Looking for a fresh and festive way to serve chicken breast? These Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers are the answer! Marinated in a curry-like blend of spices and grilled to perfection, they’re a party for your mouth!
Juicy Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers
Grilling out is one of the joys of summer, don’t you think? When my family sits down to a meal of burgers, dogs, steak, chicken, or pretty much anything hot off the grill, they automatically light up the table with happiness. I don’t know what it is about grill-marked food, but let me tell you, they are HERE for it.
And so am I! But, we don’t just have to stick to the same old things – as amazing as they are! Sometimes I like to shake it up, and that’s why I’ve created this super easy shawarma-inspired recipe. It takes regular old boneless, skinless chicken breast and turns it into a curry-like kebab of pure goodness.
Shawarma is usually something you get at a restaurant or maybe from a food truck, because it’s a real specialty item. Not many of us have one of those rotating shawarma towers at home, amirite? Although if you do, I mean, that’s awesome! And, also, can I come over? 🙌
This recipe is made simply on the grill, so you get that roasty, open-heat flavor, but without the need for, you know, a whole new kitchen.
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish, and if you’re a fan of gyros, then you’ll kind of understand the idea behind shawarma! Thinly sliced meat (lamb, beef, chicken, turkey or goat) is piled onto a “tower” into a cone shape, and then slowly roasted until fall-apart tender. Then, the warm shawarma is tucked into a hot pita and rolled up with veggies, hummus or other goodies.
The spice blends for gyros and shawarma are also similar – they usually include paprika, cumin, garlic and onion. However, Middle Eastern shawarma typically uses spices like turmeric and ginger, while gyros go the rosemary and thyme route. So you might think of shawarma as a curry-like spice mixture. Total Yum!
But, for our purposes, we’re combining the flavor of shawarma with the ease of kebabs! You can use the cooked shawarma skewers as a main course on their own, or take the meat off of the skewers and toss it in a warm pita. 🥙
For our made-at-home shawarma, we’ll be mixing up a flavorful marinade and working with cubed chicken breast. Let’s get cooking!
- Chicken: You’ll need two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1-inch chunks.
- Olive Oil: I use ¼ cup of good olive oil as the base for my marinade.
- Lemon: Juice one lemon or use about four tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.
- Garlic: Mince or press 3 fresh garlic cloves.
- Honey: Use two tablespoons of your favorite honey, or substitute brown sugar.
- Cumin: I use one and a half teaspoons of ground cumin. Pro tip: make sure your spices haven’t expired! Old and out-of-date spices lose their flavor.
- Paprika: Smoked paprika is best here, but you could use regular or sweet paprika if preferred.
- Cinnamon: This gives the meat a wonderful warmth!
- Ginger: Amazingly fragrant, and good for you, too! I use about half a teaspoon of ground ginger.
- Oregano: This versatile herb lends an earthy pungency to the marinade.
- Turmeric: Another healthy ingredient, turmeric brings important flavor and a beautiful golden color to the dish.
- Salt & Pepper: Of course!
- Fresh Chopped Parsley: For garnish.
- Lemon Wedges: For serving.
How to Make these Grilled Chicken Skewers
Making these skewers is so, so easy! I like to let mine marinate for about 2 hours for the best balance between flavor and texture. Keep in mind that the longer you marinate, the more the chicken “cooks” in the acidic environment.
- Marinate Chicken: Place the chicken cubes in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, spices, salt and pepper. Whisk or shake thoroughly, and then pour the mixture over the chicken, tossing to coat.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no more than 4 hours.
- Grill Chicken: When ready to cook, preheat the grill or grill pan and lightly mist with grill-safe cooking spray, or carefully brush the grill grates with oil.
- Thread the marinated chicken through the skewers while the grill or grill pan heats up. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Garnish & Serve: Sprinkle the finished skewers with fresh parsley and serve warm with lemon wedges.
Tips for Success
Here are my top tips for making sure your shawarma chicken comes out tender, juicy and perfectly flavorful.
- Meat Thermometer: You knew I was going to say it! In dishes starring chicken breast, I’m especially picky about getting the meat cooked just right. Insert an instant read thermometer into a chunk of chicken, being careful not to touch the skewer (or the grill). It should read 165°F. Perfect!
- Discard the Marinade: Don’t be tempted to keep the marinade! It may look like the perfect sauce, but it should be discarded after use. Make a second batch in a clean bowl if you’d like more for saucing or dipping.
- Double the Recipe: These skewers are so tasty, and they make great meal prep! You can double this recipe and refrigerate the second batch of skewers for easy salad or sandwich protein during the week.
Complete your menu with one or more of these easy recipes. They’re guaranteed to make your family meal festive and satisfying.
- Flatbread: A nod to both pitas and chapati, this easy make-at-home Flatbread is a great option for noshing alongside your shawarma skewers.
- Asparagus Fries: My Parmesan Panko Asparagus Fries are the side dish you need right now! They’re a light and crispy family favorite.
- Tomato Salad: Bursting with flavor and color, this Avocado Tomato Salad is a summery treat that perfectly complements warm, spicy chicken.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Store any leftover chicken by removing it from the skewer, placing it in an airtight container or food storage bag, and refrigerating. Properly stored, this chicken will stay good for 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the chicken in a covered skillet over low heat, adding a teaspoon or so of water. Heat just until the chicken is a safe internal temperature (165°F).
Can I Freeze Grilled Chicken Skewers?
- Yes, you can! Just pop the extra chicken into a freezer bag and press out as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Grilled Chicken Shawarma Skewers
- 2 pounds chicken breasts, cubed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Cut the chicken breast into roughly 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- In a separate small bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Whisk or shake thoroughly.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no more than 4 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the grill or grill pan and lightly mist with grill-safe cooking spray, or carefully brush with oil.
- Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers while the grill or grill pan heats up.
- Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is cooked through. Chicken is done when internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
- Remove from grill; sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.
More Grilling Recipes
Summer is in full swing, and these easy grilling recipes are here to make it great!