This easy, healthy homemade chicken shawarma is a huge fan-favorite around here, for good reason! The secret is in the simple shawarma spice mixture, which makes all the difference. My step-by-step tutorial and video show you exactly how to make this delicious chicken! Serve it in pita pockets with tahini sauce and this lazy salad, and call it dinner!
I grew up in Port Said, Egypt, where the streets are filled with small stands and joints selling delicious, super fragrant Middle Eastern foods. Fresh fried falafel. Bowls of Mujadara (lentils and rice) or Koshari. Skewers of Kabobs. And yes, shawarma, both beef and chicken options.
Chicken shawarma is one of my absolute favorite Middle Eastern street foods. You may or not be familiar with it, so let's start with what is chicken shawarma.
What is Chicken Shawarma?
Traditional chicken shawarma is basically well-marinated chicken, layered on a vertical rotisserie or spit where it's slow-roasted for days--in its own juices and fat--until perfectly tender and extra flavorful! To serve it, the joint owner would typically shave a layer of shawarma off the spit and pile it up into a pita pocket, jazz it with tahini sauce and heaps upon heaps of fresh toppings!
I'm telling you, Chicken shawarma is the epitome of seductive Middle Eastern flavors. And the good news is, I've found an easy way to make it at home with the same authentic flavors!
For my easy homemade chicken shawarma version, you do not need a special rotisserie or spit. You just need a sheet pan to make it right in the oven!
The secret is in the shawarma spice mixture, including warm spices including cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and a pinch of cayenne. SO MUCH FLAVOR!
How to make chicken shawarma at home (Step-by-Step)
1. Make the shawarma spice mixture. Simply add the spices into a small bowl and mix to combine.
2. Cut up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs into small bite-size pieces (you can use chicken breast if you like, this is just my personal preference.)
3. Spice the chicken up, make sure to coat the chicken well with the spice mixture. Add onions, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight (if you don't, you can skip the marinating time, it'll still be delicious)
4. When ready, lay the chicken shawarma on a large sheet pan and bake in 425 degrees heated oven for 30 minutes or so (you can check a bit earlier as ovens do vary.)
How to Serve Chicken Shawarma?
The true Middle Eastern way to serve chicken shawarma is in pita pockets or wraps with heaps of veggies and a good deal of sauce. I like the idea of loaded pita pockets. And for the veggies, peppery arugula and my simple 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad.
As with beef shawarama, you can serve chicken shawarma with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce. It's also common to use a white yogurt-based sauce like Greek Tzatziki.
This chicken shawarma recipe can serve 4 to 6 people. But if you're looking for a fun way to serve a larger crowd, think of doing shawarma sliders!
Can you make this shawarma in advance?
Yes, you can prepare and bake the chicken ahead of time--one or two nights in advance-- and then assemble into pita pockets when the time comes. Refrigerate in tight-lid container until ready to use.
Warm chicken up in a skillet over medium heat, adding a little bit of liquid and tossing the chicken pieces until warmed through. The liquid will help it so it doesn't dry up.
Watch the Video for Chicken Shawarma Recipe
NEVER MISS A RECIPE! JOIN MY FREE E-MAIL LIST HERE TO RECEIVE NEW RECIPES, WEEKLY MEDITERRANEAN DINNER PLANS, AND MY FREE E-COOKBOOK WITH 15 HEALTHY RECIPES TO TRY!
SHOP OUR ONLINE STORE FOR QUALITY OLIVE OILS, ALL-NATURAL SPICES AND MORE.Print
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6 shawarma pitas 1x
You don't need a special rotisserie to make this easy homemade chicken shawarma recipe! Chicken pieces, tossed in warm Middle Eastern spices, then baked until perfectly tender. Serve it in pita pockets with Mediterranean salad and sauces. Be sure to check out the video and step-by-step above.
- ¾ tbsp ground cumin
- ¾ tbsp turmeric powder
- ¾ tbsp ground coriander
- ¾ tbsp garlic powder
- ¾ tbsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper, more if you prefer
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large lemon, juice of
- ⅓ cup Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
- 6 pita pockets
- Tahini sauce or Greek Tzatziki sauce
- Baby arugula
- 3-ingredient Mediterranean Salad
- Pickles or kalmata olives (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, coriander, garlic powder, sweet paprika and cloves. Set aside the shawarma spice mix for now.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt on both sides, then thinly slice into small bite-sized pieces.
- Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add the shwarma spices and toss to coat. Add the onions, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss everything together again. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight (if you don't have time, you can cut or skip marinating time)
- When ready, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it sit in room temperature for a few minutes.
- Spread the marinated chicken with the onions in one layer on a large lightly-oiled baking sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes in the 425 degrees F heated-oven. For a more browned, crispier chicken, move the pan to the top rack and broil very briefly (watch carefully). Remove from the oven.
- While the chicken is roasting, prepare the pita pockets. Make tahini sauce according to this recipe or Tztaziki sauce according to this recipe. Make 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad according to this recipe. Set aside.
- To serve, open pita pockets up. Spread a little tahini sauce or Tzatziki sauce, add chicken shawarma, arugula, Mediterranean salad and pickles or olives, if you like. Serve immediately!
- Cook's Tip: If you have time, marinate the chicken for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, you can skip the marinating time as indicated in the instructions. It will still be delicious!
- Cook's Tip: Because ovens vary, be sure to check chicken at about 25 minutes or so of roasting/baking and go from there. Chicken is ready when internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Make Ahead Option: You can prepare the chicken ahead of time, one or two nights in advance, if you like. Warm up in a skillet over medium heat, adding a little bit of liquid and tossing the chicken pieces until warmed through. Assemble pita pockets as instructed.
- Serving Ideas: Chicken shawarma is best served in pita pockets with salad and sauces, like I mentioned already, but it can be served as an appetizer to a larger crowd. In that case, you can serve it in smaller slider buns with just a little sauce and fresh arugula.
- Recommended for this recipe from our all-natural and organic spice collections: cumin; turmeric; coriander; and Spanish paprika. And our Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives)
- SAVE! Try our Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle or create your own 6-pack from our all-natural and organic spices! Try our Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil Bundle!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Entree/Meat and Poultry
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Shawarma, Chicken Shawarma, how to make shawarma
Amazing!! Stuck the chicken in ramen for the kids, put mine over brown rice and leftovers will be pita sandwiches, just enough heat!
This was amazing!!!!!! Thank you for sharing! My Husband wanted it over basamati rice and he loved it!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Vivian!
Fantastic shawarma chicken! The whole family loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m not even done with this recipe- but my house smells amazing. I bought your book and am loving everything! I worked in a Middle Eastern restaurant in college- staff from Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia,Turkey- among others. Your cookbook brought back so many memories - Thank you! ❤️
Oh, that's wonderful! Thanks so much, Amy!
This is a great recipe! Ty so much 🙂 Already made it 2 times.
Awesome! Thanks, Eve!
Absolutely love this chicken shawarma. Easy to make and very delicious. It has become a family favourite. Thanks Suzie.
So excited to try this recipe with my family this weekend! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely recipes
This recipe is RIDICULOUSLY good! The flavors are out of this world and it’s so easy! I followed the recipes for the tzatziki sauce and the three ingredient Mediterranean salad and stuff it all in a warm pita. Absolutely delicious, was a hit with my brother who is quite the food critic.
I have made is recipe many times with chicken thighs and my family loves it! Question…Can I substitute the thighs for chicken breasts since thats what I have on hand today? Thanks, Kathy B
Made it tonight, absolutely AMAZING!!!!
You put a smile on my face when you have your little special daughter helping make the shawarma👍tjatbis how I learned to cook with my mom..BTW great shawarma recipe
Awww! Thanks, Gillian!
Love, love, love this recipe! BTW, your new cookbook is fabulous! Made the braised chicken, mushrooms and poblano peppers with pomegranate molasses. Paired it with cilantro rice. Sublime! Looking through the cookbook this morning to decide on today’s recipe. Your recipes create delicious food. Following your mom’s brilliant trick of peeling a bunch of garlic to use during the week.
I made this tonight with warm pita bread and your tzatziki sauce recipe. I was able to marinade the chicken overnight. My husband's response " this is killer". This is a keeper. I am actually making 3-4 of your recipes a week. I have always enjoyed cooking but now have a new excitement. Thank you!!!
Wonderful, Cathe! Thank you!
Suzy, I made this recipe for a salad bowl. It was excellent. I let it marinate in the fridge overnight.. next time I will use pitas bread.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Suzy, love cooking recipes from your site but i have a question. Could i keep the chicken thighs whole, marinate them overnight and then cook them on kebab sticks on the bbq? It is supposed to be around 40 degrees here tomorrow so not really fancying switching on the oven. 🌞
Sure! You could totally do these on the grill, Jane. Enjoy!
Can you help with a bit of troubleshooting? I think mine didn't turn out quite right? The chicken ended up cooking in quite a lot of liquid, which "rinsed" off most of the spices. It was ok, but not as flavorful as I was expecting, and the chicken texture was more "stewed" than "roasted". I used cut up skinless chicken thighs, marinated overnight, and roasted at 425 in a 13x9x2 aluminum pan. The chicken was in a single layer, but a little crowded. I ended up with about an inch of liquid in the pan. If I'd used a baking sheet, the amount of liquid would have overflowed onto the heating element. I'd like to try again using a baking sheet, but I'm nervous about all that liquid, and concerned about the pan warping at that high of a temperature. Could the chicken be fried in batches in a cast iron skillet instead of roasted? Do you have any ideas on what caused so much liquid to build up?
Hi, C.C. It's hard to say what may have gone wrong here. If you feel more comfortable, next time, you could totally try cooking this in a skillet.
So delicious and easy! My teenaged son especially loved it. It’s a new family favorite. It’s also a very affordable meal that easily replaces going out.
Had to let it marinate overnight and I will definitely do that again next time.
Delicious! I’ve made it with breast meat and boneless thigh meat. The thighs took more time and effort to trim off fat and cut up so I recommend the breast meat if you’re short on time. Both taste great.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Can I leave out the cayenne pepper to make it not spicy hot?