This is one of my favorite summer paleo dinners! Chicken Shawarma Salad is an incredibly flavorful, fresh, and elegant weeknight dinner. The greens are tossed with mint and parsley, then topped with crunchy cucumbers, garden-fresh tomatoes, and tender slivers of red onion. Each bite is crisp, bright and bursting with flavor.
Chicken Shawarma is a regular eat in this house and it appears on our table in one form or another every couple of weeks.
When take-out is required we turn to our favorite local spot, Fettoosh. The owner is affable and chatty, and regularly greets us with chilled mint tea in the summer and a bone-warming concoction in the winter. Going to his restaurant is more like visiting a fond acquaintance than a retail transaction – it makes me all warm and fuzzy, and that’s exactly what sharing good food is supposed to do.
Naturally, I also like to make homemade shawarma from time to time because duh. It’s a showstopper of a meal for company, and even my pickiest friends and family devour every bite.
I typically serve it with homemade pita, cucumber and tomato salad, super smooth hummus, and maybe some yogurt dip. Lots of tahini dressing on the side for slathering and dipping. Leftovers keep reasonably well and make for a quick and easy lunch wrap the next day.
On days that I’m feeling particularly healthy and/or lazy, I opt for this chicken shawarma salad in lieu of the full platter. I whip up the quick marinade in the morning, then toss it with the chicken where it infuses with flavor in the fridge all day. One 30-minute roast later, and I’ve got an easy, healthy paleo dinner that everyone loves. Even the kid.
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Chicken Shawarma Salad Recipe Notes
I’ve always been a big believer in NOT reinventing the wheel, and this philosophy rings true throughout my kitchen and my life in general. While I might tweak and adjust things to my personal preference, tried-and-true is tried-and-true. Ain’t no reason to change what works.
Because developing authentic middle eastern recipes isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse, I’ve been trying variations for a few years in search of the perfect make-at-home chicken shawarma. At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve tried them all and this recipe that I’ve adapted from NY Time is perfection.
Their oven roasted chicken shawarma recipe is the freaking bomb. It comes the closest in terms of flavor, and the execution is stupid easy. Mix, marinate, roast.
While this recipe is perfect as-is, I do make a couple of modifications. I omit the red onion and instead toss it raw into the salad greens. Same with the parsley garnish. I also reduce the garlic by half, because it’s a bit overwhelming in a salad situation.
For the salad base, I like to use a mix of romaine and butter lettuce tossed with chopped parsley and mint. It’s the perfect sweet, crunchy, fresh blend. I found some gorgeous tomatoes at the market, so in they went, along with half an english cucumber and some thinly sliced red onion.
Other nice salad additions? Pickled red onions instead of raw, chopped olives, pita chips, grilled eggplant, marinated chick peas, feta…you get the picture. It’s your salad – be creative!
Top the whole ensemble off with tangy, bright tahini dressing and you’ve got a fresh, delicious salad ready in just about 30 minutes.
Did you make this Chicken Shawarma Salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Chicken Shawarma Salad with Tahini DressingPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- Resealable gallon bag
- Rimmed Baking Sheet
- Ninja Bullet
- 2 lemons, juiced
- ½ c. avocado oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1.5-2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ head romaine lettuce
- ½ head butter lettuce
- ½ c. fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ c. fresh mint, chopped
- 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ english cucumber, seeded and sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- ½ c. tahini
- ¼ – ½ c. water
- ¼ c. olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- sea salt, to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, avocado oil, salt, pepper, and spices and whisk. Place the raw chicken thighs into a gallon-sized zipper bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Rub the marinade into the chicken with your (clean) hands, then press the air out of the bag, seal, and place in the fridge. Marinate at least a few hours, and up to overnight. I prepare the marinade first thing in the morning for an evening meal.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it onto a rimmed baking sheet. Pour any excess marinade over the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked throughout. Set aside to cool slightly, then slice into ½″ strips.
- While the chicken is roasting, prep the salad. Chop the lettuce and herbs, then toss to combine. Chop the tomatoes and cucumber, and slice the red onion.
- Place the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a blender along with ¼ cup of water to start. (I love using my Ninja blender to make dressings. The individual cups are the perfect size for small batch items like salad dressing!). Blend until emulsified. Add additional water to reach desired consistency. For salad dressing, vs. a dipping sauce, I use closer to half a cup, sometimes a bit more.
- Layer the tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions over the herb salad base. Top with the chicken, and then dress with tahini to taste. Serve immediately.
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Lindsay | With Salt and Pepper
Ok I’m making this next week! I’ve never made chicken shawarma, but I’ve eaten plenty and LOVE it. If this is the best to you, I’m on board 🙂
So delicious! I dont eat sesame seeds so I substituted almond butter for the tahini in the dressing, followed everything else. A big hit with the family!
This looks delicious! I find it difficult to get hold of avocado oil – can I use an alternative oil and get the same result?
Hi Nik – I’m so sorry for the delay, my comment notifications have been working. To answer your question, yes, absolutely! Standard olive oil works perfectly.
Delicious and easy! This is being added to our dinner rotation. Thank you for posting this recipe
I would use grape seed oil if you can’t find avocado oil. Both work really well for high heat and both are available at Costco!
Do you think I can use curry as it has turmeric in it? Or would that ruin the flavour?
I think if you’re subbing curry for all three of the spices (cumin, paprika, and turmeric) you’ll be fine. Drop the total amount to 1 tablespoon of curry powder total since curry is very strong, and if you have it, add extra paprika (about half a teaspoon). Curry is on the sweet side, so there will definitely be a flavor difference, but I think it will still pair really well with the other flavors here. I’d love to know how it turns out if you try it!
Has anyone tried putting the garlic in the dressing instead of the marinade? We love garlic dressing on shawarma. I’m planning on making this on the weekend so I may split the garlic between the marinade and the dressing. I’ll post how it works out. This recipe makes my mouth water. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you.
Is this 844 calories per serving or for the whole salad (4 servings)?
It’s per serving.
that seems really high for this salad. i\m i missing something?
I revisited nutritional data, and a good chunk comes from the marinade. Much of it will be residual after the chicken bakes. You can probably get away with using a quarter cup of olive or avocado oil for the marinade if you’re conscientious of the calorie count. Another heavy contributor is the dressing, which is high in calories from both the oil and tahini. You could almost certainly halve that amount and be safe. I always have leftover dressing when I make this recipe.
That’s for all the marinade though.
Unless you’re drinking it all (it’s delicious but I doubt you’re doing that)
To get an accurate count you’d have to measure the whole volume of dressing before and after you’ve taken the chicken out to see how much is actually being absorbed and clinging to the chicken and then subtract that. That’s the actual amount of calories you’d need to include in the calorie count.
I think it’s fair to say that it’s quite a bit less.
I’ve made this a quite a few times (because, you know, it’s freakin’ yummy!)
and there’s always approx. 3/4 of the marinade left after I’ve marinaded overnight.
Flavor bomb! This is absolutely delicious. We grilled the chicken which gave it some crispy edges – so good! Kri
Yes, grilled it delicious!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
@danielle @emily manuel
“To get an accurate count you’d have to measure the whole volume of dressing”
that should have been “the whole volume of Marinade”
Wow, this was fantastic!! We loved it. We have a local Mediterranean restaurant and Chicken Sharwarma is my favorite. This came really close. Definitely going to be a keeper! Thank you so much!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing Michelle!
Any chance you can adjust the prep time to include the suggested minimum amount of time to marinate?
I have just done so – thank you for the suggestion!
Yummy this is so beautiful and healthy and looks delicious! Making it for dinner tonight !
This recipe was a HUGE hit in my house. We lived in the Middle East for six years and found all the flavors to be authentically perfect!
Thanks so much Jenna!!
This recipe is absolutely AMAZING and will go into our regular summer rotation! I did use the curry powder substitution and it was fantastic. I also used a basic olive oil/ champagne vinegar dressing on the greens which added more acid to balance the tahini dressing on over the vegetables and chicken. Also, I pickled the red onion which gave it less bite.
Hi Laura – I’m so glad you enjoyed this! LOVE your additions/substitutions and will definitely be trying the pickled red onions the next time I make this.
The NY times website won’t let me see the chicken recipe! Can you copy and paste it??
Hi Danielle, LOVED this recipe!!, I used peanut oil instead of avocado oil and pan-fried the chicken strips and it worked a treat, also added some lemon zest over the top. This will definitely become a staple for dinner in my household, thanks!
Green vegetables make healty body
Making this tonight! Can you use chicken breasts instead of thighs?
Ten stars and delicious. I have made this several times and it’s one of my favorite go-to recipes that I crave. I’ve made with both chicken and tofu and although I haven’t yet mastered marinating tofu, it was still flavorful. Absolutely delicious with chicken though. The dressing is so simple but so perfectly paired with the flavors in the chicken.
Did you bake as suggested or grill the chicken? Curious to know. Thanks!
Just made this dish and while it does take time to put together, it’s easy and the flavors are so delicious! Love it!
I followed this recipe exactly (which I don’t normally do!) and I can confidently say that it is one of the greatest things I have ever made. The chicken is UNREAL delicious – it tastes better than a lot of indian takeout that I’ve had! Thank you so much for this, it will definitely become a new “go-to” meal of mine!
Flavorful and simple! Foolproof recipe!
My whole family loved the chicken seasoning, even the picky one. And the tahini dressing was a nice change for us. I added a tiny bit of maple syrup to balance the flavors for our palette.
This was really yummy and I will be making it again! The chicken marinade was excellent and I could see it working well on the grill. I used the full amount of water in the dressing plus a bit extra as mentioned because it was thick to start. Thanks!
You won’t find a better shawarma recipe out there! My family adores this recipe! Thanks Danielle!
This was excellent. I marinated the chicken overnight and it was superb – an absolute dead ringer for what I get at my local falafel place. A really nice meal for a hot June evening.
Found this recipe thru Pinterest and HOLY MOLY it was incredible!!!!!! I did add olives and roasted sweet potatoes (I had on hand and had to use up)
This will be a staple recipe in my house
Sooooo freakin’ good!! also served with a side of yellow rice!!
Simply the best!
Amazing. It was so tasty. My husband had seconds. The marinade in the chicken, done in the air fryer, was fabulous. *chef kiss*