There are few things more satisfying than a warm chicken shawarma sandwich. Flavorful chicken + soft pita + refreshing tzatziki = yum. Traditionally, shawarma meat is slow roasted on a spit, but we’ve whipped up an oven roasted chicken version that’s healthier and can be made easily at home!
Plus, just the name is so fun: shawarma. Say that ten times fast with your kids!
This chicken is designed to be enjoyed in a pita with yogurt sauce and veggies, but it’s also a delicious atop a large salad. Either way, it makes a great basis for a build-your-own meal. Kids love getting to choose what goes on their pita or salad!
The tzatziki – refreshing and flavorful yogurt sauce
While the tzatziki isn’t the main focus of this recipe, it sure is a wonderful compliment. Yogurt, cucumber, lemon, vinegar, and dill add a nice bite to the rich roasted chicken.
A tip for the cucumber- peel and then quarter it. This makes it easy to slice the inside seeds off, which keeps your sauce from becoming too watery. If it still seems rather wet, set it on a paper towel and sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to bleed for ten minutes or so, then pat dry. Feel free to skip this step if your cucumber seems fine as is. Then proceed to grate or chop.
Once the cucumber is ready, simply mix all tzatziki ingredients together. Then allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour to meld all those great flavors!
Let’s roast some chicken!
Prepare your chicken by making sure it’s all roughly the same size. Chicken breasts tend to be large, so it’s a good idea to cut them into a few smaller chunks so they have more marinade-able surface area. I roasted both breast and thighs, and both worked well. Thighs were more moist, however, so unless you’re opposed to them I’d recommend them.
Much like the tzatziki, the chicken marinade is a simple mix-everything-together deal. Then pour it over the chicken in a large ziplock or a sealable dish. Make sure the chicken is well covered in marinade and let it sit in the fridge 1+ hours or overnight.
A fantastic make-ahead meal
Speaking of overnight, this meal is ideal if you need something that is mostly made ahead. The night before or morning of, simply mix up the marinade and tzatziki (if using) and have them ready in the fridge. That way, all that’s left for dinner time is roasting the chicken and chopping up your toppings.
Roast chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet at 425* F for 25-30 minutes. Serve on pitas with red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, and feta cheese.
- 2 pound chicken breast
- 1/4 cup yogurt, plain
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper/chili flakes
- 1/2 medium cucumber
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
- 1/2 tsp vinegar, red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon dill weed, dried
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 4 large pita, whole wheat
- 1 medium tomato, red
- 1 medium onion, red
- Make chicken marinade by combining yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil and spices. If using large chicken breasts, cut into smaller chunks, maybe 3 inches in size. Combine marinade and chicken in a large zip lock bag or other sealable container and make sure all chicken is coated. Place in the fridge for 1+ hours, or overnight (longer is better).
- If making Tzatziki: peel, seed and finely chop or shred cucumber; mince garlic cloves, and combine with 1 cup yogurt, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper in a sealable container and allow to chill in the fridge for 1+ hours.
- Once the chicken is done marinating, heat the oven to 425* F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Place chicken evenly spaced on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, removing when the chicken is no longer pink when cut into. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then cut into strips and serve with tzatziki on pitas with tomatoes and red onion, or on a salad.