Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Chicken Souvlaki Wrap
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  • 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 chicken shawarma sandwiches
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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.

The chicken will need to marinate for 8 hours or overnight, so plan accordingly.

What You'll Need

  • For the Chicken:
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (or breasts; boneless, skinless, thinly cut)
  • For the Marinade:
  • 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 Sandwich:
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • Optional: pickle slices
  • 8 small pita breads  (4 large pita breads)

How to Make It

Make the Marinade

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup yogurt, vinegar, 2 cloves crushed garlic, pepper, salt, cardamom, allspice, and juice of 1 lemon until well mixed. 
  2. 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 45 minutes or until done. Be sure not to overcook!
  1. If chicken becomes a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
  2. When the chicken is done, you can shred it, slice it, or leave it in large pieces. As long as it is thinly cut, there is not much difference.

Prepare the Sauce

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

Assemble the Sandwich

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. You can serve shawarma with fries, falafelhummus, or with a 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.