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Chicken Shawarma with Cilantro Yogurt

Cooks in 20 minutes Difficulty Easy

Chicken Shawarma with Cilantro Yogurt

Recipe by thesal28_wpCourse: MainCuisine: Middle EasternDifficulty: Easy


Prep time




Cooking time



I’m well aware that this isn’t traditional shawarma…but I do not have vertical rotisserie oven in my kitchen and I’m guessing you don’t either! Lol. Never mind that, as this easy weeknight chicken shawarma is crazy flavorful and comes together fast. The only time consuming element is letting the chicken marinate in the spices. If you are in a pinch, you may marinate the chicken for 20-30 minutes, but an hour will maximize the flavor and texture of the chicken thighs.

The most tedious part of the recipe is cutting the chicken thighs into one inch pieces. A hack I’ve been using is placing my chicken thighs on a plate (covered with plastic wrap) in the freezer for about 25 minutes to firm up before slicing.

The cilantro yogurt sauce I serve alongside the chicken shawarma is so delicious my 4 year old likes to eat it with a spoon (and I confess I have done this too). One of the many thingsI love about the cilantro yogurt recipe is that it uses both the leaves and stems…no need to pick the leaves off the stems (which gives me flashbacks to my fine dining days). It is cool and savory, and pairs perfectly with the complex spices in the chicken shawarma.

I recommend serving the chicken shawarma and cilantro yogurt with basmati rice.


  • 1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp ground clove

  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp Kosher salt (use 1 tsp per lb. of chicken thighs)

  • 1-2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • Cilantro Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I prefer 2%-4% fat)

  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander

  • 3/4 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp Kosher salt

  • 1 tsp sugar (I typically use Sugar in the Raw)

  • 5 tbsp lime juice (from 2 small limes)

  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 tbsp water

  • 2 cups (about 2 large handfuls) cilantro leaves and stems


  • Slice chicken thighs into 1 inch long pieces and place in a medium bowl. Combine spices and salt in a small bowl.  Add spice mix to chicken and coat chicken thoroughly. Let chicken marinade for one hour total, the first 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and the last 30 minutes on the countertop.  While chicken marinates, prepare cilantro yogurt using recipe below. Refrigerate cilantro yogurt until ready to serve. Prepare your basmati rice, if serving.
  • Once chicken has finished marinating, heat half your neutral oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add half of chicken (so you don’t overcrowd the pan) and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan into a heat safe bowl (keep nearby) and cook remaining quantity (adding more oil to pan, if necessary). Add first batch of chicken back to pan and heat through.  
  • Cilantro Yogurt
  • In a blender or using carafe and immersion blender, blend together all ingredients except for olive oil until smooth. With blender motor running, drizzle in olive oil and blend again.

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