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This Chicken Shawarma Salad is made with an authentic Lebanese style marinade that’s easy to make with simple spices and comes out so moist and juicy. To make this chicken shawarma into a salad bowl, I just add lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sliced banana peppers, and drizzle with my easy tahini sauce. It’s a flavor-packed Middle Eastern salad recipe that you’ll want to have on repeat!
Salad bowls are all the rage right now, and for a good reason! They are healthy, delicious, and can be customized to fit any dietary need or preference. In this recipe, I will show you how to make a chicken shawarma salad with tahini dressing that will knock your socks off!
The chicken thighs marinated in authentic Middle Eastern spices add a richness and depth of flavor that takes this dish to the next level. Top it off with some crunchy veggies and a drizzle of tahini dressing, and you have yourself a meal that is sure to please!
What is chicken shawarma?
Authentic chicken shawarma is layers of well-marinated chicken (or beef or lamb) that is stacked on a vertical spit. Then the shawarma is shredded and wrapped up in a warm pita with all the toppings. It’s juicy, tender, and smothered in the shawarma spice marinade. My version has the essence of that chicken shawarma in the quick, simplified homemade version.
The chicken shawarma gets perfectly charred on the grill pan, similar to the effects of shawarma on a vertical spit. And the salad ingredients are simply there for inspiration because you could really eat this shawarma salad with any veggies you’d like.
why you’ll love this chicken shawarma salad recipe
- Traditional shawarma marinade. This recipe uses an authentic spice mix that I learned to make from my parents and from all the chicken shawarma recipes I grew up eating!
- Healthy and delicious. This chicken shawarma salad is healthy, nutritious, and downright delicious! Plus, it’s low-carb, so perfect for when you’re craving a gyro but prefer to skip the pita. It’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
- Customizable. You can customize this recipe to fit your dietary needs and preferences. Just leave out the optional ingredients that you don’t like or need.
- Meal prep-friendly. This chicken shawarma salad is perfect for meal prep! Just pack the ingredients separately and assemble them when you’re ready to eat.
Ingredients For Your chicken shawarma salad Bowl
- Chicken thighs: Slice them thinly so that they absorb the marinade really well.
- Shawarma seasoning: You can get many different shawarma blends. I make my own using salt, paprika, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper. Find the exact measurements below in the recipe card.
- Olive oil: Used to marinate the chicken and add flavor and fat to the mixture.
- Lemon juice: The acidity in lemon juice helps to balance out the strong flavor of chicken thighs and adds so much freshness and zing to the shawarma. It’s a key ingredient not to leave out.
- Garlic: It’s not shawarma without garlic so go for at least 4 cloves per pound of chicken. Make sure it’s fresh and mince it or press it with a garlic press for best flavor distribution.
- Vegetables: For the salad itself, use romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and sliced pickled banana peppers (or pickles). Feel free to switch out the vegetables and adjust quantities based on your preference.
- Tahini Sauce: Tahini complements chicken shawarma so well. Try my authentic tahini sauce recipe and drizzle it on top of the pita pizzas right before serving. You can also make this with Lebanese garlic sauce.
How to make The chicken shawarma For Your Salad
- Marinade the chicken with the oil, garlic, lemon juice, and seasoning.
- Transfer the marinated chicken to a heated cast iron skillet.
- You’ll know it’s done cooking when it’s charred, fragrant the juices run clear. You can let the chicken shawarma rest in the cast iron skillet while assembling your salad next.
Tips for making chicken shawarma With Tahini Dressing
- Use chicken thighs. Chicken thighs will most closely resemble the type of chicken that is authentically used on a vertical spit in traditional shawarma recipes. It has more fat, which lends excellent flavor to the chicken while keeping it extra juicy.
- Don’t skip the marinade. This is what makes the chicken shawarma so flavorful and tender. I recommend at least one hour, but you can marinade for up to 24 hours.
- Don’t overcook the chicken. The goal is to cook the chicken until it is just cooked through so it remains juicy. It can be tempting to cook it for just a few extra minutes, but resist the urge!
- Cut your salad pieces on the smaller side. This will help them to be more manageable when eating and also allow for more flavor in each bite.
popular substitutions & additions
- Use chicken breast or a mix. If you prefer to use chicken breast, that works as well, but my recommendation would be to at least try a mix of chicken breast and chicken thighs since the latter makes it more flavorful and moist.
- Serve the chicken shawarma on top of a Lebanese fattoush salad. You can skip the fattoush dressing or swap it for the tahini dressing.
- Use pre-made shawarma seasoning. If you can find some authentic shawarma seasoning, use that instead.
- Serve with homemade flatbread or pita bread. This salad bowl goes great with a homemade slice of homemade pita or flatbread!
how to store chicken shawarma salad
If you plan to make this salad bowl for meal prep, I recommend storing the chicken, tahini dressing, and veggies separately. This will help to prevent the salad from becoming soggy. Use an airtight container or bag for the chicken and dressing, and store the veggies in a separate container or bag.
How long will Chicken Shawarma last in the fridge?
The chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. The tahini dressing will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. And the veggies can be stored in a sealed bag in the fridge for up to four days.
Frequently asked questions
If you can give your chicken a full 24 hours in the marinade, that is ideal. However, if you are short on time, even just an hour will do the trick.
Yes! You can use lamb or beef in place of the chicken thighs. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
If you don’t have tahini, you can use any other type of nut or seed butter. Just make sure it is smooth and has a consistency that will work well in a salad dressing. You can also make a yogurt dressing or a simple vinegarette if you prefer.
This chicken shawarma salad is a healthy, delicious, and easy way to enjoy your favorite Middle Eastern dish. If you’ve never had chicken shawarma before, this is a great recipe to start with! It’s perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
More Lebanese recipes:
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This Chicken Shawarma Salad recipe was originally published on March 13, 2018. The recipe has been slightly modified to simplify the salad part, and the post now includes new step-by-step photos for how to make the shawarma recipe.
Chicken Shawarma Salad
For the chicken shawarma
For the salad bowl
- 1 head romaine lettuce chopped
- 3 roma tomatoes chopped
- 2 Persian cucumbers chopped
- ½ red onion sliced
- 2 ounces pickled sliced banana peppers
- ½ cup tahini sauce
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Place the marinade ingredients in a large bowl: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, paprika, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon and crushed red pepper; and whisk to blend.
- Add the chicken into the large bowl with the marinade and stir with a spoon to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
- Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add the marinated chicken to it. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- Divide the salad ingredients into four bowls. Add the cooked chicken shawarma on top and drizzle with the tahini sauce and serve with fresh parsley.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.