This chicken shawarma is made with marinated spiced chicken thighs and tender roasted onions and couldn’t be easier. Serve with an array of sides for a DIY customizable weeknight meal that everyone will love.
This chicken shawarma sheet pan dinner just might change your go-to dinner rotation. Forever. The contrasting flavors and textures of crisp spiced chicken thighs and sweetly tender roasted onions meld in exquisite fashion and the finished dish makes an absolutely splendid centerpiece, whether or not you take an extra few minutes to set up an always popular do-it-yourself array of toppings.–Jenny Howard
For the chicken shawarma
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons hot paprika or more to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large red onion peeled and cut into 6 wedges
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Make the chicken shawarma
- Add the chicken to the bowl and toss well to coat. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slick a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil.
- Add the onion wedges to the chicken and marinade and toss to combine.
- Place the chicken and onions in a single layer on the baking sheet, letting any excess marinade drip back into the bowl. Discard the marinade.
- Roast until the chicken is evenly browned, crisp at the edges, and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Cut the chicken into 1/2- to 1-inch (1- to 2.5-cm) pieces.
☞TESTER TIP: Like things extra crispy? In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss in the roasted chicken pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is extra crispy at the edges.
Serve the chicken shawarma
- Arrange the chicken in a large bowl or on a platter. Scatter the parsley over the top, if using.
- If desired, arrange small bowls of extras alongside the chicken and let everyone customize the chicken shawarma to their liking.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
From the moment I tasted the marinade, I knew this recipe was going to be a winner. The heat was present without being overbearing and the lemon juice was bracingly fresh.
I found 4 hours of marinating perfect for infusing flavor without diminishing the texture of the meat. Resist the temptation to spoon some of the marinade over the chicken before roasting as the chicken thighs will release plenty of their own liquid while cooking and this extra liquid can keep them from getting the proper browning.
This base recipe would also work great during grilling season and the leftovers lend themselves to a great grain bowl!
I did not brown the chicken in a skillet. Served it with lavash, tahini-garlic sauce, a tomato-cucumber-mint salad and crumbled feta. makes about 6 servings (1 thigh a person) but depending on how hungry people are and the method of serving, it would make less.
Thoughts: I’d recommend the onion be cut in half and then cut in thirds or quartered. I found the full onion quarters were too thick and steamed rather than really roasted.
I found the heat quite manageable, so those who really like a burn will want more red pepper flakes and/or hot paprika.
This recipe was all around terrific. It produced a wonderfully spiced delicious meal, which was easy to then customize with a variety of serving options. The contrasting taste of the spicy meat paired well with the sweet roasted onions, adding a welcome complexity of flavors. The preparation and cooking methods used here are practically foolproof and allow for plenty of flexibility in timing. That all the ingredients are affordable and easily sourced is a plus.
A couple of my chicken thighs were quite large, so I cut them to flatten a bit in order to provide more surface area on the pan, thus avoiding the optional re-frying technique at the end. My chicken marinated for 8 hours and was well browned on a sheet pan at 35 minutes.
I served it all with warmed pita and a large platter of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta crumbles for my people to customize to their liking, along with a bottle of hot sauce. A simple sauce, made with plain full fat yogurt, a grated garlic clove and a generous squeeze of lemon juice, topped it all off. I took advantage of the hot oven to roast another pan of cauliflower which provided a nice accompaniment to the meat.
I am happy to add this dish to my regular rotation of tasty yet easy dinner options!
What a creative weeknight dinner idea! The presence of ground turmeric gave the chicken a lovely yellow hue and the combination of cumin, paprika, cinnamon and crushed red pepper flakes was so tasty in combination with the minced garlic and the bright taste of the lemon juice. A favorite of ours when we visit Mediterranean restaurants, chicken shawarma seems like it might be daunting to make are home but this version proves that theory wrong. A simple marinade followed by a simple pan roast, the chicken thighs and red onions turn out to be super flavorful and tender.
I love the idea of serving this dish with whatever Mediterranean-inspired topping you desire. We served the chicken with thinly sliced cucumbers and diced tomatoes, whole wheat pita bread, hot sauce, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and some peppery watercress for a splash of color.
This dish serves 4 hungry people and took about 15 minutes hands-on time.
I sliced my chicken into bite-sized pieces once it was cooked, each about 1/2-inch pieces.
We really loved this dish and I think when made in large batches, this chicken could easily be the star of your next large get together. You could set up a toppings bar for the chicken shawarma so that all of your guests could fix their pitas any-which-way they desire!
A nice and easy Middle Eastern riff on chicken shawarma. My better half exclaimed that I need to make sure to make this again!
I marinated the chicken for about 9 hours. Everything comes together quickly with minimal prep time. I found that once the chicken was finished, I needed to separate the onion into layers and give it another 10 minutes in the oven to crisp it up a bit more. While the meat was cooking, I also prepared some roasted vegetable (peppers, zucchini, potatoes and mushrooms, using some of the left over marinade to season the veg). I went easy on the spiciness, however one can certainly kick up the crushed pepper if they prefer something hotter.
My belly is so happy! What a great recipe! I don’t know why I don’t do more marinade recipes during the week!
This took 15 mins to prep and get into the fridge; the next day when I got home from work, it took another 5 mins to get it into the oven.
While it cooked, I was able to put together all the sides to create an awesome mezze-style dinner. The chicken was spicy and flavourful. I served it with roasted eggplant, pita, hummus, tzatziki, and a feta/cucumber/tomato salad. I would recreate this exact meal again and would even serve it to company! Love, love, love!
I have one small confession. As I started prepping, I realized I only had 1 fresh lemon…but I did have preserved lemon…so I used one of each (and then cooked the preserved lemon with the chicken) I would HIGHLY recommend this and would totally do this again!
I think the olive oil can be decreased to 1/4 cup but that is just my preference.
I was very generous with my “pinch” of cinnamon. The cap on my spice shaker fell off and I ended up adding about 2 teaspoons to the marinade…loved it and would do this again!
I marinated my chicken for 20 hours. I assembled it the night before I cooked it. It was just easier than doing it in the morning before work in order to marinate for 12 hours.
I highly recommend lining the baking sheet with foil or parchment for easier clean up.
My chicken was in chunks (about 1-by-1-inch pieces). I did not crisp it up further, but I will make extra next time to give this a try as I can only imagine how good it would be.
I served it with: pita, roasted eggplant, hummus, tzatziki, feta/cucumber/tomato/mint salad. And I would do it all over again!!
This chicken shawarma is so flavorful and easy! I love a one-pan plan! The first day the kids and I had it with rice and the second day we had it wrapped in a pita with hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a lemon vinaigrette.
I only marinated it for 1 hour and would advise that others marinate it for at least 2 hours if not longer. The flavor came through when I served it with rice but when placed in the pita the spices needed to be stronger.
I baked the chicken for 40 minutes to get extra crispy bits as indicated in the recipe and in my opinion it was too crispy. Next time I would bake it for 30 minutes or less and of course I would leave out the pan frying step as I did this time as well.
This is a solid recipe. My whole family liked it. I served it with Mediterranean white sauce and turmeric rice as well as flat bread.
This recipe makes a great weeknight meal. You can start to marinate the chicken in the morning and then you only need about 30 minutes of baking time before dinner to cook the chicken. Use those 30 minutes to cook some rice and the vegetable of your choice and you will have a complete meal.
I used olives and chopped tomatoes for toppings but any of the other toppings suggested would be excellent to bring out the character of the dish.
This recipe has a great final product, is easy to follow and make, easy clean up, straightforward ingredients—pretty much anything you would want in a wee night dinner. I think the real opportunity with this recipe is to provide other associated recipes or serving suggestions.
I’ve made a number of oven roasted Shawarma recipes because I love all of the sides and extras you can make to go along with it. The challenge is then combing cookbooks or other sites looking for all of the sides to turn this simple chicken dish into a pretty spectacular, “”choose your own adventure”” meal!
The spice level on this was nice but given it is supposed to be shawarma I think this can be turned up a little and increase the cumin, paprika, and turmeric by half and I would increase the red pepper flake to 1/4 or even 1/3 teaspoon.
All of the ingredients fit on a single baking sheet without crowing which was a great perk!
I went ahead and tried crisping up around half of the chicken strips so we could try it both ways. I heated my cast iron skillet over high heat and added a half tablespoon of vegetable oil and browned the cut sides for 2 to 3 minutes. It was a really nice something extra! I would take the time to do it on the whole batch next time. My strips didn’t curl but maybe then would have if they were thinner longer.
I served it with a variety of things: home made pita, hummus, garlicky yogurt sauce, harissa, olives, cucumber, tomato, and parsley salad, rice pilaf, and greens.
This was 4 to 6 servings depending on how you served it. Easily 6 if using for a sandwich or wrap filling or a salad topping
A delicious recipe to build upon with a bunch of accoutrements. For easier cleanup, I used a large Ziploc bag to marinate and a foil-lined roasting sheet to cook.
I marinated the chicken for an hour, because I am unorganized and didn’t plan ahead. I then placed it on a foil-lined roasting pan with the onions and cooked for 30 minutes. I did not cook the chicken additionally as it was plenty cooked by this point and I didn’t want to make it too dry. I served with feta and rice.
It was delicious but the whole meal was rather dry. Next time I’ll definitely make some tzatziki or laban to accompany. I will also marinate the chicken longer, although I worry that the lemon juice will make it tough.
This recipe goes into a file titled, “Repeat Often.” It made for some wonderful, full-flavored meals. I served the chicken alongside a plethora of sides. There was hummus, tzatziki, feta, kalamata olives, baby pitas, and baby heirloom tomatoes which I had cut in half.
And, of course, there was the purple onion that has cooked alongside the chicken. The chicken was not as spicy as we thought that it would be when I made the marinade. It had seemed fairly spicy, but that turned out not to be the case. Nevertheless, it was extremely flavorful. Could not have asked for anything more. I cut the finished chicken pieces into 1/4-inch-thick slices and cooked them in a cast iron frying pan to achieve the crispy edges we desired. We had tasted the chicken both sautéed and not first, and preferred the sautéed chicken by far.
Sheet pan shawarma?! How brilliant! This dish took very little work or time, and was delicious and versatile—I loved it. The chicken was decisively garlic-y and lemony (is this combination ever a bad idea? I think not.). And the sweet red onion was tender but still had a slight crunch and beautiful charred edges.
After I sliced the chicken right on the baking pan, I gave the whole thing a stir to coat the chicken and the onion wedges with the juices. I served the shawarma with a stack of warm pita, halved cherry tomatoes, and wilted baby kale for an eat-with-your-hand dinner. Next time I’ll “resurrect” an old favorite on Leite’s site to serve with the chicken—Lemon Israeli Couscous.
This is my favorite type of weeknight meal: very low effort to make, lots of flavor, and plenty of leftovers.
I made the marinade the night before so I could combine the chicken and marinade quickly in the morning before work. In the evening when I got home, I cut up the onions, coated them in the marinade, and then placed everything on the sheet pan. While the chicken and onions were cooking, I took care of cutting up and preparing all the accompaniments. By the time the chicken came out of the oven, everything was done and it was time to eat. When we ran out of pita for serving leftovers, the chicken was also great in a rice bowl with the same accompaniments.
This was sooooooo good and sooooooo easy. Takes no time at all to get it in the oven. Read the recipe and make sure you marinate as long as possible.
I decided at the last minute to make for a friend who was coming for dinner so I only had time to marinate for 1 hour. My husband ate the leftovers the next day and said they were even better after sitting overnight so he wants to marinate for a full 12 hours or more the next time.
I served this with a couscous/feta/tomato dish, hummus, naan and a sauce of greek yogurt, feta and lemon. We told our guest he was a guinea pig as I was making this recipe for the first time and after dinner he told me this was so good he would be our guinea pig anytime!
I think this chicken shawarma might be in the top 3 things I’ve tested for Leite’s Culinaria! It was near perfection and I will never stop making it—it will be in the rotation forever!
I served it with authentic warm, thin pita from Lebanon, an excellent white sauce made from Labneh, tahini, garlic, lemon, dill, some sliced Persian cucumbers, and sliced tomatoes…and nontraditionally, a couple of sliced avocados.
Crisping the chicken in a pan after roasting it caramelized the flavors even more and put this over the top! Next time I will make a double batch because 5 of us polished off 10 chicken thighs in no time flat!
My “bits” were about 1/2 thick straight through the thigh but broke apart somewhat more as they crisped up in the sauté pan.
Served with warm, thin pita, Persian cucumbers, Labneh tahini white sauce, sliced Haas avocado, little gem lettuce, sliced multi-colored tomatoes.
We got 5 servings but if I hadn’t been greedy I might have been able to get 6 servings.
Originally published March 8, 2020