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Chicken Shawarma {Grilled or Roasted}

A family favorite! Roast or grill this easy chicken shawarma recipe, a popular Middle Eastern street food with a flavorful, garlicky marinade, soft pita bread, and a cool and creamy yogurt sauce.
Course Dinner
Cuisine International, Middle Eastern
Keyword chicken shawarma, grilled chicken thighs, shawarma chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 33 minutes
Marinating Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 48 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 353kcal
Author Blair Lonergan



  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon allspice


  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or sub with chicken breast)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE (Optional, or purchase store-bought tzatziki sauce for serving):

  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • ½ of an English seedless cucumber, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • Dash of pepper
  • Optional, for serving: cooked rice, pita bread, chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, sliced olives, feta cheese, or pickled red onion, hummus



  • In a large bowl or large Ziploc bag, combine all of the marinade ingredients.
  • Season the chicken liberally on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to make sure that all of the meat is well coated. Cover the bowl or seal the bag. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours.


  • While the chicken marinates, prepare the tzatziki sauce. In a bowl, stir together the tzatziki ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500°F).
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade. Grill the chicken over indirect heat (with the lid closed) for 30 minutes. Move the chicken directly over the flame and continue grilling for 1 ½ minutes per side (3 more minutes total) to give the meat a nice char. Tip: Keith says to keep the thighs folded up while cooking (rather than flat) so that they cook evenly. The meat is done when the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F.


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Discard the marinade.
  • Roast the chicken for 10-13 minutes, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. For a crispier, charred exterior, transfer the baking sheet to the broiler for another 1-2 minutes. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes on a cutting board, and then slice into strips and serve with tzatziki sauce and pita bread, rice, and other optional toppings of choice.


  • Use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. We find that the dark meat thighs stay juicier and have more flavor, but the white meat is also fine.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours (or up to 24 hours) so that the spices have plenty of time to penetrate the meat.
  • Be careful not to overcook your chicken. Since the total cooking time will vary depending on a number of different factors (the size and thickness of your meat, the temperature of your oven or grill, and the temperature of the meat when you start cooking it), a thermometer is always the best way to know when your chicken is done. The meat is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Serving a larger group? Double all of the ingredients.
  • Instead of the fresh lemon juice, substitute with red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice in the marinade.
  • Season the finished chicken with additional salt and pepper and plenty of chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or fresh dill.
  • For a stronger garlic flavor, use 2-3 cloves garlic. If you don't have fresh cloves of garlic, you can substitute with about ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Take a shortcut and purchase a container of store-bought tzatziki sauce.


Serving: 1/6 of the meat | Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 435mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 659IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg