Generously flavored with my authentic homemade shawarma spice blend, this vegan shawarma recipe with charred mushrooms and onions is a quick meal you’ll be making on repeat! Serve mushroom shawarma in pita pockets with a good drizzle of tahini and my fresh tomato and cucumber salad (or try one of the many ideas below)!
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“Meaty” Vegan Shawarma!
Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern street food that I grew up with in Egypt, and it ranks up there as a personal childhood favorite.
Typically, shawarma is made with marinated lamb, beef, or chicken, where the meat is slow roasted for hours on a rotating vertical spit until tender and well-charred, then shaved off the spit and stuffed in pillowy pita pockets with all sorts of fixings!
No, you will not find mushroom shawarma on the streets of the Middle East, but this homemade vegan shawarma recipe is a fun twist I love to share for the sake of my vegan and vegetarian friends. And honestly, to me, these vegetarian shawarma pitas are just as satisfying. “Meaty” portobello mushrooms make a great stand-in for meat in simple recipes like today's (I've also used them in making a delicious mushroom ragu or cheesy stuffed mushrooms!)
Here in this shawarma with mushrooms, the mushrooms are thinly sliced and cooked with red onions on a hot griddle, and while they cook, you hit them up with my homemade shawarma seasoning. And yes, you can serve them the same way in pita pockets or try something like a loaded vegetarian dinner bowl! The possibilities are endless for perfectly sautéed mushrooms and onions, really.
My homemade shawarma spice blend
The most important part of any shawarma recipe is the seasoning! While you may not have the equipment to replicate authentic shawarma as served on the streets of the Middle East (especially if you’re going for a vegetarian shawarma situation), the right mixture of spices can get you close to the warm, tantalizing flavor.
In this recipe, I use the same shawarma spices that I use in both my chicken shawarma and beef shawarma recipes, except, I scaled the amount used to suit mushrooms. Here’s what’s in the shawarma seasoning:
Additional ingredients you need to make mushroom shawarma
With just a few ingredients and a bit of prep, you can have “meaty”, succulent mushroom shawarma whenever the mood strikes! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Portobello mushrooms – You’ll need just over a pound (4 to 5 mushroom caps), cleaned and sliced. You can also use oyster mushrooms, another “meaty” mushroom. If you can’t find either of those, any mushrooms you like should work (cooking time may vary a little).
- Extra virgin olive oil – With its fruity, slightly peppery finish, our Hojiblanca Spanish EVOO works well in this recipe.
- Large red onion – Halved and thinly sliced.
- Fresh lemon juice – You’ll need the juice of half a large lemon to squeeze over the mushrooms and onion.
- To serve – Pita bread (homemade or store-bought); 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad; tahini sauce. (Also see other serving ideas below).
How to make vegan shawarma:
Since it takes about 5 minutes or so to cook the mushrooms and onions, you should go ahead and prepare the fixings ahead of time so you can assemble your mushroom shawarmas quickly. Here is how to make this recipe (print-friendly version and video just below):
- Prepare the mushrooms and onion. Start by thoroughly cleaning about a pound of portobello mushroom caps, then slice them into ½-inch slices and add to a large mixing bowl. Add a thinly sliced red onion to the bowl as well. Season generously with kosher salt before drizzling with about ¼ to ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon. Toss to coat.
- Make the shawarma spice blend. In a small bowl, mix together 1 ½ teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but highly recommended!).
- Cook the mushrooms and onions. Heat some EVOO in a cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and red onion. It’s very important for all the mushrooms and onions to be touching the hot surface, so if your griddle looks crowded, rather cook in batches. Leave it to sizzle away for 2 minutes, undisturbed, then toss around. Generously season the mushrooms and onions with the shawarma spice blend and toss around (start with half of the spice blend, then add more after you taste the mushrooms). If needed, drizzle a little more olive oil to finish cooking the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms are fully cooked and you notice some deep charring, your vegan mushroom shawarma is ready.
- Assemble the vegan shawarma pitas. Serve the charred mushrooms and onions in pita pockets or wraps (it helps to warm up the pitas so you can easily open them to use as pockets). Add tahini sauce and fresh veggies or my easy-as-can-be 3-Ingredient Mediterranean Salad. Once warmed, cut the pita in half. Spoon a little tahini sauce into the pita pocket. Add mushroom shawarma (don’t be shy – pack it in there!), some salad, and another drizzle of tahini sauce. Once your sandwich is assembled, enjoy immediately.
Pair these mushroom shawarma pitas with a bowl of this hearty lentil stew for a satisfying vegan feast that even meat-lovers will enjoy!
Shawarma bowls, anyone?
Not feeling the pita pockets? Take a hint from my earlier chicken shawarma salad bowls and try something similar here. Divide your cooked mushrooms and onions among 4 dinner bowls. You can add a little dip like hummus or muhammara on the side and any Mediterranean salad you like such as Fattoush, Balela Salad, or 3-Bean Salad.
Yet another fun idea is to serve the charred shawarma mushrooms and onions over a bed of hummus as an appetizer—something similar to this layered hummus dip.
For another delicious vegan shawarma option, look no further than my cauliflower shawarma recipe. Easy, nutritious and full of that shawarma flavor you love!
Leftovers and storage
Store leftover vegan shawarma in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3 to 5 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat. If it looks dry, you can add a little water while it heats up.
Vegan Mushroom Shawarma Recipe with Tahini
For the shawarma seasoning:
For the mushrooms:
- 4 to 5 Portabella mushroom caps, just over a pound, cleaned and sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- Kosher salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- Juice of ½ large lemon
- If serving with the tahini sauce and salad, prepare the fixings before you cook the mushrooms.
- Thoroughly clean the portobello mushroom caps, then slice them into ½-inch slices and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the red onion to the bowl. Season generously with kosher salt before drizzling with about ¼ to ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to coat.
- In a small bowl, mix together the spices to make the shawarma seasoning.
- Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil in a cast-iron griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and red onion. Leave the mushrooms alone to sizzle for 2 minutes, undisturbed, then you can begin to toss them around.
- Generously season the mushrooms and onions with the shawarma spice blend (start with half of the spice blend, then add more after you taste the mushrooms). Toss the mushrooms around again, and if needed, drizzle a little more olive oil to finish cooking the mushrooms. The mushrooms and onions should be cooked down and charred well (about 5 to 7 minutes in total).
- To serve, divide the sautéed mushrooms and onions into pita pockets and top with the mushroom shawarma in pita pockets or wraps (it helps to warm up the pitas so you can easily open them to use as pockets). Add tahini sauce and fresh veggies or my 3-Ingredient Mediterranean Salad. Once warmed, cut the pita in half. Spoon a little tahini sauce into the pita pocket. Add vegan shawarma, some salad, and another drizzle of tahini sauce. Once your sandwich is assembled, enjoy immediately.
- Mushroom options: If you can't find portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are another "meaty" mushroom that will work. Otherwise, any mushrooms you like will work (cooking time may vary).
- Serving ideas: Serve vegan shawarma in pita pockets with tahini sauce and fresh salad (you can also check out this cucumber tomato tahini salad, which combines both ideas). Or, try shawarma salad bowls with your favorite dip and a Middle Eastern salad of your choice (fattoush or balela are great options). For a fun appetizer, layer the charred mushrooms and onions over a bed of creamy homemade hummus.
- Leftovers and storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3 to 5 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat. If it looks dry, you can add a tiny bit of water as it heats up.
- Nutrition information is an estimate for the mushrooms and onions and does not include bread and fixings (each of the fixings recipes will indicate a nutrition estimate as well).
- Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils and spices (like the cumin, sweet paprika, and turmeric used in this recipe).