Chicken Shawarma is an exciting way to serve chicken. Originating from Turkey, and largely popularized by the Middle East, chicken shawarma has become an abundant street food. This chicken explodes with flavor and is grilled to a juicy perfection. You can serve it in a pita as a wrap with some authentic, homemade hummus!
The name “shawarma” refers to a method of cooking. Translated, shawarma means roasted, and traditionally, shawarma is cooked on a revolving rod. Cooking it this way infuses the chicken with a smoky flavor while keeping the center nice and juicy. However, not everyone has a huge vertical rotisserie spinner at home but we have found a great way that you can still recreate this chicken! You will get the amazing flavors from the marinade and that wonderful smoky flavor from the grill.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Meal prep. Make a large batch of this chicken and store it in the fridge or freezer for an easy protein to add to your meals for the week.
- Versatile. There are so many ways you can serve this chicken, see our serving suggestions for ideas to elevate the taste of your chicken shawarma.
- Ethnic. Experience authentic Middle-Eastern flavors right from your home.
- Easy to make. Marinating the chicken in advance is an easy way to save time!
Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma
The ingredients for this chicken shawarma recipe are:
- Chicken thighs – we use boneless skinless chicken thighs because of how juicy they turn out. Slice thicker parts of chicken horizontally for more even cooking.
- Seasoning – the combination of coriander, cumin, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and black pepper gives this chicken the deep and ethnic flavors that make this dish so crave-worthy.
- Lemon juice – a little bit of acidity from the lemon juice really complements the chicken. For the best flavor use freshly squeezed juice.
- Toppings – finish your chicken with your choice of toppings. We recommend cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and red onion.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, see the recipe card below.
How to Make Chicken Shawarma
- Make marinade: Combine your spices in a small mixing bowl.
- Marinade chicken: In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken, sliced onion, and marinade. Cover and marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
- Cook: Add your chicken to a hot grill and cook each side for about 6-7 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Prepare sides: Use this time to prepare your veggies and tzatziki sauce!
- Serve, and enjoy friends!
Alternative Cooking Method
- Stovetop – You can also make your shawarma on the stovetop. A cast iron pan would work best for developing that char, and smoky flavor, but you may also use a frying pan. Marinade: Mix seasonings and marinate your chicken. Cook: Coat the pan in some olive oil, and cook chicken on medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes per side.
- Air-fryer – An air-fryer works great for a hassle-free shawarma. Marinade: Mix seasonings and marinate your chicken. Cook: Lay out the chicken in the air-fryer basket. Cook your chicken at 425°F for 18-22 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bake until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. Optional: you can broil the chicken for a few minutes to give it a nice charred exterior.
Substitutions and Variations
All of the add-ins, substitutions, and different variations for the chicken shawarma:
- Meat: You can swap out the chicken for sliced pork, beef, and even lamb!
- Vegetable: Though we used just the classic lettuce, onion and tomato, substitute add in your favorite toppings. Our onion salad would also be a great substitute for the classic sliced onions.
This chicken is incredibly versatile and pairs well with many dishes. Here are a few ways you can serve it:
- Shawarma Wrap: Smother your homemade pita bread in Greek yogurt-based tzatziki sauce, tahini sauce, or even garlic yogurt sauce, then add your thin slices of meat. Top with diced tomatoes, cucumber, shredded lettuce, and red onions for a delicious gyro. Or add the sauce to the top of all ingredients.
- Bowl: Top your homemade rice with the chicken shawarma. Drizzle with tzatziki sauce, and garnish with your favorite toppings, such as tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, or red onion.
- Entree: Serve this chicken as an entree to some rice, and your favorite salad like our Caesar salad.
Although they look similar, there is a difference between chicken shawarma and gyro meat. While gyros are a Greek delicacy, chicken shawarma originates from the Middle East. They are made very similar but the marinade and seasoning are different. Chicken shawarma typically has more spices and more complex flavors.
We recommend using chicken thighs because the fat content helps make the chicken extra juicy. You can however use chicken breast. Be sure not to overcook it as chicken breast dries out quickly.
To make sure you are cooking the chicken properly, use a meat thermometer for an accurate reading. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part and it should be at 165°F.
Store & Reheat
- Storage. Store the chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze. Quickly freeze the cooked chicken and store it for up to 3 months. Just seal the cooled chicken in a freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze. Reheat: Thaw overnight, and warm on a skillet over medium heat.
- Reheat. Warm the refrigerated shawarma on a skillet over medium heat.
More Chicken Recipes
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Easy Chicken Shawarma Recipe
- 2 lbs chicken thighs
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade.
- In a large bowl, add the chicken thighs, sliced onion and marinade. Combine and allow to marinade at least half an hour (or overnight).
- Heat the grill. Once hot, add the chicken to the grill and cook 6-7 minutes per side until the chicken is cooked through.
- Prep the vegetable by slicing and cubing and make ½ portion of tzatziki sauce.
- Take a pita, add cooked chicken and top with veggies and tzatziki sauce.
- Serve and enjoy, friends.