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Chicken Shawarma
Ayesha Nurdjaja's Chicken Shawarma + Za'atar Fries + Whipped Feta & Pistachio
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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(90 rated)
Cook time:
Prep time:
5 pounds

There's no need to order takeout to enjoy delicious chicken shawarma. It is so easy to make at home! With just a little advanced prep you can serve up this Middle Eastern classic in just a few minutes. This packs such a flavor punch, and the spice blend is so versatile.

Technique Tip: Brining the chicken gives you more breathing room to not have to worry about overcooking it. It can be marinated up to two days in advance, and can also be cooked up to two days in advance before using.

Swap Option: Use chicken breasts instead of thighs. You can also use cauliflower in place of the chicken for a vegetarian or vegan take on shawarma.


  • White Sauce (makes 1 quart)

    • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Chicken

    • 4 tablespoons garlic paste
    • 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
    • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons turmeric
    • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons cumin
    • 2 tablespoons smoked spicy paprika
    • 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1-inch strips
    • 4 medium white onions, sliced
  • To serve

    • Bibb lettuce leaves
    • Sliced red cabbage
    • Cilantro, parsley and mint
    • Harissa sauce


For the white sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk (can be refrigerated up to 4 days).

For the chicken:

1. Add garlic to a blender with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and process until smooth.

2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the them lemon juice and spices. Whisk to combine well.

3. Add chicken and onions to the bowl and mix until covered well with shawarma spice. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours or up to 48.

4. Preheat oven 425°F.

5. Place chicken on a foiled lined baking tray (do not overcrowd the tray; use two if needed). Place in oven for 30-40 minutes and cook until chicken is cooked through and edges are crispy.

To serve:

Fill lettuce leaves with the chicken, slather with white sauce and top with sliced red cabbage, cilantro, parsley, mint and harissa, if desired.

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Middle Eastern-inspired recipes: Make chicken shawarma and feta dip

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