Looking for healthy griddle recipes to make on the flat top grill? Try this middle Eastern-style grilled Chicken Shawarma recipe! Made with an easy marinade and served with a homemade yogurt sauce, this may be your new favorite griddle chicken recipe!
If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, then you’ve probably had your fair share of chicken shawarma. The irresistible combination of tender, flavorful chicken, warm spices, and creamy sauces all wrapped in a soft pita, naan bread, or flatbread is simply delicious.
And you probably think that you have to go to your local restaurant or deli to get authentic Chicken Shawarma… but you can make the classic dish at home with this easy recipe! And you can also make your own homemade griddle naan bread, too!
Yes, shawarma is traditionally prepared on vertical rotisseries, but you can achieve delicious results using a griddle (or a stovetop skillet) in the comfort of your own home.
And this chicken shawarma recipe tasted exactly like the one that’s served at a popular authentic restaurant near our house. Here’s how to make this easy chicken griddle recipe:
Ingredients for Easy Chicken Shawarma
The ingredients list is long for this easy chicken shawarma recipe, but you probably have most of the spices in your kitchen already. Other than the common Middle Eastern staple, tahini, the other ingredients are very easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Here’s what you need:
For the Chicken and Marinade:
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- fresh minced garlic
- all spice and clove
- smoked paprika
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper
- onion powder
- chicken thighs – We chose to skin and de-bone our own chicken thighs to make this recipe more budget-friendly, but you will definitely need boneless skinless chicken thighs.
*NOTE – Some chicken shawarma marinade recipes call for plain Greek yogurt, but since I was grilling the chicken on the flat top grill, I chose to leave the yogurt out. I have used yogurt marinades before, and I have not been happy with how the yogurt reacts with the high surface temps of the griddle. Since not all shawarma marinades contain yogurt, I chose to leave that ingredient out of my griddle recipe.
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- plain Greek yogurt
- lemon juice
- fresh garlic – Or you can substitute jarred minced garlic or garlic powder. I always have fresh garlic on hand, so I made a simple garlic paste by finely dicing the garlic cloves and crushing them with a small bit of olive oil and salt to act as an abrasive.
- salt and pepper
For the Chicken Shawarma Wraps:
- thinly sliced red onion
- chopped lettuce
- diced tomatoes
- diced cucumber
- dill pickles
- naan bread, flatbread, or pita bread – See how to make your own homemade griddle naan bread here!
How to Make Chicken Shawarma on the Griddle (or in a Skillet)
Truth be told, the most difficult part of this easy chicken shawarma recipe is probably measuring out all of the spices. Once the chicken is marinated, you just cook it on the flat top grill, slice, and serve! Here’s an in-depth look at the different steps to make this restaurant-quality chicken dish at home:
Making the Marinade for Chicken Shawarma
Marinating the chicken takes at least 6 hours, so plan ahead when making this recipe. We actually marinated our chicken for a full 24 hours, and the flavors were fantastic!
The marinade comes together like most other chicken marinades. Just follow these simple steps:
- Add all of the spices, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice to a large bowl, and mix together well.
- Add the boneless skinless chicken thighs to the marinade, and mix so that each piece of chicken is evenly coated.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
*NOTE – If your boneless skinless chicken thighs are fatter in some areas, then use a knife and the butterfly method to open the fatter parts so that each piece of chicken is even in thickness. You chicken thighs should end up looking longer and flatter like the photos down below.
Making the Yogurt Sauce
The creaminess of this yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with the bold spices of the chicken shawarma, and it is very easy to make. Simply add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then, refrigerate until ready to serve your chicken shawarma wraps.
This sauce also makes a great dip for crispy pita chips or vegetable crudités.
Some authentic sauces for chicken shawarma don’t contain yogurt, and instead are purely tahini-based. But since I left the yogurt out of the marinade, I added it in with the sauce.
Grilling the Chicken on the Flat Top Grill
After the chicken is done marinating, heat your griddle to about 450 degrees F. Chicken shawarma is typically cooked on a spit, and the outside edges get charred and crispy from the fire, so to mimic those flavors, you will need your griddle surface temperature to be fairly high.
Once the griddle is preheated, lay the chicken thighs on the griddle so that they are flat like this:
Cook the chicken on the first side about 5-6 minutes, or until a nice char develops and the chicken is slightly browned. Then, flip the thighs to the second side and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the internal temp of the fattest part of each thigh reaches about 165-170 degrees F.
Be sure to check the temp of each piece of chicken before removing it from the griddle. As each piece hits the appropriate temp, transfer to a plate to rest. Resting the chicken is important to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the meat moist.
You can also flip the chicken back over if needed… cooking chicken on the griddle isn’t necessarily a “one flip” process. Move the thighs on the griddle so that they are evenly cooked on both sides and have a nice deep color.
Your chicken shawarma should look something like this when it’s done:
Serving the Chicken Shawarma
Once the grilled chicken shawarma is fully cooked and rested, it’s time to serve!
Slice the chicken against the grain into thin strips to mimic the slices that come off of the rotisserie for traditional shawarma. Then, build your shawarma wraps!
We spread a good dose of the yogurt sauce on the naan bread, and then we piled on the toppings including the grilled chicken, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, red onion, diced cucumbers, and pickles. You may also want to serve your wraps with extra yogurt sauce for dipping.
Roll up your pita or flatbread, and your homemade chicken shawarma is ready to enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs for shawarma?
Absolutely! I personally prefer using boneless skinless thighs on the griddle, because they are more forgiving when it comes to the high surface temps and thighs are typically more tender. But if you prefer a leaner option, you can substitute chicken breasts. Just be cautious not to overcook them, as chicken breasts can become dry if grilled for too long.
Can I prepare the chicken shawarma in advance?
Yes, you can prepare the marinated chicken in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before grilling.
What other toppings can I use for chicken shawarma?
The toppings for chicken shawarma are incredibly versatile. In addition to tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions, you can add lettuce, pickles, olives, or even a bit of hot sauce for some extra heat.
Also, if you want to save some carbs, you can serve the sliced chicken on top of a salad or even on a bed of cauliflower rice. One thing I would NOT skip out on, however, is the sauce. I highly recommend that you serve your shawarma with some sort of yogurt, tahini, or garlic sauce… The creaminess of the sauce works perfectly with the spicy chicken.
What if I don’t have a griddle? Can I still make this chicken shawarma recipe?
Absolutely! You can follow the same steps to marinate the chicken, and then cook it on a charcoal or gas grill. You could also cook the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop (since a griddle basically operates the same as a large skillet). Just be sure to adjust the cooking time and temperature accordingly.
Easy Chicken Shawarma and Yogurt Sauce
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
For the Marinade:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 clove finely minced garlic (or substitute jarred minced garlic)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4-6 pita bread, naan bread, or other soft flatbread
- diced tomatoes
- diced cucumbers
- thinly sliced red onion
- shredded lettuce
- dill pickles
- Make the chicken shawarma marinade. Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the boneless skinless chicken thighs to the bowl and mix well so that all pieces of chicken are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.
- Make the yogurt sauce. Combine all yogurt sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. *The yogurt sauce will stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- When chicken is done marinating, heat griddle to about 450 degrees F.
- Place the chicken thighs on the heated griddle surface, making sure that they are spread out and laying flat. Cook on the first side for about 5-6 minutes, or until a nice char develops. Then, flip to the second side and continue to cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.
- When chicken is fully cooked, transfer to a cutting board to rest about 5-6 minutes. Then, slice against the grain into thin strips.
- Make the chicken shawarma wraps. Spread some yogurt sauce on the naan or pita bread. Top with sliced chicken, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumbers, and pickles. Wrap up and serve with extra sauce for dipping.