We absolutely adore chicken shawarma in our household. Being married to a Middle Eastern man, having a delicious and simple homemade chicken shawarma wrap recipe is essential for us. While chicken shawarma is traditionally prepared on a vertical rotisserie, you can still achieve fantastic results with this oven-roasted chicken shawarma recipe, even without one.
If you've never tasted chicken shawarma before, it's a popular Middle Eastern street food known for its bold and vibrant flavors. Traditionally, it undergoes slow roasting for up to a day. But fear not, my recipe is both delicious and easy to make, without requiring an entire day to prepare.
The key to a fantastic chicken shawarma wrap lies in the moist and juicy chicken, the right blend of spices, a creamy sauce, and balanced acidity. You can either create your own spice blend, which is quite simple or purchase a ready-made one. When roasting the chicken breast in the oven, keeping a close eye on it is crucial. We want to avoid overcooking the chicken and having a dry taste. Instead, we aim for tender and succulent chicken to fill our wraps.
Every time I prepare this chicken shawarma recipe, it transports me back to the memory lanes of our visits to the Middle East, where we would indulge in countless late-night shawarmas from local shops. Our favorite chicken shawarma wrap involves stuffing it inside pita bread alongside toum (garlic sauce) and pickles (pickled turnips, peppers, and onions). However, the possibilities for customizing your chicken shawarma wrap are endless, allowing you to unleash your creativity. Some people like to add french fries, cheese, or even jalapenos. The choice is yours!
Here are step-by-step guidelines for how to make chicken shawarma without the need for specialized tools. This straightforward recipe for oven-roasted chicken shawarma requires just a few basic ingredients. Once you experience its flavors, you'll be inclined to prepare this delicious chicken shawarma on repeat.
Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma Recipe
1 hour and 50 minutes
1. Set your oven temperature to 425°F (220°C) to preheat.
2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, pepper, pomegranate molasses, and fresh lemon juice. Ensure thorough mixing until all the ingredients are fully blended together.
3. Place the chicken in a large bowl and pour the marinade over it. Toss well to coat the chicken evenly. Allow it to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or refrigerate for a maximum of 24 hours to enhance the flavors.
4. Utilize either a loaf pan or a deep baking pan, and coat the pan with cooking oil to prevent sticking. Stack the marinated chicken in layers and fill up the baking pan. Later when you cut into the chicken, it makes you feel like you are shaving off the rotisserie.
5. Position the pan in the preheated oven and roast for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and exhibits a slight browning.
6. While the chicken is roasting, prepare your desired toppings, such as chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, fresh parsley or cilantro, and any other veggies you prefer.
7. After the chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes. This will enable the chicken to absorb the flavorful juices. Then, use a knife and cut the chicken from one end to another and into bite-size pieces. When you cut the chicken, it will feel like you are shaving off the rotisserie.
8. Assemble your chicken shawarma wraps by placing the roasted chicken and desired toppings onto whole wheat pita bread or lettuce leaves.
Tips & Notes
Marinate the chicken: Give the chicken ample time to marinate, ideally for a minimum of 30 minutes, but for an even better result, marinate it overnight in the refrigerator. This extended marinating period will enhance the flavors, tenderize the meat, and ensure a more flavorful outcome.
Stacking: For a desirable rotisserie effect, ensure that the chicken breasts are stacked on top of one another.
Don't forget the acid: Add a splash of acidity to the marinade for an extra depth of flavor. You can use either lemon juice or vinegar. The acid helps to tenderize the meat and adds a tangy note.
Let it rest: After the chicken is cooked, allow it to rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This resting period helps retain the juices, resulting in a moist and flavorful chicken.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11.8g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Total Carbohydrate 13.2g
Dietary Fiber 0.7g
Total Sugars 8.6g
Vitamin D 0mcg
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
What Is Chicken Shawarma?
Chicken shawarma, a well-known Middle Eastern dish, consists of boneless, skinless chicken thighs marinated and seasoned with spices. Traditionally, it is prepared by cooking the chicken on a vertical rotisserie. The chicken is slowly roasted, allowing the spices and marinade to infuse and create flavorful and juicy meat.
Traditionally, the marinated chicken is stacked on a vertical rotisserie, which rotates slowly and cooks the meat evenly. The outer layers get crispy and caramelized as the chicken rotates, while the inner layers remain moist and tender. The process results in succulent, flavorful chicken with a slightly charred exterior.
The marinade for chicken shawarma typically includes a combination of spices such as cumin, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic, along with lemon juice, vinegar, or yogurt to add tanginess and tenderize the meat.
Once cooked, the chicken is typically sliced or shredded and served in various ways. The thin slices of meat can be savored as a delectable filling inside pita bread or flatbread, complemented by an array of toppings and sauces like tahini, garlic sauce (toum), pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Combining tender, flavorful chicken with condiments and bread creates a satisfying and delicious meal.
What Ingredients You Need To Make This Chicken Shawarma Recipe
Chicken is the main protein in the dish. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are commonly used to make chicken shawarma recipes. Chicken breast is leaner, while thighs have slightly more fat, which adds flavor and tenderness to the meat.
Olive oil is a key ingredient that coats the chicken, preventing it from drying out during cooking. It also adds richness and a smooth mouthfeel to the dish. Extra virgin olive oil is often preferred for its distinct flavor.
Ground garlic is known for its strong and distinct flavor. With its pungent, mildly spicy, and savory flavor, it imparts a delightful depth to various dishes. It contributes a classic garlic flavor to your chicken shawarma marinade.
Ground cumin is a prominent staple spice in Middle Eastern cuisine. It has a warm, earthy, and slightly nutty flavor that contributes to the distinct taste of chicken shawarma.
Paprika is derived from dried and ground red bell peppers, infusing the marinade with a gentle, sweet, and subtly smoky flavor. This addition enhances the overall taste of the chicken, elevating its deliciousness.
Ground coriander is derived from the seeds of the cilantro plant. It adds a citrusy, slightly floral, and earthy flavor to the chicken shawarma. Coriander is frequently employed in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
Turmeric is a vibrant yellow spice that adds color to the dish. With a subtle bitterness and warm undertones accompanied by a hint of earthiness, turmeric possesses a distinct flavor. Notably renowned for its health benefits, turmeric finds common usage in diverse culinary traditions.
Ground cinnamon provides a sweet, warm, and slightly spicy flavor to the marinade. By incorporating it, chicken shawarma's overall taste profile gains depth and complexity.
Ground ginger has a warm, pungent, and slightly sweet flavor. Its inclusion brings forth a gentle spiciness and aromatic essence, heightening the overall flavor profile of dishes. It also works well with the other spices commonly used in chicken shawarma, such as cumin, coriander, paprika, and cinnamon. Incorporating it contributes complexity and depth to the overall flavor of the marinade.
Salt and Pepper
Salt brings out the natural flavors of the other ingredients, while pepper adds a subtle hint of spiciness.
Pomegranate molasses is a dense syrup crafted by simmering and reducing pomegranate juice. It contributes a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the marinade, offering a unique and distinctive taste to chicken shawarma.
The addition of freshly squeezed lemon juice imparts a vibrant and revitalizing citrus taste to the marinade. It adds acidity, which helps to tenderize the chicken and balance the richness of the other ingredients.
How To Store And Reheat Leftovers
Place the leftover cooked chicken shawarma in airtight containers or sealable plastic bags. This helps prevent air exposure and keeps the chicken from drying out. Ensure that the containers are placed in the refrigerator within a maximum of two hours after cooking. The chicken should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge, typically the lower shelves or the meat drawer. Chicken shawarma is best consumed within 3-4 days when properly stored.
When you're ready to enjoy the leftovers, you can reheat the chicken shawarma to ensure it's warm and safe to eat. To reheat the dish, you have the option of using either the microwave or the oven. When using the microwave, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or wrap, and heat it in brief intervals, stirring occasionally, until it is warmed through. Take care not to overcook, as this can result in dry chicken.
How To Serve Chicken Shawarma
Wrapping chicken shawarma in flatbread or pita bread is the most prevalent method of serving it. Warm the bread slightly to make it more pliable. Spread a layer of your favorite sauce or condiment on the bread, such as tahini, garlic sauce (toum), or yogurt sauce. Add the chicken shawarma slices and any desired toppings like chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley, or pickles. Roll up the wrap tightly and enjoy!
Another option is to serve chicken shawarma on a platter. Arrange the sliced or shredded chicken on a large serving dish. Surround it with an assortment of toppings and condiments, such as hummus, tabbouleh, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese, and pita bread on the side. This allows people to create their own combination of flavors and assemble their own wraps or bites.
For a lighter option, you can create a chicken shawarma salad. Begin by creating a base layer of crisp, fresh greens like lettuce, spinach, or a combination of mixed greens. Top it with sliced or shredded chicken shawarma. Add a variety of colorful vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and bell peppers. Drizzle with your favorite dressing, such as a lemon-tahini dressing or a yogurt-based dressing. Optional additions can include crumbled feta cheese, toasted nuts or seeds, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Create a flavorful chicken shawarma rice bowl by serving the chicken over a bed of cooked rice, such as basmati or brown rice. Add a variety of toppings like roasted vegetables, pickled onions, sliced avocado, and a drizzle of sauce or dressing. This option is customizable and allows you to mix and match different ingredients according to your preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for oven-roasted shawarma?
Certainly, boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be used as a substitute for chicken breasts. Many individuals favor thighs due to their enhanced flavor and moistness. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure they are thoroughly cooked. Depending on the size and thickness of your chicken thighs, you will need to cook chicken thighs for about 35-40 minutes.
Can I use pre-made shawarma spice mix instead of making my own?
Absolutely! Using pre-made shawarma spice mix is a convenient option and can still result in delicious chicken shawarma. You will need to use about 1-2 tablespoons of shawarma spice mix for about 1.5 pounds (680 grams) of chicken. Customize the quantity according to your preferred spiciness level and the flavor intensity you desire. It's always a good idea to start with a smaller amount and gradually add more, if needed, tasting as you go until you achieve the desired flavor profile. Remember, spice blends can vary in potency, so it's best to adjust according to your personal preference.
What are some common toppings and sauces to serve with oven-roasted chicken shawarma?
Common toppings and sauces for chicken shawarma include tahini sauce, Tzatziki sauce, garlic sauce (toum), pickles (such as pickled turnips, peppers, or onions), chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro. Don't hesitate to personalize your toppings according to your own preferences.