a time as well. Mine cooked at 450 F for about 5 minutes.

Some pita tips I have learned and use in my simple pita pocket recipe are in the shaping and cooking process.

  • If the dough shrinks back a lot when rolled out, move on to the next dough portion and allow the first one to rest for a few minutes. This extra time allows the gluten to relax.
  • When baking, don’t allow the pita to brown very much. You might be thinking that baked goods should be browned but a browned pita is much more likely to be crispy instead of soft.
  • If you roll your 100-gram-ish ball of dough into a circle that is larger than 6 or 7 inches, it might not puff up. Super thin dough will probably not puff into a pocket. Get a kitchen ruler.
  • Around 4 minutes, the magic happens, and the pita forms a balloon in my oven. Yours may differ, but if and when you get that full balloon effect, go ahead and remove the pita to a clean towel to cool.
  • If your pita just never forms a pocket or if less than 50% of them form pockets, you might be dealing with an oven that isn’t quite as hot as you might think. I shoot for 500 F / 260 C, and I let it preheat for at least 30 minutes after the oven beeps. This ensures that my oven is hot which helps the pita to balloon up.
When the edges start turning up like this, the exciting part is about to happen.
Sometimes the big puffs and bubbles start in the middle and sometimes they start on the edges.
Slowly over the course of about 45 seconds, you’ll see the bubbles grow larger.
Once they puff up like this, you’re almost ready to pull the pita out. Don’t let them get too brown.

In the end, after all the testing, I found that the best thing I could do to ensure that I got more pockets out of my pita was to be patient and allow the oven to get really hot. I did this by letting my oven preheat for an extra 30 minutes after it beeped. Once the oven was extra hot, the pockets were forming much more consistently.

I cooked a few of these in the toaster oven for testing purposes but my regular oven gets hotter which is helpful for pita baking.
If you remove your pita from the oven and holds its shape without deflating at all, you might have baked it too long. The resulting bread might not be quite as soft as you hoped.

Some pita will never have a pocket. Life is difficult and we must face realities that everyone will not be a winner. All of us—including many pita—will never achieve greatness. But unlike any losers out there, a pita with no pocket will still taste fantastic.

I tell you what I’d do, three puffy pitas at the same time.
Sometimes you get a big full balloon pita and then you get a pita like the one in the left background which still formed enough of a pocket for stuffing.

Pull the pita bread out after about a minute or a minute and a half after it forms the big balloon pocket. Once it really starts to brown this means the exterior of the pita is much more likely to become crunchy and tougher.

Pita, even if it never forms that pocket, is still such a good thing to know how to make at home.
Place the pita under a clean kitchen towel while they cool. They produce steam and soften each other.

Just like with most flatbread and tortillas a very important tip to remember is to keep the warm pita covered in a clean towel. This process helps the pita to steam and soften each other.

I ripped this one open while hot and it was glorious.
It formed a great pocket though. You could put a lot of hummus in there.

Reheating pita

I think there are probably five or six ways you could reheat or bring pita back up to temperature. You don’t have to reheat it, but if you want a fully supple and pliable pita that will allow you to open the pocket without cracking or breaking holes in it, you need to warm it first.

My favorite way is in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil. Heat up the oven to around 350 F / 175 C. Wrap the pita or pitas fully in aluminum foil and then bake for around 7 to 10 minutes for a fully warmed and soft pita.

If you want to reheat in the microwave, you can do so on a plate, one pita at a time covered in a slightly damp paper towel for about 15 to 20 seconds. If you cook pita for too long in the microwave it will get rubbery and tough. Start with 15 seconds for the first attempt and see how that works out.

Here’s my easy pita bread recipe. If all your pita do not pocket, they’ll still taste great.

1 hour and 44 minutes
Simple pita bread

This recipe yields six soft pockets of bread for stuffing. You can use this recipe for pita pockets, or you can enjoy them folded like a gyro or a big puffy taco shell.

Get Recipe

Greek salad ingredients

I combined all these ingredients a few times in the making of this blog post and it creates a fantastic salad on its own. Once the dressing is made and the chicken is marinated and grilled, everything else is just a matter of slicing or chopping so it comes together very quickly.

For my salads/pockets, I used the following veggies:

  • sliced romaine lettuce
  • sliced red onion
  • quartered cherry tomatoes
  • chopped Kalamata olives
  • sliced cucumber
  • crumbled feta cheese
All the ingredients I put into my Greek salads (minus the cucumber and dressing).

You can use some or all these veggies. I forgot to buy cucumber for my first couple of pita sandwiches and while you do notice the lack of cucumber, I don’t think it left a huge deficit in the experience. I think the red onion, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese are the big hitters in this salad experience, so for full flavor impact, make sure to buy those.

Now that we know what our list of vegetables is, we need to discuss the chicken, marinade, and dressing.

Greek dressing and marinade

Newsflash: the marinade and dressing for this pita pocket sandwich are the same thing.

This dressing can be and is used in my recipe as a marinade for the chicken. But you need to be ready for the fact that there is lemon juice mixed in. The acid in lemon juice will tenderize meat but it also will “cook” meat which means you should keep the marinade time short.

I try to stick to 30 minutes in the fridge for chicken just to make sure that the texture of the meat isn’t changed by the acidity of the marinade. If you research online many people are saying that you could use lemon juice on chicken in a marinade for up to 3 hours, but I try not to let it go that long.

Two butterflied boneless breasts swimming in a kiddie pool of Greek dressing.
Freshly made Greek dressing prior to shaking. You can clearly see how the oil and vinegar separate.

Way back in the before times, Greek dressing was just olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and seasonings like salt and maybe pepper. It’s probably still the exact same in some traditional places. I add a few other things to my dressing but they’re commonly available ingredients like red wine vinegar, garlic, and honey.

I like to keep this dressing in a small resealable glass jar in the fridge. The dressing will separate because oil and vinegar hate each other, and you will have to stir or whisk the dressing before each use. But when you keep it in a jar like this all you have to do is shake and the dressing comes back to where it was when it was first whisked together.

Grilled chicken

I grilled both chicken thighs and chicken breasts—both boneless and skinless—for my Greek chicken pita pockets. You can grill indoors or outdoors or even just sear it in a pan, make yourself happy, and cook the chicken however you want. You could even use rotisserie chicken if you were in a hurry, but you’d miss out on the Greek marinated chicken.

Six Greek marinated chicken thighs on a two-burner grill pan.
Grill marks make the chicken look good.

Grill marks

Over the years I’ve become a big fan of cooking meat longer on the first side than the second side. I especially think this is the best plan if you’re cooking a thinner cut of meat. If you want any sort of sear on the meat you will be better served by cooking the first side longer. Because of this, I do not rotate and turn the meat 90 degrees before flipping like those food television chefs do when I’m grilling chicken thighs or boneless breast pieces. Putting effort into crosshatching doesn’t accomplish anything if there are strongly visible grill marks on the meat in the first place.

I grilled six thighs for some of these Greek salad pita pockets.
And I also grilled two butterflied chicken breasts.

Once the chicken is grilled, slice and cut it into bite-sized pieces and you’re ready to salad. The chicken should be stored safely in the fridge for a few days so you can cook the meat in advance if you want. Because this is mostly a salad, the chicken doesn’t need to be hot or even warm to enjoy. I prefer the whole salad/pita pocket to be on the cool side, so I don’t even heat up the meat when I make mine.

Greek pita pocket recipe

If you’ve followed along all this way you probably already know that all we need to do now that we have all our ingredients is toss the salad in our dressing and fill some pita pockets. I’ll just warn you that pita pocket sandwiches aren’t the easiest to photograph but this salad is so good that I don’t mind sharing them.

Try this recipe and see if I’m lying. My wife even ate leftover salad two days in a row, soggy lettuce and all. It was that good. One day she even said it was even better the second day because everything had soaked up the dressing.

Make a salad, toss it with dressing; stuff it in a pocket. Dinner is served.

Scroll forth for a few photos and the full sandwich/salad recipe.

It’s like a salad in your hands!
Cold, crunchy and flavorful salad in a warm, soft pita pocket is very comforting.
It’s more difficult than you might think to take a photo of a stuffed pita pocket.
The best thing about this sandwich is that if any of the insides fall out, you’ve now got a side salad.
Greek chicken pita pocket view printable page for this recipe

Grilled chicken and fresh veggies tossed in a bold and tangy Greek dressing work perfectly stuffed inside of a soft and comforting pita pocket. My homemade pita recipe is linked in the notes below.


Greek dressing
  • 12 cup olive oil
  • 14 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of ground black pepper
Marinated and grilled chicken
  • 1 pound chicken thighs or chicken breast, boneless and skinless
  • half of the Greek dressing (above)
Salad and sandwich assembly
  • 2 round pita bread
  • grilled chicken (from above)
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced
  • 4 to 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 quarter inch thick slices of red onion, roughly chopped
  • 14 cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 8 to 12 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 to 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Greek dressing (from above)


Greek dressing: combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. You can also just add them to a jar with a lid and keep the dressing in the jar. Shake thoroughly before using. 

Store dressing in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Marinate and grill chicken: add your pieces of chicken to a plastic zip-top bag or sealed container and cover them with half of the Greek dressing that you just made. 

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. 

Preheat your grill or grill pan for 10 minutes. 

Pull the chicken out of the marinade and cook on grill grates or pan for 4 to 5 minutes per side for thighs and 5 to 6 minutes per side for chicken breasts. If you have very large chicken breasts you might want to grill for 7 minutes. If you have a probe thermometer you should be looking for 165 degrees F (73 C). You should be able to pull the chicken off the grill 5 degrees less than your target temperature and it will carry over those extra degrees.  

Allow the chicken to cool and then slice or cut it into bite-sized pieces. 

Pita sandwich assembly: open the pita pockets by slicing off the top third of the pita. Save that small piece of pita for a snack.

Toss the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and chicken in a large bowl, and then add a few tablespoons of the dressing. Toss the salad again and taste a bit to see if it needs more dressing or salt and pepper. Add those if needed and toss again.

Add a generous portion of salad to each pita pocket, making sure it's stuffed full and almost overflowing. Serve and enjoy. 

Check back next week

Next week should be interesting. I’m taking some vacation but I’m still going to try to put out some content. I have two sandwiches I’ve been working on, but someone still has to write the words! Wish me luck and check back on Monday to see if I made it happen or if I failed miserably.

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