Chicken Shawarma

The first time I heard about this dish, I didn’t botch the name at all.

Me, “I’ll have the chicken sharmwaramaramlarmawahllalrwah, please.” The waiter thought I was such a darling that he wiggled his naked toes right in my food.

Have you shawarmalarama’d before? It’s basically a popular Middle Eastern wrap where you grill all kinds of meat on a huge vertical rotating spit for like, ever. And then you shave the meat off and wrap it all up in warm pita bread with grilled veggies and this piiiimp dressing with tahini and yogurt and lemon. I mean, technically this isn’t a TRUE shalarwarewalugh because I don’t own a spit. Well, I almost did. It was between that and a life-sized glow-in-the-dark blow-up giraffe AND WE BOTH KNOW WHAT THE OBVIOUS CHOICE IS HERE.


BTW, this dressing? y-o-u-w-i-l-l-s-e-e-s-t-a-r-s.


And I’m sorry but three a’s in a row is really confusing, ARABIA. This is why I’ve taken the liberty to abbreviate the name to sharma-larma-ding-dong.

Works much better for my mouth. And brain.


So yeah, check it: you’ll marinate the chicken in a stellar mix of spices, oil and lemon juice. I let mine sit overnight, because I’m exercising my patience skills this summer like a good girl.

(You should probably stick your finger in that marinade <before you add the chicken!> and taste it and freak your face and annoy your husband for the 20th time that hour. I mean day…okay hour.)

And then sauté some onions and peppers. Do a little dance. Grill the chicken. Slap ya mama.


Dollop this super creamy, tangy dressing over the shawerjslfserwerj and deaaaaath becomes me.

Oh! Be sure and wrap them up in parchment paper like they do in the restaurants or you’ll be haunted by ghosts for the rest of your life.

Oh my gosh I’m sorry for saying that just now.

Really. Really, really really. The warm, soft pitas cradling all of the spicy, tender chicken and veggies, coated in a smooth, bright yogurt sauce with fresh tomatoes and crisp lettuce? Saddle up, kittens.

Maybe the ghosts could teach me how to say the dang word right.

Chicken Shawarma (adapted from Arabic Food):

What it took for 4 wraps:

* 1 Tbs. smoked paprika
* 1 Tbs. ground cumin
* 1 Tbs. ground cardamom
* 1 Tbs. chili powder
* 1 Tbs. ground coriander
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 1 lemon
* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1 white onion, sliced
* 1 green bell pepper, sliced
* 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* 1/4 cup tahini
* 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
* 1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
* 4 pitas
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, combine the paprika, cumin, cardamom, chili powder, coriander, garlic, juice from half the lemon, a pinch of salt and 3 Tbs. oil. Using a fork, whisk until it becomes a paste. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Using an indoor or outdoor grill, grill the chicken until cooked through and browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and sauté 3 minutes, until they start to brown on both sides. Add the peppers and sauté another 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the tahini, yogurt, juice from the other half of the lemon, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk to full combine.

Heat your pitas on the grill, microwave, oven, whatevs.

Layer some grilled veggies, sliced chicken, tomatoes, and a good dollop of the tahini sauce in each pita. Top with cherry tomatoes and shredded lettuce and get to eatin’.


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52 Responses to Chicken Shawarma

  1. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven July 2, 2012 at 8:27 am #
    Oooooh - these look amazing homemade!!! And I love the Boulevard in the background. ;)
  2. Cookbook Queen July 2, 2012 at 8:29 am #
    That sauce!! Those pitas!! I want all of it.
  3. Mrs. B July 2, 2012 at 8:33 am #
    I have had this at a restaurant but I have never made it myself! Can't wait to try it! Yummmmm :)
  4. Tracey Evans July 2, 2012 at 8:40 am #
    Yum! Have not seen any pitas that good looking where I live, so will have to use flat bread. Ready for lunch! :)
  5. Amy July 2, 2012 at 8:48 am #
    I STILL, after years of trying, can't seem to say Worcestershire sauce correctly, so I won't even attempt this one. But I'll gladly shove it into my pie hole, thankyouverymuch.
  6. Julia {The Roasted Root} July 2, 2012 at 8:59 am #
    Awwww your chicken shwarma lama ding dong looks so comfortable tucked up in a poofy wrap! This looks fabulous...I love middle eastern food (all the spices are so much fun!!) and meat cooked on a spit for a million years cannot be beat. I like that your recipe incorporates the awesome flavors without requiring a spit (I don't own one either ;) !
  7. Kathryn July 2, 2012 at 9:02 am #
    I live on what is basically a road made of chicken shawarma, if the wind is blowing in the right direction sometimes I can open my windows and take in the heavenly smell.
  8. Megan @ Country Cleaver July 2, 2012 at 9:06 am #
    I think I'd pick the glow in the dark blow up giraffe at first too - but if this is what I can make off a spit - I think the spit would win. But that giraffe would make some pretty hilarious cahoots possible. Giraffe photobombs, etc. Giraffe photobombs are the only legit type of photobomb.
  9. bridget {bake at 350} July 2, 2012 at 9:10 am #
    Trying to reach through my computer screen to grab one and it's just.not.working. Dang it.
  10. Caitlin July 2, 2012 at 9:16 am #
    Those pitas! Where did you get them!? Or, do you have a good recipe for homemade pitas? (Because cranking up the heat in a small kitchen sounds GENIUS given the heat wave..)
    • Bev Weidner July 2, 2012 at 9:24 am #
      I actually bought them at my little local Middle Eastern market! They are MUCH more pillowy and fluffy than the ones in the regular grocery store. Or make them! Or not. ;)
  11. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids July 2, 2012 at 9:20 am #
    Oh, Bev, my mouth just did a little happy dance. I absolutely cannot wait to try this! Happy, happy Monday!
  12. Lisa | With Style and Grace July 2, 2012 at 9:51 am #
    oh hell, this makes me want bread!
  13. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough July 2, 2012 at 10:04 am #
    Heaven is filled with these shawarmamalamamama sandwiches. I just know it.
  14. jill July 2, 2012 at 10:15 am #
    So making these this week! Thanks, Bev!
  15. Heather July 2, 2012 at 11:02 am #
    holy what! i looooooove shawarma and i'm thinking i could totally drink that yogurt sauce. gimme!
  16. Villy @ For the love of Feeding July 2, 2012 at 11:45 am #
    I love me a good swawarmabilooba wrap pap pap!
  17. Deanna B. July 2, 2012 at 11:49 am #
    My favorite part of shawarma is the garlic sauce. I would do unspeakable things for a lifetime supply of garlic sauce.
  18. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet July 2, 2012 at 11:56 am #
    Who cares what it's called! I WANT IT!
  19. Cassie July 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm #
    my kind of flavors! that pita bread looks amazing with this!
  20. Heather Christo July 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm #
    I need sharmwaramaramlarmawahllalrwah in my life. That chicken marinade is out of control Bev!!
  21. May I Have That Recipe July 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm #
    Your picture is mouthwatering!! I am now craviing shawarma in a freshly baked pita! Yum!!
  22. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel July 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm #
    Everything tells me that I need this in my life right now.
  23. zestycook July 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm #
    This is nothing short of brilliant. I eat shawarma sandwiches all the time and love them! This one looks amazing.
  24. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious July 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm #
    I definitely need to make this. I used to buy shawawraamma at an awesome Lebanese place by my house and then we moved and sometimes I'll do the drive to get some but this would be more economical and better for the planet aka..I'm lazy! Cheers!
  25. Shelly July 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm #
    This looks amazing! Thanks for the recipe!
  26. Martha Linn July 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm #
    I want to see the Glow-in-the-Dark Giraffe...
  27. Jen @ Savory Simple July 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm #
    These photos made me so hungry!
  28. Katie July 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm #
    I want to wrap myself in that pita.
  29. Julia July 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm #
    I won't even pretend I have the slightest clue how to say the name... and some of our closest friends are middle eastern and try to teach me. I'm hopeless. They look real good though, however you pronounce them.
  30. Katie @ Blonde Ambition July 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm #
    Yummmm. I associate shawarma with being out late wandering the streets in France after a long night of drinking. Those Middle Eastern shawarma places are pretty much the only thing open past 6pm in Europe!
  31. Julie @ Table for Two July 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm #
    YUM..i love this shawrmaldlalal haha..i probably would've butchered it at the restaurant too
  32. Krissy's Creations July 2, 2012 at 8:15 pm #
    These look incredible! Love that I can make schwarma at home :)
  33. Anonymous July 3, 2012 at 12:15 am #
    Perfect scorching weather for this!
  34. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious July 3, 2012 at 1:17 am #
    What a fun dish! I've never made a homemade version before so this is absolutely perfect!
  35. brandi July 3, 2012 at 8:25 am #
    that pita bread looks PERFECT! there's this fantastic gyro place in town that has the BEST pitas i've ever had.
  36. marla July 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm #
    I'll never be able to say the name of this, but I am loving the Med wraps!
  37. Deborah July 6, 2012 at 9:36 am #
    Can you send some my way? Pretty please??
  38. Terri @ that's some good cookin' July 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm #
    Since the movie, Avengers, came out, I was wondering who would be the first person on Tasty Kitchen to come up with a recipe. So glad it was you! I used to live in Saudi Arabia and LOVE shawarma (not bragging, BUT, I can say the word). I never knew exactly what spices were involved in making them and so have had to wait over 30 years, yes... over 30 years, to finally be able make them at home. There's a happy dance going on in my heart right now.
  39. Miriam July 13, 2012 at 6:15 am #
    lol you crack me up. Here in Malta we just call it 'Turkish' :p and you get either chicken/lamb made in the same way or the same thing in a plate without the pita bread..
  40. Linda August 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm #
    Sorry I'm late to the party. I am a local and would love to know which middle eastern market you found the pita. By the way, I am afraid I will have to eat these alone the first time. I don't want a witness to the carnage.
    • Bev Weidner August 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm #
      Hi, Linda! I got the pita bread at Jerusalem Bakery in Westport, right next to Papa John's. Hope that helps!
  41. Cynthia September 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm #
    Your shawarma looks delicious, but here in Holland we have so much Turkish people we have Döner and shoarma (as we call it) deli's all over the place. Here they slice the buns horizontally and stuff it with lettuce and shoarma with paprika and garlic sauce... And those pita-buns... we can buy them at any store and they are yummy!
    • Bev Weidner September 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm #
      Oh interesting! I need to come over there and try 55 of them. ;)
  42. tracy February 21, 2015 at 8:45 am #
    Excellent recipe!!! I made as is but did not have cardamom. After indoor grilling the chicken, I tried a piece and thought it was not a winner However, once I put together it as a pita with sauce all the flavors came together beautifully! Definitely making again and very soon! Thanks!
  43. sf January 22, 2016 at 7:33 pm #
    What chile do I use? Do I look for certain heat level or flavor?
  44. Nidia1992 May 27, 2017 at 1:25 am #
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  45. FRUSTRATED July 23, 2017 at 7:03 pm #
    Can we just have a normal recipe??? I spent two hours looking for recipes using tahini, and I only want the recipes. It wasn't only your site-- I am still looking, and I probably will be insane before I find what I want!!! I feel like Jack Webb--"Just the facts, mam". YIKES!!!! sorry---your patter was humorous and inspired, but. . . .
  46. RexLex October 6, 2018 at 11:56 pm #
    Your linked reference recipe calls for 1-1/2 C of greek yogurt and yours only 1/2 C. Made your way it is too think. I'm assuming that was a typo. Anyway, a good recipe nonetheless.


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