Smoked Chicken Shawarma

4-6 Servings
1 hr 15 min

My family was craving for some chicken shawarma lately and instead of ordering take out, I decided that it was time I try to make it myself. It took a few tries to get the spices right but I think I have one that I’m quite happy with. I was honestly a bit surprised that I had all the different spices in my pantry already but it’s just that I have never tried to combine them in this way. Revelation.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a rotisserie spit to cook the meat but I found that smoking them and then finishing over high heat and then in a pan does give it a similar effect to the restaurant. For us, the tahini sauce is a must and I always have to have fattoush salad to help cut the heaviness of the meal. I hope you give this a try. It’s a lot easier than you think.

Recipe details
  • 4-6  Servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 1 Hours Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Tahini sauce
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 cup water, more to thin if necessary
  • 1/4–1/2 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, add in all of the chicken ingredients and mix well to combine all of the spices and ensure all of the chicken is evenly coated.
Cover and allow to marinate for a few hours minimum or overnight is best.
When ready to cook, heat up your smoker to 225 and add the chicken. Allow to smoke for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, increase the heat to 450 and char for 5 minutes. You just want some charred bits for additional flavor.
Remove from the smoker and allow to rest. You can slice and serve from this point however the restaurants like to do an additional sear after slicing for even more caramelized flavors.
Heat a large skillet over high heat, add in a couple tbsps of oil and add the sliced chicken. Allow it to sear and caramelize for additional flavor. Remove and serve with tahini sauce.
Tahini sauce
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all of the tahini sauce ingredients. Every tahini sauce is a little different so you may need to add more water to thin the sauce. It should be of a good pouring consistency like a salad dressing. Drizzle it over the chicken before serving.
  • Cso51108026 Cso51108026 on Sep 01, 2023

    Oh, my gosh!!! Okay, I had to do a couple of things differently because, though I secretly covet the Big Green Egg or any smoker, I don't own one. So, I used a charcoal grill with coals on one half for direct/indirect heat... But I put a pan with soaked wood chips and covered with foil in with the chicken (chicken on indirect side), to mimic "smoking. Finished over direct heat. When I brought inside, rested, and sliced, I crisped it up a bit in a cast iron skillet. I was THERE! I mean, legit: in the best little street market getting shawarma off a spit. Your spice proportions are awesome!!! And that charcoal smoke really did make all the difference, from a stove-top shawarma!!! And I love a good fattoush, or a tabouleh, some warm pita, and Lebanese rice with shawarma!!!

    Since you were kind enough to share this recipe, I'll share a hack I learned years ago for The. Best. Fluffliest. Hummus! With canned garbanzos/chickpeas!!! As you pulse your chickpeas/tahini/garlic/lemon in a food processor, drop ice cubes, one by one, into the running food processor. Let process for at least 5 minutes. You got me, on the science behind it, cuz I would think that after the ice melts, it would "deflate," or something, but it DOESN'T!!! Some folks like to peel the chickpeas, but I think the 5 minutes in the food processor blitzes them enough; it is SO creamy!!! For 2 cans of chickpeas, 4-6 ice cubes does the trick. But you gotta try it - it is SO easy!!! I got shown that hack from a dear friend 25 years ago, and I dated a Greek guy who said I made better hummus than his mother! lol And then he swore me to secrecy about that!!! ;)

    Thanks again for the wonderful recipe!!! I'll have to check out your site - always up for culinary adventures!!! :)

    • I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! The smoky flavor does impart a nice flavor.

      Wow thank you for sharing your hummus recipe. I will definitely have to try this. Do you allow the ice cubes to melt and blend into the hummus?

  • Cso51108026 Cso51108026 on Sep 02, 2023

    PS to Kelly (sorry, I couldn't "reply" to your comment!): Nope, you don't melt the cubes. While my food processor is running (I use an old Cuisinart), I drop the frozen ice cubes in one at a time, maybe every 30 seconds, during the 5 or so minutes of processing time. You'll see immediately - after the first one, the color will lighten up and it will seem to grow in volume a bit. Super-creamy, super-fluffy. Idk why it works, but it works!! lol