May 20, 2024


World's finest Food

How to make Chicken Shawarma Wraps at home

My most epic sandwich moment happened near Petra in Jordan back in the 1990s, with a friend who was perpetually hungry, regardless of the blistering hot weather. When he spotted a lonely shawarma stand off the side of the road, we made our taxi stop so we could buy a few wraps.

The wraps were on the small side, about the circumference of a Mexican flauta. Tender spiced lamb, crispy cucumber yogurt salad, pickled onions, sliced lemons and a nutty, creamy tahini sauce were nestled inside the soft flatbread. I didn’t realize I was hungry until I took my first bite, and then I couldn’t stop eating them. I knew I had to re-create this wrap at home.

Shawarma originated in Turkey, but during the Ottoman Empire era, its popularity spread across the Middle East. Its name comes from the Arabic word “shawi,” which means to grill. Of course, there are shawarma stands here now — the classic street food is globally popular — but you can also make this dish at home.

Typically, shawarma lamb, chicken or beef is slowly grilled on a vertical spit roaster, and grill masters shave the meat off the block. The following recipe, which uses chicken and a grill or oven, is infinitely customizable: Use beef or lamb, instead of chicken, or sub out the meat altogether for portobello mushrooms, tempeh or seitan. Serve it over salad for a low-carb option, with rice and salad for heartier fare, or in a wrap as a fast lunch. You can use any kind of flatbread, from pita to tortillas to Armenian lavash.

When we can finally entertain again, a shawarma bar is a fun option for guests, who can assemble the meats, condiments and “tarator” sauce — a tahini-based sauce spiked with lemon and garlic — into their own wraps.

Chicken Shawarma

Serves 4


¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ teaspoons allspice

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon sumac

1/3 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 pound boneless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper

4 flatbreads

Marinated onions, see recipe below

Tarator sauce, see recipe below

Toppings: Diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, pickled cucumbers or turnips, and 1 lemon, peeled and sliced thinly


Whisk together the coriander, allspice, cumin, sumac, olive oil and garlic. Combine the spice marinade with the meat and marinate for a minimum of one hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, make the marinated onions and tarator sauce.

Heat your oven (or grill) to 400 degrees. Remove the meat from the marinade and season it with salt and pepper; discard the marinade. Place the meat on a baking sheet and roast it for 30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes, before slicing for your shawarma.

To assemble the shawarma wraps, place the sliced meat on the flatbreads first. Top with marinated onions, diced cucumbers and tomatoes, pickles and sliced lemons, then drizzle with the tarator sauce and serve.

Marinated Onions

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon red or rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sumac

Pinch of salt

Directions: Combine the onions, vinegar, sumac and salt. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the wraps.