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Coles

  • Egg free
  • Nut free
  • Peanut free
  • Shellfish free
  • Seafood free
  • No added sugar
  • High in dietary fibre
  • High in protein
  • Soy free
  • 2 serves veg or fruit

Marinated in earthy spices and grilled to perfection, chicken shawarma is tender, tasty and equally suited to casual family meals or entertaining friends.

  • Serves4
  • Cook time10 minutes
  • Prep time10 minutes, + 30 mins marinating time
Chicken shawarma on plate

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Middle Eastern harissa spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 600g Coles RSPCA Approved Australian Chicken Thigh Fillets
  • 4 large pita breads
  • 1 baby cos lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Pickled cucumbers, to serve (optional)
  • Olive oil, to drizzle (optional)

Tahini yoghurt sauce

  • 3/4 cup (210g) reduced-fat Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbs tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Nutritional information

Per serve: Energy: 2470kJ/591 Cals (28%), Protein: 43g (86%), Fat: 20g (29%), Sat Fat: 5g (21%), Sodium: 793mg (40%), Carb: 53g (17%), Sugar: 13g (14%), Dietary Fibre: 10g (33%).

Check ingredient labels to make sure they meet your specific dietary requirements and always consult a health professional before changing your diet. View dietary information here.

Percentage Daily Intake information on our recipes is calculated using the nutrition reference values for an average Australian adult.

Method

  1. Step 1

    Combine the oil, lemon juice, spice mix and cardamom in a large bowl. Season. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 mins (or even overnight) to develop the flavours.

  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, to make the tahini-yoghurt sauce, whisk the yoghurt, lemon juice, tahini and garlic in a small bowl. Season.

  3. Step 3

    Heat a barbecue grill or chargrill on medium. Cook chicken for 4 mins each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Slice thinly.

  4. Step 4

    Spread pita breads with half the tahini sauce. Top with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion, chicken, parsley leaves and pickled cucumbers. Drizzle with remaining tahini mixture. Roll up and serve.

Recipe tip

  • You could also serve with pickled chillies.

  • For an extra flavour boost, try slicing the chicken into thick strips before marinating.

COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Use it up: Tahini can be stored in the fridge for a long time and its rich, nutty taste works well in dips, salad dressings and even desserts, like this pineapple tahini slice. You can also combine it with leftover yoghurt for tasty side dishes like roasted carrots with tahini yoghurt sauce and charred baby gem salad with tahini dressing.

What is shawarma and where does it come from?

A popular Middle Eastern street food, shawarma dates back to the Ottoman Empire and is traditionally made with thin slices of chicken or meat layered on top of each other on a skewer or rotisserie. Translating as ‘turning’ in Arabic, this style of cooking is thought to have evolved from shepherds hanging lamb over an open fire and slowly turning to cook the meat evenly.

Cooked vertically, chicken shawarma bastes in its fat, with a marinade of enticing spices adding an extra layer of flavour and rich golden colour. Deliciously fragrant, it’s no surprise that this Middle Eastern chicken dish has made its way around the globe. Most familiar as a takeaway, slices of meat are shaved off the rotisserie and often wrapped in a fluffy pita sandwich.

The good news is that you can replicate the flavour and experience at home with this easy chicken shawarma recipe. Highly versatile, it will make a delicious casual family meal, a tasty addition to a backyard barbecue or can be served street food-style with an array of dishes for your next gathering.

Ideal for sharing, Middle Eastern food is fun to eat. Here are some more easy Middle Eastern recipes for you to try at home.

How to cook shawarma chicken to perfection

The seasoning for shawarma includes warming spices like cumin, cardamom and chilli, which create the signature earthy taste and rich golden colour. Chargrilling chicken adds a distinct layer of smokiness and will crispen the outside while keeping it tender and juicy on the inside. After cooking, let the chicken rest briefly before slicing to seal in all those lovely flavours. For a more intense taste, marinate overnight.

The recipe calls for chicken thigh fillets which are higher in natural fat and will caramelise beautifully when seared on the chargill with the shawarma spices. You can use chicken breast fillets, but will need to adjust cooking times and temperature. Try splitting them in half horizontally and grilling on high heat for two minutes on each side to retain juiciness. 

Looking for more family dinner winners? Browse our collection of easy chicken recipes for ideas and inspiration. 

Kebab vs shawarma vs gyro

All three are similar as they stem from the same Ottoman origins, but each has slightly different seasonings and accompaniments according to location. Gyro is the Greek version, while the doner kebab belongs to Turkey. Both are typically made with lamb or beef and topped with tzatziki (yoghurt sauce). Shawarma is often chicken and traditionally comes slathered with a tahini sauce.

There are no hard or fast rules though, so add or swap out any ingredients in shawarma to preference. For instance, change onions for pickled turnips or tabouli, and tahini sauce for roasted garlic hommus or toum – a Lebanese garlic sauce. You could also add a handful of fresh parsley or mint leaves to your chicken shawarma marinade.

How to make shawarma for any occasion

Put together a pita sandwich, bowl or plate paired with sides of your choice. Or serve on top of rice or couscous, with a dollop of yoghurt and a veggie-laden fattoush salad

If entertaining, prep in advance, and place on a platter garnished with rocket, fresh chopped mint, parsley and crunchy toasted pine nuts. Accompany with Lebanese dips, roasted vegetables, falafel, pita bread, French fries and salads for a memorable meal. 

Once cooked, store leftover shawarma in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days and use it for lunchboxes or tempt the kids with mini sliders with coleslaw.

FAQs

Shawarma

Shawarma
  • Serves4
  • Cook time10 minutes
  • Prep time10 minutes, + 30 mins marinating time
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Middle Eastern harissa spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 600g Coles RSPCA Approved Australian Chicken Thigh Fillets
  • 4 large pita breads
  • 1 baby cos lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Pickled cucumbers, to serve (optional)
  • Olive oil, to drizzle (optional)

Tahini yoghurt sauce

  • 3/4 cup (210g) reduced-fat Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbs tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    Description

    Marinated in earthy spices and grilled to perfection, chicken shawarma is tender, tasty and equally suited to casual family meals or entertaining friends.

    Method
    1. Step 1

      Combine the oil, lemon juice, spice mix and cardamom in a large bowl. Season. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 mins (or even overnight) to develop the flavours.

    2. Step 2

      Meanwhile, to make the tahini-yoghurt sauce, whisk the yoghurt, lemon juice, tahini and garlic in a small bowl. Season.

    3. Step 3

      Heat a barbecue grill or chargrill on medium. Cook chicken for 4 mins each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Slice thinly.

    4. Step 4

      Spread pita breads with half the tahini sauce. Top with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion, chicken, parsley leaves and pickled cucumbers. Drizzle with remaining tahini mixture. Roll up and serve.