This gloriously vibrant, speed demon take on chicken shawarma is the best thing to come out of my kitchen in a while.
It’s generously, warmly spiced in a way that is less about heat and more about celebrating the layers of seasoning that turn everyday chicken thighs into something to savor.
The clue is in the name, but this sheet pan chicken shawarma comes together fast, using mostly pantry ingredients, which makes it the perfect recipe to stash in your ‘weeknight’ go-to recipe folder.
There’s no marinading or waiting around with this one. Just toss your chicken in a mixture of oil, fresh lemon juice and spices. Get it all coated up in that goodness and plunk it right onto your sheet tray. No special treatment here.
And if you’re tempted to skip the onions: don’t. They’re such a lovely, effortless extra and their gentle sweetness is a gorgeous contrast to the savory, spiced chicken shawarma.
Unlike caramelized onions, these are lightly roasted so that the heat tames the onions but lets them keep their shape without descending into softness, almost as if there were such a thing as an al dente onion.
The onions are usually the sleeper hit of this dish. People love the chicken shawarma, but they rave about these simple roasted onions, too.
This chicken ain’t holding back, but it’s not as hot as you might think, given its golden-red hue. If you like things on the milder side, though, I’ve added some notes at the bottom of the recipe.
When it comes to serving up, the great thing about this chicken shawarma is that it’s so versatile. It’s just as at home on a bed of beanless hummus as it is mixing it up with yogurt sauce or my favorite dairy free tzatziki. Equally, it’s just as good thinly sliced on top of a salad as it is piled onto flatbread or served with roasted vegetables.
Whatever floats your boat, this chicken shawarma is the sail that gets you going. And now that’s summer’s around the corner, might I suggest you take it from the sheet pan to the grill? Extra crispy-charry bits will add a more authentic smokiness and keep your kitchen cool.Print
Speedy Sheet Pan Chicken Shawarma
This weeknight take on chicken shawarma is beautifully spiced and hits the table fast, with no marinading time needed. Let your pantry do all the heavy lifting, because this flavor forward spice blend makes boring old chicken AMAZING.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x
- Category: sheet pan, weeknight
- Method: oven
- 2 lbs / 900 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 4 large
- 3 tbsp / 45 ml avocado oil, divided
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml fresh lemon juice, divided, about 2 lemons
- 2 tsp / 8 g garlic powder
- 2 tsp / 5 g ground cumin
- 2 tsp / 5 g paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp / 2 g ground coriander
- 1 tsp / 7 g fine sea salt
- 3/4 tsp / 2 g ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, see notes
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 medium red onions
MIX: Preheat the oven to 425 / 220 C. Pop the chicken into a mixing bowl, along with 2 tablespoons / 30 milliliters each of the oil and lemon juice. Measure all of dried seasoning ingredients into a small bowl and stir to bring them all together.
SEASON: Sprinkle about one third of the seasoning blend across the top of the chicken, then – using gloved hands or tongs – turn the chicken over and repeat with another third of the seasoning blend. Give the chicken a good turn or two in the seasonings, then sprinkle the remaining seasoning blend and repeat the turning motion until the chicken is evenly coated and gloriously red-hued. Lay the chicken thighs on a baking sheet with plenty of space between each piece, but don’t discard the still-spiced bowl.
SCATTER: Slice both of the red onions in half through the root and discard their tops and outer, papery skins. Carefully cut the onions into wedges or slices that are somewhere between 1/4 inch / 0.6 cm – 1/2 inch / 1.25 cm thick. I usually chop each half onion into 8 even wedges for about the right size. Place the chopped onions into the bowl that held the chicken earlier, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon / 15 milliliters of oil. Use a spatula to scrape up the spice mixture and toss the onions in the now-seasoned oil. Once evenly coated, distribute the seasoned onions across the baking sheet, tucking the pieces in between the chicken thighs and making sure they lie relatively flat.
ROAST: Slide the loaded baking sheet into the hot oven and cook until the chicken is 165 F / 74 C in the middle and the onions are translucent with some charred edges, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer to a trivet.
REST: Slide the chicken onto a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken rests, use tongs to transfer the softened roasted onions to a bowl, leaving behind the juices from the chicken. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons / 30 milliliters of lemon juice to the baking sheet. Use a heatproof spatula to scrape up any browned bits and the left-behind spices, carefully stirring the liquids and spices together so they don’t splash. Use a spoon to baste the chicken with this lemon-scented & spiced mixture.
SERVE: Season the roasted red onions with additional salt, to taste. Transfer the rested chicken to a chopping board and slice thinly. Serve the chicken alongside the roasted onions and whatever accompaniments you like. It is especially delicious with my beanless hummus or dairy free tzatziki sauce!
- For more of an authentic chicken shawarma flavor & lovely crispy-charred bits, make this on the grill!
- If you prefer a little less heat, reduce the cayenne to 1/8 tsp and the paprika to 1 1/2 tsp.