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Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kebab

May 15, 2024

This grilled kebab of chicken thigh marinated in Greek yogurt and spiked with a generous amount of shawarma spices, is grilled to succulent perfection and served with a bright tahini sauce.


grilled chicken shawarma kebabs on a serving platter drizzled with tahini sauce served with pita bread
Photography by Gayle McLeod

A Chicken Shawarma Kebab Shortcut

Juicy grilled chicken is our summer love language, and this chicken shawarma kebab recipe is a mega-crowd pleaser. A simple marinade of warming spices in Greek yogurt is all it takes to make tender morsels of chicken thigh that we grill kebab style. While you’ve got the grill on, cook up a Grilled Romaine Caesar or serve a refreshing Cucumber Salad alongside.

grilled chicken shawarma kebabs on a serving platter drizzled with tahini sauce being served with pita bread

What is Shawarma?

Shawarma, in short, is a meat preparation—often lamb, but sometimes chicken—that originated in the Middle East. The meat is generously seasoned and then stacked in a cone-like shape on a continuously rotating vertical rotisserie. The word shawarma refers to the turning of the meat on the rotisserie. Thin slices of cooked meat are then shaved off and laid onto a warm pillowy pita and topped with all the good stuff. We’re huge fans, and that means we had to create a recipe for making it at home—sans vertical rotisserie.

chicken, Greek yogurt, spices, tahini, lemon juice and garlic in prep bowls to make grilled chicken shawarma kebab

Ingredients You’ll Need To Make The Best Chicken Shawarma Kebab At Home

  • Chicken thighs – Chicken breast will also work, but we prefer dark thigh meat for its fattiness (i.e. flavor), and sturdiness on the grill.

  • Greek yogurt – We use Greek yogurt for the tanginess and also the texture.

  • Spices – All of the deep, smoky, and warming spices go into this shawarma spice blend: cumin, ground cardamom, turmeric, and ground cinnamon.

  • Tahini – Earthy and nutty, a simple tahini-based sauce is all this flavorful meat dish needs. Really great on greens too, like our Herby, Seedy Butter Lettuce Salad.

  • Lemon Juice – Tahini can be bitter on its own, and lemon juice helps cut the bitterness and thin the pasty natural texture of tahini.

  • Garlic – Not necessary, but extra delicious.

yogurt, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt in a glass bowl to make shawarma marinade
raw chicken marinating in yogurt, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt in a glass bowl
tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and salt in a glass bowl to make tahini sauce
tahini sauce being stirred with a spoon in a glass bowl made with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, water, and salt

How To Season and Serve Chicken Shawarma

Truly nothing compares to traditional shawarma, and because the equipment is uncommon for non-commercial kitchens, it’s difficult to make at home. Our shortcut to restaurant-style chicken shawarma is to lace yogurt marinated chicken pieces and grill them up, and here's how we make grilled chicken shawarma kebabs.

  1. Make the marinade. Greek yogurt is seasoned with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom to create a flavor packed marinade for chicken thighs.

  2. Marinate the chicken. After marinating the pieces of chicken thigh for a couple of hours (or as little as 20 minutes if that’s all you have) the chicken is then skewered (or not) and ready for the grill (or oven).

  3. Thread the chicken onto your skewers. Allow any excess marinade to drip off of the meat and then thread the chicken evenly between eight metal or soaked bamboo skewers.

  4. Grill up your chicken kebabs. The chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  5. Whip up the easy-peasy tahini sauce. Just tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

  6. Serve with all the sides. Once grilled, we serve it alongside a bowl of garlicky tahini sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, Jeweled Rice, pita, feta, and of course Classic Creamy Hummus for a truly delectable Mediterranean inspired feast perfect for summer cookouts.

marinated chicken threaded on metal skewers on a baking sheet ready to be grilled
chicken shawarma kebabs cooking on a grill

How to Store Grilled Chicken Shawarma + Tips

  • Grilled chicken holds up well in the fridge for a few days. We like to toss leftover chicken onto salads or veggie bowls, drizzled with any leftover tahini sauce.

  • The chicken can be substituted with turkey, lamb, or beef. It’s not traditionally made with pork, but if that’s what you have on hand, you can definitely give it a try. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145℉. Lamb will be medium-well at 145℉, turkey is safe when it reaches 165℉, and beef is done at 130℉.

  • This is a great recipe for diners with gluten intolerance. Serve with rice and a salad for a delicious meal.

grilled chicken shawarma kebab on a serving plate being served with pita bread
grilled chicken shawarma kebabs on a serving platter drizzled with tahini sauce served with pita bread

More Flavorful Meat Dishes To Enjoy At Home

Share Your Homemade Chicken Shawarma Kebab Success

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Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kebab

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 592



  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Minced fresh parsley, for serving (optional)

Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Make the kebabs. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

  2. Preheat the grill on medium-high. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Tightly thread the meat onto 8 metal or soaked bamboo skewers, dividing evenly.

  3. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning often, turning one-quarter turn every 3-4 minutes until lightly charred all over, about 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

  4. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, ½ cup water, and salt until smooth.

  5. Arrange the skewers on a large platter and garnish with parsley, if using. Serve with the tahini sauce alongside.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories592
  • Protein59 g
  • Carbohydrates11 g
  • Total Fat36 g
  • Dietary Fiber6 g
  • Cholesterol216 mg
  • sodium1442 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kebab

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Dani

    Can I skip the yougart and just use the spices? Or does the yougart add extra flavor? Thanks!

    Sure! you can mix them with a bit of olive oil and coat the meat. Hope you enjoy!


    I find that marinating meat like this makes it impossible to achieve any char or mallard effect because of the moisture. Any suggestion how to get around this and get a nice char with the good flavor of the marinade?

    We recommend heating the grill to high. Close the grill and wait until the the grill is about 450°F. Add the kebabs and leave undisturbed until char marks are achieved. I get grill marks on all my marinated meats. Don't flip it too often and make sure the grill is hot.

  • Susan

    Looks like some grilled lemon in the picture, but I don’t see it in the recipe. Did you add it to the skewers?
    - I have really enjoyed your cookbook, thank you for making it!

    We just grilled them to add to the serving platter for presentation. They are not necessarry unless you want them for your presentation. Hope you enjoy!

  • Ameer

    Hi, what are the instructions (temperature, etc) for cooking these in the oven? Thank you

    We haven't done these in the oven yet but you could cook bake them at 350 for 20 minutes. Make sure that the internal temp is 165 before removing them from the oven. You could broil them for a couple minutes at the end as well if you want them to crisp up a bit. Hope you enjoy Ameer!

  • Molly

    Is the tahini sauce supposed to be really thin or creamy?

    Nice and creamy! If its too thin, add more tahini, 1 tbsp at a time.

  • Susan

    This was wonderful! Was initially looking for a sheet pan shawarma but this looked easy and it's grilling season. Loved the spice combination (mild in my opinion which we like) and the marinade made the chicken so tasty and tender. Would be easy to put together a Mediterranean salad or pita sandwich with leftovers! Thank you!

    Thanks Susan, so glad you enjoyed it! We also have a sheet pan shawarma which we love for non grilling seasons.

  • Matt

    Another Modern Proper triumph. So easy to make! Simple marinade and slap them on the grill 2 hours later. The flavor is divine.
    We served in pita pockets with lots of tomato, cucumber, red onion, red pepper hummus, tzatziki, and even some baba ghanoush. Rice would work wonderfully too.
    Our favorite middle eastern grill charges $70 for a family platter. This is considerably cheaper, very simple to cook, and just as delicious. Thank you MP!

    Thanks Matt, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Amanda

    Soooo good! My husband is a bit of a Shwarma snob and he even loved this! Going into the summer regular rotation for sure!

    YES! Love to hear it's making rotation, so glad you both enjoyed it Amanda!

  • Sarah

    Oh man this dish, so good. The chicken is great, the tahini is great. I seriously make this once a month, 10/10 would recommend.

    yay! So glad to hear!