Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma
Staff Writer
Chicken Shawarma

Sawsan Abu Farha

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken shawarma is a popular sandwich in the Middle East. It is basically a wonderful roasted chicken that has been marinated in an amazing yogurt spice mix, wrapped in pita bread with some pickles, fries, and tahini or garlic sauce. The secret to a chicken shawarma sandwich that is as good as — if not better than — your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant is the spice mix.

Mastic is one of the key players in that spice mix; you can find it at Greek or Middle Eastern stores. Buying a little will go a long way because it is used in very small amounts in recipes (it does wonders when added to ice cream or rice pudding).

This particular recipe for chicken shawarma came after a lot of experimenting and trying different recipes. The spice mix and cooking the onions and tomatoes with the chicken in the last five minutes (as opposed to using them raw) makes this sandwich a family favorite after the first bite.

If you want to add a smoky taste to the chicken, a trick I learned from my aunt is to get some tin foil and make it like a little plate. Heat a little piece of coal, and when it starts turning red, put it on the tin foil plate. Next, add a little piece of butter on top of the coal. It will start to smoke. Put the tin foil cup on top of the chicken shawarma in the pot and cover it for five to 10 minutes. The chicken will have a smoky flavor, almost as if it were grilled.


For the marinade

In a medium-sized bowl, mix all of the ingredients together and set aside.

For the chicken

Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Drain the chicken and add it to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear (a meat thermometer inserted into the center without touching the bone should register 165 degrees).

Move the chicken to the edge of the pan, add the onion, and sauté for 2 minutes. Move the onion aside and add the tomatoes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then stir the chicken, onions, and tomatoes together and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Open up the pita bread to form a pocket, and spread some tahini sauce inside. Add the chicken, onion, and tomato mixture. Add some french fries and sliced pickles, if using. Roll the pita bread and serve.


*Note: Mastic is an essential part of the spice mix for this recipe, and can be found in Greek and Middle Eastern grocery stores as well as online.

**Note: I prefer mixing both; the fat in the thighs adds flavor and keeps the chicken moist.


Calories per serving:

766 calories

Dietary restrictions:

High Fiber, Low Carb Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Pork Free, Alcohol Free, No Sugar Added

Daily value:



  • Fat 46g 71%
  • Carbs 28g 9%
  • Saturated 9g 45%
  • Fiber 5g 21%
  • Trans 0g
  • Sugars 15g
  • Monounsaturated 26g
  • Polyunsaturated 8g
  • Protein 62g 125%
  • Cholesterol 188mg 63%
  • Sodium 926mg 39%
  • Calcium 277mg 28%
  • Magnesium 121mg 30%
  • Potassium 1,482mg 42%
  • Iron 3mg 19%
  • Zinc 3mg 23%
  • Phosphorus 788mg 113%
  • Vitamin A 108µg 12%
  • Vitamin C 35mg 59%
  • Thiamin (B1) 1mg 35%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 1mg 44%
  • Niacin (B3) 25mg 123%
  • Vitamin B6 2mg 111%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 76µg 19%
  • Vitamin B12 1µg 16%
  • Vitamin D 0µg 0%
  • Vitamin E 6mg 32%
  • Vitamin K 26µg 33%
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