This chicken shawarma is going to blow you away. Pantry spices + chicken = magic!

Shawarma is all the good things: crispy charred spiced meat wrapped up in a fluffy pita with fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumbers. It’s one of the best combinations on earth, especially at 2 in the morning. Heck, it’s one of the best combinations at any time of the day really. There’s a reason why humans have been grilling meat since the beginning of time and the deliciousness of shawarma is one of them.

shawarma wrap | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is shawarma?

Shawarma as we know and love it, is a staple street food of the Middle East. Traditionally, shawarma refers to a Levantine way of preparing meat: thin cuts of marinated meat are stacked in a cone on vertical rotisserie and grilled. The word shawarma itself means “turning.”

How to make shawarma

Shawarma can be made with lamb, beef, chicken, or turkey. In our case, we’re going to be using chicken thighs.

  1. Make a spice mix: In a small bowl, mix together cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, aleppo peppers, cinnamon, and ground cloves to make a spice mix.
  2. Marinate: Add the spice mix, along with olive oil and lemon juice to a bowl with the chicken thighs. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Cook the chicken: You can do this in the oven, on the stove, in the air fryer, or on the grill. When it’s done, let it rest, then slice.
  4. Serve: enjoy hot on a platter with shawarma sauce, salad, and a pita; or place everything in a pita and wrap it up, street food style.

shawarma plate | www.iamafoodblog.com

Shawarma ingredients

Shawarma is all about the spice, so aside from chicken thighs, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil, you will need: cumin, paprika, garlic powder, ground coriander, ground cardamom, ground ginger, turmeric, aleppo pepper, cinnamon, and ground cloves.

  • Aleppo pepper – These little dried pepper flakes are amazing. The aleppo pepper in this recipe is optional, so leave it out if you’re spice adverse. But if you’re adventurous, please give it a try. It’ll add just a hint of heat and so much deliciousness. They’re about as half as spicy as regular crushed red pepper flakes but so much more flavorful: earthy, with a fruity tang.

shawarma spice mix | www.iamafoodblog.com

What if I don’t have all the shawarma spices?

If you don’t have all the shawarma spices and you don’t want to buy them just for shawarma, you can buy a shawarma spice blend instead. It won’t taste the same as this recipe since all spice blends/mixes are different, but in a jam, it will work just the same.

spices in bags | www.iamafoodblog.com

Do I need a vertical spit to make shawarma?

You can get all the flavors of shawarma without the spit! The key is marinating your meats in the same spices that they use at your favorite shawarma shop. If you want that extra bit of char, after your chicken is cooked and sliced, you can aggressively char it in a cast iron pan for extra flavor.

shawarma in a cast iron pan | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to cook shawarma

  • Stovetop – Heat up a cast iron or heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until caramelized and cooked through.
  • Oven baked – Heat the oven to 425°F and lay the chicken out in a single layer on a foil lined sheet pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway.
  • Air fryer – Air fry the marinated thighs at 360°F for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through, flipping halfway.
  • Grill – Heat the grill on medium high. When hot, grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, until charred and cooked through.

sliced chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com

What to eat with shawarma:

Go all out and create the ultimate mezze platter with:

How to serve

You can serve shawarma tucked into a pita like a wrap or you can serve it on a plate with rice, salad, and a pita on the side.

shawarma, eaten | www.iamafoodblog.com

Don’t forget the sauce!

Is it shawarma if there isn’t shawarma sauce? I’ve included a creamy garlicky yogurt sauce recipe with a hint of tahini and lemon. It’s so good you’re going to want to eat it with a spoon.

chicken shawarma recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

This chicken shawarma is going to blow you away. Pantry spices + chicken = magic!
Serves 4
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Marinating Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice only

Shawarma Spice Mix

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground aleppo pepper optional
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Shawarma Sauce

  • 3/4 cups greek yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Assembly

  • 2 cups romain
  • 1 cups tomato cubed, tomatoes of choice
  • 1 cucumber sliced, optionally salted
  • 1/2 red onion sliced, optionally pickled
  • 4-8 fresh pita

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, aleppo peppers, cinnamon, and ground cloves to make a shawarma spice mix.
    shawarma spice mix | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the spice mix, along with olive oil and lemon juice to a bowl with the chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
    marinated chicken for shawarma | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • While the chicken is marinating, make the shawarma sauce by stirring together the yogurt, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to eat.
    shawarma sauce | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Heat up a cast iron or heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until caramelized and cooked through.
    pan grilled shawarma chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces and enjoy hot on a platter with shawarma sauce, rice, salad, and a pita; or place the shawarma in a pita with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and drizzle with shawarma sauce. Optional: After slicing the chicken into bite sized pieces, and add back to the pan and cook over high heat to add extra char before serving.
    shawarma plate | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

If you don’t have all the shawarma spices and you don’t want to buy them just for shawarma, you can buy a shawarma spice blend instead. It won’t taste the same as this recipe since all spice blends/mixes are different, but in a jam, it will work just the same.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Shawarma Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 641 Calories from Fat 256
% Daily Value*
Fat 28.4g44%
Saturated Fat 6.3g39%
Cholesterol 202mg67%
Sodium 353mg15%
Potassium 916mg26%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 2.9g12%
Sugar 4.5g5%
Protein 70g140%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More mediterranean food

Read More

5 Comments

  1. Saqib Ramzan says:

    I look that you have explained the Shuarma recipe very well with easy steps. I appreciate your hard work for the recipe to share with the world.

  2. Kelly says:

    All the recipes I have tried from your blog have been winners, thank you for your excellent writing and instructions. Regarding the Aleppo pepper flakes for this recipe, I was wondering if gochugaru would be a decent substitute? Did you have any thoughts on how it would work with the other spices? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kelly,
      i think gochugaru would be wonderful :) it’s a pretty small amount so it won’t tip the flavors at all.

  3. Cheryl says:

    5 stars
    Just made this, and so glad I did. Your recipe is waaay better than the NYT version.

  4. Lucy Daniel says:

    5 stars
    Loved the recipe Stephanie! Agree with you, skinless chicken thighs work best for shawarma. Not only are they more affordable but are juicier as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *