This Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma recipe has quickly become one of a handful of favorite meals in my house. Shawarma is one of the most famous street foods found in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Chicken Shawarma is also one of the most takeout-friendly foods, but I love to make it at home. With this Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma recipe, it is so easy! And it is delicious, too, flavored with lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and other delicious shwarma spices.
This quick and easy chicken shawarma recipe can be made using a combination of your Instant Pot and oven, air fryer, or grill, or it can be made entirely in your home oven.
What is chicken shawarma?
Shawarma is a middle eastern meat dish. A traditional shwarma recipe is made by marinating thin slices of meat and then stacking them on a vertical rotisserie that turns slowly as the meat roasts.
My husband calls it a “giant meat carrot,” because the rotating stack of meat is shaped somewhat like a carrot. lol.
Once the outer layer of shawarma meat is cooked, it is shaved off with a sharp knife. The remaining meat continues to cook and is shaved off in successive layers.
True shawarma is often made with lamb or beef. This recipe uses chicken.
This recipe for making chicken shawarma in the Instant Pot or oven is the easy way. Using the pressure cooker makes it possible to make this dish even on busy weeknights.
It starts with marinated chicken flavored with a traditional seasoning mixture or shawarma spices.
You can cook it in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker or you can roast it in the oven. Finally, run it under the broiler, or pop it in the air fryer or on the grill, to crisp up the edges, giving it that authentic spit-roasted shawarma flavor.
What ingredients do you need?
The unique mixture of lemon juice and Middle Eastern spices is what makes shawarma so special. Here are the ingredients you need to make homemade chicken shawarma:
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Plain yogurt (you can use Greek yogurt or a European-style yogurt)
- A few cloves garlic
- Cumin powder
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- A large onion
Do you need to use chicken thighs or will Chicken breasts work?
Normally, I think chicken breasts and thighs are somewhat interchangeable, but in this case, I highly recommend sticking to thighs. Because the chicken is run under the broiler after cooking, the lean breast meat might dry out.
Dark chicken thigh meat has more fat, which keeps it moist and tender even after broiling.
How to make homemade chicken shawarma in the Instant Pot or oven
This recipe is super easy and it makes super juicy chicken!
- Stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, garlic, and spices. Add the chicken and onion, turn to coat, and marinate for 20 minutes or so. You can do this in a large bowl or a large ziploc bag.
- To cook it in the Instant Pot, place the chicken and onions in the pot. Set the Instant Pot lid to seal. Set instant pot pressure cook on high for 12 minutes using the manual setting.
- When the instant pot cycle is done, allow a natural release.
- Transfer the chicken and onions, using a slotted spoon, to a sheet pan, breaking up the chicken pieces.
- Or cook to cook it in the oven, arrange it in a single layer on a baking sheet pan in a 425ºF oven for 35 to 45 minutes, then break the chicken thighs into smaller pieces and spread them out on the sheet pan.
- Put the sheet pan with the shredded chicken under the broiler and broil until it begins to blacken and char in spots.
- Serve immediately.
Can you make chicken shawarma in advance?
Yes! You can make chicken shawarma and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat it, put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or wrap it in foil and heat it in a 350ºF oven for about 15 minutes.
How do you serve it?
In my house, we like to turn it into chicken shawarma wraps. We wrap the meat in Middle Eastern flatbread or pita bread along with shredded lettuce, sliced red onion, chopped tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers, making it a complete meal.
Or you can make chicken shawarma bowls by putting the meat over plain rice or rice pilaf.
A Greek salad or a tomato salad would be the perfect side.
- Juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons yogurt
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- Stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander, salt, pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon.
- Add the chicken and onion and turn to coat well.
- Marinate the chicken for anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours (if you plan to marinate it for longer, I recommend leaving out the yogurt until just before you are going to cook the chicken.)
- To cook it in the Instant Pot, place the chicken and onions in the pot, cover and seal it, and set it to pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure valve has dropped, open the pot and remove the chicken and
onion with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to a foil-lined sheet pan. Use the spoon or a fork to shred the chicken into smaller pieces and arrange it in a single layer on the pan. Skip to step 6.
- To cook it in the oven, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Arrange the chicken and onions in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand for a few minutes. Use two forks or your hands (if the chicken is cool enough to handle) to break the chicken into smaller pieces. Spread the pieces out in a single layer on the sheet pan. Continue to step 6.
- Put the sheet pan with the shredded chicken
under the broiler and broil for 8 to 15 minutes, checking frequently, until it begins to blacken and char in spots.
- Serve hot.
1. The chicken can be marinated for up to 24 hours, but if you are planning to marinate it longer than about 2 hours, omit the yogurt from the marinade. Stir the yogurt into the chicken a few minutes before cooking.
2. You can make shwarma in advance. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Heat it in the microwave or wrap it in foil and heat it in a 350ºF oven for about 15 minutes.
Amount Per Serving Calories 573Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 24gCholesterol 277mgSodium 1507mgCarbohydrates 4.4gFiber 3gSugar 10gProtein 57g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.