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This homemade Chicken Shawarma is made in the oven and is so wonderfully flavorful! The marinaded chicken is one that I’ve perfected over the years of making this recipe for my family and trying to replicate the flavor from my favorite Lebanese restaurants. It’s full of flavor, juicy and easy to make!
What is shawarma?
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that consists of thin slices of meat that are then stacked together on a spit and then roasted on a vertical spit. Thin slices of the meat are then shaved off to serve as it roasts. One of the world’s most popular street foods, it was originally made with lamb, but is also made with chicken, turkey or beef.
If you like this recipe, be sure to try my Beef Shawarma recipe too!
- Chicken: We use both chicken thighs and chicken breasts in this recipe for the best flavor and texture.
- Oil: For marinating. I prefer to use olive oil, but a neutral oil like avocado or canola will work too.
- Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled for the best flavor.
- Seasonings: Garlic, salt, cardamom, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, cinnamon.
How do you make chicken shawarma
The homemade version is different than the restaurant version which is roasted on a spit. But this is the closest you can get to that version at home. This shawarma is roasted in the oven for ease and convenience, and it comes out tasting great!
Because it’s made by alternating strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat on a vertical spit, we try to emulate that at home by using two types of chicken types for best results: chicken breast and chicken thighs.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken and coat it. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate.
When ready to cook, place the chicken pieces on a lined baking sheet and roast in a pre heated oven, turning halfway through cooking.
Let the chicken rest before slicing. This helps to make them extra juicy.
You can then transfer the slices to a skillet, with its juices to brown the chicken and give it extra flavor. This is an optional step, but I highly recommend it if you have the time.
What do you eat with it?
I like to serve the oven roasted chicken shawarma street style, in pita with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and garlic sauce or tahini sauce. It’s also great by itself served with a rice dish like Lebanese Rice, or try Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice for a low carb meal. And you can even just serve it as a Chicken Shawarma Salad.
Tips for making this recipe
- Marinate the chicken for at least one hour before cooking it. This not only helps to add flavor, but it also helps to breakdown the fibers so you have the most tender meat.
- Let the chicken breasts come to room temperature before putting them in the oven. Cold chicken breasts take longer to cook and you can risk them becoming too dry that way.
- Don’t overcook the chicken. If it overcooks it will dry out. If you have an instant read thermometer, the chicken should register at 160F. Alternatively, if you pierce the breast with a fork, the juices should run clear.
- Cut the chicken against the grain when you slice it. This way, you cut through the fibers so the chicken is tender. Be sure to let it rest before slicing it too so that they juices redistribute and the chicken is wonderfully juicy.
Frequently asked questions
This homemade version of one of my favorite street foods is marinated in spices, but it’s not overpowering. Because it is made from leaner chicken breast and fattier thighs, it’s so much more flavorful than if you just made it with chicken breast. Pairing it with tomatoes, pickles and other fresh veggies really helps to bring out all of the flavors.
The shawarma is best served straight away, when the chicken is at its juiciest. If you have leftovers they can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat the chicken in a skillet or in the oven or serve it cold on top of salads.
Yes, you can use either fresh or frozen chicken in this recipe. If you use frozen, ensure that it is fully defrosted before marinading it.
I am totally in love with this homemade version of one of my favorite Middle Eastern street foods! It’s so easy to make in the oven and comes together so quickly! I can’t wait to hear what you all think of this!
More chicken recipes
- Greek Chicken Gyros
- Lebanese Freekeh with Chicken
- Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup
- Lemon Chicken Piccata
- One Pot Chicken and Rice
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Chicken Meatballs with Marinara
- Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken
If you try this healthy-ish feel good Chicken Shawarma recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then please come back to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
- Place the marinade ingredients in a large bowl: ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cardamom, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper and cinnamon; 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Roast the chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning halfway through.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and use a sharp knife to thinly slice the chicken into thinly sliced pieces. If you’d like to give the chicken shawarma seared edges, you can transfer it to a skillet with its juice and saute until they start to brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet though.
- Serve with rice or in a pita with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and garlic sauce or tahini sauce.