Chicken shawarma is easy and delicious—even if you don't have the traditional rotisserie to make it!
You may know shawarma as the very delicious, well-seasoned chicken that cooks on a vertical rotisserie; it's a popular Middle Eastern street food. I happen to live close to a Lebanese deli and they make it on the regular, and serve it with an incredibly garlicky sauce. Traditionally, it's made with lamb, but chicken and beef are popular, too. And, given the unceasing popularity of chicken, that's what we're using here.
But you can cheat both geography and cooking equipment by mimicking the flavors at home and serving it all up in bowl form, which is always a winner. The recipe makes a lot, but you'll be so glad you did. (Freeze some of that chicken.) Best of all? This is a totally healthy meal prep; after all, the Mediterranean diet is well known for its use of fresh, whole ingredients, and this recipe has that in spades.
Chicken Shawarma Ingredients
For the chicken:
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp red pepper
For the tzatziki:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp dried dill weed
- 3 tsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Those are all the necessary ingredients. How you fill the bowl is up to you! More on that in a minute.
How to Make Chicken Shawarma
First, you need to marinate the chicken in all those spices and seasonings. And don't be skimpy with the lemon juice or garlic; those are key ingredients. Then, you can either cook the chicken breasts right in a pan or grill them (even better, but not always possible). While the chicken is cooking, combine the Greek yogurt with garlic, dill, lemon juice (yes, more!), and salt and pepper, to taste. That's your basic tzatziki; if you want to add grated cucumber, go for it, as that's a traditional ingredient in tzatziki and offers a nice cooling balance.
Finally, once the two main components are made, it's time to assemble everything in a bowl with rice, feta, red pepper, fresh parsley, hummus, and so on and so forth. It's your call.
How to Store and Serve Chicken Shawarma
You can make all of this beforehand if you want to prep it. We recommend storing the tzatziki in the fridge, in a separate container with a lid, or in a prep container with compartments. The bowl can include any of the ingredients listed below; we also like this over baby spinach, too. It becomes like a salad-bowl hybrid if you make it that way. Keep everything in the fridge for about 4 days or so.
You can also freeze some of the chicken if you like, but we wouldn't recommend freezing the tzatziki. It's quick enough to make, though.
Substitutions and Alterations
As mentioned before, shredded cucumber is a traditional ingredient in tzatziki, so if you want to serve that with this chicken shawarma, go for it.
- Up the garlic, if desired.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.
- Use any kind of rice (we like the Minute rice cause it's a meal prep time saver), or cauliflower rice.
- Serve over baby kale or baby spinach, or even arugula if you want a green with a little more assertive taste.