Chicken Shawarma Pita with Tahini Garlic Sauce

A quick and easy chicken marinade – lemon and yogurt tenderizes the lean chicken breasts while fresh garlic, parsley and spices add tons of flavor.  
Chicken Shawarma Pita with Tahini Garlic Sauce - The Lemon BowlRecently the American Dairy Association Mideast asked me to share an easy, back-to-school dairy recipe. While you know I drink smoothies like it’s my day job (oh wait..), I decided to take the savory route this time around. Truth is: I eat more plain, unsweetened yogurt in savory dishes than anything else.

#DairyFuel recipe exchange graphicWhenever I travel I try to make time to sample the local cuisine. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up eating dim sum in San Francisco, tacos in Tucson and Greek food in Chicago. With that said, Lebanese food was first on our agenda during a recent trip to Dearborn, Michigan – home to the most concentrated Arab-American population in the nation.

Hummus Platter - The Lemon BowlMy maternal grandparents emigrated from Syria and settled in West Michigan so although I grew up eating Middle Eastern food, there are only a handful of Lebanese restaurants on this side of the state.

Grape Leaves - The Lemon BowlWhile I love my local spots, the hummus and meat-stuffed grape leaves we enjoyed in Dearborn blew them all out of the water. I felt like I was eating a meal prepared by my Great Aunt Vieve or Aunt Paula and that is not a compliment I give lightly.

If you’re looking for quick and easy chicken breast recipes for the busy school year, this Chicken Shawarma Pita with Tahini Garlic Sauce does not disappoint. I almost always have lemon, garlic and plain yogurt in the house and I’m pretty sure I’ve never run out of allspice, cayenne or cinnamon in my life. We decided to wrap it into a pita with our favorite tahini garlic sauce but it is great on it’s own served with rice pilaf and a green salad.

Plain yogurt is a healthy way to tenderize lean chicken breasts while also adding an addictive tanginess. Added bonus? It’s packed with protein as well as magnesium and potassium – two powerful minerals that when combined with calcium have been shown to help maintain low blood pressure. I love yogurt in sweet dishes but don’t forget about it in savory dishes too!

#DairyFuel Twitter Party InviteLooking for more back to school meal inspiration? ADA Mideast is hosting a Dairy Fuel for Back to School Twitter party on September 11th at 9PM! Follow #DairyFuel and join the conversation!

Your fork is waiting.

4.0 from 6 reviews
Chicken Shawarma Pita with Tahini Garlic Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A quick and easy chicken marinade - lemon and yogurt tenderizes the lean chicken breasts while fresh garlic, parsley and spices add tons of flavor.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut in 2 in cubes
  • juice of one lemon
  • ½ cup plain low fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley - minced
  • 3 garlic cloves - grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
Tahini Garlic Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 garlic clove - grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 pitas
  • lettuce, tomato and red onion slices to serve
  1. In a small bowl whisk together chicken marinade: lemon juice, yogurt, minced parsley, grated garlic, salt, allspice, cinnamon and cayenne.
  2. Pour marinade over chicken breast cubes in a resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  3. While chicken is marinating, whisk together tahini garlic sauce in a small bowl. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
  4. To cook chicken, pre-heat grill or broiler to high heat. Spray grill or foil-lined broiler pan with non-stick spray. Grill or broil for 4-5 minutes per set or until chicken is cooked through.
  5. To serve, spread a quarter of the tahini garlic sauce down the center of each pita. Top with cooked chicken pieces, lettuce, tomato and red onion slices. Wrap tightly and slice in half before serving.
Remove chicken from the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before you plan to grill or broil to help remove the chill.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 pita sandwich Calories: 246 Fat: 5.4 g Saturated fat: .6 g Unsaturated fat: 4.8 g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 21 g Sugar: 3 g Sodium: 1008 mg Fiber: 1.8 g Protein: 27.7 g Cholesterol: 61 mg

Disclaimer: ADA Mideast has compensated me for my time to create this recipe. As always, all thoughts are 100% my own. 


    • Liz DellaCroce says

      I do too!!! Like the time I went to Seattle and had the best king crab legs and wild salmon of my life!! xo I hope you make this!! So good and easy.

  1. says

    Liz, I share your love of middle eastern foods. Just looking at warm pita makes my heart sing and discovering we’re almost out of tahini terrorizes me. We make hummus & muhammara frequently and I’ve made chicken shawarma before, but it’s been so long I’d almost forgotten. We’ll be giving your recipe a shot very soon. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      So funny I’m almost out of tahini too and I’m so worried I’ll forget to buy more! I love that you love Middle Eastern food as much as I do!! There’s really nothing better than warm pita. Do you have a muhammara recipe?

  2. Lindsay says

    I love your site! I live in Michigan and was wondering what are the restaurants you visited in Dearborn? I’d love to try them as well!

  3. says

    Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to try the tahini garlic sauce. I’m pretty sure I would put that on everything. Our local Lebanese restaurant closed, but luckily we have a Middle Eastern market nearby and I’m able to buy all the ingredients to cook at home.

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      I totally make extra of the tahini sauce and put it on everything. It’s really good as a dipping sauce for roasted cauliflower or raw crudite. Ok you’re making me hungry – haha. I’m so glad you have a Middle Eastern market available!!

  4. allie says

    I just ran across your blog today for the first time and love it! I also love the looks of this recipe. We just moved to the country of Georgia, and I am not sure I would be able to find tahini…do you have another sauce to suggest that would also complement this recipe? Thanks!

  5. says

    I love me some good shawarma pita! When we were living in Paris we used to go at least once a week to this delicious Lebanese spot that had delicious pita sandwiches and now that we’ve moved, I totally miss Lebanese food! Your recipe sounds delicious, I’ll try it sometime soon!

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      Oh I had some of my best Lebanese food when I lived in London!! Europe knows how to do it!! I hope you enjoy this!!

  6. Susan says

    Hi Liz! I’m really excited to try this recipe. I think I got into liking middle eastern food because I had a Lebanese boyfriend who taught me how to make hummus, and introduced me to tahini, pitas and string cheese. I don’t have any tahini in the house right now, but I have everything else. And I’ve already warned my husband that it’s coming. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing more recipes from this part of the world, because they really know how to cook!

  7. says

    This looks yummy! My favorite Lebanese butcher in Falls Church, VA, just down the road from Saturday morning wheelchair basketball practice, served their chicken shawarma with slices of pickled turnips, too. I loved the whole thing, but especially those turnips. I’ve attempted to recreate my own, but I’d love to find a real pickled turnip recipe, as I’m starting to get turnips in the fall farm share.


    • Liz DellaCroce says

      So funny – I want hummus all the time lately!!!! Almost made it yesterday but my food processor was dirty from making baked kibbee!! A good problem I suppose. :)

    • Liz DellaCroce says

      I can’t believe how much I have to hide food from my son if I want to eat anything – haha. :-) I’m so glad your kids like shawarma!!

  8. says

    two things…I’ve never had shawarma or tahini sauce – it’s killing me because I know I would totally love both!!! This whole dish, it’s totally perfect.
    I want to visit dearborn and hit up that restaurant with you!! Those grape leaves and hummus are calling my name!!!

  9. Carlee says

    Another incredibly tasty chicken recipe! I can’t believe I love cooking chicken again, thanks to your recipes!

  10. shakila says

    I’m excited to try this recipe! I stumbled across ur website off of Pinterest. Do you have a recipe for kafta bil saniyeh (beef with potatoes in red sauce)? Thanks! :)

  11. Scott says

    I made your recipe for my girlfriend and I tonight as we have been craving Shawarma, I marinated the chicken over night and it was delicious, the tahini sauce worked perfect on it, thanks!

  12. C.D. says

    Forgive me if this comes off as rude, it truly is not my intent, however i feel misled. After finding your website that is advertised and marketed as “Healthy”, I was so excited. I started pinning items and planning out my next shopping trip. It was easy to scroll down and see 250 calories, 20+ G of Protein and then it hits you !!! 1000+ MG of SODIUM !!! per wrap. Thats not in any way healthy. And with the growing crisis of heart disease your dish is 200 mg shy of the Doctor recommended daily intake of 1200 MG for a healthy person. While it may be low calorie and low fat, it certainly is not healthy if you have that much sodium. I think your recipes should reflect such, especially for those who are health conscious. Sodium is the least talked about factor that contributes to heart disease. Even the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy are finally started addressing this publicly to spread awareness to all persons about the negative effects of sodium. If you are like me, and trying to find healthy alternatives to foods that you love, to save the life of someone you love, then I’m sure you can imagine the shock value your nutrition label offers. Good luck to you, and I hope you are able to offer suggestions to recipes that truly are Healthy.

    • says

      Hi CD – Thank you very much for taking time to write candid feedback. I completely understand where you’re coming from and respect your opinion. To lower the sodium content of this recipe and others, I recommend looking for chicken with low sodium (most store bought chicken has high content so I reflect those numbers since that’s what most people are purchasing). Also, you can lower the sodium content further by reducing or eliminating the salt. Please let me know if I can help you reduce the sodium in any other recipes! Thanks again and have a great weekend.

  13. Nikki says

    Hi! I love your recipes. I grew up in Michigan and started eating middle eastern food when I had a Chaldean roommate in college. My question for you is where do you buy the kind of pita that you show in your picture (i.e. Pita that you can roll instead of stuff). I live in Atlanta now and never see this at my local grocery store. Do I need to go to a specialty grocery store?

    • says

      Hi Nikki!! So glad you said hi!! Yes I get them at a specialty store – usually any international grocery store or Middle Eastern grocery store has it. Sometimes they keep it in the freezer. I hope you can find it!

  14. paula says

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I lived in Bermuda and got totally addicted to this and the fact that you have made it healthy is awesome-particularly for those of use trying to manage a heart health diet.


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