Shawarma, gyros, and donner kebabs are all basically the same thing. Meat that is heavily spiced with garlic and seasonings is cut thinly, placed on a spit and grilled while rotating. The outer layers of cooked meats are then sliced off and served with pita or flatbread, and a sauce typically made of yogurt. This is street food - old world style.


I recently had some Chicken Shawarma at a friend’s home over the holidays. The chicken was moist, tender and had just the right amount of heat to make this dish enjoyable. When I asked my host about the recipe, she informed me it was from a Pinterest link. 

I tried to find the exact recipe she had used but wasn’t successful. Of course, that didn’t deter me, I searched the internet and found a recipe on the NYTimes Food website. The spices were the same ones my host mentioned, so I gave it a try. It was good, but not as spicy and flavorful as my host’s dish. The next time I spoke to her I asked her for the link to the recipe she had used.

iCookPinterest lead me to a website called When I reviewed the marinade recipes, they were the same spices in equal amounts, except for two heat generating spices. JoCooks used more cinnamon and red pepper flakes to make the flavor richer. They also used smoked paprika to give the dish a bit more depth of flavor. I will say that it did make a difference in the dish.

The meat you use will also determine the tenderness of the dish. NYT recommended chicken thighs and JoCooks used boneless breasts. Either will work, but you may need to adjust baking time for thickness of meat so as not to dry out the chicken.

I served the shawarma with a yogurt, lemon and garlic sauce and dressed the dish with sliced cucumber and tomato inside a half pita. We also had couscous and some sautéed zucchini. It was a wonderful, taty meal but next time I’m using JoCooks recipe (and that’s what I’m sharing with you today). Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Easy Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma


Courtesy of

Chicken Shawarma

  • 4 TBSP lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 large onion (I prefer red onion) sliced
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley chopped for garnish

Garlic Sauce

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp salt

Chicken Shawarma

In a large bowl, add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cumin, black pepper, paprika, turmeric, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and garlic and whisk them all together well.  Add the chicken and toss to coat in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for at least 1 or up to 12 hours (the longer you marinade, the more flavorful the meat).

Once marinated, Preheat the oven to 425F. Add sliced onions to the bowl with chicken and toss well so that the onion is fully coated. Add everything to a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread it evenly over the bottom and place in oven.

Bake until the chicken is browned and crisp at the edges, about 40 to 45 minutes. If you want the chicken crisper, place under broiler on high for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven and let chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing into bits.

Garlic Sauce

Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. It should take about 2 minutes. This recipe will make about 1 ½ cups of sauce. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.

Assemble the sandwiches by splitting the pita in half, opening the pocket and stuffing with lettuce, cucumber, tomato and the chicken shawarma.  Serve with the dipping sauce and couscous or rice pilaf.

You can download the recipe of the week HERE!