This chicken shawarma recipe is going to change your life! Learn how to make homemade shawarma and serve it with pita, Mediterranean salad and a delicious sauce!
If you’ve been a regular reader of Unicorns in the Kitchen, you know we love our Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes. From Falafel sandwiches to baba ganoush and muhammara, these simple recipes are full of flavor and are perfect for families. This shawarma recipe is one of our favorite chicken recipes that we make very often.
What is chicken shawarma?
Chicken shawarma is a Middle Eastern street food that’s packed with flavor thanks to the special spice mixture that brings it all together. Traditional chicken shawarma is made with marinated chicken pieces layered on a spit, rotating and roasting for a few hours until it’s fully cooked. Shawarma is juicy and flavorful with crispy bits. It can be served on a plate with salads and spreads or as a wrap with fresh and warm pita.
Since we love shawarma but don’t own a spit at home, I made this chicken shawarma recipe that uses an easy technique which makes the chicken juicy and flavorful like (or even better than) you local shawarma joint!
What spices are in shawarma?
What makes chicken shawarma recipe so unique and delicious is the combination of spices that’s used to marinate the chicken. These spices are available at many supermarkets and stores, of course you can also purchase them online. There are shawarma spice mixes available as well but I have found making my own shawarma spice mix to be more delicious and pungent. Spices used to make chicken shawarma are: cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt.
Chicken shawarma marinade
The key to a tasty shawarma is the marinade. You need to marinade the chicken for at least 30 minutes however the longer it marinates the juicier and more flavorful the chicken will be. To make the marinade for this recipe, mix all the spices in a large bowl and add in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Mix well and set aside.
What cut of chicken should I use for shawarma?
The best cut to use for chicken shawarma is boneless skinless chicken thighs. The tenderness of chicken thighs results in juicy shawarma that would be perfect in a wrap with some salad!
How to make chicken shawarma
This is a recipe for oven roasted chicken shawarma. Start with marinating the chicken thighs in a large bowl. Let the chicken thighs marinade for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non stick spray.
Place the chicken thighs in one single layer on the baking sheet and brush the remaining marinade on them. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Take the baking sheet out of then oven and raise the temperature to 425F.
Place the chicken thighs on a board and slice them into bits. Return them to the baking sheet and stir to make sure they absorb the juice. Bake in the oven at 425F for an additional ten minutes until they have crispy bits and ends.
How to serve shawarma
You can serve chicken shawarma in so many different ways such as on a plate with some spicy hummus, white rice, tabbouleh salad and tahini sauce. You can also serve it in a wrap, which is more common among Middle Easterners.
Another popular way to serve is to make a chicken shawarma wrap or sandwich. All you need is perfectly cooked shawarma, warm pita, a simple tomato and cucumber salad. You can serve chicken shawarma wrap with some tasty yogurt and garlic or tahini sauce. It’s a simple and easy sandwich that everyone will love. Simply place warm pita on a plate and top it with chicken shawarma and salad, add in the sauce and make a wrap. Serve immediately.
Notes and tips to make this recipe at home
- Instead of roasting in the oven, you can grill marinated chicken to make shawarma. Grill the chicken thighs util they are fully cooked then slice them into pieces and either place them on the grill to be crispy or broil them for a few minutes.
- Another way to crisp up the chicken slices is to heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and then simply crisp the chicken slices in the skillet as quickly as possible.
- As I have mentioned above, I advise using boneless skinless chicken thighs for this chicken shawarma recipe. However if you prefer chicken breast, pound it to it’s even on all sides and then marinate and cook it according to the instructions.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Homemade Chicken Shawarma Recipe
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cardmom
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lemon juice
- Pita bread
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 2 Persian cucumbers chopped
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Tahini sauce
- In a large bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, all the spices and lemon juice.
- Add chicken thighs to the bowl and mix so they are coated in the marinade.
- Cover and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non stick spray.
- Place the chicken thighs in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Take the baking sheet out of the oven and raise the temperature to 425F.
- Place the cooked chicken thighs on a cutting board and slice them into bits. Return them to the baking sheet and give it a stir.
- Bake in the oven for an additional ten minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and add some salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Mix yogurt, minced garlic and salt and set it aside.
- Make chicken shawarma wraps by placing chicken shawarma on warm pita and add some tomato and cucumber salad with some yogurt garlic sauce.