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Chicken Shawarma (Easy & Healthy)

This Easy, Healthy Chicken Shawarma is incredibly tender and scrumptious! It’s a hit every time we serve this flavorful dish. (It happens to be Whole30 and Paleo approved.)

chicken shawarma recipe

The Best Homemade Chicken Shawarma

This chicken shawarma fascination might have started with my first dreamy bite at our newly opened Naf Naf Grill restaurant. That adoration was further was cemented with the amazing Mediterranean street food I sunk deeply into while eating my way through NYC.

Chicken Shawarma became an irrevocable obsession with the realization that I could recreate similar flavors at home. With only the ingredients we love and want; nothing else. And it wasn’t even hard.

I’m not sure how it started precisely, but it’s here to stay: my undeniable infatuation with healthy, tender, ultra flavorful chicken shawarma.

This is a contagious kind of shawarma fondness, as the rest of my family and food-loving friends can’t seem to get enough, either…

homemade chicken shawarma

How to make irresistible chicken shawarma

Chicken Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that’s loaded with aromatic spices that make your mouth water. Traditionally, shawarma consists of paper-thin slices of meat from a vertical rotating slow-roaster. The result is a deliciously tender, flavorful plate of chicken, beef, or other protein.

Wild guess: most of us don’t own a monster-sized rotating spit at home. Despite that tidbit, you can absolutely make tantalizing homemade chicken shawarma. All you need is a great dry rub for your chicken to marinade in, an oven that reaches 400F and doubles as a broiler for the great finish.

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs are essential here; boneless, skinless thighs are your friend when it comes to tender and flavorful shawarma
  • Extra-virgin olive oil is used to bind seasonings to the chicken. You can opt to use a bit more oil if needed, but don’t omit it
  • Dry rub seasonings are what makes all the difference in this chicken shawarma’s big bold flavors. As always, use the freshest seasonings/spices because you probably already know that the older those pantry spices are, they less flavor they hold.
  • Paprika, cumin, allspice, cayenne, garlic and onion powders, tumeric, and cinnamon are all included in this powerhouse dry rub mixture. Skip nothing, if at all possible, as each spice adds its own unique flavor profile to the finished dish.
chicken shawarma recipe

Pro Tips for the best chicken shawarma

Giant cone-shaped spit aside, we home cooks can still make some outrageously rockin’ chicken shawarma at home.

  • Even if you’re normally a die-hard white meat cooker, go with chicken thighs here. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs are actually quite lean and turn out so much more tender (translation: they’re harder to mess up.)
  • Rest the chicken in an aromatic dry rub marinade at least 3-4 hours, preferably overnight in fridge.
  • Speaking of which, double check that all your spices/seasonings are fresh and haven’t lost their zing.
  • Be sure the oven is well preheated to 400F when ready to cook. Use the preheat time to let your chicken come to room temp. Better results will happen if your chicken isn’t super cold. Roast the chicken in a single layer for even browning.
  • Slice just-cooked chicken as thinly as you can, arrange slices in a single layer on sheet pan, and broil to perfection.

Note: Using the grill or skillet for cooking chicken is always an option, but oven-roasting is by far the easiest and I’m into easy.

homemade chicken shawarma
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Chicken Shawarma (Easy & Healthy)

5 from 13 reviews

This Easy, Healthy Chicken Shawarma is waist-friendly and incredibly scrumptious! It’s a hit every time we serve up this flavorful dish. (Bonus: It’s great for Whole30)

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins

Yield: 6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • For the Dry Rub:
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • For the Chicken:
  • 3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (don’t use breasts)
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all the spices to combine well. Add 2 TB olive oil and mix into a paste. Set aside.
  2. Thoroughly towel-dry the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Slice each thigh into quarters, and coat with 1 TB olive oil. Add chicken into the bowl with marinade. Use tongs or clean hands to thoroughly coat all pieces of chicken evenly, on all sides. Cover tightly with cling wrap and chill overnight (at least 3-4 hours.)
  3. Let chicken come to room temp as you preheat oven to 400F, with rack on upper middle position.
  4. Place chicken pieces in a single layer on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Take care not to overlap or overcrowd the pieces. Roast 15 min or until just cooked.
  5. Let chicken cool enough to handle. Slice all chicken into thin slices. Place back onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Broil on high for 7-10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned. Serve immediately with pita bread, basmati rice, or hummus.

Notes

Chicken Shawarma can be served bowl-style with basmati rice and your choice of toppings, or wrapped in a pita with toppings. It’s delicious with garlic hummus and any Mediterranean style salad. Garnish ideas include cilantro, red onions, or pickles.

  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: main, dinner

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Did you make this?

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Recipe rating

57 comments

    • Mia

    I only had chicken breasts and although it would have been great with thighs, it was also great with breasts. I made it twice in one week! The change I made on the second go was that I mixed the marinade in a large ziploc bag before dropping in the chicken. I laid it flat in the fridge and flipped and massaged it about every hour over six hours. It was so good! I served it with pita bread, roasted garlic hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickled asparagus.

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you all enjoyed this so much 🙂 🙂

    • Suzie

    Delicious spice rub! I cut the thighs in half, pounded them and threaded onto skewers and grilled. So. Very. Good. Thanks for sharing!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, and happy you guys loved it, Suzie! 🙂

    • Lathiya

    We love chicken and I personally love chicken shawarma. But never tried to make it in the oven. This sounds so easy and yum.

    • Laurie

    I accidentally bought bone in thighs vs boneless- is there a way to adjust to use these?
    Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      Laurie, you can slice the chicken off the bones and proceed with recipe. Enjoy and happy cooking! 🙂

    • Joanne Teets

    This recipe, like every one I have tried from Chew Out Loud, was FANTASTIC! The spice combination is dead on. Family loved it. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!!

      • chewoutloud

      Awww, that really made my day, Joanne! Thank you so much 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Lauren

    I love this recipe! Can this be frozen? If so, do you freeze it pre cooked or post?

    Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Lauren; I’m so happy you loved this! I’ve never tried freezing, but my preference would be to freeze it pre-cooked and defrost for cooking when you’re ready. 🙂

    • Mia Mathias

    Came looking for this recipe specifically as it is by far the best I’ve tried and I tried lots before finding this one!! I never leave comments but I had to here – thank you for the best shawarma recipe ever!! And an added bonus is how simple it is to do!!

      • chewoutloud

      Awww, that really makes my day. It means so much to me! Thanks so much for coming over to let us know 🙂 Happy continued cooking!

    • Jessica Fahl-Snider

    Can I use my instapot?

      • chewoutloud

      Jessica, that for sure sounds interesting to me! Since I’ve never cooked this recipe in my Instant Pot before, I’m not sure about the results, but if you do try it that way, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • Jessica Fahl-Snider

      I made this in my instapot tonight and it turned out amazing! I got home at 4, and mixed the seasonings, cut up the. Hicken and placed in a zip lock bag. I mixed up another portion of the seasonings. I placed the seasoned chicken in my instapot, I mixed 4 teaspoons of the seasonings in 3/4 cup of chicken broth. I hit the chicken button and it was Fantastic!

        • chewoutloud

        Awesome, Jessica! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Melanie

    Made this for Valentine’s dinner tonight. Husband and two teens loved it. Served mine with rice and a salad. Yummy recipe.

      • chewoutloud

      Yay! So happy you guys enjoyed this 🙂 Happy Vday!

    • Amy

    Absolutely delicious! Best chicken recipe I’ve tried in ages!

    • Tammie Begos

    Just found your recipe for chicken shawarma this morning on Pinterest and made it this evening for dinner…. Absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing it!

      • chewoutloud

      That’s awesome, Tammie! So glad you loved 🙂

    • Josie

    Can you give me the calories per serving?

    • Sherry

    Made this tonight and it was Delicious!!

    • Chris

    I don’t usually leave reviews, but this recipe was a hit. One of my new favorites and will certainly be making in the future.

      • chewoutloud

      That is so awesome to hear, Chris!!

    • Tommy-Lee Staples

    In your picture it looks like the thighs are whole when your roasting. But in the instructions it says cut the thighs into quarters. Please could you just clarify.

      • chewoutloud

      Tommy, the instructions are correct 🙂 Cut into quarters… I think the thighs I used were pretty big, and they still looked sizable after quartering 🙂 Enjoy and hope you love it!!

    • Rebecca Katherine

    Eek! What if I dont have that much time to marinade!! What if I only have like an hour and a half??

    • KELLI L CAIN

    AMAZING!!!!!

    • Dena Johnson

    I honestly never comment on recipes I try, but this was delicious! I used chicken breast tenders rather than thighs because my husband doesn’t like thighs, and it was still awesome! So incredibly pleased. Thank you for an awesome recipe!

      • chewoutloud

      Hi, Dena! Thanks so much for coming over and letting us know you guys liked it! Yay! 🙂

    • courtneymae01

    I made this tonight and it was amazing. I made baba ganoush and served with raw veggies and Predominantly Paleo’s pita bread (not Whole 30). Even my 11 year old devoured the chicken. Also made the chicken and sweet potato stew tonight and can’t wait to try it tomorrow. Thanks for the great ethnic dishes!

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, so glad you guys liked the dishes, Courtney! Makes me happy

    • Olga @ MangoTomato

    But what if I don’t like dark meat? Are you sure I can’t use chicken breasts?

      • chewoutloud

      Hi, Olga 🙂 You can definitely use chicken breasts, but the boneless thighs will result in a much more tender texture. I usually don’t like dark meat either, but in this recipe, it’s actually fantastic. Hope you love it 🙂

      • Nikki

      I was excited and nervous to make this recipe. I do not like chicken thighs – I think the usually taste and texture is gross. But I was super suprised that the meat was very tender and mild tasting. This is how I am going to cook chicken thighs from now on. The spices – don’t get me wrong were bold. In a good way.

        • chewoutloud

        I totally feel the same about chicken thighs! Shawarma does wonders for it 🙂 🙂

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