This chicken shawarma is sooooo delicious, and ridiculously easy to make. It can also be made ahead of time, if desired. Just pull it out of the freezer, pop it in your oven, and the spicy, sweet aroma of Lebanese street food will begin to fill your home. Perfect for an easy dinner, quick lunch or midday snack, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite!
The best shawarma I’ve ever had was at Bucharest Grill in Detroit. There have been other shawarmas since, but nothing has even come close to those little nuggets of perfectly spiced meat, drizzled with a garlic cream sauce, then wrapped up neatly in a pillowy soft pita. It’s the perfect on-the-go meal – portable, filling and delicious. The ingredients are amazingly simple, too. Ironically, I find that the dishes I crave the most usually are. 🙂
At Bucharest Grill, the shawarma meat is roasted on vertical spits for hours until it’s perfectly tender. I, however, don’t have a vertical spit at home. Strike one. Another trick to making great shawarma at home is getting the spice mixture just right. I’ve played around with different spice blends in the past, scouring the Internet for shawarma recipes, but nothing came close to my idea of the “perfect” shawarma (i.e. The Bucharest Grill Shawarma). Strike two. Then I discovered a little spice called sumac. It was a game changer.
Sumac is a Mediterranean spice that is traditionally used as a condiment, right next to the salt and pepper, in the Middle East. The sumac bush produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into this beautiful, fragrant spice. The primary tasting notes of sumac are tart and sour. It lends a pleasant lemony tartness to dishes, and just a sprinkle will go a long way! I discovered that sumac is difficult to find in many grocery stores, and in the end, I ended up purchasing it at my local Penzeys Spices. You can find it on Amazon as well. Sumac can be used in a variety of dishes – not just this chicken shawarma recipe- and is wonderful paired with many vegetables, grilled meats and fish. I use it in the dressing on my fattoush salad and sprinkle it on top of homemade hummus. So rest assured, if you purchase a jar of sumac, you will be able to find other uses for it.
I became interested in making freezer meals after the twins were born. I had never experienced something so incredible, yet so exhausting. The twins demanded every minute of our attention, which left little time to do anything else. But I didn’t want to eat take-out or pre-made grocery store meals every night. So I started making meals in bulk when I had an extra hour or two and freezing them for later. My husband and I relied on these quick meals for the twins’s first year. Even on the worst day – two screaming babies, a sick toddler and a broken air conditioner in July – at least we had those freezer meals 🙂 I’m better equipped to handle these type of everyday dramas with a nutritious, filling meal in my tummy!
This freezer meal chicken shawarma recipe is super easy to make. Grab a freezer ziploc bag, dump in all of the ingredients and then “smoosh” it together so that each piece of chicken is evenly coated with spices. At this point, you can put the bag in your freezer for dinner another day, or you can let it marinate for a little while before cooking. Either way, the chicken shawarma roasts up beautiful and fragrant. I love the way my house smells when I’m making this recipe. The aromas of cinnamon, allspice, tumeric and sumac fill the kitchen and tease my taste buds as I wait on edge for the oven timer to beep. . . . .
I’m snacking on the last delicious morsels of our shawarma as I’m writing this post and wishing that I had made more of this lovely Mediterranean dish. My family devoured it way too fast – one of the twins even said, “Mom, this is my best!”. That, my friends, is a seal of approval if I’ve ever seen one 😉