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
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- 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
This is amazing! Added to our rotation. My daughter and I both love it. We did also make the garlic and that’s fantastic as well.
I was wondering if you think I could take this recipe and use it in the crockpot?
Hi, Andrea. I think this could totally work in crockpot, but we haven't tried it here ourselves. If you give it a go, we'd love to hear your thoughts!
I've made this many, many times now. I use naan bread instead of pita. My whole family loves it and I've recommended to all my friends!
I have made this recioe several times and we absolutely LOVE it!!!
Can you use chicken breast instead?
You sure can!
So delicious! My whole family loved it. Your recipes are incredible!
Thanks so much, Kathy!
Would it be possible to try to make this say in a bread loaf pan? I thought about thin slicing the chicken befire marinating then layering it in the loaf pan and baking it in it's juices, then perhaps turning it out on a sheet pan to brown the outside under the broiler. Then shaving meat off the sides to serve. Thoughts? Absolutely love your recipes and looking forward to trying this one!
Remembered loving this the first time I tried it a few years ago. Wanted to give it a vegan spin, so tonight I substituted strips of eggplant and tofu for the chicken, and it was fantastic! Even made the tzatziki sauce with dairy-free yogurt. It was very hearty and filling, and worked using the same directions as for chicken.
Yum! Thanks for sharing! Have you seen our Vegan Mushroom Shawarma recipe yet? Another good one!
When the recipe calls for 3/4 tbsp do you mean 3/4 tsp?
Hi, Bella. No, we actually used 3/4 tablespoon of those listed spices here.
Amazing flavor! I am so used to the typical bland North American food that I usually eat every day but this was a nice change from that. It was surprising that this was so easy to make but it tasted so good! This is definitely going in the vault.