Straight from my Egyptian kitchen, this hawawshi recipe is made with crispy pita pockets that are stuffed with a tantalizing meat mixture with onions, hot peppers and fresh herbs. Think of it as Egypt's answer to a hamburger but on steroids!

Watch my video below to see how to make hawawshi step-by-step.

Hawawshi pita sandwiches

As an Egyptian (born and bred), nothing excites me more than sharing childhood favorites. And today is all about a famous street food we call hawawshi. Think of it as Egypt's answer to a burger, or a next-level ground beef pita sandwich.

What is hawawshi?!

Hawawshi! Say it with me: ha-WOW-shi.

Hawawshi is a popular Egyptian street food, particularly in Cairo and Alexandria (where they call it baladi). It is basically dough (or pita) stuffed with a mixture of ground beef that is seasoned with tantalizing warm spices, onions, garlic, hot peppers and fresh herbs.

Legend has it that one butcher by the name of Ahmed Al-Hawash in Cairo's Tawfeek Souq came up with this sandwich back in the early 1970s and gave it his name. The idea has traveled throughout parts of Africa and the Middle East (in Lebanon, another version of this sandwich is called Arayes).

Hawawashi served with sliced tomatoes and red onions

Homemade hawawshi shortcut

In Egypt, hawawshi pitas are typically made to order so they're fresh out of the oven when you get them. When local Egyptian restaurants, particularly in Cairo or Alexandria, make it, they start by making a special dough (similar to the dough used for pita bread) and then they wrap the dough around the meat mixture and cook it in their large ovens (some use clay ovens or pizza ovens).

In this shortcut version, I skip making the dough and use ready pita pockets, which become nice and crispy when heated. No special equipment is needed but a large sheet pan or two and your oven.

High heat (around 400 degrees F) is best for baking hawawshi sandwiches, which take about 15 minutes to bake.

What's in it? And how do you make it?

There are three components to making this hawawshi beef patty sandwich recipe:

  • Hawawshi seasoning
    It's not a hawawshi sandwich without the unique seasoning or spice mixture of coriander, allspice, paprika, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and a pinch of cinnamon (find these spices and more at our online shop). Hawawshi seasoning
  • The meat mixture
    Lean ground beef combined with finely chopped vegetables including garlic, onion, bell pepper, hot pepper like jalapeno (optional), and finely chopped parsley. The hawawshi seasoning is added to this mixture and combined before cooking (kinda like how you would prepare meat for meatballs, except in this case you do not form the meat into balls).Meat mixture
  • Pita pockets
    Like I mentioned earlier, this is the shortcut version which uses already available pita pockets (I do bake my own pita often, here's my recipe for homemade pita bread). The seasoned meat mixture is spread in the pita pockets and then baked until the meat is fully cooked through. It will take about 25 minutes or so in a 400 degrees F heated oven.
    The key is to cook the pita on both sides so it's nice and crispy. pita pockets stuffed with hawawshi meat mixture

How to serve it?

This satisfying sandwich is typically served hot without much else to accompany it, but I like adding some sliced veggies or quick pickles and a side of tahini sauce (which is awesome drizzled in the sandwich). And it's never a bad idea to add a big salad like this lazy Mediterranean salad, fresh bean salad, or even Greek salad.

Leftovers & storage

This recipe makes 12 pita pockets, so you can easily feed a crowd of at least 6 people. But I often make it for our little family of four and save the leftovers in the fridge for lunches.

Fully cooked hawawshi sandwiches can be stored in the fridge in a tight-lid container for 3 days or so. Warm them up in a medium-heated oven.

You can also freeze fully cooked hawawshi. To freeze for later, I typically wrap up the individual pita sandwiches in foil that's been lined well with wax paper or parchment (or you can use freezer bags or containers). You can warm them up from frozen.

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4.77 from 122 votes

Egyptian Hawawshi Recipe

Suzy Karadsheh
Hawawshi pita sandwiches
Straight from my Egyptian kitchen, this hawawshi recipe is made with crispy pita pockets that are stuffed with a tantalizing meat mixture, seasoned with a warm spice mixture, onions, peppers, and fresh herbs. Think of it as Egypt's answer to a hamburger but on steroids!
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Cuisine:
Egyptian
Serves – 12
Course:
Dinner

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large yellow onion quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green bell pepper cored and cut into large chunks
  • 1 jalapeno halved and seeded (leave some of the seed if you like heat)
  • ½ ounce fresh parsley stems trimmed (cut most of the stem but leave some for extra flavor)
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 loaves of pita bread you need the kind with pockets

For the Hawawshi Seasoning (Spice Mixture)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, add the spices and mix to combine.
  • Put the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse a few times until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a sieve to drain excess liquid (it helps to push with the back of a spoon).
  • Transfer the onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the ground beef and tomato paste. Mix to combine. Add the spice mixture and a dash of kosher salt. Mix again until the mixture is well combined and the spices are well distributed within the meat mixture.
  • Cut the pita loafs in halves to create 12 pita pockets.
  • Prepare a large sheet pan brushed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Stuff each pita pocket with ⅓ cup of the meat mixture. Using the back of a spoon, spread the meat mixture inside the pita pockets.
  • Arrange the pitas in the prepared sheet pan. Brush the pita pocket tops with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Bake in the heated oven for 15, then carefully turn the pitas over and cook on the other side another 5 to 10 minutes until the meat is fully cooked and the pita is crispy on both sides.

Video

Notes

  • Visit our Shop to browse quality all-natural and organic spices used in this recipe, olive oils and more. 
  • To bake your pita from scratch, follow my homemade pita bread recipe
  • To store leftovers cooked hawawshi in the fridge: cool completely and transfer to tight-lid containers. Refrigerate for 3 days or so. Warm up in a medium-heated oven,
  • To freeze leftover cooked hawawshi: You can also freeze fully cooked hawawshi. To freeze for later, I typically wrap up the individual pita sandwiches in foil that's been lined well with wax paper or parchment (or you can use freezer bags or containers). You can warm them up from frozen. 

Nutrition

Calories: 204.8kcalCarbohydrates: 2.9gProtein: 13.5gSaturated Fat: 5.8gCholesterol: 53.7mgSodium: 181.1mgPotassium: 286.3mgFiber: 0.8gVitamin A: 304.2IUVitamin C: 12.9mgCalcium: 21.7mgIron: 1.9mg
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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. 5 stars
    Love the is recipe, made for the first time and couldn’t find pita so used naan bread instead and it was delicious, adding into our monthly meal rotation

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious!!! I used ground turkey instead of beef and cut the recipe in half since I am cooking for one. I will definitely make again.

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used whole wheat pitas because that's what I had on hand. I cook for one so I cut recipe in half and it makes a lot. I didn't make entire batch so I'm freezing portioned out meat to make again soon!

  4. Any reason not to substitute ground turkey? We don't eat beef...sometimes the turkey substitute works, sometimes not.

  5. 5 stars
    This looks really great—I’d like to try a vegetarian or vegan version of this since I’m heading towards that area. Do you think making a simple mushroom/lentil/or anything you recommend mixture base for the meat and then adding all the Hawawshi spices would work to give a similar flavor profile? Maybe a chickpea base would do as well? Love your creations here and made a lot over the past year. Thank you

    1. Hi, Justin. I actually think lentils would make a great replacement for the meat here. I'd stay away from mushrooms, as they have a high water content, so I'm worried they'd make the pita soggy. We've never tested a vegetarian hawawshi, so if you give it a try, we'd love to hear how it worked for you!

  6. This was delicious!! One side of my pita did not crisp up because of the meat juices that came out. Is there a way to get both sides of the pita crispy?

    1. Hi, Michele! If you are having issues with the pita bread becoming soggy, another reader had success flipping them onto a wire rack to cook the last 10 minutes. I would give that a try next time and see if it works for you.

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe several times now because my Egyptian husband and his friends keep asking for it. So easy and flavorful!

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing!! So flavorful! I went ahead and made everything from scratch, and I was so worth it! The pita bread, the meat filling for the hawawshi and hummus as a dipping sauce! All from the Mediterranean Dish website! 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful recipes!!

  9. Can we cook these on a grill? We have both a charcoal grill and a gas grill and would love to cook these outside on a nice day.

    1. Hi, Alana. That isn't something we've tried before, but I don't see why not! If you go for it, please stop back and let us know how it went!

  10. 2 stars
    I have the book but used the online recipe because I thought they were the same. The book says to bake uncovered and flip but the online recipe says to cover them, bake, uncover and bake for another 5 minutes and I wound up with soggy pita. The online recipe should be modified 🙁

    1. I used the book recipe and still had a soggy pita (even after squeezing water out of the veggies). I also ended up with double the pockets with the 2 pounds of meat. Very tasty, so I would love some tips to get out the sog. I did have to use two shelves in my oven, so I’m sure that didn’t help. Maybe batches and less per tray?

      1. Hi, Samantha! If you are having issues with the pita bread becoming soggy, another reader had success flipping them onto a wire rack to cook the last 10 minutes. I would give that a try next time and see if it works for you.

  11. 5 stars
    I halved the recipe since I only had 1lb of beef. Although I halved the recipe I chose to use a full jalapeño since I really enjoy spice.

    What a delight! I cannot express how much I loved this recipe. It was my first foray into Egyptian food, and like all other Mediterranean cuisine I LOVED it. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipe, I look forward to making many more of your dishes 😊

  12. 5 stars
    Made it tonight for dinner and served it with hummus, baba ganoush, baby cucs, fruit. TOTALLY DELISH! WE LOVED IT!