Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce


In the realm of Middle Eastern cuisine, few dishes are as iconic and beloved as chicken shawarma. This flavorful and aromatic dish has captivated the taste buds of food enthusiasts around the world, offering a tantalizing blend of spices, tender meat, and creamy sauces that make it a true culinary delight. Originating from the Levant region, chicken shawarma has a rich history that dates back centuries, with its roots deeply intertwined with the cultural fabric of the Middle East.

Traditionally, chicken shawarma is prepared by marinating thinly sliced cuts of chicken in a fragrant blend of spices and then roasting them on a vertical rotisserie. As the meat cooks, it is shaved off in thin, succulent slices, resulting in layers of juicy, flavorful chicken that are perfect for wrapping in pita bread or serving over rice. The key to achieving the authentic taste of chicken shawarma lies in the marinade, which typically includes a harmonious blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, and lemon juice, among others.

Accompanying the succulent chicken is a creamy and tangy yogurt sauce, known as tzatziki or tahini sauce, which adds a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors of the shawarma. Made with Greek yogurt, garlic, cucumber, lemon juice, and herbs, this sauce provides a cooling counterpoint to the spicy warmth of the chicken, creating a harmonious balance of flavors that is truly irresistible.

In this culinary journey, we will explore the art of making chicken shawarma from scratch, from preparing the marinade to roasting the chicken to perfection. We will also delve into the creation of a delicious yogurt sauce to accompany the shawarma, elevating the dish to new heights of flavor and indulgence. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, sharpen our knives, and embark on a culinary adventure through the vibrant world of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma: Before we begin our culinary journey, let’s gather the ingredients needed to make Chicken Shawarma:

For the Chicken Marinade:

  1. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, thinly sliced
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  5. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  6. 1 teaspoon paprika
  7. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  9. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for heat)
  10. Juice of 1 lemon
  11. Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Yogurt Sauce (Tzatziki):


  1. 1 cup Greek yogurt
  2. 1/2 cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  1. 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
  2. 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (optional)
  3. Salt and black pepper, to taste

Additional Ingredients:

  1. Pita bread or flatbread, for serving
  2. Sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and lettuce, for garnish (optional)
  3. Hummus, for serving (optional)



  1. Pickles or olives, for serving (optional)

Now that we have our ingredients ready, let’s proceed with the step-by-step preparation of Chicken Shawarma and Yogurt Sauce.


watch full recipe video: 

Step-by-Step Preparation of Chicken Shawarma:

  1. Prepare the Chicken Marinade: In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper (if using), lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Stir the marinade ingredients together until well combined.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Add the thinly sliced chicken thighs or breasts to the marinade, ensuring that each piece is well coated with the spice mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld and the chicken to absorb the marinade.
  3. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
  4. Arrange the Chicken on the Baking Sheet: Once the chicken has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure to leave some space between the pieces to ensure even cooking.
  5. Roast the Chicken: Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and roast the chicken for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and slightly charred around the edges. Halfway through the cooking time, you may flip the chicken slices to ensure they cook evenly on both sides.
  6. Rest and Slice the Chicken: Once the chicken is cooked to perfection, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Then, using a sharp knife, thinly slice the chicken into strips or chunks, depending on your preference.

  1. Serve the Chicken Shawarma: To serve, warm the pita bread or flatbread and spread a generous dollop of yogurt sauce (tzatziki) on each piece. Top with the sliced chicken shawarma and garnish with sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, lettuce, fresh herbs, hummus, pickles, or olives, if desired.

Step-by-Step Preparation of Yogurt Sauce (Tzatziki):

  1. Prepare the Yogurt Base: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, grated cucumber (squeeze out excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels), minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, chopped dill, chopped mint (if using), salt, and black pepper. Stir the ingredients together until well combined.
  2. Chill and Serve: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate the yogurt sauce for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Before serving, give the sauce a final stir and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. Serve with Chicken Shawarma: Yogurt sauce (tzatziki) is traditionally served as a condiment with chicken shawarma, providing a cool and creamy contrast to the bold flavors of the spiced chicken. Simply spoon the yogurt sauce over the chicken shawarma or serve it on the side for dipping.

Health Benefits of Chicken Shawarma and Yogurt Sauce:

Chicken shawarma and yogurt sauce offer a plethora of health benefits, thanks to their nutrient-rich ingredients and balanced flavors:

  1. Lean Protein: Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall health. By choosing lean cuts of chicken and removing the skin, you can enjoy the protein benefits without excess fat.
  2. Essential Nutrients: The marinade for chicken shawarma is packed with aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, paprika, and turmeric, which not only add flavor but also provide a variety of health-promoting compounds and antioxidants.
  3. Probiotics: Greek yogurt, the main ingredient in yogurt sauce (tzatz)


  1. What is chicken shawarma? Chicken shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish made with thinly sliced marinated chicken that is typically grilled or roasted on a vertical rotisserie. It is seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices and served with a variety of accompaniments, such as pita bread, vegetables, and sauces.
  2. What spices are used in the marinade for chicken shawarma? The marinade for chicken shawarma typically includes a combination of spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic, among others. These spices contribute to the flavorful and aromatic profile of the dish.
  3. Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs for shawarma? Yes, you can use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs for shawarma. However, keep in mind that chicken thighs are juicier and more flavorful compared to chicken breast, which tends to be leaner. If using chicken breast, be sure not to overcook it to prevent it from drying out.

  1. What is yogurt sauce (tzatziki) and how is it made? Yogurt sauce, also known as tzatziki, is a creamy and tangy sauce made with Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs such as dill and mint. To make yogurt sauce, simply combine these ingredients in a bowl, mix well, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Can I make yogurt sauce ahead of time? Yes, you can make yogurt sauce ahead of time. In fact, allowing the flavors to meld together in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight can enhance the taste of the sauce. Store the yogurt sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. What are some serving suggestions for chicken shawarma? Chicken shawarma can be served in various ways, including wrapped in warm pita bread or flatbread, served over rice or salad, or enjoyed on its own with a side of vegetables and hummus. You can also customize it with your favorite toppings and condiments, such as sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, lettuce, and olives.
  4. Is chicken shawarma a healthy meal option? Chicken shawarma can be a healthy meal option, especially when made with lean cuts of chicken and served with plenty of vegetables and yogurt sauce. It is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can be part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation.

  1. Can I grill chicken shawarma instead of roasting it in the oven? Yes, you can grill chicken shawarma instead of roasting it in the oven. Simply thread the marinated chicken onto skewers and grill over medium-high heat until cooked through and slightly charred, flipping occasionally for even cooking. Grilling adds a delicious smoky flavor to the chicken shawarma.


Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce offers a delightful journey into the vibrant flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine. This iconic dish combines tender, marinated chicken with a fragrant blend of spices, resulting in a savory and aromatic experience that delights the senses. Accompanied by creamy and tangy yogurt sauce, the dish achieves a perfect balance of flavors, with each bite delivering a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.

Beyond its deliciousness, Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce also offers a range of health benefits. Packed with lean protein, essential nutrients, and probiotics from the yogurt sauce, this dish provides a nourishing and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Whether served wrapped in warm pita bread, over a bed of rice, or alongside fresh vegetables and hummus, Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce is a versatile and satisfying option for any occasion.

So, whether you’re seeking to expand your culinary horizons or simply craving a taste of the Middle East, Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce is sure to satisfy your palate and leave you longing for more. With its rich flavors, wholesome ingredients, and cultural significance, this dish exemplifies the beauty and diversity of global cuisine, inviting you to savor every moment of your culinary adventure.

Also Read: Quinoa Veggie Burger

Leave a Comment