This air fryer chicken shawarma recipe will show you an easy way to make this Middle Eastern staple right at home. It’s served with rice, veggies, and additional side dishes, Healthy Kitchen 101 style.
What Does Chicken Shawarma Taste Like?
There is a lot to say about shawarma’s flavor.
Chicken shawarma is a stack of boneless chicken meat (typically thighs) skewered on a revolving spit and rotated continually beside a vertical grill. It is often marinated overnight in a dry seasoning mixture of cumin, salt, garlic, and plenty of warm spices. Some recipes use turmeric as well, to give the meat an appetizing yellow shade.
The grilled meat is then thinly sliced and slammed into a pita wrap or piled on cooked rice, along with shredded lettuce and tomato. All is drizzled with tahini, a rich, silky smooth sauce similar to peanut butter, but made with toasted sesame seeds instead. The whole dish bursts with flavor and texture and surely doesn’t lack aroma.
Home chefs not intending to make hundreds of servings may grill the meat in the oven or under the grill. Since an air fryer’s function is similar to an oven’s, this recipe will lead to the same yummy result as our oven-grilled chicken shawarma recipe.
Chicken Shawarma vs Gyro
The two are served similarly, but they differ in flavor. Chicken gyro is marinated with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, oregano, and warm spices. Compared to shawarma, gyro errs on the tangy side with a slightly more intense flavor.
Is Air Fryer Chicken Shawarma Good for You?
No matter how it’s done, chicken shawarma is a protein-rich meal. The veggies also add vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
One single serving of our air fryer chicken shawarma recipe yields 494 calories, 6.3 g saturated fats, and 529 mg sodium. Daily suggestions and recommended upper limits are available in our guidelines.
Main Ingredients for Our Air Fryer Chicken Shawarma Recipe
For those of you who prefer chicken breasts, you can use them but expect the meat to be dryer. This dish works best with chicken thighs or boneless drumsticks.
Chicken Shawarma Marinade
The spice mix typically includes ground ginger, cardamom, pepper, coriander, salt, cinnamon, cumin, and nutmeg. We add to this mix paprika, cayenne, chili powder, and cajun for different levels of heat.
If you find these spices a hassle to collect, an unsalted shawarma spice mix is a more convenient option. It is often sold without chili powders, so you need to get those separately.
We also marinate the meat with a dash of lemon juice to tenderize it.
For the drizzling sauce, we’re going for an easy alternative to tahini: Greek yogurt, mayo, and julienned cilantro. It doesn’t have the richness or aroma of tahini, but it still complements the meat well.
We are serving the meat with cooked basmati rice and crunchy veg like tomato, lettuce, and cucumber on the side. You can, however, substitute these items with any of your favorites.
How to Store and Reheat Chicken Shawarma
Both the rice and cooked meat can be either refrigerated (for up to 5 days) or frozen (for up to 3 months). The sauce and vegetables, on the other hand, should be kept separately and in the fridge for 2 days only.
To minimize the chance of spoilage, seal the food to prevent air-borne bacteria from penetrating. This can be done by placing the food in air-tight containers, Ziploc bags, or wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap.
Different items need different reheating methods:
The chicken needs 5 minutes in the air fryer, or 10 if frozen.
The rice can be mixed with water (1 tbsp per serving) and then stirred over the stovetop for 5 minutes or microwaved for 2 minutes.
The veg and sauce can be used without reheating.
If possible, we suggest that you marinate and store a big batch, then only cook the portion(s) that you are going to eat in one sitting. We often place the servings for the week in the fridge, and the others in the freezer. This allows you to enjoy juicy meat every single time because reheating cooked meat takes away its unreplenishable moisture.
Side Dishes for Chicken Shawarma
What’s missing from this wholesome meal is creaminess, so we figured guacamole to be a possible pairing, and we were right.
To cleanse the palate, we chose something with a refreshing simple taste – lemon water. Since the other two dishes are already 50 calories away from the recommendation, this low-calorie drink is the perfect choice.
Simple Chicken Dishes Prepared With an Air Fryer
Are you torn between eating healthier and your favorite treat? You don’t have to be anymore, because these chicken sandwiches are crispy and delicious, yet far healthier than most places’.
With gorgeous golden-brown chicken thighs and smoky potato wedges, this air fryer BBQ chicken recipe makes a delicious savory meal. Combine it with fresh green lettuce and juicy cherry tomatoes for a veggie boost.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
SaVanna Shoemaker is a registered dietitian and freelance health and wellness writer. She’s passionate about whole food-based eating and holistic nutrition, and uses her platform to help people embrace real food and reduce their sugar and processed food intake. Her work has appeared on Healthline, Greatist, Livestrong, Verywell Health, and more. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, cooking, and weight lifting.
Air Fryer Chicken Shawarma Recipe
All I can say about this chicken shawarma is that it's amazing! The marinade gave the chicken a tremendous amount of flavor, and cooking it in an air fryer made it so tender–definitely a must-try for dinner!
This is the best tasting chicken I have ever eaten. My husband is not big on new tasting foods. He loved this. I have made this 3 times since the beginning of March. Guess what we are having tonight? Thank you so much for posting this recipe. 💗 If you have more you want to share, I am always around looking.
Thank you so much for trying out my recipe and for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment.