Chicken Shawarma recipe. Chicken Shawarma recipe. Israeli Kitchen Slice the shawarma into chunks and place in a pita along with hummus, tomato and whatever else you'd like in there. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Easy chicken shawarma

You can make this delightful street food at home in no time at all.

  • Total time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 2-4
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes

One of the true culinary pleasures of Israel is the shawarma. The chicken, lamb or, increasingly, turkey, is placed on a vertical spit and roasted. It's then carved into little chunks of meat and served alongside an assortment of vegetables, or in a pita or flatbread called a laffa.

Unfortunately when I'm back in the United States, it's hard to come by shawarma of any kind. While falafel has become a popular street food, shawarma has not totally caught on. Thus my craving for the stuff goes unrequited.

And so recently back from Israel and desperate as I was, I decided it was time to create my own shawarma recipe, one whose flavors were culled from my memories – and from a few recipes I've come across.


  • 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 red onion


Mix the spices, olive oil, lemon and garlic together in a bowl and then add the chicken thighs and toss by hand. Let marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Chicken Shawarma recipe.Toss well the spice mixture with the chicken before letting it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Preheat the oven to 425°. Add the red onion (bell peppers also work) to the container of chicken thighs, toss, and then place in a pan. Cook the chicken thighs for 50 minutes.

Chicken Shawarma recipe.Add a red onion (or bell pepper) to the dish before placing it in the oven. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Chicken Shawarma recipe.When done cooking, the chicken should be crisp and brown on the outside. To further crisp it throw it in a pan with some oil. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Remove the chicken thighs from the oven and slice the meat into small chunks. If you want the shawarma a little crispy, like it would be when it comes off the spit, throw it in a pan with a thin layer of oil and cook until it coils.

pieces of chicken and onion with shawarma seasoningThe chicken will be tender and easy to cut (or tear) into chunks. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Serve the shawarma as is or in a pita. You can add hummus, tomato, cucumber – whatever you'd like, really.

A chicken shawarma pita sandwichA chicken shawarma pita sandwich halfway to being filled. (Photo: Zach Pontz)

Related Topics: Mediterranean

Recipes from the Israeli KitchenRecipes from the Israeli Kitchen