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Chicken Shawarma Recipe

This Easy, Healthy Chicken Shawarma recipe 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 on a plate with dressing and salad
Chicken Shawarma is healthy, flavorful, and easy to make right at home.

The Best Homemade Chicken Shawarma

This chicken shawarma fascination might have started with my first dreamy bite at our local Middle Eastern 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 of this chicken shawarma recipe, which has since been frequently shared and re-shared.

Watch Chicken Shawarma in Action

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.
  • Smoked paprika, cumin, allspice, cayenne, garlic and onion powders, ground 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.

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 close to room temperature. 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.

Chicken Shawarma in a dish
Serve chicken shawarma with pita bread, salad, or rice.

Chicken Shawarma
Commonly Asked Questions

What ethnicity of food is Chicken Shawarma?

Chicken Shawarma is a Levantine Arab method of cooking meat. Thin shavings are cut off a large block of meat. Because most home cooks don’t have access to machinery used by restaurants, we achieve a similar effect by thinly slicing with an ultra sharp knife.

Is Chicken Shawarma healthy?

We definitely include chicken shawarma as part of a healthy diet. Lean, skinless chicken, olive oil, and plenty of fresh spices means this dish is both nutritious and delicious.

Can I meal prep Chicken Shawarma?

Absolutely. Chicken Shawarma is excellent for meal prepping, as it keeps well in the fridge, and can be served up multiple ways throughout the week. Try it with rice, salad, or pita.

Why do I have to towel-dry the raw chicken pieces?

This part is actually imperative for nicely browned chicken. If excess moisture is not removed from the surface of chicken pieces, they’ll tend to steam in the oven, rather than brown.


More to Cook and Eat


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Chicken Shawarma with Sliced Tomatoes and Cucumber

Chicken Shawarma (Easy & Healthy)

5 from 206 ratings
This Easy, Healthy Chicken Shawarma is waist-friendly and incredibly scrumptious! It’s a hit every time we serve up this flavorful dish. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Chicken:

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together all the spices to combine well. Add 2 TB olive oil and mix into a paste. Set aside.
    chicken shawarma seasonings
  • 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.)
    towel dry chicken shawarma chicken pieces
  • Let chicken come to room temp as you preheat oven to 400F, with rack on upper middle position. Once oven is heated, 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.
    chicken shawarma in baking pan
  • 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 green salad.
    Chicken Shawarma on cutting board

Notes

  • Chicken thighs are highly recommended in this recipe, as it’s much more forgiving and stays tender even if slightly over-cooked. If you prefer to use chicken breasts, you may need to cook a bit less time to avoid the meat becoming dry. 
  • 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.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.2g | Protein: 42.9g | Fat: 7.6g | Saturated Fat: 1.4g | Cholesterol: 137.9mg | Sodium: 294.3mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 0.2g
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Diet: Gluten Free, Halal, Low Calorie, Low Lactose
Method: baking, Oven

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Recipe Rating




91 comments

    • 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??

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