Chicken Shawarma is on my family menu a few times a month. This easy and low-carb recipe is pretty versatile and very family friendly. My husband and I eat a low-carb diet so we enjoy it with a Greek salad, and the kids enjoy it as a wrap in Pita bread. The condiments make it such a delicious, healthy and a complete meal. All this comes together so easily and cooking this in the oven or in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, is a breeze.
I make my own combination of the Shawarma spice mix. I use the same spice mix for lamb, beef, fish and even flavoring rice or couscous. This middle eastern gem is a super hit with my family and friends too! I start by putting together the spice mix and then marinating the chicken. If I’m using chicken thighs, I trim off the excess fat. If I’m using chicken breasts, I half them each breast in two and then cut it half, length-wise. I marinate the chicken for 20 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how much time I have. But this spice mix is so flavorful that even with a 20 minute marinade, the chicken comes out juicy and delicious.
Typically, I make Chicken Shawarma in the oven. Here’s the Oven method: I simply line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (easy clean-up). Spread the chicken flat, giving enough room for the chicken (don’t crowd the baking sheet). Then turn on BROIL and put the chicken in about 2-3 inches away from the broiler and bake for 8 minutes on the first side, flip it, and 6 minutes on the second side. This timing may wary depending on the size of the chicken and your oven intensity.
Oven vs. Instant Pot: Ever since I got my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, I have been wanting to try this recipe. And when I did, the result was amazing. If I compared it to the oven method, there was a texture difference, but both methods had their merits that contribute to the flavor of this dish. The chicken turned out super moist in the Instant Pot, since we steam cooked it. Broiling it in the oven, gave it that crispy crust on the chicken that you see commonly when you go to a mediterranean restaurant. So, you will get a flavorful Chicken Shawarma either way.
I try to imitate the Shawarma/Gyro spinners in my Instant Pot. I used half an onion as a base. Then, I inserted 4 bamboo skewers as 4 pillars on which the meat is stacked. Then, I thread the meat pieces though those 4 skewers, one by one, forming a stable stack of chicken. This allows the chicken to stay super moist and looks fancy too. But, if you don’t feel like going the extra mile, just stack the chicken on top of each other and you’ll have the same delicious flavor within minutes!
Chicken Shawarma goes really well with Tzatziki sauce. It adds a creamy contrast to the spicy and lemony chicken. It’s real simple to make as well. Simply combine plain greek yogurt with lemon, cumin, paprika, salt, mint and grated cucumber and you have yourself one of the simplest dips ever! You can also add half a clove of grated garlic in it too, but my family prefers our Tzatziki sauce without it.
Easy Low Carb Chicken Shawarma with Tzatziki saucePrint Recipe
- 1-1.2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), trim excess fat and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 1 large red onion, cut into half, horizontally (along with the rings)
- 4 6-inch Bamboo Skewers (soaked if using oven method)
- Shawarma Spice Mix
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon for mild heat)
- Zest from one lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 tablespoon
- 3/4-1 teaspoons salt
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- Tzatziki sauce
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup grated or fine chopped persian or english cucumber
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- ¼ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
- ½ clove of garlic, grated finely (optional)
- Wraps and Sides
- Pita Wraps of your choice
- Greek Salad
- Pitted Baby Kalamatas Olives
Make the marinade by mixing together everything listed under "marinade". If using chicken thighs, trim off the excess fat. If using chicken breast, slice each chicken breast into two halves and then cut in half, length wise. Marinate chicken for 20 minutes to 4 hours. Make Tzatziki sauce: Mix all ingredients listed under "Tzatziki sauce". Mix well and keep aside.
For Chicken Shawarma skewers, I use half an onion as a base. Then, I insert 4 bamboo skewers as 4 pillars on which the chicken will be stacked. Then, thread the meat pieces though those 4 skewers, one by one, forming a stable stack of chicken.
Place the trivet in the Instant Pot inner pot. Put 1 cup water in the pot. Place the chicken shawarma skewer stack on the trivet. Close the lid. Vent set to SEALING. Cook on MANUAL/Pressure Cook, for 7-8 minutes. Open the lid after naturally releasing pressure for 10 minutes (NPR 10).
Lay the skewers flat on a cutting board and slice the chicken length wise. You can keep removing the skewers as you cut the meat. Watch the video for clarity.