This Middle Eastern-inspired chicken shawarma marinade is the perfect flavorful chicken for grilled, roasted, baked, or shredded chicken.
It’s grilling season, and this is BY FAR one of my FAVORITE grilled chicken marinade recipes of all time. I first used it for my copycat Pita Jungle Mediterranean Salad recipe, but since then have used it approximately a bajillion times. I also really love it on its own, with pitas, or in my chop chop salad.
Trust me, you know it’s good when your Middle Eastern hubby (Mr. Hungry is half Chaldean) and In-Laws approve!
Did you know that recipes for chicken shawarma will vary slightly depending on the region they come from? This recipe specifically uses a few spices that I only see in Middle Eastern-inspired recipes (like in my Ma Baseema cookbook), particularly sumac. Sumac is a household staple in many Middle Eastern households and used just like salt and pepper. I have a big jar of it in the fridge right now that I’m hoarding to myself, brought to us the last time Mr. Hungry’s uncle visited from Michigan.
Ground sumac is a versatile spice with potent anti-inflammatory properties. It has a tangy lemony flavor, without the harsh acidic bite of lemon juice. You can use it in cooking, or sprinkle it on a dish like you would lemon zest. I think sumac is the key to why my chicken shawarma tastes like authentic shawarma every single time I make it. It just has a pop of flavor you that’s hard to replicate at home without it. You won’t regret purchasing it, I promise!
Marinating your chicken shawarma is as simple as combing the ingredients in a large ziplock bag or 4-24 hours prior to cooking. Or you can freeze the chicken in the marinade for up to 3 months.
I’ve used this chicken marinade recipe for all types of cooking methods. My favorite is grilled because there is just something about juicy grilled chicken on a crunchy fresh salad that I love. But I’ve also made this in a slow cooker and instant pot as shredded chicken to go in pitas and other dishes. Trust me, no matter how you eat it, it will be a delicious and a total crowd-pleaser if you can bring yourself to share any!
The spices in this recipe are not “everyday spices” and might take you a while to procure (but totally worth it if you want authentic tasting chicken shawarma.) In the meantime, if you need a delicious chicken marinade for tonight, check out these 8 paleo chicken marinade recipes or my mesquite chicken marinade for some inspiration.
Chicken Shawarma Marinade
- Put garlic, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, paprika, sumac, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Combine with a spoon.
- Add in lemon juice and avocado oil, and stir until well combined.
- Add chicken and marinade in a large gallon size zip lock bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken to ensure its thoroughly coated.
- Leave it in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 24 hours, or store in the freezer for future use.