How to Make Shawarma

Shawarma is a form of slow-roasting meat on a spit, and it’s often sold by street vendors in countries like Iraq, Israel, and Turkey. The meat is typically served on a flatbread along with hummus, tahini, and pickled cabbage. You might not be able to cook using a spit in your own kitchen, but you can make a savory shawarma using your oven and stove or a grill.


[Edit]Chicken Shawarma

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

[Edit]Lamb Shawarma

  • 4 bone-in lamb shoulder chops
  • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 tbs. cumin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

[Edit]Tahini Sauce

  • 2 medium minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

[Edit]Pickled Cabbage

  • 1 ½ tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • ½ tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbs. sherry vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

[Edit]For Assembly

  • 6 9-inch flatbreads, such as pita, yufka, mark, or flour tortillas


[Edit]Preparing the Tahini Sauce

  1. Make the tahini sauce. To make the tahini sauce, all you have to do is combine the garlic and lemon juice in a medium bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, you can whisk in the tahini, olive oil, yogurt, and ¾ teaspoon of salt until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture feels too thick to pour, then you can add another of water and mix it in to make it a bit thinner.[1]
    Make Shawarma Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • You can make the sauce while you’re cooking your chicken, lamb, beef, veal, or other meat if you want to save time.
    • Additionally, you can make the sauce two days in advance and store it in the fridge until it’s ready to be used.

[Edit]Preparing the Pickled Cabbage

  1. Make the pickled cabbage. Pickled cabbage is another important ingredient to making tasty shawarma. All you have to do to make it is to heat a bit of oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add your cabbage and cook it for about 8-10 minutes, until it’s good and tender. You can stir it occasionally as you do this to make sure it’s evenly cooked. Then, remove it from the heat and add the pomegranate molasses, vinegar, and sugar. Once you do that, just season it to taste with a bit more vinegar or sugar, as well as salt and pepper.

    • You can make the cabbage while you’re cooking the meat if you’d like to save time. Alternatively, you can make it up to two days in advance and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  2. Prepare your flatbread. You can use pita, yufka, Norfolk, or even a flour tortilla for shawarma. If you’re using flatbreads that you bought in the store or have made them ahead of time, then just warm them in a deep skillet over medium heat for a minute or two. You should do this right after you’ve finished preparing the meat so that you can place the meat into a shawarma that is nice and warm.

    • Note that, after you’ve added your meat, tahini sauce, and cabbage to the shawarma, you can cook it, seam-side-down, for about 3 minutes in a skillet to get it nice and brown and to seal the ingredients together.

[Edit]Making Chicken Shawarma

  1. Mix the spices together in a bowl. Use a medium-sized plastic bowl for mixing together the garlic powder, paprika, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon. Stir the spices for at least 30 seconds so you have fully mixed them together.

  2. Add the chicken strips to the mixture and toss them before drizzling them with olive oil. Just place the chicken strips into the spice mixture and toss them until they have been covered with the spice mixture on both sides. Then, drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and toss them again to make sure that they are fully coated in the olive oil and spice mixture.
    Make Shawarma Step 5 Version 3.jpg
  3. Prepare your grill. Heat your grill and grease a large piece of aluminum foil. Set it on the grill with the greased side up once the grill is heated.
    Make Shawarma Step 6 Version 2.jpg
  4. Place the spiced chicken onto the foil. Turn the chicken over a few times, until cooked through. This should take about 8 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the chicken strips. If your grill is smaller, you may have to grill the chicken in 2 batches.

  5. Remove the chicken from the grill and place it on a serving platter. You'll need to do this before you can begin to assemble your shawarma.

  6. Wrap your chicken in the flatbread with the other ingredients. You can add lettuce, onion, tahini sauce, pickled cabbage, hummus, or whatever other ingredients you’d like to place in the flatbread. Place the chicken in the bread first, followed by the other toppings, pouring on the tahini sauce last. Wrap the flatbread similarly to a burrito, leaving an inch of space between the ingredients and the top of the bread so they don’t pour out. Once you do that, your chicken shawarma will be ready to eat![2]
    Make Shawarma Step 9 Version 2.jpg

[Edit]Making Lamb Shawarma

  1. Heat your oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Make sure that you’ve placed your rack in the center of the oven so the lamb gets cooked in the right amount.[3]
    Make Shawarma Step 10 Version 2.jpg
  2. Pat your lamb chops dry. Gently use a paper towel to remove some of the moisture from the lamb before you begin cooking it.
    Make Shawarma Step 11 Version 2.jpg
  3. Prepare your skillet. Heat your oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

  4. Cook your lamb chops in 2 batches. Place one batch of the lamb chops on the skillet and wait until they are browned on one side, which should take about 2 minutes. Then, flip them over to the other side and continue cooking them until they are evenly cooked on both sides. You may need to add a bit more oil to cook your second batch.

    • When you’re done with both of the batches, transfer them to a 9 x 13-inch roasting pan and season them with salt and pepper to your liking.
    • Remember that you don’t have to cook them completely, just get them nice and browned. You’ll be placing them in the oven, so they will continue to cook. If you cook them too much on the skillet, they’ll be dry after being in the oven.
  5. Add one cup of wine to the skillet. Bring the wine to a simmer, and scrape the skillet to remove any browned bits on it. When you’ve got the wine to simmer, carefully pour it over the lamb chops. You can move the roasting pan back and forth a bit to distribute the wine more evenly.

  6. Season the lamb chops. Now, sprinkle them with cumin and then add the garlic, carrot, onion and the additional ½ cup of wine. The liquid should reach about halfway up the lamb chops, so if it doesn’t do that, you can add some water to the mix. You can even flip the lamb chops over and move them around a bit to make sure that you get them spiced evenly.[4]

    • Once you’ve seasoned the lamb chops, you can cover the pan with a double-thickness of foil to prepare the lamb chops for cooking.
  7. Braise the lamb in the oven for 1.5-2 hours. After an hour or so, start checking the lamb with a fork. The lamb will be ready when the meat is tender on your fork and falls off easily. Once it does that, you can remove it from the oven.

  8. Move your lamb to a cutting board. Tent the lamb with the aluminum foil loosely, so that you keep it warm but don’t trap the heat. You can use your fingers or a fork and knife to carefully break the lamb into small chunks in order to remove the fat and the bones.

  9. Prepare the braising liquid from the roasting pan. Once you’ve moved the lamb, you can move the contents in the roasting pan through a mesh sieve to a medium bowl, which should get you about 2 cups of liquid.
    Make Shawarma Step 18 Version 2.jpg
    • Remove the solids and freeze the liquid until the fat in it rises to the surface. This should take about 15 minutes.
    • Then, skim the fat off the surface and discard it.
    • Once you do that, move the liquid to a 3-quart saucepan and then boil it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until about half of it remains.
    • Then, add the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and butter to your braising liquid.
  10. Coat the lamb with the braising liquid. After that, add the lamb to the liquid and gently toss it together to fully coat it. Season it with salt and pepper, and your lamb is all done!

  11. Add the lamb, tahini sauce, and cabbage to your flatbread. Now that you’ve prepared your lamb, you’ll need to add it to your flatbread, toss in the cabbage, and pour your tahini sauce over it to add a delicious flavor to your meat and veggies. Place the lamb in the flatbread about an inch from the edge and roll it up tightly while making sure to pull back on the edge of the flatbread in order to fold it over the filling and tuck it in like a burrito. Place it down on its seam side before cooking it in a skillet for 3 minutes until it’s ready to eat.[5]
    Make Shawarma Step 20 Version 2.jpg



  • Oil in a frying pan can "spit" and burn your arms.


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