This Chicken Shawarma is juicy, spiced chicken wrapped in flatbreads with a creamy, tahini dressing - perfect for hot or cold weather.
Sharwarma. Is it just me or does that word sound like something deliciously smoochy like a romantic slow dance outdoors, in a candlelit square of a beautiful warm country. With lots of wine. Hmmm. Maybe I need a holiday (don't we all!). If I said Sharwarma to Chris on the other hand, he'd immediately think of Iron Man's sharwarma quote in that Avengers film. Actually, that was the first time I'd ever heard of this dish, and if Iron Man thought it'd be good, then it was bound to be.
What do we need?
- Chicken thighs are great for homemade shawarma as they hold up well to intense, high-heat cooking, whilst retaining their juiciness.
- Spices - give a smoky, spicy, warming flavour to the chicken
- Tahini - essential for a good shawarma sauce - mixed with that Greek yogurt, plus garlic, dill, lemon, cumin, salt and pepper
How to make this shawarma at homeFull recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Place chopped chicken thighs in a bowl with oil, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, cinnamon and minced garlic. Stir, cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate.
- Cook the chicken pieces on a griddle (see notes section in recipe card for other cooking methods), turning a couple of times until slightly charred on the outside cooked through in the middle.
- Make the shawarma sauce by mixing together Greek yogurt, minced garlic, tahini, cumin, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Serve the shawarma in warm flatbreads with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and cucumber and a drizzle of the yogurt tahini dressing.
Can I make it ahead? Yes! You can marinate the chicken in advance (up to a day ahead) and make the sauce a couple of days ahead too. Make sure they're covered and refrigerated until ready to use. The chicken does taste better straight off the griddle, but you can cook it ahead it you want to, then quickly cool, cover and refrigerate for up to a day. You can eat the chicken cold in a salad or flatbread/pita, or you can reheat it by wrapping in foil in a single layer, and heating in the oven at 190C/375F for around 20 minutes or until piping hot throughout.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs? Chicken thighs are better at standing up to high heat cooking - like that on a griddle or bbq - whilst staying juicy. However you can replace with chicken breast pieces if you prefer. Try to ensure you don't overcook - as the chicken may become dry. But do ensure it's cooked throughout and no longer pink in the middle.
Alternative to tahini in the dressing: You can leave the tahini out of the dressing if you like and it will still be really tasty. Alternatively replace with nut butter (peanut/almond/cashew) if you still want that nutty taste. You can also replace the tahini with half a grated cucumber that's been squeezed out to remove most of the liquid. This will give you a tzatziki-sytle dressing instead.
Best type of flatbreads I really love Greek or Lebanese style flatbreads with shawarma, as they're thicker and chewier than tortillas or pocket-style pita breads - so they result in a tastier, more satisfying wrap. However, you can use regular pocket-style pitas, tortilla wraps or even naan bread if you like (i'd even use chapati - i'm all for a bit of food fusion!). Go with your favourite style of flatbread!
More grilled chicken recipes:
- Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Honey Garlic Chicken Skewers
- Cajun Chicken Noodle Salad
- Mexican Chicken Skewers with Picante Salsa
- Chicken Souvlaki with Homemade Tzatiki
Watch how to make it
- 8 chicken thigh fillets cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
- 1 cup (240ml) Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 ½ tbsp tahini
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried dill - or 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 4 flatbreads - warmed
- 1 Romaine lettuce - shredded
- ½ red onion - peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes - sliced into quarters
- ¼ cucumber - sliced into rounds, then again in quarters
- First marinate the chicken. Place the chopped chicken thighs in a large bowl and add the rest of the shawarma ingredients.
- Mix together, then cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour (or up to overnight).
- When you're ready to prepare the shawarma, place a cast iron griddle on the hob to heat up.
- Place the chicken pieces on the griddle and cook for 6-10 minutes - turning a couple of times until slightly charred on the outside cooked through in the middle. (see notes for alternative cooking methods)
- Whilst the chicken is cooking make the shawarma dressing by mixing all of the shawarma dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.
- Place the flatbreads onto serving plates and divide the lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and cucumber between them.
- Place the cooked shawarma on top, then drizzle over the shawarma sauce.
- Roll up the flatbreads and serve.
- Fry the shawarma pieces in a hot, lightly oiled frying pan (skillet) for 6-10 minutes, turning regularly until cooked through.
- Grill (broil) on a tray under a hot grill for 8-10 minutes - until cooked through. Brush with a little oil before placing under the grill (as using a grill dries the chicken a little more than frying/griddling) and turn once, halfway cooking.
- Place the chicken on skewers, and barbecue for 8-10 minutes, turning a couple of times during cooking, until cooked through.
This recipe was first posted in February 2015 as a salad recipe. Updated in May 2020 as a Shawarma wrap recipe plus new photos, video and tips.
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