Grilled Chicken Shawarma

Making chicken shawarma on the grill brings this very tasty and popular Middle Eastern meal to your backyard with no fuss and no muss. It’s a super flavorful dish that brings together spice-infused grilled chicken with fresh, crisp vegetables and a cool, creamy tzatziki sauce. You’ll love it!

Grilled chicken shawarma on a dark plate.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

I don’t have one of those vertical meat cooker things. I’d venture to say that you probably don’t either. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this amazing dish.

The dish is super easy to put together. It’s basically just a mess of herbs that marinate the chicken overnight and then grill it. The options for garnish are up to you, but some lettuce, tomato, and red onion are pretty much the standard.

It’s finished with a creamy yogurt, garlic, and tahini sauce. We opt for our tzatziki sauce instead. We love it. It basically contains the same ingredients, but we use mayonnaise and cucumber over the tahini. It’s cool and delicious!

Grilled chicken shawarma on a dark plate.

The vibrant-tasting chicken, with its little burnt bits here and there, comes together with the fresh vegetables and the cool, creamy tzatziki sauce, all on a pita, giving you a perfect bite every time.

It’s a breeze to bring together, and the flavor is top-notch. You’re gonna love it.

Ingredients Needed

To get that flavor on the chicken, you’re gonna need a good amount of spices. Other than that, everything is easy to get your hands on. Take a look at the recipe card below for the full list of amounts and ingredients.

Ingredients needed to make chicken shawarma on a dark plate.
Ingredients for grilled chicken shawarma
A plate of produce for chicken shawarma on a dark plate.
The garnish for grilled chicken shawarma

How To Make Grilled Chicken Shawarma

  • Cover the chicken thighs with plastic wrap on both sides and using a meat tenderizer, pound the thighs to an even thickness. Combine all the dry spices and whisk them until they are evenly distributed.
Chicken thighs being tenderized.
Spices blended together in a stainless steel bowl.
  • In a large bowl, add the mixed spices and remaining marinade ingredients with the chicken thighs and mix well to combine, making sure all the surfaces of the chicken thighs are well coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours).
Chicken thighs added to a marinade.
Chicken thighs in a shawarma marinade.
  • Grill the chicken over a direct medium heat, approximately 4 minutes each side. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a meat thermometer will help you nail that perfect cook.
Chicken thighs cooking on a kettle grill.
  • Remove from the grill and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with pita bread, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and tzatziki sauce.
Grilled chicken shawarma on a dark plate.
Grilled chicken shawarma on a dark plate.


Marinate for Flavor: Don’t rush the marinating process. Letting the chicken sit in the spices overnight really enhances the flavor.

Even Cooking: Pound the chicken thighs to an even thickness for consistent cooking on the grill.

Temperature Check: Invest in a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption.


Vegetarian Option: Swap the chicken for grilled portobello mushrooms or tofu for a vegetarian-friendly version.

Spice Level: Adjust the amount of chili powder to control the heat level of the marinade according to your preference. You can also add some cayenne for a spicy kick.

Wrap Alternatives: Experiment with different wraps, such as naan bread or lavash, for a unique twist on presentation.


Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?

Yes, chicken breast can be used instead of thighs. However, thighs tend to be juicier and more flavorful.

Can I make the marinade ahead of time?

Absolutely! The marinade can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Can I grill the chicken indoors?

If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan or even bake the chicken in the oven.

Other Delicious Grilled Recipes

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Grilled chicken shawarma on a dark plate.

Grilled Chicken Shawarma Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinade: 12 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 704kcal


Main Ingredients

  • 3 lb Chicken thighs pounded even
  • 8 Pita bread
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Red onion

Shawarma Marinade

  • 1/2 cup Yogurt
  • 5 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Coriander
  • 1 tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Onion powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp Dry mustard
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Cardamon
  • 1 tbsp White vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil



  • Cover chicken thighs with plastic wrap, pound to even thickness.
    3 lb Chicken thighs
  • Combine dry spices, whisk.
    1 tbsp Coriander, 1 tbsp Chili powder, 1 tbsp Cumin, 1 tbsp Onion powder, 1 tbsp Smoked paprika, 2 tsp Dry mustard, 2 tsp Kosher salt, 2 tsp Black pepper, 1 tsp Cardamon
  • Mix spices, marinade ingredients with chicken.
    1/2 cup Yogurt, 5 cloves Garlic, 1 tbsp White vinegar, 2 tbsp Lemon juice, 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • Marinate overnight.
  • Grill chicken over medium heat, 4 mins each side.
  • Cook until internal temp reaches 175°F.
  • Rest for 5 mins before slicing.
  • Serve with pita, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, tzatziki sauce.
    8 Pita bread, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Red onion, 2 cups Tzatziki Sauce


Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
For longer storage, freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.


Calories: 704kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 1332mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1070IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 183mg | Iron: 3mg

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