This healthy chicken shawarma is very easy to make and can be prepared in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the grill. With only 218 calories and one Weight Watchers SmartPoint, it is perfect for pita sandwiches, meal prep bowls, and salads.
As much as I love a good chicken shavarma pita, I always thought this dish was best left to the experts. Living in Los Angeles, we are fortunate to have so many great places to go. I hadn’t thought to try it until a few weeks ago when a reader asked me for a recipe for chicken chawarma. But I’m so glad I did. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s much healthier than the take-out version. Plus, it is made with spices that you would have at home. How about this for a dinner dish?
To be fair, this is more of a shawarma-flavored chicken. It doesn’t have the vertical skewers that traditionally take hours to roast and become flavorful with their fat and juices. But I assure you that it is still very good. It couldn’t be easier to cook and season correctly. I plan to cook it in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot during the colder months and grill it during the hotter months.
How to Cook Chicken Shawarma
Shoongarrah: This version is probably the one I will make most often because I can just throw everything in the pot and forget about it. My plan is to marinate the chicken the night before, put it in the slow cooker around noon, and have it ready for dinner.
Instant Pot: The more I use my Instant Pot, the more I like it. Usually, for chicken breasts, I set the timer manually for 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts. Then we let it cook naturally. You can also set this for chicken as well.
Grilling: When it gets hot outside, I look forward to cooking this dish on the barbecue. This gives it a smoky aroma and the crispy outside of a traditional chicken shawarma.
Crispy: When cooking in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, the crispy outside can be compromised. But you can crisp them on the grill or lightly fry them in a pan.
Chicken shawarma is not complete without the ingredients. Whether you make a traditional pita sandwich, a bowl, or a salad, you can’t have true shawarma flavor without a little something extra.
Toppings and Side Dish Ideas
Tabbouleh: There are many different recipes for tabbouleh. One of my favorite recipes is this lentil and quinoa tabouleh. I like to make it in batches and eat it as is with chicken on top.
Garlic Sauce: Traditional Lebanese garlic sauce is made from a combination of garlic and rapeseed oil, and while it is very tasty, it is high in calories and fat due to the high amount of oil. I like to make a garlic and yogurt sauce instead. This one is really tasty and highly digestible.
Hummus: Hummus is not traditionally served with shawarma, but many people prefer it. You can make your own hummus or use store-bought hummus, which is also delicious. Tahini may also be added.
Israeli-Style Salad: This cucumber and tomato salad is perfect for serving on top of pita or as a side dish. My favorite is an Israeli chopped salad with lemon and fresh herbs.
Spicy: I like to spice everything up a bit. For shawarma, I like to use purchased harissa. Also, Trader Joe’s has a Middle Eastern cilantro and jalapeño hot sauce called Schug that is brilliant. You can find it next to hummus and pesto.
Seeds: If you don’t want to wrap your shawarma in pita bread, rice is the closest thing to a traditional option. You can also use quinoa or cauliflower rice.
This recipe is ideal for Eating healthy meal preparation. If you make a large batch on Sunday, you can quickly pack it for lunch on a weekday. I always pack a few with seeds, cucumbers, tomatoes, and yogurt sauce. The others are wrapped and made into easy pita sandwiches.