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Easy Chicken Shawarma at Home!

posted on: Aug 3, 2022

By: Malorie Lewis / Arab America contributing writer

What is better than the delicious aroma of slow-cooked shawarma meat? Normally to get such a delicious authentic delicacy you would need to go to a restaurant, because who has a vertical BBQ spit at home? For those who live in places with limited options for Arab and Middle Eastern food choices, like me, it’s not always accessible. However, you will be surprised how easy it is to satisfy that craving by making it yourself at home. 

This recipe is a combination of techniques I learned from my friends from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. In addition to that, I put my own flair on it! So, Yallah! Let’s get started.

First! It is important to plan ahead, because you should ideally marinate the chicken overnight for the most tender results. The longer you marinate the more tender and juicier your meat will be! One recommended purchase for this dish that I use all the time is this vertical skewer. It is very convenient, and you can you use it for so many other meat centered dishes!

Chicken Shawarma Marinade Ingredients

  • 2lbs chicken breast or thigh (thighs for more flavor)
  • 1 cup of full fat yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup Lemon Juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and mashed

Spices to your preference (around 1/2 – 2 Teaspoons of each)

  • 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon All Spice
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Cayenne to taste for spicy
  • Chicken Shawarma Spices (If you can find at your local Arab food store it makes for a nice base and then spice to your preference with the above spices)

As a side note if you want an easy substitute for the above spices, you could purchase 7 spice or Chicken Shawarma spice, which contains most of the ingredients. I prefer to spice it to my preference and because of that I never make the same marinade twice. Spice by taste my friends!

Chicken Shawarma Baking and Assembly Ingredients:

  • 3-4 Tomato
  • 1-2 Onions
  • 1-2 small potatoes
  • 1 Lemon
  • Lettuce
  • French Fries
  • Pickles
  • Toum Sauce (link recipe here)

Chicken Shawarma Preparation Directions

  1. First you should slice your chicken breasts in half to make them thinner and easier to stack.
  2. Tenderize the chicken until it is as flat as you can manage without tearing the meat up. I have seen some friends cover the chicken in clingwrap and use the rolling pin to flatten it.
  3. Then, mix the Marinade spices, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, vinegar, minced garlic, yogurt, olive oil, and chicken in a large bowl or ziplock baggie. Marinate in the fridge for 3 to 48 hours. Typically, I marinate for 8-12 hours (overnight).

Chicken Shawarma Cooking Instructions

  1. Wrap your BBQ Spit in aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Cut 1 tomato in half. Place ½ the tomato on the spit cut side up.
  4. Layer the chicken on the spit in an alternating patter to make a circle as seen in the PHOTO.
  5. Slice lemon in half and top the BBQ spit with half a lemon, cut side down.
  6. Slice the tomatoes, potatoes, and onions and place them in a roasting pan around the BBQ spit as seen in the photo.
  7. Cover with foil to produce proper even heating.
  8. Place the pan in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the meat has cooked through.
  9. After cooling a few minutes, shave the meat as seen in the photo. Until you have sliced it all. It is usually so juicy it falls apart as you slice!

Chicken Shawarma Assembly! “Don’t forget ze bickles!”

The Chicken Shawarma can be served in a number of ways. Personally, I like to add my meat, vegetables, garlic/toum sauce, French fries, and roasted onion and tomato slices, into a pita bread. Then mix a bowl of olive oil and some sumac and brush it over the sandwich. Place the sandwich in a panini press or George Foreman grill. Shawarma stuffed with fries is Lebanese style, and must for me! I learned the technique with oil, sumac, and the panini press from my Syrian friend who makes some very delicious Shawarma.

Congratulations my friends! You just learned how to make one of the most delicious and favored dishes across the Arab World! Share with us your results on our Social Media platforms!

Check out Arab America’s Blog for more delicious recipes!