This Chicken Shawarma is juicy, spiced chicken wrapped in flatbreads with a creamy, tahini dressing – perfect for hot or cold weather. Chicken Shawarma laid out on a pita bread

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

Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma on a wooden table

How to make this shawarma at home

Full 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.
6 image collage showing how to make Chicken Shawarma
  • Make the shawarma sauce by mixing together Greek yogurt, minced garlic, tahini, cumin, dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
4 image collage showing how to make shawarma sauce
  • Serve the shawarma in warm flatbreads with lettuce, red onion, tomatoes and cucumber and a drizzle of the yogurt tahini dressing.
Close up of Chicken Shawarma on a pita bread Traditionally, making shawarma involves cooking meat such as chicken/lamb/beef on a vertical spit for a hours, then serving it in a flatbread topped with some salad and sauce.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a spit at home (that would be brilliant – apart from the fact that I already struggle to ensure we have at least one meat-free day a week.  I’d have no chance with a spit full of juicy char-grilled meat available on tap) – so I cook my chicken on a cast iron griddle.  If you don’t have one, then you can BBQ or grill the chicken.
Chicken Shawarma in a pita bread being help by a hand

What to serve with Chicken Shawarma:

Chilli Garlic Oven-Baked Fries

Veggie Buddha Bowls

Veggie Matchstick Fries

Falafel Salad Bowls

All the fixings from this Spicy Nourish Bowl (no need for the chicken)

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 style 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 or better still make your own homemade flatbreads.

More grilled chicken recipes:

Watch how to make it

YouTube video
5 from 10 votes

Chicken Shawarma

This Chicken Shawarma is juicy spiced chicken wrapped in flatbreads with a creamy, tahini dressing - perfect for hot or cold weather.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Ingredients

Chicken Shawarma:

  • 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 cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced

Shawarma Sauce:

  • 240 ml (1 cup) 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 black pepper

To Serve:

  • 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
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Instructions 

  • First, marinate the chicken. Place the chopped chicken thighs in a large bowl and add the rest of the shawarma ingredients.
    8 chicken thigh fillets, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp chili powder, pinch cinnamon, 1 clove garlic
  • 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.
    240 ml (1 cup) Greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic, 1 ½ tbsp tahini, ½ tsp cumin, 1 tsp dried dill, 2 tbsp lemon juice, ¼ tsp salt, pinch black pepper
  • Place the flatbreads onto serving plates and divide the lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, and cucumber between them.
    4 flatbreads, 1 romaine lettuce, ½ red onion, 8 cherry tomatoes, ¼ cucumber
  • Place the cooked shawarma on top, then drizzle over the shawarma sauce.
  • Roll up the flatbreads and serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

No Griddle Pan? 
You can also:
  • 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.
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.
Nutritional Information is per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 217mg | Sodium: 554mg | Potassium: 877mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1179IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. OLIVIA says:

    den er god

  2. Sal Khan says:

    Will be trying these tonight for sure.

    Do you think the leftover chicken could be kept in the freezer for a week or so? Or would it significantly impact the flavour?

    Thank you!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi Sal,
      The chicken does taste better straight off the griddle, but you can cook it ahead it you want to, then quickly cool, cover and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then 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.

  3. Anne says:

    5 stars
    Just made the chicken Shawarma tonight. We grill the chicken thighs and then cut them up. I followed your recipe exactly and it was amazing. My only thing was the marinade needs more salt….I ended up salting the thighs after they cooked. Other than that it was DELICIOUS!!! We also made home made flat bread. SO GOOD! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Chris Corbishley says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Anne

      Thanks

      Chris & Nicky

  4. Adele says:

    5 stars
    I made these at the weekend and they are delicious, so tasty and something different. I cooked the chicken in my new Airfryer and they only took a few minutes.
    Another fab recipe from you

    1. Chris Corbishley says:

      Thanks Adele,

      So happy to hear that you’re enjoying the recipes 🙂

      Thanks

      Chris & Nicky

  5. janice meldrum says:

    5 stars
    Very tasty and simple to make.

  6. Eleanor says:

    5 stars
    Marinated the chicken last night, ready for our monthly girly get together lunch today. I know everyone is going to love this.

  7. Angela says:

    Leek and mushroom gratin looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Angela, let me know how you get on 🙂

  8. dishofdailylife says:

    Love this salad recipe…it looks wonderful! It’s definitely going on the menu! Pinning and yumming so I can try it. Found you on Foodies Online and very glad I did!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Michelle 🙂 I love connecting through G+, it’s one of the social media tools I’m just getting to grips with. You have a great blog!

  9. Georgina says:

    Hi Nicky, we connect on G+, I always enjoy your recipes. Love this spicy chicken salad, so easy and quick to make and at the same time it is something different to bring to the family table!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thank you Georgina. Yes, I’m following you on G+. Love your pictures – so bright and airy. Those ‘cuddled prawns’ look sooo good!

  10. Thalia @ butter and brioche says:

    This salad looks so incredibly delicious – and beautiful too. I always make salads for dinner during the week so the recipe is just ideal. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thanks Thalia. You are healthy! I love a good salad – so long as it’s got a couple of naughty ingredients in there too 🙂