Homemade chicken shawarma (also known as chicken donair) with juicy and tender chicken marinated in a handful of simple Middle Eastern spices, is topped with fresh vegetables and garlic yogurt sauce, all wrapped up in pita bread. It's a lot easier than you think to replicate this popular street food at home, with just 15 minutes of prep. Serve this filling hand-held wrap for lunch or for dinner with a Persian Shirazi Salad on the side.
Why You’ll Love Chicken Shawarma
- Quick and easy to make. Depending on where you live, you may be familiar with Middle Eastern restaurants or food trucks that serve chicken shawarma. But you may be surprised that it is actually quite easy to make at home. Although it is typically slow roasted on a vertical rotisserie, we can mimic the authentic flavors at home. Plus, when you prepare the ingredients ahead of time, it's super quick and just so satisfying.
- Marinated chicken is worth the wait. When you make the spice rub for the chicken, you’ll be eager to taste it! It smells as good as it tastes, so be prepared for it to entice you. After an hour, the chicken soaks up all that great Middle Eastern flavor, but if you wait up to overnight, the flavor will get even stronger. This is what makes chicken shawarma shine.
- Everything is better with pita bread. Pita bread is a staple of Mediterranean food, and reasonably so. It's delicious inside and out, has a perfect iconic pocket that you can stuff, or you can simply top the pita bread with filling and fold it over. Whether you are enjoying pita bread plain with dipped in Pesto Hummus or Baba Ganoush Eggplant Dip, or to wrap up Greek Chicken Gyros or Chicken Shawarma, there are so many ways to enjoy it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make this delicious chicken shawarma wrap, you will need the following ingredients:
- chicken - I recommend using thighs because it yields a juicier meat. But chicken breasts can also work.
- olive oil
- seasoning - ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (optional, if you want it spicy), ground coriander, salt, and black pepper.
- pita bread - you can easily pick up a batch of small pita bread from the store, or make your own homemade pita bread. It is a lot easier than you think.
- romaine lettuce - feel free to substitute with any kind of lettuce or salad greens.
- garlic yogurt sauce - use store-bought sauce or make your own with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can also substitute with tzatziki sauce or spread some hummus in the wraps.
How to Make the Best Chicken Shawarma
- Marinate the chicken. In a large ziploc bag, combine chicken strips with 1 tablespoon oil and all seasoning. Press air out of the bag and seal tightly. Press the seasoning around the chicken strips to coat. Let it marinate for 1 hour, up to overnight in the fridge. You can also marinate the chicken in a large mixing bowl and cover.
- Bake the chicken. Add and spread chicken evenly on a large parchment-lined half sheet baking pan in a single layer. Bake in a 400 F preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until fully cooked through and crispy. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Serve. Serve chicken in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and parsley. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the garlic yogurt sauce and stir until smooth. Drizzle on top of the chicken shawarma and serve. You can also add tzatziki sauce instead or a spread of hummus in the wraps.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- How to store: If you have any leftovers from your chicken shawarma dinner (which if you are like us, you likely won't!), store everything separately in the refrigerator in its own airtight container. The chicken, veggies, and garlic yogurt sauce will keep for up to 3-5 days.
- How to freeze: You can prepare the chicken ahead of time and keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to make chicken shawarma wraps. Make the marinade, marinate the chicken in a freezer bag, and let it rest for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, then transfer to the freezer. It will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
More Mediterranean Chicken Recipes
- Greek Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki
- Baked Chicken Breast with Greek Souvlaki Marinade
- Mediterranean Chicken Patties
- Chicken and Couscous with Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Greek Lemon Garlic Whole Roast Chicken
- Creamy White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.