Chicken Shawarma

Dive into the aromatic world of Chicken Shawarma, a beloved street food originating from the Middle East. Known for its tender, juicy chicken marinated in a blend of exotic spices, then roasted to perfection, Chicken Shawarma wraps these flavors in a warm pita bread, creating a meal that’s both satisfying and bursting with flavor.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

Selecting high-quality chicken is crucial for Shawarma. Most recipes call for thigh meat due to its juiciness and flavor. The spices, including cumin, paprika, turmeric, and garlic, are equally important, as they give Shawarma its distinctive taste. Fresh garlic, lemon juice, and yogurt complete the marinade, tenderizing the chicken and infusing it with depth and tanginess.

Preparing the Marinade

Begin by mixing your spices in a bowl. Add minced garlic, lemon juice, and yogurt to form a marinade that both flavors and tenderizes the chicken. Slice the chicken thighs into thin strips to ensure the marinade thoroughly coats each piece, then immerse them in the mixture. Marinating for at least a few hours, or ideally overnight, will guarantee the chicken absorbs all the aromatic flavors.

Cooking the Chicken

Traditionally, Shawarma is cooked on a rotating spit, but you can achieve excellent results in your oven or on a grill. If using an oven, spread the marinated chicken strips on a baking sheet and roast at a high temperature until they are golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. For grilling, skewer the chicken strips and grill them over medium-high heat, turning frequently to cook evenly on all sides.

Assembling the Shawarma

Warm your pita bread slightly to make it pliable. Spread a layer of garlic sauce or tahini on the bread, then add the cooked chicken. Top with your choice of accompaniments: thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a bit of lettuce or cabbage for crunch. A sprinkle of sumac or a drizzle of more tahini can add an extra layer of flavor.

Serving Chicken Shawarma

Roll up the pita around the fillings, wrapping it tightly to secure the contents. Serve the Shawarma rolls with sides of pickled vegetables, extra garlic sauce, or tahini for dipping. Some like to accompany it with fries, either on the side or tucked inside the wrap for an additional texture contrast.

More than just a meal

Chicken Shawarma is more than just a meal; it’s an experience. Its layers of flavor, from the spiced, tender chicken to the fresh, crisp vegetables and the creamy sauce, all come together in a harmonious blend that delights the senses.

Whether enjoyed as a quick lunch or a leisurely dinner, Chicken Shawarma brings a taste of the Middle East to your table, inviting you to savor every bite of this culinary masterpiece.

Marinating the Chicken for Shawarma

To start, you select boneless chicken thighs for their juiciness and flavor. In a large bowl, you combine olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and a blend of spices including cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne for heat. Whisk these ingredients together to create a vibrant marinade. You add the chicken to the bowl, ensuring each piece is well-coated with the marinade. Then, you cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least an hour, or overnight for the best flavor infusion.

Preparing the Chicken Shawarma

Once marinated, you preheat your grill, cast iron skillet, or oven (if using the broil setting for an oven method) to a high heat. You thread the chicken pieces onto skewers if grilling, or place them in a single layer on a baking sheet if using an oven. The chicken is then cooked, turning occasionally, until it’s charred at the edges and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side for grilling, or 10 to 15 minutes in the oven.

Assembling the Shawarma

While the chicken rests for a few minutes after cooking, you warm your pita bread on the grill or stove. On each pita, you spread a generous layer of garlic sauce or tahini, and then you add sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions for crunch and freshness. You slice the cooked chicken into strips and lay them over the vegetables. Optionally, you add pickles or a handful of fresh parsley.

Serving Chicken Shawarma

Finally, you fold the pita around the fillings, creating a wrap that’s bursting with flavors and textures. The chicken shawarma can be served with additional garlic sauce on the side for dipping, or with a side of fries or a fresh salad for a complete meal. Each bite combines the smoky, spiced chicken with the cool, crisp vegetables and the creamy sauce, making it a fulfilling and delicious dish.

Customizing Your Shawarma Experience

You don’t just stop at traditional toppings; you explore further by adding your personal touch to the shawarma. Avocado slices, for a creamy texture, or a sprinkle of feta cheese for a tangy twist, become part of your unique shawarma creation. You understand that the essence of a great shawarma lies in the harmony of its components, so you balance flavors and textures according to your preference and culinary intuition.

The Final Touches

Before serving, you drizzle a bit more garlic sauce or tahini over the filled pitas, ensuring every bite is moist and flavorful. For those who enjoy a bit of heat, a dash of hot sauce or a sprinkle of chili flakes adds the perfect kick. You recognize that the final touches are what make each shawarma distinctly delicious and tailored to individual tastes.

Pairing with Sides

You decide to complement the chicken shawarma wraps with a selection of sides. A simple tabbouleh salad, packed with fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, and bulgur, offers a refreshing contrast to the savory wraps. You also prepare a batch of crispy homemade fries, seasoned with a hint of the same spices used in the shawarma marinade, tying the meal together with a thematic flavor.

Creating a Dining Experience

As you lay the table, you envision creating more than just a meal; you aim to offer a dining experience. Small bowls filled with extra sauces, sliced vegetables, and pickles invite everyone to customize their wrap further. The vibrant array of colors and the aromatic scents set the stage for a communal and interactive meal, encouraging conversation and sharing among friends and family.

Embracing the Joy of Cooking

Through the process of preparing chicken shawarma, you embrace the joy of cooking and the beauty of bringing people together over food. Each step, from marinating the chicken to assembling the wraps and choosing the sides, reflects your passion for creating meals that nourish both the body and the soul. You recognize that it’s not just about following a recipe but about infusing each dish with love, creativity, and a touch of personal flair.

Experimenting with Flavors

You dive deeper into culinary creativity by experimenting with different marinades and spices. One day, you might add a touch of smoked paprika for a deeper smoky flavor, or perhaps a bit of honey to balance the spices with a hint of sweetness. You understand that the essence of cooking lies in the freedom to adapt and change recipes according to what tastes right to you at the moment.

Engaging the Senses

As you cook, you engage all your senses. You listen to the sizzle of the chicken as it cooks, smell the aromatic blend of spices, see the vibrant colors of the fresh vegetables, and finally, taste the harmony of flavors you’ve created. Cooking becomes not just about feeding the body but also about feeding the soul and awakening the senses.

Sharing the Love of Food

You invite friends and family to join you in the kitchen, turning meal preparation into a shared activity. Together, you laugh, share stories, and enjoy the communal spirit of cooking. You teach them how to wrap their own shawarma, creating an interactive dining experience that everyone remembers. Food becomes a medium for connection, bringing people closer through the shared love of flavors and the joy of eating together.

Reflecting on Culinary Journeys

As you reflect on the journey of making chicken shawarma, you realize that each ingredient, each spice, and each technique tells a story. You appreciate the cultural significance behind the dish and the way it connects you to different traditions and tastes from around the world. Cooking becomes a way to explore new cultures and experiences from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Continuously Learning and Growing

With every dish you prepare, including the chicken shawarma, you see yourself evolving as a cook. You learn from each experience, whether it’s a triumph or a lesson in what not to do next time. You remain open to trying new recipes, techniques, and flavors, understanding that the journey of cooking is an endless adventure of learning and discovery. Each meal is an opportunity to express creativity, share joy, and celebrate the endless possibilities that cooking offers.

FAQs about Chicken Shawarma

Can I make chicken shawarma without a grill? Absolutely! You can cook chicken shawarma in a skillet over medium-high heat or bake it in the oven. The key is to get a good sear on the chicken to mimic the charred exterior you’d get from grilling.

Is chicken shawarma healthy? Chicken shawarma can be a healthy option, especially when loaded with fresh vegetables and served with whole grain pita. Using lean chicken and controlling the amount of oil and sauce can keep the calories in check.

Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs? Yes, you can use chicken breast if you prefer. Just be aware that chicken thighs are juicier and more flavorful, so adjust cooking times accordingly to avoid dry chicken.

How long should I marinate the chicken? For the best flavor, marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour, but overnight marination will yield the most flavorful and tender results.

What can I serve with chicken shawarma? Serve chicken shawarma with sides like hummus, tabbouleh, garlic sauce, or tzatziki. For a low-carb option, you can skip the pita and make a shawarma salad bowl instead.


Making chicken shawarma at home is a delightful adventure that brings the rich flavors of the Middle East right to your table. With simple ingredients and a bit of culinary creativity, you can enjoy this popular street food any day of the week. Whether grilled, baked, or pan-seared, chicken shawarma wrapped in a warm pita and loaded with fresh veggies and creamy sauce is a crowd-pleaser that satisfies both taste buds and hearts. Embrace the process, from marinating the chicken with aromatic spices to assembling your shawarma with your favorite toppings, and enjoy the journey of creating and sharing delicious food.

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Chicken Shawarma

  • Author: recipstep
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Chicken Shawarma is a Middle Eastern-inspired dish featuring thinly sliced, marinated chicken that’s packed with flavor, served in a pita wrap with fresh vegetables and sauce.



1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp coriander
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 onion thinly sliced
Juice of one lemon
2 lbs chicken thighs (about 6)
3 tbsp olive oil

For the Yogurt Sauce:
⅔ cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


For the Chicken:
In a large bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Whisk together and set aside.
Add the chicken thighs to the marinade and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Add the sliced onion to the marinade and toss to coat.
Spread the chicken and onion onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

For the Yogurt Sauce:
Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk together.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serving Suggestion:
Serve on warmed pitas with the yogurt sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber if desired.
Enjoy your delicious homemade Chicken Shawarma! 🍗🥙


  • Substitute chicken breast if preferred, adjusting cook time as needed.
  • Customize the wrap with your favorite vegetables and sauces.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilling or Pan-frying
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


  • Calories: 310 kcal
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Sodium: 200 mg
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Cholesterol: 140 mg

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