Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma

Simple chicken shawarma recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1057 Calories
59g Fat
77g Carbs
65g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1057
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 59g 75%
Saturated Fat 13g 64%
Cholesterol 224mg 75%
Sodium 1091mg 47%
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 65g
Vitamin C 41mg 205%
Calcium 421mg 32%
Iron 8mg 44%
Potassium 1629mg 35%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Middle Eastern chicken shawarma is a delicious pita sandwich recipe made with thinly sliced seasoned chicken, veggies, and sauce wrapped in a pita bread.

Shawarma is the ultimate on-the-go meal. If you've never had shawarma, you are truly missing out on a delightful quick meal. Like a fast-food burger with its ketchup and mustard, shawarma is not complete unless it has a sauce to go with it. Before attempting a recipe, please read all about shawarma pita.


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For the Marinade

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/4 cup vinegar

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 pod cardamom pods

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup tahini

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

For the Sandwich

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 to 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

  • Pickle slices, optional

  • 4 large pita breads

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this chicken shawarma dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Marinade

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for marinade
    The Spruce
  2. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, vinegar, crushed garlic, pepper, salt, cardamom, allspice, and juice of 1 lemon, until well mixed. 

    Combine yogurt and spices in a bowl
    The Spruce
  3. Add chicken, coating well with marinade. If mixture seems too dry, add olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you've achieved the right consistency. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Cook the Chicken

  1. In a stockpot or large saucepan, cook chicken over medium heat for 20 minutes or until done. Be sure not to overcook!

    Cook chicken
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  2. If chicken becomes a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water.

  3. When the chicken is done, you can shred it or leave it in larger slices.

Prepare the Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sauce
    The Spruce 
  2. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together tahini, crushed garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons yogurt, mixing well. Set aside.

Assemble the Sandwich

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sandwich
    The Spruce 
  2. To a large bowl, add onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and sprinkle with sumac. Add the parsley and optional pickle slices and mix well. Set aside.

    Vegetables in a bowl
    The Spruce
  3. Place enough chicken on each pita so that it covers 1/4 of the bread. Add veggies and pour some sauce over all. Roll like a burrito and you have shawarma! You also can slit the pita open to form a pocket and stuff it.

    Chicken shawarma sandwich
    The Spruce


  • The chicken will need to marinate for 8 hours or overnight, so plan accordingly.
  • You can serve shawarma with fries, falafelhummus, or with a Middle Eastern salad like tabouleh.

Optional Sauces for Shawarma

There are several sauces that go well with shawarma. You can squeeze the sauce on like ketchup with a condiment dispenser or dip each bite of sandwich in it. Here are some popular shawarma sauces:

  • Tahini Sauce: This sesame-based sauce is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. It is commonly served with shawarma.

  • Falafel Hot Sauce: Yes, it says falafel, but it is great on shawarma. Be careful, it is definitely spicy.

  • Tarator Sauce: This is the secret sauce that Middle Eastern restaurants won't tell you about. Well, the secret is out and this sauce is just as easy to make as it is delicious! Tarator combines tahini with garlic to make a fantastic sauce.