Street-style Chicken Shawarma

Follow my tasty chicken shawarma recipe to make a warm, juicy, creamy, and spicy shawarma wrap at home. As good as street-style shawarma, this has juicy and roasted chicken, a flavorful garlic sauce, and pickled veggies on soft pita bread.

Cover pic of chicken shawarma showing couple of shawarma wrap beside chopped veggies on a black plate and the stuffing looks creamy.

A dish from the Mediterranean that you can find the world over, chicken shawarma has a balance of flavor with roasted chicken and spices, garlic sauce, and pickled veggies. This famous street food can be a healthy snack or a delicious dinner.

Who hasn’t heard of chicken shawarma? You can find it as street food in almost any city the world over, thanks to its ease of preparation, style, and balanced taste profile. This tasty wrap hits the sweet spot between spicy, sour, creamy, and grilled. The experience of the chicken being sliced from the rotisserie is a treat to watch.

Moreover, shawarma has been adapted to each local and regional tastebud, resulting in minor variations that still taste great.

When your kitchen becomes the shawarma stand, you know it’s going to be a good day!

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken shawarma is authentically a Turkish dish and has its name from the Turkish word ‘çevirme,’ meaning rotisserie. It then spread across the Mediterranean and then to the rest of the world.  Another variation, ‘Doner Kebab’, has been adopted so well in Germany that many mistakes it for a traditional German dish.

My tasty variation on the traditional shawarma uses grilled chicken that has been done on the pan. Apart from that, it is made like authentic shawarma.

You will find these shawarma rolls juicy, creamy, and spicy in equal measure. The pan-grilled chicken is juicy and tender, while the garlic sauce is flavorful and spicy, and the creamy hummus satisfies your taste buds. You can play with the spices and make it hot or mild as per your taste preference.

I do not have a rotisserie but would have loved to have it. It indeed would have been a party hit if I could scrape chicken from the sides and make those into shawarma rolls in front of my guests.

This shawarma has a few elements; all of them are homemade, yet my chicken shawarma is as good as any restaurant-style shawarma.

Shows what goes into chicken shawarma - Pita bread, grilled chicken, garlic sauce, pickled carrots and onions, chopped tomatoes and cucumber.

What’s in a chicken shawarma?

Though you will find many ingredients that go into making the whole dish, shawarma is made of the below main components:

  • Pita bread: is a famous flatbread from the Mediterranean that can be made with pockets. Used to wrap the shawarma stuffing.
  • Grilled Chicken: chicken grilled in the rotisserie, pan, oven, or air fryer.
  • Pickled carrots: Vegetables like carrots soaked in a salt bath and pickled in a vinegar brine
  • Pickle Onions: Onions are pickled, similar to carrots.
  • Garlic sauce: is another Middle Eastern dish used as a dip or spread. Garlic sauce has a creamy texture from yogurt and mayo and flavor from chopped garlic.
  • Sliced Cucumber and Tomatoes: Sliced raw vegetables are used in the shawarma roll along with the above stuffing.

Ingredients you need

For grilled chicken

The chicken grilled and stuffed in the shawarma should be juicy and flavorful. I have a twist by combining classic Middle-Eastern spices with pepper and cayenne. These spices would already be in your kitchen or available in nearby stores. I have not gone for other not-easily available herbs like zaatar.

  • Chicken thighs: recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Thighs are excellent for grilling. You can use chicken breasts, but reduce the time to grill them as they cook fast and risk becoming dry and chewy.
  • Minced garlic: adds flavor to the marinated chicken
  • Spices – typical Middle-Eastern spices
    • Coriander powder
    • Ground cumin
    • Cardamom powder
    • Cinnamon powder
    • Turmeric
    • Black pepper powder
    • Smoked paprika: gives a nice color to the grilled chicken pieces.
    • Cayenne: for some spicy heat. Use as per your tolerance.
    • Nutmeg: gives that extra ‘something’ when used on meat.
  • Lime juice: the acidity of lime juice balances the sweetness and creaminess of the sauce and spices.
  • Salt: balances all the rest of the flavors.
Ingredients required to marinated chicken to make grilled chicken for chicken shawarma.

Homemade Garlic Mayo Sauce

Making homemade garlic mayo sauce is very easy, and you can make it instantly using a hand blender or food processor.  It is different from the Levantine dish: Toum has fewer ingredients, uses just olive oil, and does not have yogurt or mayo.

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  • Yoghurt: serves as the base of the garlic sauce
  • Mayo: makes it creamy and rich
  • Lemon Juice: a hint of acidity helps to sharpen the flavors
  • Sugar: is used to balance sourness and salt.
  • Pepper: gives a bit of heat
  • Minced garlic: the hero flavor in the sauce
  • Salt: makes all the flavors pop and balances the taste
Ingredients needed to make garlic mayo sauce. Sauce to used as spread in chicken shawarma roll.


  • Carrots: cut into long, thin pieces and pickled
  • Sliced onions: sliced and pickled
  • Chopped tomato: chopped into thin pieces
  • Cucumber: cut into thin pieces so that can be wrapped along with chicken and pickled veggies.
  • Coriander leaves: chopped and mixed with the stuffing. Lettuce is a good option too.

How to make

As many elements go into shawarma, we will talk about how to prepare and make each aspect ready, and then at the end, I shall tell you how to roll it and make the perfect tasty chicken shawarma roll.

Buy or make pita bread

I had to make pita bread at home, and while preparing shawarma, I made pita the day before. It helps reduce my time as I focus on the rest of the elements. You can also use store-bought pitas, which are good enough.

I will soon share the recipe for making pita bread quickly at home. Making pita at home ensures that you can avoid any preservatives they might use to make it last longer on the shelves.

Prepare grilled chicken

Marinate chicken with all the spices and salt. Nothing fancy here, and the marinade is quite simple. Keep it aside for at least an hour, and the longer, the better. Ideally, 24 hours gives the best results.

Take a pan and heat the oil in it. When you see the oil smoking, add these chickens and stir fry them until they are cooked, and you get those grilled marks on them.

Pickle veggies

Pickling vegetables is easy, and it just needs a little bit of time. You can make it in bulk and store it for a long time. Just take out as much as needed each time, and it is a nice convenience trick. I have used pickled carrots and onions here, and you can pickle them the same way.

  • Make a strong salt-water solution with salt and water. Soak the cut vegetables in them.
  • Make a vinegar brine and put it in pickled jars.
  • Take the salted vegetables from the salt water and put them in the brine in the jars.

Make garlic sauce

Homemade garlic sauce is another element that you can make ahead and use as and when needed. Garlic sauce is full of flavors and takes the wrap to another level.

For a healthier version of shawarma, you can also substitute garlic sauce for hummus. It has the added health benefits of chickpeas, and you can also skip a lot of oil in that. In another post, I have detailed steps for making the best homemade hummus. Another twist on the classic hummus with a hint of sweetness is my Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus.

Chopped veggies

I have used chopped tomatoes and sliced cucumber as vegetable elements in this shawarma. Just chop the tomatoes into small pieces and slice the cucumber. Keep in mind to cut them into small enough sizes, as these need to fit in the wrap.

Roll it

Lay the pita flatbread open on a flat surface. Arrange grilled chicken pieces, pickled carrots, onions, and chopped veggies along the center of the wrap in a straight line. Spoon garlic sauce or hummus generously over the stuffing.

Hold one end of the pita wrap and cover it over the stuffing. Gently but firmly roll the wrap towards the open end. The filling should be adequately covered. When you have moved the wrap fully, close one end of the wrap by folding the bread and closing it.

You may wrap the pita further in thin paper or foil. The stuffing and sauce are now nicely enclosed in the pita wrap.

Chicken thighs grilled with spices and cut into thin pieces to be added as stuffing chicken shawarma.

How long does it take to make shawarma?

Though there are a few elements to making chicken shawarma, you can reduce the time spent making it by getting grilled chicken, pita bread, pickled carrots, onions, or garlic sauce from a nearby store. Or you may make any of these elements ahead, like the pita bread, pickled veggies, and the garlic mayo sauce.

Make them a day or two ahead and use them while making the shawarma. You should marinate the chicken ahead of time (preferably 24 hours). If you reduce the prep time by making these elements ahead, just grilling chicken and rolling up the shawarma is pretty quick in 30 minutes. To reduce the grilling time, use an air fryer.

Serve With

Shawarma contains creamy garlic sauce, chicken, and vegetables. So it is a complete meal by itself; well, it’s that good that it is not enough only if you can force yourself to stop at one. You may serve it with some fresh or roasted broccoli or any other spicy dip.

For a sauce or dip beside it, you can serve it with Tahini sauce (a paste of toasted hulled sesame seeds—the Israeli way) or a yogurt-based sauce like Tzatziki. Garlic yogurt sauce is often served along with this, but we already have lots of garlicky flavor in the shawarma.

A Middle Eastern side perfect to serve is the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, a protein-rich salad with chickpeas and a red wine-based vinaigrette dressing. Other light and refreshing vinaigrette-based dressings that would pair well are Couscous Salad With Orange Vinaigrette or White bean salad with lemon vinaigrette.

For a wholesome meal, you may serve it with a rice-based dish like Rice Pilaf With Dried Fruit and Nuts.


You can store the individual elements of the shawarma, like pickled veggies, garlic sauce, and pita bread, for many days.

Pita bread should be stored outside rather than in the refrigerator and can last up to 5 days.

Pickled veggies can stay outside for a long time in a vinegar solution.

Homemade garlic mayo sauce can also be stored in a container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store-bought ones have a longer shelf life and, once opened, can last safely for a week.

Couple of Chicken Shawarma roll made with juicy grilled chicken, garlic sauce, pickled veggies and served with raw salad on a black plate
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Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Servings 8 pieces


For Marinating Chicken

  • 1 kg Boneless Chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon Minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom powder
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne reduce to 1/2 teaspoon for less spicy
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 tablespoon Olive oil

For Garlic Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt
  • ¼ cup Mayo
  • ½ teapoon Minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • salt to taste

For Making Chicken Shawarma

  • 7-8 pita bread / flatbread
  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • pickled onion, carrrots


To make Chicken

  • Mix all the spices mentioned for marination. Add chicken thighs, mix well and cover. Let it marinate for at least one hour(up to 48 hours).
  • If chicken is refrigerated, take out 30 minutes before cooking it.
  • Heat a cast-iron or heavy bottom skillet. Put 3-4 marinated chicken skin side down. Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Cook chicken in batches. If the skillet is crowded, the chicken will get steamed instead of roast.
  • Slice chicken

Garlic Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients well. (note: if the yoghurt is sour, skip lemon juice)

Making Chicken Shawarma

  • Take pita bread, spread 2 tablespoons of garlic sauce.
  • Top it with sliced chicken, pickles, sliced cucumber, tomatoes.
  • Roll and serve.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 855mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 588IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 3mg
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