Shawarma is a dish consisting of thin layers of meat stacked up vertically and it’s slowly roasted as it turns. The meat is then shaved, or sliced off, as needed, and it can be used in a number of ways including by throwing it into a pita, wrap or gyro. Normally when I make shawarma at home I marinate meat in shawarma seasoning and than pan fry or grill it in single servings but there is just something different; all of those layers of meat roasting, with the drippings dripping down from the top layers into the bottom layers infusing it with their flavour and juices; Yum! I do not have the proper gear to make authentic shawarma at home but I can certainly come close!
I like to do a chicken shawarma with chickens thighs and to get a nice sized stack of meat I use 4+ pounds of chicken thighs. The layers of meat should be relatively thin so I use small chicken thighs and if they are on the larger side, I pound them thin. The chicken thighs are marinated in a tasty shawarma marinade over night before being placed onto the vertical spit. In order to make the vertical spit I start with half an onion that is set on the bottom of a roasting pan with the cut side down to form a solid and stable base before sticking a skewer into the top of the onion and layering on the chicken. Because the marinade clings to the chicken it’s in between every layer on the infusing the entire thing with it’s flavours as it roasts! The pan with the stack of meat is placed on the lower shelf of the oven and roasted until it’s cooked though. After roasting, the meat is thinly sliced off to be used in whatever way that you desire, and I like to mix it in with any juices that have collected on the bottom of the pan.
My favourite way to enjoy chicken shawarma is in a pita along with some fresh tzatziki (Greek style cucumber salad/sauce), sliced tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives and feta.
Roast Chicken Shawarma Gyros
Homemade chicken shawarma, oven roasted on a vertical spit, served in gyros!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced/grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 4 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and pounded thin
- 1/2 large red onion
- 16 pitas
- 2 cups tzatziki
- 2 cups tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
For the chicken shawarma:
For the gyros:
- Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, oregano, coriander, cumin.
- Mix the seasoning into the chicken and optionally let marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Place the half onion on top of a large baking dish with the cut side down, place a skewer* into the top and start layering the chicken on, alternating as you layer it.
- Roast in a preheated 375F/190C oven until the center reaches 165F, about 1-1.5 hours, let cook and slice.
- Assemble the gyros and enjoy!
For the chicken shawarma:
For the gyros:
Option: Use your favourite gyro fillings! (I also like shawarma sauce and/or pickled red onions!)
Note: This recipe makes a lot of meat since you need a lot to make a good vertical spit. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
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Nikki Moranville says
This sounds fabulous, Kevin! But I have a question. In step 3 you say to start layering the chicken, alternating as you layer it. Alternating with what? Gonna try this soon!
By alternating I mean changing the angle of the chicken as you skewer it. When you open up the boneless chicken thighs they are generally longer in one direction. You are skewering the chicken in the center with the longer sides hanging down and you want to alternate the longer sides so that they are spread evenly around the skewer. Enjoy!
Pauline lidbeck says
can I cook it on its side on a BBQ instead?
That will work!
Good question, above. How might you reduce the number of servings if the stacking is important? Like 2 pounds instead of 4? It looks like you separated the thighs into pieces too. Thanks. It sounds so yummy!
I would make the full 4 pounds and freeze any extra (after slicing) rather than cut the recipe size down, but you can make a much smaller stack with 2 pounds of chicken.
We made this tonight. This was an amazing and delicious recipe. A bit of work since here in France we can’t find skinless, boneless chicken thighs, but had to remove the bone and skin from the parts we bought ‘haut de cuisse de poulet’.
oh wow, what a fun chicken dish, would never have thought to make gyros out of chicken, great idea, love the flavors and not a dish I’ve ever made before, so fun with the gyro cooking techniques
This was absolutely delicious! A little laborious, since we can’t get boneless skinless chicken thighs here, but definitely worth the effort. We also made a big batch so we are going to enjoy the chicken at a couple of more meals.
Just cooked this and omg it was sooooo good! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe ❤️
How are there 33 g of carbs in this chicken?
The carbs mostly come from the pitas and other things in the gyros.
This looks amazing! Is this spicy? The Red Pepper flakes are thowing me off since we don’t do much spice and my husband is very sensative to spice. Would it still be good if I omit (or greatly reduce) the red pepper flakes?
You can omit the red pepper flakes! Enjoy!