Grilled Chicken Shawarma with Creamy Green Harissa Sauce

Chicken doesn’t have to be boring! Take these deeply spiced and marinated chicken thighs, for instance, where a minimum of effort brings forth maximum flavor. You’ll be throwing much of your spice cabinet at this recipe, and you won’t be sorry about it at all. Cook the marinated meat over a hot grill, and the meat stays nice and juicy — even off the bone. Chop up the grilled meat and serve with warm pita bread, thinly sliced cucumber and heirloom tomatoes, some pickled onions, and a generous slather of this luscious Creamy Green Harissa Sauce (trust me, you’ll be putting it on everything in your fridge, so maybe double the recipe) and you’ll never look at chicken the same way again. New to grilling chicken? We explain it all here.

Grilled Chicken Shawarma with Creamy Green Harissa Sauce

(serves 4)

For Chicken:

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs (about 4 or 5 thighs, depending on size)

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

2 t. ground cumin

1 t. each ground black pepper, coriander, kosher salt, sweet paprika, and turmeric

½ t. each dried oregano, garlic powder, ground ginger, onion powder, and smoked paprika 

Rinse chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towel. Place in gallon-size resealable Zip-Loc bag. 

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Scrape marinade into bag with chicken, press out air, and seal. Gently massage bag so that marinade gets into every nook and cranny of the meat (boneless chicken thighs are the English Muffins of the poultry world). Refrigerate for at least one hour, but not more than 12, as the lemon juice will break down the protein more than you’d like if you let it go too long.

Chicken Shwarma marinade

Preheat grill and carefully grease the grilling surface with neutral vegetable oil (canola or sunflower oil recommended). Keeping the fire in the 450F range, grill until browned and edges pick up a nice crispiness, about 5 minutes per side.

Chicken Shwarma on the grill

Remove from grill and let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then it’s dealer’s choice to roughly chop the meat or slice into thin strips — either will work — and place on a serving platter along with thinly sliced cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes, a tangle of pickled onions, warm pitas, and a bowl of Creamy Green Harissa Sauce (recipe below). Round out your meal with roasted potatoes and a green salad.

Chicken Shwarma with fresh pitas

Creamy Green Harissa Sauce:

½ cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

1 cup each coarsely chopped fresh cilantro and Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 small jalapeño peppers, stemmed but not seeded, coarsely chopped

2 large scallions, trimmed, coarsely chopped (use both whites and greens), or substitute a peeled shallot

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

Juice of one good-sized lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

1 t. each kosher salt and ground cumin

2 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until desired consistency. Too thick? Add another tablespoon of olive oil. Too thin? Add another tablespoon of yogurt. Season to taste with salt and black pepper as needed. Serve with everything! It’s great on eggs, lamb, salmon, pork, burgers, potatoes, etc.

Happy Grilling!

Chicken Shwarma with fresh pitas
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Chicken Shawarma

Deeply spiced and marinated chicken thighs; where a minimum of effort brings forth maximum flavor. You’ll be throwing much of your spice cabinet at this recipe, and you won’t be sorry! Cook the marinated meat over a hot grill, and the chicken stays nice and juicy!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Marinating Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: barbecue chicken, best chicken marinade, grilled chicken thighs
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 201kcal
Author: Julie Chernoff – Dining Editor

Equipment

  • Gas or Charcoal Grill
  • Sharp Knife
  • Cutting Board

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds Chicken thighs boneless, skinless
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Rinse chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towel. Place in gallon-size resealable Zip-Loc bag. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Scrape marinade into bag with chicken, press out air, and seal. Gently massage bag so that marinade gets into every nook and cranny of the meat (boneless chicken thighs are the English Muffins of the poultry world). Refrigerate for at least one hour, but not more than 12, as the lemon juice will break down the protein more than you’d like if you let it go too long.
    Chicken Shwarma marinade
  • Preheat grill and carefully grease the grilling surface with neutral vegetable oil (canola or sunflower oil recommended). Keeping the fire in the 450F range, grill until browned and edges pick up a nice crispiness, about 5 minutes per side.
    Chicken Shwarma on the grill
  • Remove from grill and let rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then it’s dealer’s choice to roughly chop the meat or slice into thin strips — either will work
    Chicken Shwarma cut up
  • Place on a serving platter along with thinly sliced cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes, a tangle of pickled onions, warm pitas, and a bowl of Creamy Green Harissa Sauce (recipe below). Round out your meal with roasted potatoes and a green salad.
    Chicken Shwarma with fresh pitas

Notes

Nutrition facts as per one chicken thigh

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 348mg | Potassium: 185mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 252IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Creamy Green Harissa Sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Creamy Green Harissa Sauce

Luscious creamy green harissa sauce; a fiery chili sauce bringing new life to chicken dishes! Serve with everything! It’s great on eggs, lamb, salmon, pork, burgers, potatoes, etc.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: Green chili sauce, Harissa sauce
Servings: 6
Calories: 33kcal
Author: Julie Chernoff – Dining Editor

Equipment

  • Blender or Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt Substitute with sour cream
  • 1 cup Cilantro Freshly chopped
  • 1 cup Italian parsley Freshly chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers (small) Stemmed but not seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Scallions (large) Use both whites and greens, or substitute a peeled shallot
  • 2 Garlic cloves Peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 Lemon (juiced) Approx. 3 Tbsp.
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until desired consistency. Too thick? Add another tablespoon of olive oil. Too thin? Add another tablespoon of yogurt. Season to taste with salt and black pepper as needed.
    Creamy Green Harissa Sauce

Notes

Nutrition facts per 2 Tbsp

Nutrition

Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 561IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
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