Making Chicken Shawarma at home from scratch is easier than you think! Here’s my step-by-step tutorial with a video on how to make shawarma, how to get that street style layering for roasted chicken at home, and my secret seasoning and spices that will make homemade shawarma a party favourite!
We love Shawarma and it’s pretty much our go-to 6 PM snack! And I really wanted to try and recreate it at home. It’s a tall task though because authentic Shawarma is spit-roasted and slow-cooked for a while. I think we’ve come very very close to the original with this recipe.
Authentic Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma is all about the many layers of juicy chicken and seasoning. As daunting as it sounds, it can easily be made at home. I must warn you - there are quite a few elements to the dish if you want real deal shawarma, but get the family involved and I promise it’ll all be worth it.
Love a Middle Eastern spread? Try hummus with whole wheat pita bread, falafel, chickpea salad, Egyptian beetroot dip and muhammara. Hummus is also a fantastic spread if you are making a shawarma roll.
BEST CUT OF CHICKEN TO USE
I recommend using skinless boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. The thighs of the chicken are constantly in use, making them more tender and juicy. Chicken thighs also have less protein and more fat when compared to chicken breasts. The meat cooks in its own fat and that’s why it remains juicy. Chicken breasts, on the other hand, can get dry and stringy.
CHICKEN SHAWARMA SEASONING
The seasoning or marinade is what makes this dish IRRESISTIBLE. We use olive oil, lime juice, ginger garlic paste, cumin, paprika, honey, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, coriander powder, salt and black pepper. Most of these are probably in your pantry. The olive oil helps coat the seasoning on the chicken, adds flavour, and keeps it moist. You can also add ¼ cup thick greek yogurt to this.
HOW TO NAIL THAT STREET STYLE LAYERING FOR ROASTED CHICKEN
Shawarma is traditionally made by layering well-seasoned meat on a vertical spit. The meat rotates over or in front of the heat and cooks in its dripping juices for hours with a heavenly char here and there. I don’t have a spit roast at home, and I used to envy those who do. But not anymore! After some determined trial and error, I have finally nailed this step in my good old oven. I was surprised by how close it tastes to that street style yum-mazing shawarma, and I’m so excited to share this method with you! To get the same effect, I tightly pack the marinated thighs in a loaf tin and then broil them for 25 minutes. They are cooked on high heat so that the top gets a really nice char (watch the video) and the insides are cooked through.
The juicy shawarma meat tastes best wrapped in pita bread with a little spread of creamy, airy hummus. I also whipped up some delicious garlic mayo instead of toum which is what’s used traditionally. Serve this with a bunch of accompaniments like pickled beetroot and onions, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, lemon wedges and coriander. Whether it’s a party or an elaborate Sunday lunch, I like to serve food in a DIY format. And homemade shawarma is one of the best options for this.
MAKE IT A WRAP OR A SALAD IN A BOWL
Spread hummus on your pita, add all the accompaniments, top it with lots of chicken, drizzle some garlic mayo and you’ve got yourselves an amazing Chicken Shawarma wrap!
With so many components involved, it’s natural to end up with some leftovers which I store in the fridge for later. Use the leftover to make yourself a salad with all the shawarma meat, accompaniments, and chopped lettuce thrown into a bowl. It makes for such a satisfying lunch or dinner. Or you can meal prep this with rice for later!
Be prepared for delicious smells wafting in your house while the chicken roasts. Make a large batch and enjoy street style Middle Eastern for days afterward!
More Middle Eastern Recipes
Watch How to make Chicken Shawarma Recipe Video
Chicken Shawarma made easily at home
For the Shawarma
- 1 kg chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- ½ tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¾ teaspoon cumin ground
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder or paprika
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ¾ teaspoon oregano dried
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric ground
- 1 teaspoon black pepper ground
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6-8 Pitas
- Pickled Beetroot and Onions (See Note 2)
- Hummus (See Note 3)
- Garlic Mayo or Toum (See Note 4)
- Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers half moons like the beetroot
- Lemon Wedges
- Marinate all the ingredients mentioned under Chicken Shawarma and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour
- In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220 C/428 F
- Line a loaf tin with parchment paper overhang on the longer side to make it easy to pull out the grilled chicken later
- Layer the chicken thighs one on top of the other so that all the chicken is tightly packed in the tin
- Broil (only the top heating element on) for 25 minutes till the top is nicely charred and the chicken is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 74 C/165 F
- Prepare the grill by preheating the grill to medium high and brush the bbq grills with oil
- Place the chicken thighs on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes (wait till golden brown but if it starts charring too fast, adjust the heat), and then flip the chicken to cook the other side for 2 minutes.
- Baste generously with leftover marinade in the bowl and flip and cook for 1 minute
- Keep repeating the basting and flipping every minute or so till the chicken has been cooking for 8-10 minutes and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken registers 74 C/165 F
- Transfer all the chicken to a plate and let it rest for 8-10 minutes before slicing
- Shawarma Seasoning: Make a large batch of the shawarma seasoning by combining all the ingredients except chicken, olive oil, honey and salt and store it in an airtight jar for use later
- Pickled beets and onions: Thickly slice 1 beetroot and onion and toss it with 3 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside for 1-2 hours, mix again and use
- Hummus: Use my favourite hummus recipe which gives you light and airy hummus every single time
- Garlic Mayo: In a jar, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon garlic paste, 4 teaspoons lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup oil. Use a hand blender to slowly blend this up and you'll have thick and creamy garlic mayo in a minute
- Pita: Substitute pita with with gluten-free pita to make this a gluten-free recipe.