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Chicken Shawarma in the Oven

January 12, 2013

Chicken Shawarma

One of the best things about cooking and trying new recipes at home is the opportunity to recreate restaurant food (or food that has a special memory) at home. Chicken shawarma is a dish that holds a lot of memories for my husband and I. When we lived outside of Detroit, there was a mediterranean grill within walking distance, and he ordered shawarma a lot. The restaurant served it with a healthy portion of rice, soup, and an insanely garlicy garlic sauce. I wanted to find a recipe that worked in the oven and tasted like what we were used to. The technique and recipe we found on The Shiksa in the Kitchen turned out to be fantastic. The technique requires roasting the chicken first, then cutting it, and sautéing it for a few minutes. This crisps up some of the edges and gives it its characteristic flavor and texture.

Shawarma spice is a blend, just like Garam Masala or Curry spices. Because of this, the shawarma takes on a slightly different taste from place to place. I am interested in trying different shawarma blends to find the one I like best. The one in this recipe is only slightly adapted from the Shiksa, in that I added a lot of black pepper.

Chicken Shawarma deserves to be served with a sauce. It is usually served with a tahini sauce or garlic sauce. I made a version of this garlic sauce. It tastes like raw garlic and it’s very, very strong. If I were serving it for company, I would make this tahini sauce. Either way, if you are going to the trouble of making shawarma, make a sauce!

Chicken shawarma is a great dish to eat with crushed lentil soup.  Enjoy!

Chicken Shawarma in the Oven 


  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (mixture of white and dark meat)
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 1 t.  allspice
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4  t. freshly ground black pepper
  • Alternative: swap out all the above spices for 2 1/2 T of shawarma spice
  • 1 t. salt
  • Olive oil
  • vegetable oil (or nonstick cooking spray)
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish


1. Slice meat into smaller pieces (cut each breast into thirds and each thigh in half). Place in ziplock or large bowl

2. Prepare marinade by mixing 1/4 cup olive oil and the spices. Mix well.

3. Coat the chicken with the marinade and mix together. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5. Cover baking sheet with foil and brush with vegetable oil (or spray with spray… I used the vegetable oil, because we don’t keep the spray around)

6. Place chicken pieces on the tray, leaving space between them and roast for 15 minutes in the oven, turning once after 7 minutes.

7. After letting the chicken cool slightly, cut in to small shawarma like strips. (See photo)

8. Heat 1 T of olive oil over medium heat and saute chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes each batch, until chicken crisps up on the edges.

9. Garnish with chopped parsley (optional)

10. Serve warm with rice, vegetables and sauce, or as a sandwich with pita bread.

Chicken Shawarma

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