Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

One of my favorite “street foods” is Chicken Shawarma. I love the thinly sliced bits of robustly flavored meat, wrapped in a warm pita or served on a bed of vegetables or rice.

Traditional Chicken Shawarma is made on a large rotisserie, which I just can’t replicate in my kitchen. It also is comprised of mystery pieces of chicken and seasoned with unknown sodium levels. But you know me – I like to know what I am eating, and I like it to be as healthy as possible. So when I saw this recipe online, I was really eager to try it. I planned a street foods-themed Cooking Club as soon as possible (Hostess: me; Theme: Springtime Street Food Festival; Date: 04.26.15) and AP took a whirl with the recipe {I made crepes – my first attempt!}.

Chicken Shawarma-2

The resulting Chicken Shawarma was great, and this no-fuss recipe has become one of my staples. I waited a while to blog about it because I wanted to try to get a fancier picture, with bread and sides and sauces and whatnot, but I will update this post if I get shots like that. It’s usually all I can manage to cook during daylight, and I didn’t want to delay any longer. I use this recipe ALL the time, and I hope you put it in your rotation soon too!

Chicken Shawarma

The chicken can be marinated anywhere from a half-hour to a day ahead of time. Then it only needs 25 minutes in the oven – a great weeknight option. I like to roast the chicken on a wire rack so the heat can circulate under the meat as well, and crisp up all of the edges of the whole boneless, skinless, chicken breast. You can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but I am perpetually in the white meat camp. The red onions are not marinated along with the meat, but if you toss them in the leftover marinade when the meat has been transferred from your marinating vessel to the sheet pan, the onions will pick up the great flavor, and maintain a perfect crisp texture.

Chicken Shawarma-4

After roasting, chop the chicken into tiny pieces. Shawarma is delicious, whether served crispy or moist. The original recipe suggests sauteeing the sliced bits in olive oil to crisp them up. That is an option, but I tried it and didn’t think it offered enough bang for the extra calories and fat from the oil. You can try broiling the slices of chicken for a minute as well. But I like it as-is, roasted and moist and flavorful. The shawarma bits are great on pita or lavash, or as protein on a salad (Greek or otherwise); or served with any vegetable and hummus or tzatziki dip. The marinade also works great on kabobs – just cut your chicken into one inch cubes before you marinate. Try it on steak kabobs as well! {I am currently using this marinade in my Cooking Classes at Prequel!} Or crisp up slices of Gyros alongside and have a mixed-street-meat platter.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Shawarma
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2 servings
  • juice of 1 lemon (or 1-2 T fresh lemon juice)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled; smashed or sliced
  • .5 t kosher salt
  • a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t paprika
  • .25 t turmeric
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into wedges
  1. In a round container with a top (I use a recycled to-go salad container), combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken and onion. Use just enough oil to make the marinade into a loose paste. Stir all of the ingredients together with a fork.
  2. Add the chicken breasts and turn them over in the marinade paste, to coat them. Use a fork so the tumeric doesn't color your fingertips.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
  4. When ready to roast the chicken, heat the oven to 425. Place a wire rack on a rimmed cookie sheet, and place the chicken on the rack. Toss the onion wedges in the marinade and place them on the wire rack as well.
  5. Roast the chicken for 25 minutes. If the breasts you are using are more then an inch and a half thick, you make need to roast for another 5-7 minutes, but all chicken breasts I have used are perfect after 25 minutes.
This is a great recipe to make with ingredients you have on hand. Have a few frozen chicken breasts, one lemon, and one red onion? Add herbs and spices you can easily keep on hand, and you can have a flavorful dinner - and lunch! - in no time with no fuss.

Adapted from:


  1. S across the hall says

    I finally tried this – and it was awesome! I loved how easy it was, I had everything on hand, it took almost no time and easy clean up. I will use this as my “I’m not out of options!” option. Looking forward to lunch today! Thanks!

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