chicken shawarma

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

By Swasthi on August 27, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Shawarma!!!! Go to any street corner in the Middle East and chances are you will find a little food joint selling lamb or Chicken Shawarma. Chicken Shawarma is a classic staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Tender pieces of marinated chicken are roasted and stuffed into flatbreads with all kinds of sauces, vegetables, and pickles, often with a side of Salad or French fries. It’s an incredible combination!!

Chicken Shawarma

Even if you don’t have access to a rotating spit, Chicken Shawarma can be a surprisingly quick midweek meal. You can also turn it into a fancy weekend dish by making your own flatbreads, sauces, and pickles to go with it.

No matter your taste or ambition, there’s an adaptable version of Chicken Shawarma out there for you.

About Chicken Shawarma

Succulent and spiced Chicken Shawarma is the descendant of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire’s döner kebab – layers of marinated meat and fat slowly roasted on a rotating vertical spit.

Modern Chicken Shawarma cooks the same way, sometimes using chicken skin in between the pieces of boneless meat to keep it juicy as it cooks.

Shawarma is now served all over the Middle East, including Asia, North Africa and the Mediterranean (where the Greeks call it gyro).

The flavor of the Chicken Shawarma will vary depending on where you get it. Spices used to marinate the shawarma can include paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, or sometimes a regional spice mix called baharat.

Once marinated, shawarma shop cooks stack the meat on those motorized 20-inch skewers and shave off slices of meat with a long, thin knife as they finish cooking.

The result is strips of flavorful meat with crispy edges and juicy, tender insides.

How to Serve Shawarma

shawarma served with pita bread and yogurt sauce

Once you have marinated, cooked, and chopped your Chicken Shawarma at home, there are so many ways to serve it.

The most famous and traditional way is as a sandwich, either stuffed into a pita bread pocket or wrapped in some kind of flatbread.

For flatbreads you can use tortillas, lavash bread, or some other leavened flatbread similar to pita or even Naan.

But wait, you don’t have to just serve shawarma as a sandwich! For those who are gluten-free or don’t have bread on hand, serve your Chicken Shawarma over a base of Turmeric Rice or Middle Eastern couscous.

To keep your shawarma and its accommodating carbs moist, you’ll definitely want to add some sauces. Yogurt-based ones are very popular in parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

If you or your guests can’t eat dairy or abstain from eating dairy with meat, hummus, tahini sauce, garlicky Lebanese toum, spicy Yemenite schug, or Jewish Iraqi pickled mango sauce (amba) all complement savory chicken shawarma meat.

You’ll need some crunch or freshness to go with your chicken shawarma. A lighter and healthier option would be a salad on the side, or some fresh onion, tomato, or cucumber in your sandwich.

For something with a little tang, pickled cucumbers and turnips are classic in shawarma. French fries also make a delicious companion both inside and on the side for chicken shawarma sandwiches.

Related recipes:
Chicken Recipes
Falafel
Popcorn chicken
Chicken kabab
Chicken burger
Chicken Patties

How to make Chicken Shawarma (Stepwise Photos)

Preparation

1. Pat dry and cut chicken breasts or thigh to 1½ inch pieces. Set this aside

2. Prepare the marinade: Add the following ingredients to a mixing bowl.

  • 1½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced or grated
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon paprika or red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (coriander powder)
  • ⅓ to ½ teaspoon ground cardamoms or all-spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (powder)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt (optional, strained yogurt, read notes)
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice (only if needed)
spice powders for chicken shawarma recipe

3. Mix all the ingredients. I also added 2 tbsp greek yogurt / hung curd (fresh, not sour).

marinade for shawarma

4. Add lemon juice only if needed to give a slight tang. I use about 1.5 tsps. Mix everything well and taste test to adjust the salt & spices. You may adjust the spice levels to your taste.

lemon juice for chicken

5. Marinate chicken well. The marinade must be thick and not runny.

chicken marinade

6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours to 24 hours. Longer resting time imparts better flavors and keeps the chicken tender.

Grill Chicken Shawarma

7. My experience with grilling this in an oven did not yield me very good results. So I do it in a pan. If you have a grill pan, go ahead and use it.

chicken in pan

8. Turn on the flame to the highest. Heat a non stick pan with half tbsp oil. When the pan turns really hot, place the chicken pieces separately with out crowding. Turn them to all the sides for even cooking. Note that I grilled the 250 to 300 grams chicken in 2 batches. Do not crowd the pan, chicken begins to release moisture if crowded.

grill chicken on pan

9. When the marinade almost begins to caramelize then put the flame to medium high . Continue to cook until the marinade completely dries up and the chicken is completely cooked. Since the chicken is marinated well in yogurt, it cooks fast.

shred chicken shawarma on pan

10. You will have to control the flame else it might char the meat and turn it hard. So I switch off the stove for a while. Quickly with a wooden spoon cut the chicken further.

I cook further for one to 2 mins to make sure chicken is cooked well. Set the chicken aside. Add quartered layers separated onions and quartered deseeded tomatoes to the pan and toss for few mins on a high flame.

Chicken Shawarma recipe

Serving Ideas

Option 1 – Make the garlic yogurt sauce

This can be used as a dip or to spread on the wrap. Add ¼ cup greek yogurt / hung curd, 1 tbsp minced garlic, salt, 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice (optional). Skip lemon if using sour yogurt. Mix everything well.

garlic yogurt sauce

Option 2 – Make Tahini sauce

You will have to make tahini from here or use store bought. If buying from store, prefer the one that is packed in glass jars and is made from organic sesame.

Add ¾ cup tahini, 1/4 to 1/2 cup luke warm water, 2 large garlic cloves minced, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, salt only if needed to a food processor and process until it turns light and creamy. Next add 2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley to it. Tahini sauce is ready to use.

Spread the sauce generously on a pita bread.

spread sauce on pita bread

Then place lettuce, chicken shawarma, then grilled onions and tomatoes. You can also use any of your favorite hot sauces.

place chicken shawarma on pita bread

Wrap and enjoy Chicken Shawarma rolls.

chicken shawarma roll

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

chicken shawarma recipe

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Make juicy and delicious shawarma at home with this simple recipe. Serve as appetizer or in wraps.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings2
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 250 grams (9 ounces) chicken breast or thigh
  • tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced or grated
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon paprika or red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (coriander powder)
  • ⅓ to ½ teaspoon ground cardamoms or all-spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (powder)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt (optional, strained yogurt, read notes)
  • teaspoon lemon juice (only if needed)

Optional

  • 1 onion quartered, layers separated
  • 1 tomato quartered, deseeded

Instructions

Preparation

  • Mix all the ingredients for marinade. Add lemon juice only if needed. Taste the marinade and add more salt if needed.
  • Pat dry chicken with kitchen tissues and cut to 1½ inch size pieces. Add the chicken to the marinade. Cover and rest for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Grill in oven

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C or 400 F for at least 15 mins.
  • Prepare a grilling tray – spread a foil and grease it.
  • Place the chicken pieces, ½ inch apart, over the tray along with onions and tomatoes.
  • Grill for 15 to 20 mins depending on the size of the pieces. After 10 mins turn them to the other side with a tong.
  • Move to the top rack and broil for 2 to 3 mins. Shred the chicken in the tray and serve.

How to make Chicken Shawarma

  • Heat a pan with half tbsp olive oil on a high heat.
  • When the pan is hot. Place the chicken and turn to cook on all the sides evenly.
  • When the chicken is tender and cooked through, shred it on the pan with a wooden spatula.
  • Cook further for 1 to 2 mins. Set this aside and use the same pan to grill quartered layered onions and deseeded tomatoes.
  • Serve chicken shawarma as a appetizer with yogurt garlic sauce (recipe in step by step pics section).

Make shawarma wrap/ roll

  • Spread sauce on the pita bread, place lettuce and then chicken, grilled onions, tomatoes and roll it up.

Notes

  • Yogurt keeps your chicken tender and juicy just like the shawarma on the spits. It adds so much flavor too.
  • Avoid using runny yogurt. Use thick Greek yogurt with minimum whey else the spices can run over to the pan.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Shawarma Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 423 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 16g
Cholesterol 95mg32%
Sodium 692mg30%
Potassium 558mg16%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 954IU19%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 80mg8%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Chicken Shawarma first published in Feb 2016. Updated and republished in 2019. Updated in 2023 May.

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Comments

Recipe Rating




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5 stars
This recipe was knock-out delicious. Unlike others this one uses yogurt in the marinade. I made an additional batch with tofu for the resident vegetarian. It was equally delicious and grilled up like chicken.

5 stars
Delicious Marinade. I broiled the chicken for 10 mins in my oven, turning halfway. Made the sauce too from your recipe. Both were delicious and will be making this again.

5 stars
Shawarma recipe.

Hi,
I am planning to start a shawarma outlet. Will be very helpful if you can provide me your suggestion on Shawarma.kindly provide your suggestion in the provided e-mail ID

5 stars
I love your recipe on chicken shawarma preparation.
I will give it a trial.
Thank you so sharing it.

Hi am indian am going to open shawarma business and Irani tea can you help me by your suggestion my mail id

5 stars
Hi Swasthi, hope this is not a repeat post. I prepared shawarma last Sunday and even texted. I guess I missed to post the comment.
To keep it short, no word can express the deliciousness of the homemade shawarma. Chicken was succulent and flavorful. Garlic yogurt sauce was mild and perfect to go with the chicken. I prepared pita bread at home combining your pizza recipe and the suggestion in your post. It tasted heavenly though didn’t puff like puri but roti. Couldn’t not stop appreciating you throughout the dinner time.
Keep your hard work up and stay blessed.

Hi Swasthi, hope you are doing great. Feeling excited to find shawarma recipe here. Surely will give it a try next weekend. You have written that you have prepared pita bread on the same day. I’m not finding the recipe but. Have you mentioned it somewhere else? If not, will you please let me know how to make the bread/ wrap at home ? My daughter is on a restricted diet. She can’t consume readymade food from outside, hence can’t use store bought pitas. But she will surely disapprove the idea of wrapping the delicious chicken with our home made chapati.

5 stars
Hi Swasthi, prepared chicken shawarma with pita bread tonight. No words can do justice to the excellent taste. Hence keeping it short and simple.
Chicken was flavorful and succulent. Garlic yogurt dip was exactly like the one we get in Mediterranean restaurants.
Prepared pita bread at home combining your pizza base recipe and your suggestion above. Puffed like roti but not puri. But taste was heavenly.
Couldn’t stop appreciating you throughout our dinner time.
Keep your good work up, dear and stay blessed.

5 stars
This turned out so yummy. Thank you very much for the recipe. You saved us from eating out.

I’m on diet, is oil important for grilling??

5 stars
Hi there Swasthi,
Just to let you know I tried this recipe with salmon fillet and it worked out wonderfully. I made my wraps with homemade tortilla, guacamole, salad and hot sauce. Boy, they were so good! Will definitely make them again.

Hi Swasthi,wanted to know if you could share the recipe to make shawarma wraps

Hi,wanted to make the shawarma pita bread at home
Could you please share the recipe.thanks

Hi, is there any substitute for all spice? I wanted to make this today but don’t have all spice.

Hi Swasthi,
Love this super simple recipe of yours. I make it quite often especially when I am not making your awesome tandoori chicken or chicken tikka. Though I usually use chicken fillet and not even bother to add oil to the pan and it turns out great every single time.
Well, I wonder if I can use fish fillet instead of chicken. Would be wonderful to have a fish wrap from time to time.
Thank you v much.

5 stars
Hello there again,
Thank you for your quick reply. I dont come here as often as before cuz I’ve written down the recipes on my book. Hehehe… Now I will also try your garam masala and tahini recipes. Cant wait! Thanks again and keep up the good work! Your are simply the best!

5 stars
Today did the chicken shawarma was ultimate delicious.thanks for the receipe and tips.

5 stars
last week I tried this recipe at home with my family. It was really good. I eat variously shawarma recipes but this one was unique. I feel it is very easy to make because of your instructions. Thanks.

5 stars
Hello, I’d like to make this recipe but I can’t find the chicken’s weight and which parts I should use.
Also if I were to add some oregano gow much would you add?
Thank you, Didi from Italy

I made it today according to your instructions, it was very simple, very tasty and still pretty light which doesn’t hurt. I served mine with extra lemon and a bit of sumak, my sister wrapped hers with yogurt sauce and said “delicious”. I will certainly look forward to more of your recipes. Thank you, Didina

4 stars
Hi Swasthi….

Your recipes are awesome and your cookware too.
Please give the recommendations and descriptions (like size,material, weight) of your cookware. I’ve seen you using the T-fal Titanium Pro Pan, WMF SS pan, Cast iron Skillet and so many which are highly safe for cooking.
Please suggest the cookware which are safe and unsafe for cooking.
And Please mention the cleaning and maintenance tips of the cookware in your blog.

5 stars
I made a slight change over here as I added 1 tesapoon dried oregano,20 grams of ground nutmeg and 1 cup cheddar cheese to add its taste.I need to say that its one of the tastiest dishes which i had till now. I had tried almost all your raggi recipes and my son Ryan who is not fond of raggi loved all the dishes which I made as per your instruction .We loved your biryani too. I have shared this website with my best friend slyvia who justs try out all sorts of recipes.she once gave me a levantine dish recipe website.it wsa also a good one. I wish y0u could ry out those and come up here with some alterations…

5 stars
Hii….thanks so much for this recepies

5 stars
Made it and everybody loves it at home. Was going thru Tahini recipe and it said it is used in making shawarma but in this shawarma recipe it has not been used.

Wow that was a quick turn around. Appreciate it