Air fryer chicken shawarma is an easy, healthy, and delicious recipe you’re going to love. Make an air fryer chicken shawarma plate for a low calorie, low carb, keto, and gluten free option. Or, make air fryer shawarma wraps with flatbread or pita bread and enjoy the carbs! Learn the best marinade for chicken shawarma in air fryer, get nutrition info, and so much more!
- 🤔 What is chicken shawarma?
- ⭐ Chicken Shawarma Air Fryer Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma
- 🍋 Marinade for Chicken Shawarma
- 🔪 How to Make Chicken Shawarma Recipe (Air Fryer)
- ⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🌡️ How long does shawarma last?
- 😋 What goes inside a shawarma roll?
- 📋Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👨🏾🍳 Other Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
🤔 What is chicken shawarma?
Authentic shawarma recipes are made by taking meat slices and slowly cooking them while stacked on a vertical spit. If you’ve had take-out shawarma, you may have seen the cooked meat being shaved off the spit while it rotates. Lamb and mutton are classic meats used, but beef and chicken shawarmas are becoming more common.
Many shawarma places shave the meat off of the spit into a wrap right in front of you. Then they add lots of goodies such as tomatoes, kalamata olives, pickles, and feta. After a generous drizzle of tahini sauce, the shawarma wrap is handed over to you, the hungry customer.
Here, instead of cooking chicken on a spit, we're marinating the chicken overnight and cooking it on air fryer racks. Air fryers usually have a horizontal spit, not vertical. Nonetheless, it still may be interesting to test some shawarma-style cooking on them sometime.
⭐ Chicken Shawarma Air Fryer Benefits
Why make shawarma chicken in air fryer? Here are a few reasons you’ll fall in love with this recipe:
- Cheap: Chicken is an inexpensive lean protein that can help you save money on your grocery bill.
- Easy: Just marinate the chicken, air fry, and assemble the shawarma wraps or bowls. So simple!
- Weight watchers: This chicken breast shawarma air fryer recipe can be made low calorie. It is great for weight watchers!
- Low carb, keto, gluten free: If you skip the wrap, this recipe is also a great fit for GF and very low carb diets.
- Meal prep: You can make the chicken in this recipe ahead of time for meal prepping salad bowls. The cooked chicken also freezes well.
- Delicious: Chicken shawarma is a dish packed with Middle Eastern flavors. Even picky eaters tend to think it’s tasty!
🥘 Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma
Here’s what you need for this chicken gyro air fryer recipe:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Cooking spray
- Chicken shawarma marinade
- Shawarma wrap filling ingredients
- Flatbreads or pita pockets (optional)
You can make your homemade shawarma with boneless skinless chicken breasts instead. However, the results will be drier. I recommend using chicken thighs because they stay extra juicy and moist.
Chicken breast is slightly lower in fat and calories than chicken thighs. In this case, I think the small difference isn’t worth the sacrifice of flavor.
You can also grill or bake the chicken for chicken shawarma. However, IMO air frying chicken shawarma is the most hands-off method.
Make sure to use a non-aerosol cooking spray. Some report that aerosol cooking sprays have damaged their air fryer.
🍋 Marinade for Chicken Shawarma
There are a variety of ways to marinate chicken for shawarma. Here are the shawarma spices and other ingredients I prefer to use:
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Finely chopped garlic
- Dried oregano
- Smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
Specific quantities of all ingredients are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Some people use cinnamon or allspice in their chicken shawarma marinade. Though I don’t like those spices in savory chicken marinades, feel free to use them if they call out to you.
🔪 How to Make Chicken Shawarma Recipe (Air Fryer)
Begin by cutting your chicken thighs into ¼-inch strips (0.6 cm). Cutting the chicken before marinating allows for maximum flavor penetration. It will also decrease the air frying time.
Place the chicken strips in a large food-safe container. Mix the marinade ingredients together, and pour the marinade over the chicken. Stir the chicken if necessary to ensure all the pieces are coated.
Put a lid on the container and allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours.
The next day, mist two air fryer trays with cooking spray. Spread the chicken pieces out in a single layer on the two trays.
I'm using a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven for this recipe. You can make air fryer chicken shawarma in a Ninja Foodi, Philips, Nuwave, Pampered Chef, Actifry, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, Breville, or another air fryer.
However, if you have a small air fryer basket, you will need to cook the chicken in batches. Each batch will probably take less time than the cooking time listed below. This is because foods on the lower rack of an air fryer oven are further from the heating element (and take longer to cook as a result).
Now that we’ve marinated the chicken, and have it on the racks, it’s time to cook!
⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to cook chicken shawarma in the air fryer? What temperature to air fry chicken shawarma?
Air fry shawarma chicken for a total of 15 minutes in an air fryer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177C). Then flip the chicken, switch the position of the trays in the air fryer, and cook for 3 minutes at 400F (200C).
After cooking, check that the chicken reached a minimum safe temp of 165F (74C) with a meat thermometer. Add additional cooking time if needed.
To serve, assemble your wraps or bowls (more on this below) and drizzle with tahini sauce. So good!
🌡️ How long does shawarma last?
Keep leftover shawarma chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can reheat the cooked chicken in the microwave for 30-60 seconds on high.
Air fried shawarma chicken strips also freeze well. Place them in a freezer bag with the air pressed out and you can store them in the freezer for months.
😋 What goes inside a shawarma roll?
Want to know what to put in a shawarma wrap? Here’s what I like to use for this classic street food:
- Baby lettuce
- Chopped Persian cucumbers
- Chopped tomatoes
- Pitted kalamata olives
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Lebanese pickles
- Lemon-tahini sauce
For years, I assumed the pink pickles in shawarma were red pickled onions. Later, I learned they are actually pickled turnips! These can be hard to find in stores, but luckily I have a recipe for shawarma pickles right here.
The lemon tahini sauce I make is 2 parts tahini, 2 parts lemon juice, and 1 part water. It is quite strong, and meant to be used sparingly. Since you’re making shawarma at home, you could use tzatziki sauce or hummus instead.
📋Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of air fryer chicken shawarma has 228 calories, 2.1 grams net carbs, and 21.3 grams protein. This is for a serving of the chicken only.
One air fryer chicken shawarma wrap provides 598 calories, 39.6 grams net carbs, and 35.2 grams protein. This nutrition information will vary depending on the brand and size of pita bread you use.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The calorie count below includes a whole-wheat pita. If you make an air fryer chicken bowl instead, your meal will be 418 calories (a low-calorie meal).
In other words, if you’re not trying to lose weight, the pita adds about 180 calories to the meal. If you want a moderate calorie gluten-free option, you could make air fryer chicken shawarma bowls with rice.
If you have kids, adding some grains can help ensure their energy needs are met. (We generally don’t want kids eating low calorie meals, since they need to grow!) What I do sometimes is make a shawarma salad bowl for myself, but have flatbreads available for the family.
Those following a low-carb plan will either want to use a low-carb wrap alternative or skip the wrap. Another way to lighten the meal is to skip the tahini sauce. The marinated chicken and pickles provide a lot of flavor, even if you choose to omit the sauce.
I love this meal as an example of a healthy dinner idea that can easily be adapted to a variety of needs. Don’t be afraid to make it your own!
For a rotisserie shawarma recipe, experiment with cutting the chicken thighs into halves before marinating (not strips). After marinating, thread them on the spit and cook for 45 minutes at 375F (190C). Add additional cooking time as needed if the chicken didn’t reach 165F (74C).
You can make Instant Pot chicken shawarma by putting the chicken on skewers and pressure cooking. Make sure to put a little water in the bottom of the Instant Pot, not touching the chicken. To get crisp edges, broil the chicken in the oven for a couple minutes after pressure cooking.
You can reheat shawarma in an air fryer, on the stovetop, or in the oven if you don’t have a microwave. Reheat chicken shawarma in the air fryer for 2-5 minutes at 400F (200C).
Make air fryer Trader Joe’s chicken shawarma by cooking for 15-20 minutes at 400F (200C). Add additional air fryer time if the chicken hasn’t reached the safe temp of 165F (74C).
Yes! And you can air fry already cooked chicken as well. Air fryers are great for both cooking and reheating chicken and other poultry.
👨🏾🍳 Other Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Looking for more air fryer recipes using chicken? Here are some ideas:
Be sure to check out the entire collection of Air Fryer Recipes while you’re here!
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Chicken Shawarma (Wrap or Bowl Recipe!)
For the marinated shawarma chicken:
- 1 lb. chicken thighs (454 grams)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- cooking oil spray
For the shawarma wraps or bowls:
- 2-4 cups baby lettuce
- 4 Persian cucumbers, quartered and chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 25-30 kalamata olives, pitted (packed in vinegar)
- 3 ounces fat-free feta, crumbled (85 grams)
- ½ cup Lebanese pickles
- 4 whole wheat pita bread (skip for bowls)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
The night before you have shawarma:
- Cut the chicken thighs into ¼-inch strips (0.6 cm). Place the chicken strips in a large food-safe container.
- Mix all of the "for the marinated shawarma chicken" ingredients together except for the chicken and cooking spray.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken. Stir the chicken if necessary to ensure all the pieces are coated.
- Put a lid on the container and allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours.
The evening you have shawarma:
- Mist two air fryer trays with cooking spray. Spread the chicken pieces out in a single layer on the two trays.
- Air fry the chicken for 15 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Then flip the chicken pieces over, switch the position of the trays in the air fryer, and cook for an additional 3 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- While the chicken cooks, whisk the tahini-lemon sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
- For chicken shawarma wraps: Pile the lettuce, chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, olives, and Lebanese pickles on pita bread. Drizzle with lemon-tahini sauce, wrap, and enjoy.
- For chicken shawarma bowls: Divide the baby lettuce between the bowls. Top with the cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, olives, and Lebanese pickles. Add the chicken once it has finished cooking. Drizzle with tahini sauce and enjoy.
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Rachel Wallis says
Have made this so many times, absolutely love it! (The dressing not so much, we use our own). So happy to have found this.. thank you!
Summer Yule says
Yay! Thank you so much for leaving a rating, you've made my day! If you happen to see this, I'd love to hear about what you ended up doing for the dressing 🙂
Terrified Amateur says
Beautiful, Summer! A great way to satisfy those yearnings (and yes, they are ,mighty) when current immobility makes such expeditions...difficult.
Even in the not-too-distant future, when we're past today's nonsense, you've given us an Option B when winter snowstorms or summer thunderstorms interfere.
You mentioned once you've cooked recipes from the world over. This is a magnificent benefit of the experience you won satisfying your curiosity. Even if we don't live in Manhattan, you've given us all the food options we'd enjoy of we did.
Summer Yule says
Thank you! I am really hoping that by summer things will be back to normal. I do love to experiment with new (to me) ingredients from around the world.
Luckily, there are also so many ways to combine the familiar in unique ways, so I don't always have to seek out esoteric ingredients. 🙂 If nothing else, I expect the coming months will encourage culinary creativity!
Brian Hardin says
Fantastic recipe! A variation on the shawarma method, but carries the shawarma taste and spirit!
Summer Yule says
Thank you so much! I'm thinking this is a good one to save for summertime- no need to heat up the house with the oven!