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Shawarma (Chicken Shawarma)
Shawarma is one of the most famous Middle Eastern dishes! It’s originally a street food, most commonly as a sandwich, served with fries or rice. But you don’t have to rely on takeaways to get your share of this mouthwatering dish.
Let me introduce to you my Middle-Eastern inspired shawarma recipe that is healthier and tastier than what you’ll find in your local shawarma shop.
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is one of the most iconic Middle Eastern dishes. It originated in the Ottoman Empire and has become world-famous over the past decades. It consists of meat (usually chicken or beef/lamb). In restaurants, shawarma is typically cooked on a large rotating vertical skewer and cut into very thin slices with a large knife or cutting machine. Many restaurants sell shawarma with rice, french fries, or as a sandwich.
If you’re in the mood for shawarma but don’t want to order in, this shawarma recipe is what you need! It’s very easy to make and much healthier than what you’ll find in restaurants.
Shawarma is usually made of chicken or beef. Chicken shawarma is by far the most popular variety and that’s what I’m going to show you today.
- Chicken: Boneless chicken thighs are the preferred choice for this recipe. You can also use chicken breast or a mix of chicken thighs and breast.
- Yogurt: Plain unsweetened yogurt is the secret ingredient to your marinade. It’s what makes the meat so tender and juicy. Don’t skip it.
- Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best. If you don’t have fresh lemon, use bottled lemon juice instead.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves, crushed. You need to add them to your marinade. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use powdered garlic instead.
- Tomato paste or chili paste: Tomato paste (concentrate) will give your shawarma a more intense flavor and color. If you like it a little spicy, you can add chili paste (such as harissa) instead.
- Seasonings: You can make your own shawarma-spice mix by combining the spices below, or use a ready-made one. I recommend making your own (the one outlined below goes well with chicken. I use a slightly different one when making beef shawarma). Chicken shawarma spices (all powdered): cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper.
- Oil: You’ll need some sunflower or olive oil for your marinade and some for frying.
Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.
How to Make Shawarma (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Prepare the marinade
Start off by preparing your marinade. Squeeze a lemon and crush the garlic cloves. Add lemon juice and garlic to a large bowl. Add yogurt, oil, tomato paste (or chili paste) and the powdered spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, cardamon, salt and pepper. Stir well.
Step 2: Cut the meat
When using boneless chicken thighs, you don’t need to cut off any white bits that there might be. In fact, they add to the flavor. You can cut off any large chunks though. Cut into thin slices.
Step 3: Marinade the meat
Add the meat to the marinade and mix well with your hands to ensure the chicken is evenly coated in the marinade. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Ideally, you’ll do this the night before or some hours in advance to give the marinade some time to enter the chicken (at least 3 hours, better 12 hours).
Step 4: Fry the chicken
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the marinated chicken to the warm oil. Fry over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes (4-5 minutes on each side). The chicken should be browned evenly on the outside and be well done on the inside. Don’t overcook as it would make the chicken dry.
Step 5: Serve
Remove the chicken from the pan. Serve with fries or rice and salad. Alternatively, you can place it on a large flatbread to make a shawarma sandwich. If you choose to create a wrap (sandwich), you can briefly grill the bread in a contact grill or grill pan to make it extra crunchy.
How to Serve Shawarma?
Shawarma is a true comfort food that makes the perfect weekday meal for your family. Serve it with yellow rice or fries. You can also create a shawarma sandwich (using flatbread, homemade pita bread or tortilla). Serve with garlic sauce or mayonnaise.
Serve shawarma with:
- Yellow rice
- Homemade fries
- Lebanese garlic sauce
- Arabic pickles (e.g. pickled cucumbers)
- Pita bread (homemade), flatbread (store bought) or tortilla/durum for a shawarma sandwich
Make Ahead & Storage
Shawarma tastes best when served warm, right after grilling.
Leftovers can perfectly be kept for 2-3 days. You can use them for sandwiches, salads and with rice. Let cool completely after cooking. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Warm up in the microwave or on the stovetop, or enjoy at room temperature.
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Shawarma is one of the most popular Middle Eastern street foods. This tender and juicy chicken shawarma recipe lets you recreate the authentic shawarma taste at home.
For the chicken:
- 750 g (1.5 lb) chicken breast or thighs (boneless)
- 2 Tbsp sunflower oil for frying
For the marinade:
- 2 Tbsp yogurt whole-milk, unsweetened
- 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 0.5 lemon
- 0.5 tsp tomato paste or chili paste
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 0.5 tsp cardamom powder
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp pepper
- 4 flatbread shrak, tortilla or durum
- pickled cucumbers
- 4 Tbsp garlic sauce
- Start off with the marinade. Squeeze a lemon, crush the garlic cloves. Combine lemon juice, crushed garlic, oil, yogurt, tomato/chili paste and ground spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika,cinnamon, cardamon, salt and pepper) in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine into a paste.
- Cut the chicken into thin slices.
- Add the chicken to the marinade. Mix well to make sure the chicken is evenly coated in marinade. Let rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours (better 12 hours).
- Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add the marinated chicken into the skillet and fry it for 4-5 on each side (about 8-10 minutes in total) on medium heat.
- Remove from the pan. Place on a flatbread and roll up (shawarma sandwich) or enjoy with yellow rice or fries. Serve with garlic sauce, pickles and salad. Sides can be prepared before you fry the chicken to ensure it’s served warm.
- Which chicken to use? I recommend that you use boneless chicken thighs as they work best for this recipe. You can also use chicken breast or a mix of both.
- Seasonings: You can add the individual spices to the marinade as outlined in the recipe, or substitute by a ready-made shawarma spice mix, if you prefer.
- Allow the marinate enough time (at least 2-3 hours, better overnight). However, don’t over marinate it either (max. 24 hours).
- Unlike red meat, chicken always has to be well done. Your chicken should be browned from the outside and well done from the inside. Don’t overcook the chicken as it will become dry if you fry it for too long.
- Serve shawarma meat with yellow rice or fries. You can also put the meat onto a flatbread and roll it up (shawarma sandwich). See my tips above. A simple salad, pickles and garlic sauce pair well with shawarma.
- The nutritional values are rough indications. They can vary according to the exact weight, type and brand of your ingredients.
Calories: 548kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 36gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 434mgPotassium: 438mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 296IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 3mg
Did you enjoy this recipe?Let me know how it was in the comments below or tag welcome2jordan.blog on Instagram.