Chicken shawarma skewers will be your absolute favorite dinner to grill all summer long! Chicken thighs are generously seasoned with a stunning mix of bold spices, fresh lemon juice and a good amount of garlic! The chicken skewers are grilled to absolute perfection, charred on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Serve alongside creamy hummus, saffron rice or on top of your favorite crisp salad.
🌶️ Chicken Shawarma Skewers
Oh do I have a fantastic dinner recipe for you! These chicken shawarma kebabs are full of so many flavors with a bold spice mixture including paprika and cumin, lots of fresh garlic, fresh lemon zest and rich olive oil.
And once the chicken shawarma is grilled, there are so many variations you can do! Make chicken shawarma bowls with cucumber tzatziki or make a chicken shawarma platter like I did here, and serve with classic hummus and saffron rice.
🍡 Shawarma Marinade Ingredients
- Olive Oil
- Garlic: chopped finely or grated using a microplane.
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Cumin: This adds warmth and great flavor.
- Turmeric: Adds bright color and an earthy layer of flavor.
- Paprika: I love the deep flavor of smoked paprika but if you don't like smoky flavors, sweet paprika is a great substitute. Also offers color and great rich flavor to the shawarma marinade.
- Sumac: One of my favorite spices, sumac is tangy and bright. If you can't find sumac, you can omit since lemon is a good substitute in a pinch.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
🍋 Substitutions and Variations
- Instead of chicken breast, substitute with boneless and skinless chicken thighs.
- Instead of classic hummus, serve on top of avocado hummus or drizzle with tahini sauce.
- For a spicier addition, add 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper or harissa sauce.
- Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over cubed chicken breast.
- If you have the time, marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Skewer cubed chicken breast, lemon slices and red onion wedges onto skewers and place on a hot grill.
- Grill chicken shawarma kebabs until charred on all sides, turning as needed and cooked through in the center.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Chicken is recommended to be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make a chicken shawarma platter. Serve chicken shawarma skewers with pita bread, homemade hummus, chopped salad or my Mediterranean rice.
📍 Recipe Tips
- If using wooden skewers, soak skewers in water for at least 1 hour before grilling.
- Marinate for as long as you have, even 10 minutes before grilling.
- Grilled chicken shawarma lasts for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Shawarma and kebab are slightly different where kebab is usually made up of ground meat and shawarma uses cubes of meat. Both are generosity seasoned and grilled over charcoal.
Chicken shawarma uses pieces of chicken that are generously marinated with a mixture of bold spices, including paprika, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric along with garlic and fresh lemon. Once the chicken shawarma is marinaded, it is cooked over an open fire until charred on the outside and juice on the inside.
Chicken shawarma can certainly be considered healthy because it uses lean proteins that are marinated with spices, herbs and citrus.
What to Serve with Grilled Chicken Shawarma
Here are a few delicious side dishes to serve with chicken shawarma and if you need more inspiration, check out all these side dishes to serve with kebabs. You can put any skewer over my wonderful Mediterranean rice and you will not be sorry.
Chicken Shawarma Skewers
- Avocado oil for wiping on grill
- 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 lemon sliced thin
- 1 red onion cut into 1 inch chunks
- Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and add cubed chicken. Toss to coat so all the chicken is coated evenly. Cover bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat grill pan or outdoor grill to high heat and skewer chicken cubes onto skewers, alternating every few with lemon slices and onion wedges.
- Grill shawarma skewers for 4-5 minutes per side or until a deep char is formed and chicken is cooked through.
- Once done, remove skewers and let chicken rest for a few minutes.
- For the saffron rice, add broth, rice and pinch of saffron to a small pot and place the lid on. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until rice is cooked and liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- Once done, fluff rice with a fork.
- To serve, line a platter with saffron rice and hummus and top with chicken shawarma skewers. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped herbs and lemon wedges.