Quick Homemade Shawarma Chicken – Chicken Shawarma
This quick version of the homemade shawarma chicken is a classic middle eastern fast food. Whether you use my homemade spice blend or store bought spice mix this is a simple easy and effortless recipe that gets lunch in 20 minutes or less. Served with caramelized onion, simple salad and nutritious tahini sauce this meal is hearty and healthy.
Whether you call it shawarma or shawerma; the dish is the same. A classic middle eastern food that has gained international popularity over the year. It’s been made differently in different parts of the middle east and each claim to be authentic. For example, Armenian chicken shawarma will be different from Lebanese Chicken shawarma recipe. It’s just that they make it authentic to their origin and culture.
Having traveled so much and being married to a middle eastern, I have had the pleasure of eating quite a few variations of the Shawarma as well as falafel and hummus. I have never been to Armenia or Lebanon but I have tried both Armenian shawarmas as well as Lebanese Shawarma and while different in their own way; I can honestly say I would not be able to pick my favorite. They are absolutely exquisite and busting with rich spices.
During my years of travel, shawarma chicken has been my all time favorite fast foods especially in the middle east. It’s quick fascinating and very common fast food that tastes delicious. You can buy it like a sandwich or wrap and eat it walking on the street. Which is why it makes a perfect street food while traveling. I would feast on these during my travels.
How to make shawarma at home?
So, homemade Shawarma Chicken? really? Can you make shawarma at home? Well, technically I should be calling this recipe something like Shawarma style chicken or shawarma inspired chicken or shawarma spiced chicken. But you be the judge.
What is shawarma?
It’s amazing how different cultures have similar food with different names for example – in Greece as gyros, In Armenia as “Tarna” and in Turkey as Doner kabab all these words which translate to “turn’ (meat, kebabs etc)
The real shawarma is heavily spiced meat stacked on a vertical rotating (turning) spit surrounded by a grill. The meats can be beef, veal, chicken, lamb, turkey or a mix of them. This stack of meat is kept moist with animal fat in between the layers that melt keeping the meat moist and succulent. Thin slices of meat are shaved off from the outside as the stack continues to cooks until you make it to the center of the spit.
How is shawarma served?
Shawarma can be served on a plate accompanied by salads and sauces or served as sandwiches and wraps. Here in Israel, shawarma is served rolled in a flatbread called laffa. It’s a yeast dough that has been rolled into a disc and then cooked in an oven.
Pocket shawarma (Save this recipe)
Shawarma can also be served in another popular middle eastern bread called pita which is what we are going to use today. What is pita? A middle eastern bread, a much smaller disc that bakes with a pocket in the center. This pocket is then stuffed with shawarma, pickles and even salad, hence the term Pocket Shawarma Recipe. To finish it is topped with a generous drizzle of Tahini sauce.
A very common salad that you often get served with shawarma is the tabouleh salad made with cracked wheat, parsley, cucumbers, and tomatoes. But often also served with a simple finely chopped salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley and flavored with olive oil and lemon juice.
What is Tahini
Shawarma spice mix ingredients
While I pride myself at making my own spice blends I don’t frown at the use of store-bought spice mixes. I don’t expect everyone to stock their pantry with spices, especially if you don’t cook with them as often. It’s a better option than not having a dish at all.
Having said that I love making my own shawarma seasoning recipe. This blend works best for us and it’s one I’m very proud of because it’s made it’s way to family and friends overseas as gifts so they can enjoy the shawarma I make here. You can find my shawarma seasoning mix aka shawarma spice blend here
The Quick Homemade Shawarma Chicken (Save/Pin)
Like I said the authentic version takes forever because it’s marinated and piled on the spit. Usually made in a big batch. But this quick and homemade version is how I make Shwarma Chicken at home for my family. My Aadi loves Shawarma chicken! he’s a foodie like me and appreciates good food. But we can’t always go out to eat so sometimes I have to bring his favorite foods home.
Want something more different than the fast food version of homemade Shawarma Chicken Recipe? Try my Sheet Pan shawarma Chicken with Potatoes, caramelized onions, lemon and roast garlic. It is a great way to add more zing to your everyday sheet pan recipe with rich shawarma spices and vegetables making weekday lunch or dinner a breeze.
Let’s talk ingredients and substitutes for our homemade pocket shawarma
- Chicken – I love using boneless thigh meat for this because it’s so much more flavorful then breast meat but if you only use breast meat go right ahead. Just make sure you don’t overcook the chicken. Breast usually will cooker faster.
- Spice – As I said above you can use homemade shawarma spice mix or the store bought. If you use my homemade version you can add a little less or more and it will still be in good balance. When buying store-bought one thing to look for would be the heat. Some blends are a little heavy on the cayenne which is not really how it’s supposed to be. Reading the labels is always a good habit.
- Onions – To me this is as important as the chicken but if you not so crazy about onions go ahead and reduce or omit it. Cooking the onions separately helps caramelize it and brings out the sweetness in the onions.
- Tahini sauce – If you make homemade shawarma, falafel or even hummus this is a must-have in your pantry. You can even make a delicious healthy salad dressing with this paste. It’s very creamy and delicious made into a sauce. In paste form, it looks rather unappetizing or plain but the transformation to a sauce is absolute heaven. Ask my husband. Being middle eastern he grew up eating plain pita bread with tahini sauce.
Recipe – Quick Homemade Shawarma Chicken aka Pocket Shawarma (Save/Pin for later)
- Boneless chicken – 450 grams (1 lbs)
- Onion – 1 large
- Garlic – 1 medium grated
- Shawarma spice mix – 2 tbsp (recipe here)
- Cilantro -1/4 cup chopped
- Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
- Canola oil – 3 tbsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Pepper – 1/2 tsp
- Tahini Sauce to serve – 1 cup (recipe here)
- Cut the chicken into thin long strips.
- Season with salt, pepper and shawarma spice mix.
- Set aside to marinate.
- Slice onions into slices
- Saute in one tbsp of oil for about 7 to 10 minutes on medium low heat, until nice and lightly golden brown
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saute pan.
- Add garlic – saute for 30 secs
- Followed by the chicken.
- Cook on medium high heat for about 5 minutes tossing the chicken frequently so it cooks evenly on all sides
- Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice.
- Remove from heat.
Combine chicken and Onion.
- Add the chicken to the onion mix.
- Check for seasoning.
- Split the pita in half
- Fill with shawarma chicken
- Drizzle some tahini sauce.
- Sever with a side of simple salad.
Don’t forget to save this recipe on Pinterest for later.
You can find a collection of my tutorials and recipes here on Pinterest.
Quick Homemade Shawarma Chicken - Chicken Shawarma Recipe
This quick version of the homemade shawarma chicken is a classic middle eastern fast food. Weather you use my homemade spice blend or store bought spice mix this is a simple easy and effortless recipe that gets lunch in 20 minutes or less. Served with caramelized onion, simple salad and nutritious tahini sauce this meal is hearty and healthy.
Ingredients - Choose (Metric or US Customary) below
Cut the chicken into thin long strips.
Season with salt, pepper and shawarma spice mix.
Set aside to marinate.
Slice onions into slices
Saute in one tbsp of oil for about 7 to 10 minutes on medium low heat, until nice and lightly golden brown
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saute pan.
Add garlic - saute for 30 secs
Followed by the chicken.
Cook on medium high heat for about 5 minutes tossing the chicken frequently so it cooks evenly on all sides
Add chopped cilantro and lemon juice.
Remove from heat.
Assemble chicken and Onion.
Add the chicken to the onion mix.
Check for seasoning.
Split the pita in half
Fill with shawarma chicken
Drizzle some tahini sauce.
Sever with a side of simple salad.
Recipe Video - full version (detailed)
Do you like Middle Eastern Food? Israeli Food?
I have some amazing recipes like quick Sheet Pan Shawarma Chicken and Shawarma Pita Pockets to Heart Healthy Classic Hummus and Tahini Sauce as well as indulgent falafel and Passover favorite Chocolate Pecan Cake to summer classics Kebabs and festive latkes. You can find them all here Middle Eastern Recipes. Alternatively, you can find a whole list all my recipes here on this Recipe Index