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Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Make this traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at home with an oven-roasted marinated chicken, chopped veggies and garlicky shawarma sauce wrapped in a fresh, hot tortilla.  Chicken Shawarma, a Lebanese classic street food.

A chicken shawarma wrap.



“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Bonding over a shared feast, a beautiful concept.

Today we are bonding over a shared recipe.  Shawarma has travelled from the Levantine region in the eastern Mediterranean to central Mexico by immigrants.  It also spread to all regions of the Ottoman empire which includes Greece, the Crimean peninsula, North African coastline from Egypt to Morocco and parts of the Arabian Peninsula.  

Shawarma is marinated meat BBQ’d on a large vertical rotisserie skewer where the cooked edges are shaved off, served with vegetables and sauce on a flatbread.  There are both familial and regional variations and each geographical area has a new name for it.  Hopefully this will answer the questions between the differences of gyros vs. shawarma vs. tacos al pastor.  To clear things up further, I have listed the variations by regions below.

Shawarma variations by region.

  • Ottoman Turkey <Doner Kebap> –  Doner Kebap is a Turkish phrase that means ‘rotating roast’.  Doner Kebap or Kebab is the original BBQ meat wrapped in flatbread with vegetables.  All other variations came from this.  This style of cooking meat is relatively new.  It was invented by the Ottoman Turks in the 19th century.  Doner Kebap is made of any meat except pork; served on a plate, stuffed in a pita or thin wrap similar to a large tortilla, or on bread to make a sandwich.  The vegetables served with it may include tomato, cucumber, cabbage, onion, chilies or pickles and sprinkled with sumac.  Collectively, these variations are called simply ‘kebab’.
  • Lebanon <Shawarma>  –  Shawarma is an Arabic word derived from a Turkish word that means ‘turning’.  Usually made with chicken, sometimes with lamb or beef.  The vegetables are the same as for the Doner Kebap.  The sauce varies depending on preference.  A garlicky Toum sauce is a favorite as well as a vinegary Amba sauce or a tahini sauce with garlic.
  • Greece <Gyro>Gyro means ‘turn’ in Greek.  This is usually made with lamb but chicken and pork are increasingly becoming popular.  In the U.S., a lamb/beef combo is served.  The fillings include tomato, cucumber, onion and Tzatziki sauce, all wrapped in a pita or pita-like flatbread.  After WWII, Doner Kebap was introduced in Athens by immigrants from Turkey and the Middle East.  A lamb version with Tzatziki sauce developed soon after.  In the 1970’s, the gyro made its way to New York City and Chicago.  Soon, an enterprising woman by the name of Margaret Garlic came up with the idea of mass-produced meat cones for the gyro rotisseries made of lamb and beef.
  • Mexico <Tacos al pastor> – Al pastor means ‘shepherd style’ in Spanish.  This cuisine was brought to central Mexico by Christian Lebanese immigrants in the late 19th century.  Locals adopted this style of BBQ but used pork instead.  Shawarma and Doner Kebab uses anything but pork as pork is forbidden by the Quran.  This Mexican version of the Doner Kebab is pork marinated in dried chillies, spices and pineapple.  It is served on corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, salsa and sometimes pineapple, then topped with fresh lime juice.  Tacos Arabes is the version from Puebla, Mexico and is wrapped in a pita-style flatbread called arabes.  An interesting full circle happened when  a chicken version of the Tacos al pastor style made it’s way back to the Middle East where it is known as Shawarma Mexici, a flatbread filled with chicken, garlicky mayo, dill pickle and french fries!  I had to use an exclamation point, this is too funny.

I came up with this version of Shawarma in my oven so that I may enjoy this robust wrap at home.  I have an electric oven so I placed the marinated meat just a few inches from the heating element where it cooked relatively quickly and developed some tasty charring.  After chopping the meat and making the vegetable relish and sauce, I simply assembled and indulged.  This was a dish both David and I really enjoyed.  Being empty nesters we had lots of leftovers and we ate this at least four days in a row and didn’t get tired of it.  That is a winner for dinner in my book.

If you make this, let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below.  If you are entertaining, make all of the ingredients ahead of time and simply heat up the tortillas and meat in the microwave.  A shawarma bar, that could be a thing.

More Middle Eastern Recipes:

 شهية جيدة  – Buen Provecho – καλή όρεξη

Cherry tomatoes on a cutting board.
Chopped tomatoes in a sieve.
English cucumbers seeded.
Chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions in a sieve.
Raw chicken in a bowl covered in yogurt and spices.
Chicken and marinade mixed in a bowl.
Chicken on a roasting pan under a broiler.
Roasted and charred chicken on a rack.
Chopped chicken on a cutting board.
A tortilla cooking in a cast iron skillet.
The shawarma fillings on a tortilla.
A shawarma wrap on a cutting board.

This article was made possible by my favorite resources, Wikipedia and Google translate.  


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A chicken shawarma wrap.

Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Yield: 10 wraps
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Make this traditional Middle Eastern cuisine at home with an oven-roasted marinated chicken, chopped veggies and garlicky shawarma sauce wrapped in a fresh, hot tortilla.  Chicken Shawarma, a Lebanese classic street food.

Ingredients

Marinade and Chicken

  • 1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbs onion powder

Vegetable Filling

  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes or 3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all marinade and chicken ingredients in a large bowl, cover, refrigerate two hours or overnight.
  2. Mix vegetable filling and place in a colander over a bowl.  The salt will draw out the excess moisture.  Let process for thirty minutes, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place marinated meat on a roasting pan with a rack and broil 2-4 inches below the heating element for approximately 10 minutes.  Turn meat and broil 6-10 minutes longer or until the meat is cooked through but not overcooked and dried out.  When the meat is done, the juices will run clear and not pink when poked with a sharp knife or cut the thickest piece of meat to see if it is cooked through.  It is important to determine by observation rather than relying on time since each oven and chicken piece is different.  Let chicken rest 10 minutes then chop.  
  4. If using fresh tortillas from the refrigerated section of the supermarket, cook according to package directions.  If using pre-made shelf stable tortillas, heat in a dry skillet on the stove top until, hot, steamy and a little puffy.  Set aside on a plate under a kitchen towel until ready to assemble.
  5. Assemble wraps with 2-4 Tbs vegetable filling, 1 cup of chicken, 3 Tbs Toum Sauce in a tortilla.  

Notes

  • A quickie short-cut substitute to Toum Sauce is ranch dressing with some additional garlic powder, mixed and set aside so the garlic flavors meld with the dressing.
  • This shawarma can also be made quesadilla style with cheese.
  • Serve on a pita or on bread as a sandwich.
  • Serve filling on a bed of rice, quinoa, couscous or buckwheat for variety.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 Wrap
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 168mgSodium: 723mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 37g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Daniela

Sunday 10th of March 2019

Yum! Always appreciate and easy and delicious chicken recipe. And your in process shots are so useful! Thanks so much for sharing :).

Leslie Kiszka

Sunday 10th of March 2019

I used to get shawarma from this little hole in the wall place outside of Boston when I worked in the city, and I miss it so much. Now that I have your recipe, I can make it at home - yay!

Kathryn

Sunday 10th of March 2019

This would be wonderful for lunch or a quick weeknight dinner and I love that it's made in the oven too! Pinning for later!!

Veronika's Kitchen

Saturday 9th of March 2019

I love marinate my chicken before cooking it! It always makes such a big difference it texture and the flavor! Love your recipe, I think I should try to make it next week!

Analida Braeger

Saturday 9th of March 2019

This was more than a great recipe it was a food history lesson too! I love shawarma of all kinds, and this oven recipe makes it all easier!

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