Juicy chicken shawarma marinated in spiced yogurt then grilled is a delicious dinner served wrapped in easy flatbread with crunchy vegetables.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Shawarma?
- 2 Ingredients Needed
- 3 How to make chicken shawarma
- 4 What to serve with shawarma
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Chicken recipes
- 7 Chicken shawarma with easy flatbread
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is meat (most often beef, lamb or chicken) stacked on a vertical rotisserie/spit and grilled low and slow, often all day long. The meat is carved off the side of the spit and served in pita bread or flatbread with your choice of vegetables, sauces, pickles, etc.
As I didn’t have the option to cook the chicken for long on a vertical spit, I wanted to replicate the juiciness and flavor in a simple way. Something we could all do at home. Marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices tenderizes the meat while also seasoning the chicken from the inside out. I used boneless, skin-on chicken thighs and baked them in a really hot oven with the top grill/broiler on to really caramelize the skin.
The end result was incredibly juicy chicken. We all ate our fair-share before the slices even made it into our shawarmas.
- Chicken thighs. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs because they stay incredibly juicy during cooking. Chicken breasts can be used but the cooking time will need to be adjusted to avoid over-cooking.
- Yogurt. Use a thick, Greek-style yogurt if possible.
- Fresh garlic cloves.
- Extra-virgin olive oil.
- Spices: Paprika, chilli flakes/red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Other seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cardamom and cinnamon can be used. Dried herbs like oregano or thyme will also be delicious.
How to make chicken shawarma
- Marinate the chicken: Place boneless, skin-on chicken thighs in a large bowl. Combine Greek yogurt, spices, garlic, lemon and olive oil and add to the chicken. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes – 1 hour, ideally overnight. Marinating the chicken for up to 24 hours will result in incredibly
- Cook the chicken: Pre-heat your oven to its hottest temperature, turning the top element/grill on if needed. Place the chicken onto a large baking sheet/oven dish. Bake the chicken until the skin is golden and caramelized and the meat is cooked through and tender. Remove from the oven and slice.
- Assemble the shawarma: Serve the charred chicken in flatbread or warmed pita bread. Top with garlic sauce, pickles and fresh vegetables of your choice.
What’s the difference between pita bread and flatbread?
Flatbread is a thin, flat bread (usually unleavened) cooked on a hot cooking surface/pan until charred and blistered. Pita bread is soft, leavened bread that often has a pocket which can be stuffed with grilled meat and vegetables.
What to serve with shawarma
The shawarma chicken and flatbread can be served with a variety of vegetables, sauces and pickles. Hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki and tahini sauce are often used. Vegetables like marinated eggplant, lettuce, chopped tomatoes and red onion add freshness and great texture. The chicken can also be served on rice with your favorite toppings as a gluten-free rice bowl.
Shawarma can be made from breast or thigh meat. I prefer using boneless thighs because the meat is much more succulent but chicken breasts can also be used.
Kebab is often made with ground meat and spices formed around a skewer where as shawarma is meat skewers and roasted or cooked on a vertical spit.
Yes, the marinade contains garlic.
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Chicken shawarma with easy flatbread
For the chicken shawarma
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp chilli/red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 kg boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
For the easy flatbread
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- ½ cup plain/Greek yogurt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾-1 cup milk
For the garlic yogurt sauce
- 1 cup plain/Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pickles of your choice
- fresh vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, cucumber, avocado work well)
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together then pour over the chicken and allow to marinate for 30 mins – 1 hour.
- In the meantime, mix together the dry ingredients for the flatbread then add the yogurt and oil. Add the milk, a little at a time, and mix until a rough dough starts to form. You might not need all the milk. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it just comes together in a smooth ball. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 240ºC/460ºF (or as hot as your oven goes) with the top element/grill to caramelize the skin on the chicken.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish/baking sheet in a single layer then place in the oven. Allow the chicken to bake/grill until fully cooked with the skin crisp and caramelized.
- While the chicken is baking, roll tennis-sized balls of dough out onto a floured surface (to around ½cm thick) and cook in a hot pan until golden and bubbling then flip and cook for another minute or two on the other side. Remove from the pan, brush with melted butter (optional) and keep wrapped in foil.
- Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients and mixing well.
- When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and slice.
- Serve the chicken shawarma in the flatbread with vegetables and pickles of your choice drizzled with the garlic sauce.