Have you tried this delicious chicken Arabic Shawarma at home? It is a simple and popular middle eastern street food dish, made from marinated chicken in a lot of spices, topped with various chopped vegetables and sauces, and everything wrapped in a flatbread or pita bread. If you haven’t tried it yet, highly recommended it! And the best part? You can use any vegetable or meat leftovers in it!
Arabic shawarma is a perfect meal for any part of the day and you can enjoy it whenever you want. As is it very versatile you can make it for a crowd using different ingredients so you can make sure that it will be on the taste of every guest.
I made the middle eastern spices mix by myself because I love spices and I have a lot of them at home. If you are not familiar with all those spices, then you can use store-bought oriental spices mixes that will go well with meat.
Or if you will want to make it by yourself, feel free to substitute some of them with another one if you can’t find them at hand.
In addition to the marinated chicken meat, this Arabic shawarma is fully packed with a lot of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, and onions.
These vegetables add a nice crunch and freshness to this dish and also provide a nice rich flavor to the chicken.
The Arabic shawarma is served usually near a tahini sauce, which is also a traditional Middle Eastern sauce that is made from sesame seeds, but you can also use whatever sauce you prefer.
I think you convinced yourself that this is a perfect casual weeknight dinner or a fun weekend lunch with your friends and family!
Let’s get started and dive into more details on how you can make this delicious meal.
🥰 Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- Is an ideal recipe for lovers of oriental flavors. It will take you back to your vacation in the Eastern countries.
- It is easy to cook and it requires simple ingredients. But it is full of tastes and flavors.
- It is a perfect recipe to make when you have leftover vegetables and greens. You can add the meat and mix them all in a flatbread and the delicious Arabic shawarma is ready to be served.
- It is a healthy recipe because the sauce is based on sour cream/yogurt and not on mayonnaise.
🥘 Ingredients and Substitutes
- Meat. I used chicken thighs because they cook faster and because they are a little fatty – they are juicier. If you don’t have them at hand, you can replace them with another part of the chicken or replace them with beef or turkey meat.
- Flatbread. I used a flatbread based on whole wheat flour because it has more fiber and is considered healthier. However, the original recipe is with a classic flatbread made from wheat flour. If you don’t have a flatbread under your hand, you could also put the filling on a piece of pita.
- Spicy Sauce. I used a spicy tomato sauce, that made at home. You can replace it with your favorite spicy sauce or if you don’t like spicy food, then use a marinara sauce.
- Onions. I used a fresh onion. If you are not a fan of fresh onions, you can replace them with marinated onions.
- Garlic. I used it to flavor the yogurt sauce. If you don’t like the strong garlic taste, you can replace it with granulated garlic. It is not recommended to omit garlic altogether because you risk getting a bland sauce. If you are still against garlic, replace it with another commercial sauce based on cream or yogurt.
- Yogurt. We used it for the base of the sauce. If you don’t have yogurt at hand, you could replace it with sour cream or mayonnaise but in a smaller amount.
- Spices. I made an Arabic spice mix at home, but if you don’t have all the spices at home, you could use a store-bought oriental mix. Also, if you don’t have some of the spices, you could omit them or replace them with others that you prefer.
You could also use other fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes, peppers, other types of cabbage, or salads. It is up to you.
👩🍳 Step-by-step Directions
Put all the spices in a mortar and grind them well to intensify their flavors.
After this, clean and wash the meat well. Dry it with a paper towel. Make sure that you removed all the excesses of water from the meat.
Quick Note: If you will not remove all the water excesses from the meat, the flavors from the spices will be diluted and you will not get the same strong flavored meat.
Pour the mix of freshly ground spices and half of the amount of yogurt over the meat. The other half amount of the yogurt, save it for later to make the sauce.
Mix well and let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Quick Note: The longer you leave the meat, the more it will absorb the spices you just mixed. It is important not to leave the meat marinated for more than 12 hours because you risk spoiling it.
After this, you need to cook the meat. You could prepare it on the grill, on the pan, in the oven, or in the air fryer.
I chose to cook it in the air fryer because it is faster.
If you also chose to cook it in the air fryer, then bake the meat at 380°F for about 20-25 minutes. If you have chosen another method of preparing the meat, then you can use a meat thermometer to make sure that the meat is cooked enough.
Quick Note: If you don’t have a thermometer at your hand, then cut the meat into the thickest part and make sure that the meat is cooked enough.
In the meantime, let’s prepare the sauce and the rest of the ingredients.
For the sauce, take a deep bowl, and pour the yogurt, crushed garlic, and oil into it. Mix well and if needed, you could add a little more salt. The salt level depends on the yogurt you use.
Quick Note: In this sauce, you could add finely chopped mint, lemon peel, or lemon juice and chili flakes. Mix all the ingredients well and the sauce is ready.
Now it’s time to prepare all the vegetables. Cut them small so that when you bite, it will be comfortable for you to eat and the wrap will not break down. You can orient yourself by the dimensions of the vegetables in the images below.
After we have prepared the ingredients, it is time to assemble the Arabic shawarma.
For this, take a flatbread piece and spread on it the yogurt sauce. After that, add the sliced cabbage and the rest of the vegetables you have decided to use.
Quick Note: Between the rows of vegetables, add yogurt sauce, otherwise you risk getting bland and tasteless vegetables. I also recommend adding a little salt to the vegetables to intensify their taste.
After adding the vegetables, cut the meat into slices and place it on top of the vegetables.
Now add a little bit of spicy sauce on top, and add some freshly chopped parsley or other greens for extra color and freshness.
In the end, twist the wrap tightly so that it does not unravel by itself.
You can serve it as is, or you can fry the Arabic Shawarma on a frying pan or grill, to make the flatbread crispier and to get an extra texture to your plate.
Quick Note: Be careful not to keep them too long on heat because you will heat the vegetables too much, and they will change their texture.
🍽️ Serving Suggestions
🏆 Expert Tips. What to Pay Attention To?
- After you have assembled the Arabic shawarma, try to eat it as quickly as possible because the juice from the vegetables and the sauce will soften the flatbread, and it can become more difficult to eat.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients, especially the spices. If you look for this recipe in different sources, you will notice that it is different in all places. Adjust it to your liking. The idea is to use as many vegetables as possible and to cook the meat using more spices.
What are the key ingredients in Chicken Arabic Shawarma?
The key ingredients in Chicken Arabic Shawarma include thinly sliced chicken (usually thigh or breast), a marinade made of yogurt and various spices (such as cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic, and coriander), and a sauce typically made from tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. The dish is commonly served with pita bread or flatbread, alongside vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.
How is the chicken marinated and cooked for shawarma?
The chicken is marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture for a few hours, preferably overnight, to ensure that the flavors are well-absorbed. Traditionally, the marinated chicken is cooked on a vertical spit, but at home, you can grill or broil the chicken, or cook it in a pan on the stovetop until it’s fully cooked and slightly charred.
Can I use a different type of meat for this recipe?
Yes, you can substitute the chicken with other meats like lamb, beef, or turkey. Adjust the cooking time based on the type and thickness of the meat you choose. Keep in mind that the flavors of the marinade may taste different with other meats, but the overall concept of the dish will remain the same.
Is there a vegetarian or vegan alternative for shawarma?
For a vegetarian or vegan alternative, you can use sliced or cubed tofu, tempeh, or seitan as the protein source. Marinate and cook them in the same way you would with chicken. You can also use a variety of grilled or roasted vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers, as the main filling for the shawarma.
What is the difference between shawarma and gyro?
Although both shawarma and gyro are similar in concept, they have some differences in terms of ingredients and preparation. Shawarma is of Middle Eastern origin and typically uses a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, and turmeric, while gyro is a Greek dish that mainly uses oregano, thyme, and garlic as seasonings. Additionally, shawarma is commonly made with chicken, lamb, or beef, while gyro is typically made with lamb, beef, or pork.
📋 Recipe Card:
Chicken Arabic Shawarma
- 1 ½ lb Chicken Thighs
- ½ cup Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Spicy Sauce
- 1 Onion
- 4 Flatbreads
- 9 oz Tomato
- 10 oz Cabbage
- Parsley for decoration
- Prepare the spice mix to marinate the meat.Salt, ¼ teaspoon Cumin, 2 teaspoon Cloves, ½ teaspoon Sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon Turmeric, ⅛ teaspoon Nutmeg, ½ teaspoon Coriander, ½ teaspoon Fennel Seeds, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper, ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- In the bowl, mix the meat with yogurt and spices. Let them marinate for about 2 hours.½ cup Yogurt
- Finely chop the vegetables.1 Onion, 10 oz Cabbage, 9 oz Tomato
- Cook the meat. I cooked it in the air fryer at 380°F for about 20-25 minutes.1 ½ lb Chicken Thighs
- Mix the yogurt with garlic, salt and oil.½ cup Yogurt, 1 teaspoon Olive Oil, 1 clove Garlic
Assembling the Shawarma
- Spread the sauce on the flatbread.4 Flatbreads
- After that, put the chopped vegetables on top.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with yogurt sauce and a little salt.
- Cut the meat into small pieces and put it on top of the vegetables.
- Sprinkle over the meat spicy sauce.2 tablespoons Spicy Sauce
- At the end, add some freshly chopped aromatic herbs.
- Roll the flatbread tightly so that it does not come off.
I highly recommend reading the entire recipe to find more tips and notes about this recipe. Read Full Recipe ⇑
- Feel free to experiment with different spices and ingredients. This is a versatile recipe that let you add your own ingredients.