How to Make Chicken Shawarma!| 60-sec video
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma originates from the Middle East and in essence, is deeply seasoned, marinated meat (typically lamb, beef or chicken) that has been stacked on a vertical spit, to roast low and slow for hours on end while slowly turning, nestled up to the gas-burning grill. Shawarma translates to “turning” in Turkish. Once roasted, the meat is tender, juicy, and full of incredible flavor from the spices, and is often thinly sliced and folded into pita, or wraps, or made into a shawarma plate.
Ways to Grill Chicken Shawarma:
- Grill whole chicken thighs, then slice.
- Make Kabobs or skewers!
Ways to serve Chicken Shawarma:
- Serve as a Sandwich: Wrap the chicken shawarma in a pita or wrap with tzatziki sauce or tahini sauce with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions or pickled onions and serve as a flavorful sandwich or wrap.
- Serve as a Salad: Serve Chicken Shawarma over a bed of a chilled Israeli Salad – a salad made of very finely diced summer vegetables and fresh herbs. The combination of hot grilled juicy chicken, together with the chilled Israeli Salad is refreshing and delicious.
- Create a Shawarma “Plate” with Lebanese Slaw (or Israeli Salad), Basmati Rice, Tzaziki, or Baba Ganoush, or Hummus, or Labneh!
Chicken Shawarma Marinade Spices:
Toasting whole spices gives the shawarma marinade a more intense flavor, but using ground spices is quicker and easier and works well too! Use toasted whole seeds or ground spices, or a combo!
Step 4: Once the chicken gets a nice char, either turn the heat down and cover, to cook through, or place into a 350 F oven until chicken thighs are cooked all the way through ( to 170F).
Step 6: Thinly slice!
What is shawarma sauce made of?
Shawarma is often served with a “White Sauce” that can be whipped up in a food processor or blender. It is typically made with garlic, lemon, salt and olive oil , similar to a creamy aioli (but without the egg). More often than not, I prefer serving shawarma with yogurt-based Tzatziki, but I’ll include this white sauce in the recipe below.
What to Serve with Chicken Shawarma:
Pick any of the following!
- Israeli Salad
- Lemony Tabouli Salad
- Lebanese Slaw
- Baba Ganoush
- Tahini Sauce
- Green Tahini Sauce
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Basmati Rice (Middle Eastern version)
More recipes you may enjoy!
- 2 lbs to 2 ¼ lb chicken thighs (boneless and skinless, or skin on- see notes)
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoon allspice
- Soak skewers in water if using.
- Place all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix, or pulse in a food processor to make a paste.
- Rub chicken on all sides with the marinade and let sit at minimum 20 minutes (or up to 24-48 hours refrigerated). You can also cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and marinate for skewers.
- Grill chicken on a pre-heated Grill, on medium-high heat, closing the lid to the BBQ, until all sides have nice grill marks, about 8 minutes each side. Move to a cooler part of the grill or finish cooking chicken in a 350 F oven until cooked all the way through ( 170F) , about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can bake the chicken thighs in a 375 F oven for 30-40 minutes)
- Enjoy the chicken shawarma over Israeli salad, tabouli, Lebanese Slaw, or with rice and veggies, or as a sandwich with tzatziki, pita bread, tomatoes, cucumber and red onion.
- To make the White Sauce, place garlic, lemon and salt in a blender or food processor and pulse until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides. Whilst the motor is going, very gradually drizzle in the olive oil to create an emuslion. Pour into a bowl or jar and refrigerate until serving. (This will keep 4 days, refrigerated.)
Feel free to use chicken breasts, understanding grilling time will shorten. I prefer thighs because they are pretty hard to overcook/dry out.
If using skewers: Make sure to soak wood skewers in water, at least 30 minutes so they don’t burn. Marinate the cubes of chicken in a bowl for at least 20 minutes, before skewering.
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