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Easy Chicken Shawarma

Chicken shawarma to rival your local fave shawarma shop, without any of the special equipment - and a smokey flavour secret.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Marinate3 hours
Total Time3 hours 55 minutes
Course: Main Course
Keyword: dairy free, gluten free, keto, Paleo, sugar free, Whole30
Servings: 6


Shawarma Marinade

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs (keep the pieces as large as possible - you can keep the skin and fat on as well to add flavour - but this is optional - I normally do skin off.)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch turmeric
  • 1 tbsp smoked harissa paste (optional)

For Grilling

  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 skewers (if using wood skewers, soak for at least 3 hours in water)

For Serving

  • 1 tsp oil
  • bomb garlic sauce (see recipe notes for recipe link)
  • lettuce
  • naan or pita


Marinate the Chicken

  • In a large bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together, add the chicken and mix well to coat. Cover and let the chicken rest for at least 3 hours in the fridge.

Grilling Method

  • Heat up your grill at medium high heat.
  • While the grill heats up, slice the onion in half horizontally, leaving the skin on and root base and top in tact. These will be the base and top of your makeshift rotisserie.
  • Insert one half of the onion onto three skewers evenly spaced in a triangle shape so that the skewers can stand upright with the onion at the base - the pointy ends facing up.
  • Start to layer the chicken pieced onto the skewers, you may need to fold pieces over onto themselves to be able to thread them onto the skewers. The idea is that the chicken should fit snugly inside the rough circumference of the onion. You don't too many loose bits hanging out as these will burn too quickly.
  • Once all the chicken is on the skewers, top with the second half of the onion to cover the pointy skewer ends. The chicken should be evenly spaced and snug, but not too tight, on the skewers.
  • Lie your makeshift shawarma rotisserie on the heated grill on its side. Turn down the heat to medium low (or place it on the cooler side of your grill).
  • Cover and cook for about 35-40 minutes, turning every 5 to 8 minutes to ensure the chicken gets golden brown and crisp all over. The best way to know that the chicken is cooked, is to check the internal temperature is at least 165F (74C).
  • Depending on how hot your grill is, you may find that the outside cooks too fast, in that case, you can shave off the cooked bits as you go, and then keep them aside while you continue cooking the rest - in true shawarma style!

Oven Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  • Using an 8 inch loaf pan, gently place the marinated chicken into the pan, packing it down on top of each other so it fits snugly. Almost like a chicken meat loaf.
  • Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, till the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165F (74C).


  • When chicken is ready, heat up a piece of charcoal on the stove, or on the bbq.
  • Once the charcoal starts to turn ashy, form a boat out of a square of foil, with the edges turned up. (If cooking in the oven, keep a large piece of foil ready - it should be large enough to cover the chicken dish).
  • This part goes, quickly, so have everything ready to go: when the charcoal is hot (it turns a white ashy colour), carefully place the hot charcoal onto the foil boat, and immediately add 1 tsp oil to it. It should start to smoke right away. Place the foil boat with smokey charcoal beside or on top of the chicken and cover. If using BBQ, just cover the BBQ and turn off the heat. If using oven method, cover the chicken with a tent of foil and set aside. Make sure it is well sealed so no smokey air can escape.
  • Allow the smoke to infuse the chicken while it cools for about 5-10 minutes.
  • Once the chicken is done, remove the charcoal, and start carving into thin slices and serve!


Highly recommend you try this with some bomb garlic sauce and garlic sourdough naan!