Chicken Shawarma is like the Middle Eastern gyros or tacos. They are packed with amazing flavors and you can customize it with all the favorite toppings, side dishes and sauces. I love to serve it with a fresh tabbouleh, garlic sauce and pita or naan. You can’t go wrong with this blend of spices. And better yet – this chicken shawarma recipe is so easy!
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that is similar to the kebab or kabobs. It is thinly cut meat that is stacked and placed on a rotisserie. Shawarma was originally made with lamb or mutton, but it’s more common with chicken these days. Thin slices are cut off the rotisserie while it is rotating. Homemade shawarma is usually grilled or baked, like in this recipe.
Shawarma is one of the most popular street foods, especially in – you guessed it – the Middle East. Egypt and the Levant countries, like Lebanon and Turkey, and the Arabic countries. Fun fact: the Mexican dish tacos al pastor came to life due to Lebanese immigrants. Small, but delicious world!
It’s only in the recent years I’ve really opened up to Middle Eastern cuisine. It is one of the greatest things I’ve done with my life. Middle Eastern food is packed with flavor, and shawarma is no different.
What to Serve with Chicken Shawarma?
BREAD: Chicken shawarma is often served in a pita bread or flatbread to make a chicken shawarma wrap. I like to serve it with simple garlic cilantro naan on the side. You could also make this flatbread without the toppings.
VEGETABLES: Chicken shawarma does include onion, but not much else. It would be too meat heavy without any fresh vegetables on the side. My favorite side dish is this fresh and herby tabbouleh salad. It is also often served just with tomatoes and cucumbers, but why don’t you try this fresh tomato salad instead. Other dishes that sound incredible with shawarma: Middle Eastern Bean Salad, Israeli Salad and Egyptian Farro Salad.
SAUCES: The chicken has itself a wonderful marinade, but I like to add more sauce. Sauce is life, right! I think the best is this garlic yoghurt sauce (see below), or even a tzatziki or raita could work, although not completely Middle Eastern. But I am not here to judge, I love fusion dishes. Other popular sauces to try are hummus and baba ganoush, or why don’t you try muhammara?
Chicken Shawarma Marinade Ingredients
The chicken shawarma itself doesn’t require many ingredients, and most of them are spices anyway!
- Chicken breasts
- Yellow onion
- Shawarma spice blend (see below)
- Olive oil
And once you make the shawarma spice blend, it will be even easier the next time.
How to Make Homemade Shawarma Seasoning
It’s not really a how to, because all you do is gather all the ingredients and mix them together. Mix together all the spices and store in an airtight container. This recipe is adapted from Little Spice Jar’s recipe. It will last a really long time. All that will happen is that it may be less potent in a couple of months, but it’s still fine a year after.
I use about 2 tbsp of shawarma seasoning for 1 lb of meat, but less is also totally fine. I like things spiced up! That is the beauty of not adding salt to your spice blends, you can really add as much as you want to get the oomph you’re looking for without getting a salt overdose.
How to Make this Chicken Shawarma Recipe
Let’s begin with the marinade. It’s just mix and forget really. But we need to make the shawarma blend first (You should also begin cooking quinoa for the tabbouleh, see below). Recipe is based on Jo Cooks’.
To make the chicken shawarma marinade: add all the spices, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil to a bowl. Whisk well and toss in the chicken. Make sure the chicken is completely coated in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 425F (220C). Add sliced onion to the bowl with the chicken and toss around. Add everything to a 9×13 inch (20×30 cm) baking dish. If you still have a lot of marinade floating around, leave it behind. But the longer the meat is marinading, the more it will absorb.
Bake until chicken is done, around 18-23 minutes for medium sized chicken breasts. However, really big chicken breasts need up to 28-30 minutes. If you have a thermometer, they should reach an internal temperature of 165F (74C). Once done, let them rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Incredibly Easy Garlic Yoghurt Sauce
Meanwhile the chicken is baking, we’ll make this incredibly easy garlic yoghurt sauce. Whisk all the sauce ingredients together and taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. If you want you can add grated cucumber (squeezed free of water) to make more of a tzatziki or finely chopped red onion for raita.
You should also remember to make all the other sides you want to serve this chicken shawarma recipe with. As I’ve mentioned many times, I think tabbouleh is a must! To serve the chicken shawarma, add sliced chicken breast to the plate, along with cooked onion. Fresh tabbouleh and drizzle everything with the garlic yoghurt sauce! Serve with pita or naan. Fresh parsley and lemon wedges are also great tasty garnishes.
Enjoy this healthy flavor-bomb comfort food!
Liked this Recipe? Check out these Middle Eastern Recipes!
- Middle Eastern Tabbouleh with Quinoa
- Crispy Baked Falafel with Roasted Veggies
- Healthy Halloumi Quinoa Salad
- Za’atar Date and Goat Cheese Naan with Pomegranate
- Moroccan Turkey Stew with Spinach and Lentils (scroll to find it)
- White Chocolate Mousse with Rose and Pistachio
What’s your favorite Middle Eastern recipe? Anything I’m sorely missing? Let me know!
I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in the comment section below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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This recipe was originally published on March 18th 2018, but updated on August 20th 2019 for better photos and content.
Chicken Shawarma + Homemade Shawarma Spice
- 1 lb chicken breasts 450g. Or 3 breasts.
- 2 tbsp shawarma seasoning see below
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch chili flakes optional
- 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 2 lemons juice only
- 1/3 cup olive oil 80 ml
- 1 yellow onion large, sliced
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp ground allspice
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- 1.5 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika optional
- 1 tsp turmeric optional
Garlic Yoghurt Sauce
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt 125ml
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- tabbouleh * see recipe in link
- garlic yoghurt sauce see above
- pita wraps
- parsley and lemon wedges optional
- Mix: Mix all the ingredients for the shawarma spice blend and store in an airtight container (and if you're making your own tabbouleh, start by cooking the quinoa or bulgur, because it needs to cool.)
- Shawarma marinade: Add all the spices, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil to a bowl. Whisk well and toss in the chicken. Make sure the chicken is completely coated in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for around 1 hour.
- Add the onion: Pre-heat the oven to 425F (220C). Add sliced onion to the bowl with the chicken and toss around. Add everything to a 9x13 inches (20x30cm) baking dish. If you still have a lot of marinade floating around, leave it behind. But the longer the meat is marinating, the more it will absorb.
- Bake: Bake until chicken is done, around 18-23 minutes for medium sized chicken breasts. However, really big chicken breasts need up to 28-30 minutes. If you have a thermometer, they should reach an internal temperature of 165F (74C). Once done, let them rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.
- Meanwhile: While the chicken is marinating, baking and so on - you'll make the sides. The garlic sauce is made in around 30 seconds - just whisk everything together, taste and season more if you want. The tabbouleh salad is also very easy, but you need to cook and cool the quinoa, while you chop and measure the rest of the ingredients (recipe in link below).
- Serve: Heat some pita wraps, spread with garlic yoghurt sauce, tabbouleh and top with shawarma chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.