Shawarma: How To Make Egyptian Shawarma

In Middle Eastern cuisine, shawarma is a dish that consists primarily of meat. The meat is cut into thin slices, stacked in a cone-like shape, and roasted on a slow-turning vertical rotisserie or spit. Originally made of lamb or mutton, today Shawarma may be made of chicken, turkey, beef, or veal.

The cooked surface is shaved off in thin slices as it rotates continuously. Shawarma is one of the most well-regarded street foods in the world, in particular in Egypt and the Levant countries, as well as in the Arabian Peninsula, and beyond. The slices are stacked to about 60 cm (20 in) wide on a skewer. Lamb fat can be added to add extra juiciness and flavor. A motorized spit turns the stack of meat slowly in front of a heating element, roasting the outer layer continuously. Shavings are cut off from the rotating stack to serve, usually with a long, sharp knife.

This particular recipe uses chicken as meat. The marinade is very easy to prepare, and the chicken can be put in the marinade while it is still frozen. It is best cooked on the grill or barbecue, but you can cook it on the stove too. You can serve the meat on a large platter with a simple salad and flatbread, and let your guests make their own wraps.

Egyptian Shawarma

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Snacks
  • Cuisine: Egyptian

The whole preparation and cooking time is 40 minutes, not including marinating time. This recipe is suitable for at least six servings. 

Photo credit: @elarabitogrill / 

Egyptian Shawarma Ingredients

  • 1kg chicken thigh fillets, skinless and boneless 

For the marinade,

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (reduce to 1/2 tsp to make it not spicy)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

For the yogurt sauce,

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

For serving,

  • 6 flatbreads 
  • Sliced lettuce 
  • Tomato slices

Egyptian Shawarma Instructions

Step 1: Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a large ziplock bag or bowl. Add the chicken and use your hands to make sure every single piece is covered, massaging the marinade into the meat. Marinate for 24 hours, or overnight.

Step 2: Combine the ingredients of the yogurt sauce in a bowl and mix. Cover and put in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the dish. It will last in the fridge for up to three days.

Step 3: Heat grill or large, heavy stove-based pan at medium heat. You shouldn’t need to oil it because there is oil in the marinade and thigh filets also have fat in them. But if you’re worried, then you can oil your grill or hotplate.

Step 4: Place the chicken on the grill and cook the first side for four to five minutes until well charred. Then flip them and cook the other side for three to four minutes (it takes less time on the second side). Remove the chicken from the grill and cover with foil loosely. Set aside for five minutes to rest.

Step 5: Now, you can slice the chicken and pile the chicken on a platter with the flatbreads, salad and yogurt sauce.

Step 6: Get a piece of flatbread and smear with yogurt sauce on it. You can top with the meat and a bit of lettuce and tomato.

Egyptian Shawarma Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 475 calories, 13.2g of fat, 85mg of cholesterol, 48g of carbohydrates. 
  • It will take 40 minutes to prepare this dish, excluding, the marination time.
  • This recipe will make enough to feed six people.
  • If you use huge Lebanese bread as pictured (the diameter is nearly 30cm/1 foot), you need around 300g/10 oz of chicken per person (raw) to fill them completely without tucking the ends in.

Image source:

About Egyptian Shawarma

Spices used might include cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and paprika. Shawarma is traditionally served in a flatbread such as a pita or laffa, as a sandwich or wrap. It is often topped with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pickled vegetables, and amba mango sauce or tahini sauce.

Some restaurants can offer additional toppings such as grilled peppers, aubergines, or even French fries. Most shawarma in Israel is made from the dark meat of a turkey. It is commonly served with tahini sauce because serving yogurt sauce with meat would violate the Jewish dietary restriction of not eating milk and meat together.


Roasting meat has been a part of Egypt’s culture and tradition for centuries. The technique of grilling has been in their history since the 19th century. Until now, their traditions have stayed the same. Moreover, it has influenced many recipes around the world. Click here for international snack recipes. 

Featured Image: @yafahummus /, @fryupinspector /