You can skip the marinating time with this Chicken Shawarma Wrap recipe. Simply combine savory pantry spices with minced garlic to create a rub for boneless chicken thighs. Then, sear the chicken in a hot cast iron skillet to create a nice char and allow the spices to bloom and deepen the flavor. This shawarma wrap is absolutely delicious and is an easy at-home “fast food” recipe, too!
Slice and serve the chicken shawarma on naan, pita bread, or even tortillas with cucumbers, arugula, and cucumber sauce with a squeeze of fresh lemon. This makes a delicious and easy Summer time — or anytime! — meal.
Chicken Shawarma Wrap
My daughter and her family live in St. Louis and one of the things she likes most is the abundance of ethnic foods and restaurants. When we visit, she’s always suggesting a new place and often it’s one that I would never have tried on my own. Together, we’ve sampled Ethiopian dishes, gourmet pot stickers, food truck fare, and my favorite, shawarma.
My first Chicken Shawarma was from a traditional Lebanese restaurant, The Vine Mediterranean Café, on South Grand. There the chicken is marinated for 24 hours, roasted on a rotisserie, and served with pickles and garlic sauce. The flavor is amazing, and the chicken is always perfectly tender.
My Chicken Shawarma Wrap recipe is simpler to prepare, but still has plenty of delicious flavor. I use chicken thighs which have darker and firmer meat, but are tender and juicy when pan-seared.
What is a chicken shawarma wrap?
Traditional shawarma is a popular street food in Middle Eastern countries. Thinly shaved meat, either lamb, chicken, or beef, is shaped into a cone and slowly roasted on a rotisserie. The meat is served wrapped in a pita or naan bread with a garlic yogurt sauce and other toppings like hummus, tahini, pickles, and even French fries.
My chicken version is wrapped in a pita and served with a cucumber yogurt sauce, or tzatziki, fresh arugula, and cucumbers.
The spice rub
The most important part of this recipe is the combination of savory pantry spices to flavor the chicken. I very rarely use coriander and cardamom in my cooking, so I was excited to try them in this recipe and think this is the perfect blend. This chicken is so good, we also like to slice it up and serve it on salads.
- Cumin — adds warm, earthy flavor
- Coriander — for a nutty aroma
- Cardamom (or allspice) — complex citrusy, herbal flavor
- Smoked paprika — I used the sweet version, but you could use hot
- Cloves — add spicy warmth
- Red cayenne pepper — adjust for more heat
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
I wanted to create a recipe that was quick and easy and didn’t require time to marinate the chicken, so I opted for a spice rub and pan-searing to lock in the flavor. Here’s how:
- Combine the spices with minced garlic to make a rub. Sprinkle it over the chicken thighs, rubbing it into the meat gently.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then add the chicken thighs and cook for about 5 minutes on each side to get a nice char.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken and transfer the skillet to a 450 degree oven for five minutes to finish cooking.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes or so before slicing into thin strips,
Restaurants often serve chicken shawarma wraps with a garlicky yogurt sauce, hummus, or tahini. I like my chicken shawarma with my easy cucumber sauce that’s a mixture of Greek yogurt, shredded cucumbers, and fresh mint. It’s the same sauce that I use on my Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs, too.
For this recipe, you may need…
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For this recipe, I prefer using a seasoned cast iron skillet because it quickly creates a better char without sticking. I also use my cast iron skillet to cook the best restaurant-quality steaks, too!
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This is one easy 30-Minute dinner I think your family will love! To make the wraps easier to handle, roll them up tightly and secure with a toothpick or wrap in a square of aluminum foil.
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- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoons cardamom (or allspice)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper (adjust for more heat)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Pita pockets or naan bread
- Fresh arugula, for serving
- 6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cucumber, seeded and grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, combine spices with minced garlic.
- Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with shawarma spice mixture, rubbing it in gently.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken thighs and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side to get a nice char.
- Sprinkle with lemon juice and transfer to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken to a cutting board and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then slice into thin strips.
- Grate cucumber and squeeze lightly in a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
- Mix all ingredients together and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
To make the wraps easier to handle, roll them up tightly and secure with a toothpick or wrap in a square of aluminum foil.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 364Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 802mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 36g
Sheila Thigpen, author of The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. A Southern girl living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters, are active in their church, love to travel, and are over-the-moon excited about becoming grandparents last year. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!