Chicken Shawarma


Step into the bustling streets of the Middle East, and you’ll encounter a tantalizing aroma wafting through the air, drawing you closer to a culinary delight known as Chicken Shawarma. This iconic dish, with its succulent layers of marinated chicken, crisp vegetables, and flavorful sauces wrapped in a warm pita, has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the savory secrets and irresistible flavors of Chicken Shawarma.

Exploring the Origins: Chicken Shawarma traces its origins to the Levant region of the Middle East, where it gained popularity as a street food staple. The word “shawarma” itself is derived from the Turkish word “çevirme,” meaning “turning,” which perfectly describes the method of preparing this dish. Traditionally, seasoned chicken is stacked onto a vertical rotisserie, allowing it to slowly rotate and cook to perfection. As the outer layers crisp up, the tender inner meat remains juicy, resulting in a mouthwatering texture and taste.


1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp coriander
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 onion thinly sliced
Juice of one lemon
2 lbs chicken thighs (about 6)
3 tbsp olive oil
For the Yogurt Sauce:
⅔ cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


For the Chicken:
In a large bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Whisk together and set aside.
Add the chicken thighs to the marinade and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
Add the sliced onion to the marinade and toss to coat.
Spread the chicken and onion onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.
For the Yogurt Sauce:
Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic in a bowl. Whisk together.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serving Suggestion:
Serve on warmed pitas with the yogurt sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber if desired.

Serving and Storage Tips for Chicken Shawarma:

  1. Freshly Made is Best: Chicken Shawarma is best enjoyed when freshly made. Serve it immediately after assembly to savor the warm, tender chicken and crisp vegetables at their peak.
  2. Keep it Warm: If you’re not serving Chicken Shawarma right away, keep it warm by wrapping it in aluminum foil or placing it in a low-temperature oven. This helps preserve the flavors and prevents the wrap from becoming soggy.
  3. Accompaniments on the Side: To prevent the wrap from becoming too soggy, serve any additional sauces or condiments on the side. This allows your guests to customize their Chicken Shawarma according to their taste preferences.
  4. Reheating: If you have leftovers, reheat Chicken Shawarma in a skillet over medium heat or in the oven at a low temperature. Avoid using the microwave, as it can make the chicken rubbery and the bread soggy.
  5. Storage: Store any leftover Chicken Shawarma components separately. Place the chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days. Store the vegetables and sauces in separate containers to maintain freshness.
  6. Freezing: While Chicken Shawarma is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze leftover cooked chicken for future use. Wrap the chicken tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  7. Refreshing Vegetables: If the vegetables lose their crispness, you can refresh them by soaking them in ice water for a few minutes before serving. This will help revive their crunch and vibrancy.
  8. Creative Leftovers: Don’t let leftover Chicken Shawarma go to waste! Use the cooked chicken to make salads, wraps, or even pasta dishes for a delicious and convenient meal.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Chicken Shawarma remains fresh, flavorful, and enjoyable, whether served immediately or saved for later indulgence.

Ingredients and Preparation: At the heart of Chicken Shawarma lies the marination process, where the chicken is infused with a blend of aromatic spices such as cumin, paprika, garlic, and lemon juice. This marinade not only enhances the flavor but also tenderizes the meat, ensuring each bite is bursting with taste. Once marinated, the chicken is carefully layered onto the spit and slow-roasted until golden brown and aromatic.

Accompaniments and Assembly: The beauty of Chicken Shawarma lies in its versatility, allowing for endless variations and accompaniments. Once the chicken is cooked to perfection, it is thinly sliced and served alongside an array of fresh vegetables, including crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumbers. A generous drizzle of creamy tahini sauce or tangy garlic yogurt sauce adds the perfect finishing touch, infusing the wrap with richness and depth of flavor.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Value: While Chicken Shawarma is undeniably indulgent, it also offers several nutritional benefits. Chicken, being the primary ingredient, is an excellent source of lean protein, essential for muscle growth and repair. Additionally, the abundance of fresh vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, promoting overall health and well-being. Opting for whole wheat pita bread further boosts the fiber content, supporting digestive health and satiety.

FAQs About Chicken Shawarma:

  1. What is Chicken Shawarma?
    • Chicken Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern street food dish made with thinly sliced, marinated chicken that is typically roasted on a vertical rotisserie. It is often served wrapped in a warm pita bread along with vegetables and sauces.
  2. What spices are used to marinate Chicken Shawarma?
    • The marinade for Chicken Shawarma typically includes a blend of spices such as cumin, paprika, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, and sometimes lemon juice or yogurt, imparting it with its distinctive flavor.
  3. Is Chicken Shawarma healthy?
    • Chicken Shawarma can be a healthy option, especially when prepared with lean chicken and plenty of fresh vegetables. However, it can also be high in sodium and calories depending on the preparation method and accompanying sauces.
  4. Can I make Chicken Shawarma at home?
    • Yes, Chicken Shawarma can be made at home using a variety of methods, including grilling, roasting, or using a rotisserie. There are many recipes available online that provide step-by-step instructions for making Chicken Shawarma from scratch.
  5. What are some popular toppings for Chicken Shawarma?
    • Popular toppings for Chicken Shawarma include diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, pickles, and tahini sauce or garlic yogurt sauce. These toppings add freshness and flavor to the dish.
  6. Can Chicken Shawarma be made vegetarian?
    • Yes, Chicken Shawarma can be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken with plant-based alternatives such as tofu, seitan, or falafel. The same spices and marinade can be used to flavor the vegetarian version.
  7. What is the best way to reheat leftover Chicken Shawarma?
    • The best way to reheat leftover Chicken Shawarma is to gently warm it in a skillet over medium heat or in the oven at a low temperature. Avoid using the microwave, as it can make the chicken rubbery and the bread soggy.
  8. How long can Chicken Shawarma be stored in the refrigerator?
    • Cooked Chicken Shawarma can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days when kept in an airtight container. It is important to store any leftover components separately to maintain freshness.
  9. What type of bread is traditionally used for Chicken Shawarma wraps?
    • Traditionally, soft and fluffy pita bread is used for Chicken Shawarma wraps. However, you can also use flatbreads such as lavash or tortillas as alternatives.
  10. Is Chicken Shawarma gluten-free?
    • While the chicken and many of the ingredients in Chicken Shawarma are naturally gluten-free, the pita bread or other wraps used for serving may contain gluten. Individuals with gluten sensitivities should opt for gluten-free alternatives or enjoy the chicken and toppings without the bread.


In conclusion, Chicken Shawarma transcends cultural boundaries, uniting food lovers worldwide with its irresistible flavors and comforting simplicity. Whether enjoyed as a quick street snack or a hearty meal, this beloved dish never fails to satisfy cravings and evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia. So, the next time you crave a culinary adventure, immerse yourself in the savory delights of Chicken Shawarma and experience a taste of the Middle East like never before.

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