Homemade Middle Eastern shawarma chicken pitta, with olives and lemon creme fraiche

Chicken Shawarma Pitta Breads Recipe

35 Minutes
Serves: 2

Spicy shawarma chicken pitta breads, roasted chicken shawarma thighs marinated in garlic, lemon, paprika, cumin and coriander served in toasted pitta bread and a lemon creme fraiche sauce, served with a green olives and a green salad dressed with chilli coriander and lemon. 

Recipe Ingreds


  • 4 portions chicken thighs
  • 1 whole red onions
  • 30 grams pitted green olives


  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 0.5 tsp chilli flakes
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 0.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt (to taste)
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric


  • 100 grams lettuce
  • 1 whole spring onions

Crème fraiche

  • 100 ml crème fraiche
  • 0.5 whole lemon


  • 4 single pitta bread

Recipe with pictures Steps

Step 1

  • squeeze the lemon(s) .
  • peel and crush the garlic using the garlic crusher or chop finely
  • mix together the marinade ingredients in the rectangular pie dish

Step 2

  • peel the red onion(s), chop in half cut each half into thin slices
  • place the chicken in the marinade
  • add the onions
  • cover with cling film
  • refrigerate for at least two hours preferably overnight

Step 3

  • Take the chicken out of the fridge
  • set the oven to 220C 425F or gas mark 7
  • line baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • place the chicken on the baking tray
  • add the remaining marinade
  • place in the oven
  • cook for 30 mins
  • cook till the juices run clear

Step 4

  • while the chicken is cooking

Step 5

  • zest the lemon(s)
  • squeeze the lemon(s) .
  • add the creme fraiche to the bowl
  • add the zest and juice to the bowl
  • stir to mix the ingredients
  • set a side
  • Refrigerate

Step 6

  • check the meat in the oven add a spot of boiled water to the baking tray if the sauce is drying out

Step 7

  • wash and chop the lettuce
  • wash and finely slice the spring onions
  • stir to mix the ingredients

Step 8

  • remove the meat from the oven
  • shred the meat using two forks

Step 9

  • remove any fat from the top of the sauce
  • place sauce in jug
  • chop the olives

Step 10

  • place the pitta breads under the grill or toaster heat through but do not brown.
  • cut the pitta breads open length wise

Step 11

  • add the salad leaves to the pitta
  • lay the chicken on the top
  • add the chicken sauce
  • sprinkle the olives on top
  • add the lemon crème fraiche
  • serve immediately

Recipe Utensils

  • 1 baking tray
  • 2 chopping board
  • 1 Garlic crusher
  • 1 grater
  • 1 grease proof paper
  • 1 jug
  • 1 large bowl
  • 3 large knife
  • 1 lemon squeezer
  • 1 lemon squeezer
  • 1 rectangular pie dish
  • 1 small bowl

How to make shawarma chicken pitta bread

Tasty chicken thighs marinated in shawarma sauce, oven-roasted shredded and stuffed into toasted pitta with olives, lettuce, onions and crème fraiche. 

Chicken Shawarma marinade

to make the marinade with the shawarma spice mix of chilli flakes, cinnamon, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric olive oil, and lemon. Marinate the chicken thighs and red onions in a shawarma mix.

Shawarma chicken thighs in pitta

Place on a baking tray covered in greaseproof paper, and add any leftover marinade.  Roasted in the oven till golden brown and the chicken thighs are fully cooked. Shred the chicken using two forks, and pack it into warm pita bread with chopped olives, lettuce, spring onions and lemon and coriander creme fraiche.

Recipe Tips

  • Try to marinade for at least 2 hours preferably overnight
  • Check the chicken regularly and baste with juices, add a touch of boiling water if the marinade starts to get too dry

When to cook chicken shawarma with pita

This dish is perfect all year round, no matter what the weather. It's easy to prepare and can be a weekend or weeknight dinner. 

Who will love this recipe?

This recipe is perfect for adults and kids, you can part cook in the oven and finish off on the barbecue. Chicken thighs are relatively less expensive than a lot of meats, so it’s not bad if you are shopping on a budget. It is a healthy dish if you remove the skin and eat it with a healthy salad.

What to do with leftovers

This is so delicious that you probably won’t have any leftover shawarma chicken  but if you do you can serve them

  • mixed into a pistachio pilaf
  • in a wrap with hummus
  • mix into a Tabbouleh salad
  • mix into a Fattoush salad

Flavour profile

A warm spicy dish full of flavour from the spice mix in the marinade, this complements the lemon crème fraiche perfectly, as does the lemon lettuce giving the whole dish a spicy lemon flavour. 

What to eat with middle eastern chicken?

We serve this chicken shredded in warm pitta bread with olives, lettuce, spring onions and a dollop of lemon and coriander crème Fraiche. There are lots of different sides you can serve with this recipe check out our dinner ideas below and serve the chicken with

  • a simple herby green salad
  • a warm potato salad
  • grilled Mediterranean vegetables like courgettes, aubergines and tomatoes
  • roast potatoes or sweet potatoes

What makes our chicken pita the best?

The shawarma marinade makes these chicken thighs delicious, the combination of chilli, cinnamon, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric and lemon create an amazing flavour for the chicken.

What is shawarma?

It is a middle eastern dish, usually cooked slowly on a vertical rotisserie, it was originally a lamb dish but now it is often cooked using chicken, turkey, beef or veal. The meat is usually sliced vertically from a rotisserie. The spice mix is made with black pepper, chilli flakes, cinnamon, garlic, ground coriander, ground cumin, lemon, olive oil, paprika, salt, turmeric

This recipe is from the cookbook "Around the World Salads" by Katie and Giancario Caldesi.

Middle eastern recipes 

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Middle Eastern Chicken Stew

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