Robust and flavorful easy Chicken Shawarma at home! Beats takeout any day of the week, and is perfect for work or school lunch. Plus, my creamy white garlic sauce for Chicken Shawarma adds a bright creamy tang.
Chicken Shawarma is juicy chicken marinated in a blend of Middle Eastern spices that’s stacked in a cone-like shape and slowly roasted. It’s a really popular street food in the Mediterranean, but you can get those same delicious flavors right at home.
How to make chicken shawarma at home?
I find that boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the best cut for shawarmas. They’re much less expensive than breast meat and also much juicier. More bang for your buck without sacrificing flavor. You just can’t beat that! You can use chicken breast if you like leaner meat. I would even suggest using half breast and half thighs if you can. Let’s go over all of the ingredients.
- olive oil
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
- garlic cloves
- chicken thighs and/or, chicken breast
- cumin powder
- black pepper
- pinch of cinnamon
- sweet paprika
- ground coriander
- black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
First things first, you’re going to marinate the chicken. If you like a more tangy flavor, use more lemon juice. Ground cardamom smells so good, and just a little bit goes a very long way. All of the spices are going to add tons and tons of flavor. Make sure that the chicken and onions are fully coated in the marinade and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. For maximum flavor, you could also marinate it overnight for 6 to 8 hours.
Garlic yogurt sauce for Chicken Shawarma
My white garlic sauce is amazing. Creamy, tangy, and just the right amount of garlic. Some local takeout shawarma spots go so heavy on the garlic and mayonnaise that it leaves me feeling nauseated after my meal. I make mine with lots of yogurt. It really lightens up the mayonnaise and adds such a creamy tang. I use whole milk plain yogurt. It’s not Greek yogurt, but if Greek yogurt is what you have, go ahead and use it. I just really like the consistency of plain regular yogurt because it keeps the sauce nice and thin. But like I said, use what you have or use Greek yogurt if you like the sauce thicker.
Your sauce should stay fresh in the refrigerator for a while, so put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you want to pack yourself a delicious lunch for work or send shawarma with the kids to school, you’ll have your sauce ready to go.
How to cook your shawarma chicken at home
After your chicken has marinated for at least an hour, you can grill or broil it. Grill it over medium-high heat and let it cook about 6 or 7 minutes per side or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165℉.
To use the broiler, set the broiler to the highest temperature, and make sure your oven rack is as close to the heating element as it will go. Put a cooling rack on top of a baking tray and put the chicken on top of the cooling rack. I’ve tried cooking the chicken directly on a baking tray and the chicken does not come out as juicy. All of the juices and fat drip down to the bottom and then you’re left with that delicious juicy chicken. So, use a cooling rack if you have one.
Honestly, you could also cook it on the stovetop if you wanted to make a small batch. I just find that anytime I make chicken shawarma that I like to make a bigger batch. It’s great for taking to work or sending with the kids to school. So if I’m doing it, I’m going to make a big batch. Also, cooking it on the stovetop will create a lot of smoke and you’ll have to wash the pan out many times. That’s why I prefer to do it on the grill or in the oven.
Cook this under the broiler for 16 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken over about halfway through. The chicken will get nice and golden brown. Let it sit and rest for about 10 minutes, then go ahead and slice it into strips. Put it in a big bowl and combine it with all of those delicious onions that have caramelized and softened.
Now you’re ready to put your chicken shawarma together
I like to make a pita. You just layer your sauce, salad and chicken mixture on your pita. For the salad, you can just take any of your favorite salad greens and chop them up with a little bit of carrot, tomatoes, and cucumbers. For busy nights, I keep a ready-made salad that I buy from Costco on hand. My favorite is the Mediterranean crunch chopped salad kit. If you guys have a Costco nearby, it’s great to have this on hand for those busy days that you don’t have time to put together a salad.
If you want your chicken shawarma like you get it in the shops, you can crisp it up before putting it all together. Heat up a cast iron grill to medium-high heat. After you slice the chicken, put it on the cast iron for about 30 seconds on each side until it gets those crispy bits.
If you’re staying away from carbs, go ahead and put it over a salad or maybe over some cauliflower rice. If you don’t mind the carbs but you don’t want the bread, put it on some rice. Whatever your heart desires.
Let me know what you think in the comments!
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- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, sliced
- ½ cup olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, grated
- ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice
- • 2 teaspoons paprika
- • 2 teaspoons salt
- • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- • 1 teaspoon sumac
- • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- • 1 cup yogurt
- • ¼ cup mayonnaise
- • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- • 1 garlic clove, grated
- Note: The chicken can be cooked on the barbeque grill or in the oven under the broiler.
- Marinate the chicken:
- Place the chicken in a large bowl and add all of the spices, olive oil, garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Toss well to coat the chicken. Add the onion slices and mix them together. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and set aside to marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
- If marinating overnight allow the chicken to sit out at room temperature for an hour before cooking.
- Make the Sauce: Combine all of the sauce ingredients together and whisk well. Taste and add salt if needed. This sauce keeps well in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- For the Broiler:
- Set the broiler to high and place the oven rack under the broiler element.
- Place a rack on a metal baking tray.
- Arrange the chicken on the rack and broil for 16-18 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 °F.
- For the Grill:
- Heat the grill then add the marinated chicken onto the grill. Cook over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. Flip the chicken over after 10 minutes. When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 °F it is ready. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
- Slice the chicken into strips and serve.
- Shawarma Bowl:
- Fill a salad bowl with your favorite greens (lettuce, shredded cabbage, etc.) some chopped tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers and top with the chicken shawarma slices. Drizzle some shawarma sauce on top and serve.
- Shawarma Pita:
- Lightly toast a pita. Spread 1 tablespoon of the sauce in the center of the pita. Top with ¼ cup of salad (any shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion slices. Top with chicken shawarma and some more sauce. Roll up and serve!