A Recipe for Beef Shawarma

Shawarma with tahini sauce
Photostock Israel/Getty Images
  • 8 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 8 hrs,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings
Ratings (50)

Shawarma is like the ultimate on the go meal. Thinly sliced meat, wrapped in a pita bread with veggies and sauce is a delicious quick meal.

What is Shawarma?

Shawarma is thinly sliced cuts of meat, like chicken, beef, goat, lamb, and sometimes turkey, rolled into a large piece of flatbread or pita that has been steamed or heated. Inside the pita, foods like hummus, tahini, pickles, vegetables, and even french fries are added. Think of shawarma as a taco or burrito Middle Eastern style.

How is Shawarma Made?

Raw meat is placed on large, rotating cones. As it rotates, the meat is cooked by a heat source that is located behind the actual cone. The meat slowly falls off or is thinly sliced by a chef with a large knife. It can take several hours to fully cook.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds beef (prime rib is best)
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • For the Filling:
  • 8 loaves pita bread (or 4 large)
  • 1 cucumber (thinly sliced)
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (finely chopped)
  • Optional: pickle slices

How to Make It

Combine all ingredients except for beef, fillings, and sauce ingredients to make marinade. If it seems a little dry, add a little olive oil (a tablespoon at a time). Here is an excellent tahini recipe, if you do not have some handy.

Add beef, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

In a stockpot or large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat for 45 minutes or until done. Be sure not to overcook!

If beef becomes a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water throughout cooking duration.

While beef is cooking, prepare the sauce. Combine sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Take the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprinkle with sumac. Add other filling ingredients in a large bowl and combine well.

When the beef is done, you can shred it, slice it, or leave into large pieces. As long as it it thinly cut, there is not much difference. I prefer to cut mine into wide strips.

Prepare the Pita

Place enough beef on pita that cover 1/4 of the loaf. Add veggies and pour sauce. Roll like a soft taco or burrito and you have shawarma! You can also stuff the pocket of the pita if you like. I prefer to roll large pitas (this is where making your own pita comes in handy), but it is hard to find large loaves of pita at the supermarket.

Serving Shawarma

You can serve shawarma with fries, falafel, hummus, or with a salad like tabouleh.