Chopped Chicken Shawarma Salad

This recipe from reader Karen Tedesco is a light and flavor-packed take on streetside chicken shawarma.

“Those big, bold spicy flavors  — I’m kind of addicted to them. That delicious combo of acidic, fatty, salty, fresh, crunchy and herbaceous elements just makes my mouth water. So, I set out to recreate the spirit of Mediterranean-Middle Eastern street food in a healthy homemade chicken shawarma salad.”

Recipe by Karen Tedesco

Makes 4 servings


Shawarma Spice Blend:

2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

or substitute Shawarma East, West, or both 🙂

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Shawarma Spice Rub
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
2 teaspoons tahini paste
2 cups mixed color cherry/grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 Persian cucumbers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup each picked fresh cilantro, flat parsley, mint and dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon Aleppo or Maras pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili
2 cups each romaine lettuce and arugula
1/4 cup thick plain yogurt, such as labneh or Greek
Warm pita bread, sliced into quarters


1. Put the ingredients for the spice rub in a jar. Cover and shake well to mix.

2. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of the spice rub. Set aside while preparing the vegetables for the salad, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day ahead.

3. Put 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and whisk to dissolve. Put the red onion in the bowl and toss together. Set aside or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day ahead.

4. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice with the olive oil, garlic, tahini, 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Shawarma spice. For a creamier, emulsified dressing blend in a mini food processor or blender.

5. Put the tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions in a large bowl. Drain the red onion and add to the bowl.

6. Pile the herbs together on a cutting board and finely chop. Add the herbs to the bowl, along with the feta, Aleppo pepper and a pinch of salt.

7. Stack the romaine leaves on a cutting board and slice thinly crosswise. Repeat with the arugula. Add both greens to the bowl.

8. Cook the chicken on a medium-hot outdoor grill until firm and no longer pink, about 6 minutes per side. Or cook the chicken indoors under a hot, preheated broiler with the oven rack 6 inches from the heat source, about 6 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes, then slice into bite-sized chunks.

9. Add the chicken to the bowl. Drizzle about half the dressing over and toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more dressing, salt, pepper or chili if you like.

10. Spread a tablespoon of yogurt on each serving bowl or plate. Serve the salad over the yogurt with the pita on the side.

A link to Karen’s full blog post is here!