Middle eastern-inspired Chicken Shawarma Bowls are easy to make and full of vibrant flavors like marinated chicken thighs, creamy feta dip, crisp cucumbers, and turmeric rice.
They’re easy to make and are sure to become a new weeknight staple for you and your family.
This post was developed in paid partnership with Cedar’s Foods. Thank you for being supportive of me working with brands I use and love!
Chicken Shawarma Recipe
A inspired by exotic and tasty Middle Eastern flavors will make your house smell incredible. Like you’ve been cooking all day, but have actually spent only 30 minutes in the kitchen!
With a handful of everyday spices, you can make juicy and delicious chicken shawarma. If this is your first time cooking something like this, not to worry, the recipe is simple and no one will ever know!
This is also a great meal prep recipe for busy weeks and easy lunches.
Looking for a low-carb option? Serve the chicken over leafy greens and skip the rice!
Why is it called Chicken Shawarma and Where is Shawarma from?
Today, shawarma is a popular street food item in the Middle East and many other countries. I first fell in love with shawarma when I was in Israel on my birthright trip.
But where did shawarma come from and why is it called shawarma?
It originated in the modern-day middle east; specifically Turkey. However, shawarma originated during the Ottoman Empire.
Shawarma, also spelled shawurma or shawerma, depending on where you are or where you are from means, “turning” in Arabic. Imagine a vertical revolving rotisserie spit (similar to the ones you see Greek gyro meat being shaved from), thin cuts of shawarma meat are trimmed and served on pita.
The meat that is used in shawarma recipes varies, but it is typically lamb, chicken, or beef.
Ingredients For Chicken Shawarma Bowls
In order to make Chicken Shawarma, you will only need a couple of ingredients in order to get started.
Chicken: for this recipe, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs. I believe the darker meat really helps bring out the flavor in this dish. However, you can also make this with chicken breasts. You will just need to adjust the cook time.
Seasoning: what’s shawarma without the perfect shawarma seasoning?! I used a store bought shawarma seasoning, but you can also make your own.
Rice: for this recipe, I used jasmine rice. You can also substitute with basmati rice or brown rice.
Vegetables: you will need a white onion and a few garlic cloves.
Wet ingredients: cooking the rice in chicken broth gives it so much more flavor than if you were to use water. Of course, if you don’t have broth, you can substitute for water but I love the depth broth gives rice. A good trick is to use a bouillon cube with water if you don’t have any chicken broth.
For The Bowls
Bread: pita bread would be considered traditional for this dish, but I used naan. I love the soft chewy texture of naan bread!
Vegetables: romaine, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
Dairy: feta cheese and Cedar’s Feta Dip.
Fresh Herbs: fresh mint gives these savory bowls a fresh coolness. If you’re looking for a different herb to use, try dill or parsley.
*For a detailed list of ingredients and measurements, please reference the recipe card down below.
Cedar’s Feta Dip is a classic Greek feta dip (Tyrosalata), and has been a favorite of the Cedar’s family for years. It’s rich and creamy and the perfect accompaniment for these shawarma bowls.
If you have any dip leftover, use it for dipping crackers, pita, or fresh veggies.
How to make Chicken Bowls
How to Make Chicken shawarma
1. Marinate the chicken. Mix the shawarma seasoning and olive oil until combined. Add the chicken thighs and the shawarma marinade ingredients to a large freezer bag or large bowl, shake until the chicken is fully coated. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
2. Cook the Chicken. Before cooking, bring the chicken to room temperature by setting it on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the chicken in a single layer and cook 4-5 minutes per side until the internal temperature reaches 170° F (I use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature); it should have a nice char.
3. Slice the chicken. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for 2-3 minutes. Cut into bite sized chicken pieces and set aside.
How To Make Turmeric Rice
1. Sauté the onion and garlic. Heat olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, until the onion softens and becomes translucent.
2. Cook the rice. Add the broth, rice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and cooked through.
1. Prepare the bowls. Place one pita round in each bowl, arrange the rice in one half of each bowl and romaine lettuce in the other half. Top with mint, Feta Dip, sliced english cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and red onion.
2. Season and enjoy. Finish the bowls with fresh cracked pepper and serve.
What to serve with Chicken Shawarma
Of course, chicken shawarma is served perfectly on pita bread; traditional shawarma is also served with Israeli salad. However, you can also serve shawarma with fresh salads, plain Greek yogurt, cherry tomatoes, and/or red pepper flakes, and more like:
- Rice pilaf
- Cauliflower rice
- White rice
- Fresh veggies
- Kalamata olives
- Roasted chickpeas
- Baby greens – like spinach
- Cedar’s Tzatziki Sauce – this is a great substitute for the feta dip.
- Garlic sauce
- Lemon juice or lemon zest
- Chili Garlic Sauce
- Cilantro Lime Tahini Sauce
- Yogurt sauce
What is Shawarma Chicken made of?
Authentic shawarma is stacked, spice-marinated meats such as lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, and more cooked on a vertical spit similar to what you’d see gyro meat rotating and cooking on.
As the shawarma meat turns, it cooks slowly for hours and hours in its own juices.
What does Chicken Shawarma taste like?
Chicken shawarma is slowly cooked in a delicious combination of dry seasoning it lends the meat to taste both tangy, juicy, and incredibly seasoned.
What is shawarma seasoning made of?
Shawarma seasoning is made up of a variety of spices like cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and cardamom. You can either purchase a store bought version or make it yourself at home!
Shawarma Seasoning Recipe
Did you know you can make your own shawarma seasoning with spices you might already have?
Here’s a quick guide to making your own:
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix them all together and store any leftovers in an airtight container.
How to Store Chicken Shawarma
If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3-4 days. I recommend keeping the lettuce separate so you can reheat it without it getting soggy.
Looking for a way to make your leftovers a little different? Grab some warm pita and make homemade chicken shawarma wraps! It’s perfect for lunch the next day.
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Chicken Shawarma Bowls
- 2 small naan, or pita
- 2 cups shredded romaine
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 4 tablespoons Cedar's Feta Dip
- 2 mini cucumbers, sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, cubed
- 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
- Mix the shawarma seasoning and olive oil until combined. Add the chicken thighs and the shawarma marinate to a large freezer bag, shake until chicken is fully coated. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
- Before cooking, bring the chicken to room temperature by setting it on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook 4-5 minutes per side until the internal temperature reaches 170° F.
- Place the chicken on a cutting board to cool for 2-3 minutes. Cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, until onion softens and becomes translucent.
- Add the broth, rice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15-20 minutes until rice is tender and cooked through.
- Place one pita round in each bowl, arrange the rice in one half of each bowl bowl and romaine in the other half. Top with mint, Feta Dip, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and red onion.
- Finish the bowls with fresh cracked pepper and serve!