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! 

Homemade baked chicken shawarma in pita pockets with salad and greens

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!

 

Chicken shawarma in pita pockets, served next to a side of tahini and Mediterranean salad

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.

Shawarma Spice Mixture

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.)

Boneless chicken cut up into small pieces

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)

Chicken pieces, combined with shawarma spices, lemon juice and olive oil.

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.)

Baked chicken shawarma on baking sheet

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!

Homemade Chicken Shawarma | The Mediterranean Dish. Easy, healthy chicken shawarma recipe! With earthy spices, and an olive oil marinate. Recipe comes with sauces, salad etc. This flavorful shawarma is a hit every single time! See it on TheMediterraneanDish.com #shawarma #shawarmarecipe #chickenshawarma #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandiet

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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Homemade Chicken Shawarma | The Mediterranean Dish. Easy, healthy chicken shawarma recipe! With earthy spices, and an olive oil marinate. Recipe comes with sauces, salad etc. This flavorful shawarma is a hit every single time! See it on TheMediterraneanDish.com #shawarma #shawarmarecipe #chickenshawarma #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandiet

Chicken Shawarma


Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale

To Serve 


Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, coriander, garlic powder, sweet paprika and cloves. Set aside the shawarma spice mix for now.
  2. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with salt on both sides, then thinly slice into small bite-sized pieces.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Notes

  • 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

 

 

 

 

Homemade Chicken Shawarma | The Mediterranean Dish. Easy, healthy chicken shawarma recipe! With earthy spices, and an olive oil marinate. Recipe comes with sauces, salad etc. This flavorful shawarma is a hit every single time! See it on TheMediterraneanDish.com #shawarma #shawarmarecipe #chickenshawarma #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandiet

Homemade Chicken Shawarma | The Mediterranean Dish. Easy, healthy chicken shawarma recipe! With earthy spices, and an olive oil marinate. Recipe comes with sauces, salad etc. This flavorful shawarma is a hit every single time! See it on TheMediterraneanDish.com #shawarma #shawarmarecipe #chickenshawarma #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandiet

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. OMG!!! This was amazing!!! My daughter who has no interest in anything besides mac ‘n cheese loved this meal!! She craves it now!! In fact, I have impressed my husband with every one of Suzy’s recipes that I have made so far! Sooo freakin’ good!

  2. I think pretty much the other reviews speak for themselves!
    This is truly absolutely delicious!
    I made it just as recipe with Greek Tzatziki and OMG! 💖💖

  3. This recipe is off the hook. The chicken becomes addictive. I love it. Don't wait to try it. Takes a lot of spice allocation, but really really is delish!

  4. I rarely stick entirely to a recipe but this one is PERFECT every time and needs no adjustment.

    Thank you for this easy and very yummy recipe!!

  5. The entire family loved your chicken shawarma recipe which I served with your tomato and cucumber salad, tzatziki, basmati rice and naan bread (pita pockets not available at the supermarkets I visited yesterday - bit messy but no-one seemed to care!). Looking forward to trying your baked garlic & lemon salmon recipe this evening.

  6. This recipe is stellar and the answer to your "Need a quick and easy dish" prayers. I am gluten free and haven't found a replacement for the pita pockets - or bread in general because, as someone with heavy German influence, "it has to be right!" - but the chicken stands well enough on its own that you can do it with or without the sauce and with a salad or veggie and I've done it simply with some rice.
    The olive oil is absolutely crucial; DO NOT go with anything that isn't FIRST cold pressed because it truly makes the difference with both flavor AND is the difference for those looking for healthier eating/dieting.
    The spice/oil mix is very simple and I do always add a little more cayenne for a little extra kick! (Usually a > very generous< teaspoon of cayenne.... or more. I like a lot of heat.) I like to let the chicken marinate for ~30 mins or so before cooking, but is still very good going right from the bowl to the oven.
    I don't even have a full size oven and I still get great results from my toaster oven (pan is ~11 1/2 in x 12 in or ~29 cm x 30.5 cm) and always turns out tender with a little bit of crisped black points at the recommended cook time and temp.
    Bottom line? If you have some company over, need something easy for the week to throw together, or just trying Mediterranean food for the first time, TRY THIS RECIPE!

  7. I've made this several times now, and noticed I hadn't yet reviewed, oops. Lol.. fantastic recipe, using ingredients I always have on hand! Saved and printed.. thank you SO much! I must dig thru your other recipes..

  8. I first tried shawarma when I was in the military and deployed to the Middle East. I fell in love with the food and really missed those flavors when I came back home to small town Virginia. When I saw this recipe I was so excited to be able to make it at home without any special equipment. This recipe is now a family favorite, it is so delicious! My husband and kids ask me to make this all the time. It never fails to bring my busy family of six to the table for a sit down meal.

  9. This recipe made MOUTHWATERING chicken shawarma!! I like dark meat & my bf likes white meat, so I used both. My bf could barely wait for it to reach the table bc it smelled so amazing while it was cooking. I made hummus & tzatziki & lemony quinoa to go with it, & my bf ate so much he was stuffed haha! Thank you for your recipe, it is definirely one I will make over & over again!

  10. This was so easy to make and tasted great. I was out of cardamom so I used chili powder instead. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to marinate either but I followed the rest of steps besides and the flavor was fantastic!

  11. I had to make a few tweaks, fresh garlic instead of powder, cardamom instead of cloves, I added a pinch of cinnamon and I didn’t realize I didn’t have a lemon until it was all mixed together. It still came out great and my whole family ate it! I have 3 kids 5 and under, so that’s pretty impressive. This is definitely making its way into our regular dinner rotation!

  12. I can’t get enough of Chicken Shawarma. It is my new favorite food. I am curious to know:
    Can shawarma be made with seafood? If so, which makes great seafood shawarma?

    Can chicken shawarma be cooked on the grill?

    1. Hi, Beau. I think Chicken Shawarma would be great on the grill! Shawarma is traditionally made with chicken, lamb or beef. I'm sure there are seafood shawarma recipes out there, but I've never tried that before, so I can't really advise.

  13. What an absolutely easy and fabulous recipe. My was first time trying this recipe a few weeks back, was the first time I attempted something I considered "exotic" and it turned out PERFECT! This has now become a staple in our home, and I make it once a week - being it's so simple, delicious, filling and healthy. Thank you for adding some "spice" to our lives and giving me the confidence to try new things to maintain a healthy diet without giving up flavor.

  14. Confession; our favorite sauce for shawarma is toum. Okay, it's really our favorite sauce for about anything that isn't dessert.
    Love your technique for a homemade version. It's even simpler than my own. I must give it a try.

  15. Thank you Suzy, my family loved this recipe, it is easy to follow. Kids loved it. I think the secret to the great tasting results is that you need the marinating time. I marinated for around 2 hours and the meat was so tender. We like a little chilli kick so next time I might add some hot chili powder. just love your recipes, so quick and easy to follow. Thank you from UK.

  16. That's not a Shawarma . To be classed as a Shawarma it has to be cooked on a vertical spit rotisserie. Call it as it is, a chicken kebab

    Shawarma is a Levantine Arab dish consisting of meat cut into thin slices, stacked in a cone-like shape, and roasted on a slowly-turning vertical rotisserie or spit.

    1. Hi, Paul. Appreciate the feedback. I know how shawarma is made more traditionally, and explain that in the post. I also add that this is my easier, homemade version for those that don't have access to a special rotisserie.

  17. I have been inspired to follow a Mediterranean eating plan by my Dr, and after looking at different websites, I found this one! All the recipes have been amazing and I feel so much better for eating healthier. I made the chicken Sharwarma and my kids loved them- bonus- had some chicken left over so I combined that with a cucous Taboleh and ate it for lunch the next day.