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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

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

    • Mary

    Wow! This is sooooo good! Followed the recipe and directions to a T. Unbelievable flavor. I especially love the crispy bits caused by broiling it after cooking. Will definitely make this again…and again. 😉

      • Amy Dong

      So happy to hear that, Mary!

    • LavenderBee

    Fabulous recipe, we love Chicken Shawarma and make it often. You would never call it boring chicken with all the warm spices. It’s great with an Israeli salad, hummus, pita and homemade pickles. Definitely a keeper!! Thanks Amy. PS: If I’m feeling lazy, I get the Trader Joe’s packaged chicken shawarma and cook it according to your directions. That two part cooking method mimics the spit roasting perfectly. It’s essential….

      • Amy Dong

      Aww, thank you so much, Debra 🙂

    • SC

    I’ve made this many times throughout the years and it’s been a hit with everyone I’ve served it to!

    • Rebecca

    Honestly hands down the best at home chicken shawarma recipe on the internet! Super easy instructions clean ingredients !

      • Amy Dong

      This makes my day, Rebecca!

    • Michelle

    Use this recipe all the time. so easy and soooo good.

    • Marc P

    Have made it several times.
    I do not add any salt, low sodium diet. It is still great.
    The main reason I gave it 5 stars, is I could not give it 6.

      • chewoutloud

      That’s super helpful for our low sodium friends! Thanks, Marc.

    • Marc

    On a low sodium diet. Tried without the salt. It was excellent.

      • chewoutloud

      Thank you; our low-sodium eaters here appreciate it 🙂

    • Jen

    Absolutely bangin! Perfect recipe, I’ve ben looking for a while as the school I work at makes gorgeous wraps but it come pre prepared and just called ‘Theos Chicken’! This is exactly the same! I really don’t like thighs normally either! THANK YOU!!!!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, Jen!

    • Candice Estrella

    Five Stars! I made this tonight for the third time! Its delicious! I followed the recipe perfectly! I even used the thighs, even though I normally dont care for the cut, and they were perfect!

      • chewoutloud

      So happy you all liked this, Candice! 🙂

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