Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma will reward you with juicy chicken packed with street style Middle Eastern flavors. This recipe will teach you how to make the best Shawarma Marinade ever & how to bring those special rotisserie Shawarma flavors live in a pressure cooker.
Chicken Shawarma Instant Pot
Today’s Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma has all the amazing flavors of your favorite Middle eastern Take-out Shawarma or should I say it tastes even better 😀 You decide!
We’ll prepare the marinade first (the secret to amazing flavors), dip the chicken quickly in the marinade & pressure cook in foil packets, finally slather any left over marinade and skillet roast the chicken.
The end result is a flavor bomb! Extremely juicy moist Chicken Shawarma with the right amount of char! Who needs to order take-out again!
What is Chicken Shawarma made of?
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“. The list below is just a reference.
- Chicken: Boneless and skinless, use either thighs or breasts.
- Shawarma Spice Blend: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Sumac, Cumin powder, Cinnamon Powder, crushed black pepper, garlic powder, turmeric powder, green cardamom powder.
- Lemon Juice.
Tips & Tricks
- Shawarma Marinade: The secret to a best Chicken Shawarma lies in the Shawarma spice blend or marinade. Do not skip any ingredient or swap this for that.
- Foil Packets: Cooking the chicken in foil packets is convenient & will result in very less left over sauces as we do not have to add any extra liquid to cook the chicken. However, If you pressure cook the chicken directly in the steel pot of the Instant Pot you will end up with a boat load of sauce (so much so that you need to discard or cook it down again) because you definitely need to add extra liquid to help build the pressure in the Instant Pot.
- The Charred Look: It comes from skillet roasting the chicken or oven broiling the chicken. Do it, you’ll never be disappointed. Your Chicken Shawarma will have the authentic Middle Eastern street food look and flavor. So so good!
- For Best results: Slice the skillet roasted chicken into thin strips and serve them the way you want, just like the Middle eastern Street Style.
- The Shawarma Seasoning: I love to mix all the dry ingredients together along with the coarse seal salt and than store the seasoning right away in an air tight glass jar. Saves me time and so convenient to grab and go Shawarma making whenever craving strikes 😀
**Steps in words below pictures.
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“.
Step #1 Prepare Shawarma Marinade
No shortcuts or subs here. A kickass Shawarma Marinade will make you the best chicken Shawarma in the whole wide world.
Add the dry spices in a bowl except the cinnamon, all spice & the cardamom powder (I love to add these later). Mix them with olive oil, lemon juice & minced garlic.
Your Shawarma marinade is ready in a jiffy!
Step #2 Make the Foil Packets
Pound the Chicken thighs. They do not have to be extra thin but thin enough. This helps in even cooking. Quickly dip them in the Shawarma marinade both sides shaking off any excess marinade and place them on the aluminum foil. Reserve the rest of the marinade.
Stack 3-4 chicken thigh pieces together (not more) & make foil packets sealing the ends tightly but leaving about ½ inch space for the steam formation. Otherwise the packets will pop & the meat won’t cook evenly.
Step #3 Pressure Cook the marinated chicken
Pour water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot, and place the foil packets on the steamer rack.
Pressure cook on HIGH for 8 mins followed by NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE (NPR) for 5 mins. Take the packets out and open them carefully. You’ll end up with a little sauce which you can use in 2 ways (I’ll mention how).
Step #4 Skillet Roast the Pressure Cooked Chicken
Now, add the cinnamon, cardamom & the all spice in the left-over shawarma marinade. You may also add the cooked juices from the foil packets or reserve it & use it as a drizzling sauce while serving the chicken shawarma (totally unconventional way but tastes absolutely yum). It’s totally upto you.
Now, coat the foil packet chicken with the marinade and skillet roast them on high flame both sides for that absolutely incredible iconic charred shawarma look.
Slice them and serve the way you want with lots of Shawarma yogurt sauce!
Fridge: This Chicken Shawarma Instant Pot lasts for 7 days in the fridge when stored in moisture free air tight containers.
Freezer: This recipe is a fabulous freezer meal. It will last for 3 months. Just freeze the sliced chicken Shawarma spread out in a baking sheet first and than pop the pieces into a freezer safe bag and store them right away. They won’t clump together. So convinient.
Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma tastes fabulous when served the following way:
- Pita Pockets: Stuff the shawarma into pita pockets & load it with tahini or garlic sauce or yogurt sauce. You don’t need anything else.
- Shawarma Wraps: You can serve it all rolled & wrapped up in turkish flat bread or even Pitas. Don’t forget those amazing sauces. If you have access to the traditional Lebanese garlic sauce known as Taoum do use it heavily!
- Shawarma Bowls: If you are gluten intolerant serve Shawarma in bowls along with olives, diced cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, onion, and lots of sauces.
- On a bed of Rice Pilaf: Yes, chicken Shawarma tastes amazing with a simple rice pilaf. Try it out!
Shawarma contains extremely flavorful chicken, lamb, turkey, veal marinated with Shawarma spices & slow cooked in a rotisserie whereas, gyro contains flavor packed chicken,lamb, beef marinated with a gyro spice blend & also slow cooked in a rotisserie. The cooking process of Shawarma & Gyro is same but the seasoning & hence, the flavor profile is entirely different. Gyro is served with Tzatziki sauce whereas Shawarma is served with tahini, hummus & yogurt garlic sauce or Lebanese garlic sauce.
Shawarma Spice is made of Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Sumac, Cumin powder, Cinnamon Powder, crushed black pepper, garlic powder, turmeric powder, green cardamom powder.
Shawarma Sauce is made of thick yogurt like greek yogurt, flaked or chopped garlic, lemon juice, dill and salt.
Chicken Shawara Wrap is a quick meal where the chicken Shawarma is wrapped up in a Turkish flat bread or a pita bread along with Shawarma sauce, sometimes veggies like sliced tomatoes & cucumbers and served.
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Shawarma Spice Blend
Liquid (for pressure cooking)
- 1 cup Water
- Begin the recipe by pounding the chicken thigh meat. A zip lock bag helps. Refer the step photos.
Prepare the Shawarma Marinade
- Add all dry spices except the cinnamon, cardamom & the all spice powder into a bowl. Also add the salt. Whisk and mix well.
- Now, add the lemon juice, olive oil and the minced garlic. Whisk well to mix well.
Make the foil packets
- Next, dip the pounded chicken thigh meat in the shawarma marinade and lightly coat both sides. Shake off the excess marinade and place them on an aluminum foil sheet. Repeat and stack 3-4 chicken thighs on the aluminum foil. Reserve the left-over marinade.
- Now, make foil packets sealing the ends tightly by leaving about ½ inch empty space for the steam formation. This is very important. Otherwise the foil packet will pop open.
- Pour 1 cup water into the steel insert of the Instant Pot & place the metal trivet. Arrange the foil packets on the trivet. I made 2 foil packets.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and seal the valve. Pressure cook on HIGH for 8 mins.
- Once, the pressure cooking cycle is over the Instant Pot will begin to beep. Wait for NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE (NPR) for 5 mins and than release the rest of the pressure manually by moving the valve from the sealing to the venting position.
- Open the lid carefully and bring out the foil packets and open them very carefully. There's hot steam trapped inside! You'll end up with cooked chicken and some amount of juices (Read NOTES below, #5).
Skillet Roast the Chicken Shawarma
- Add the cinnamon, green cardamom and the all spice powders in the left-over shawarma marinade. You can also add the juices from the foil packets or reserve them to drizzle on the shawarma while serving. I added the juices anyways. Mix everything together.
- Now dip the foil packet chicken into this marinade and coat them well both sides.
- Skillet roast them both sides on a cast iron skillet over high heat until you achieve that desired charred look.
- Slice and serve the Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma the way you want.
- Measuring Units Used, 1 cup = 240 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml.
- Chicken Thighs or Breasts: We prefer chicken thigh meat for this recipe. They remain extra moist & soft.
- Do not forget to pound the meat.
- Shawarma Spice Blend: You can add all the dry spices whisk together and store right away in an air-tight container. Scoop out and use whenever Shawarma Pangs strike 😀
- Sumac Sub: Unfortunately there’s no appropriate sub of Sumac. If you do not have it than simply skip using it.
- Foil Packet Juices: Now, you can either mix it with the marinade & coat the chicken pieces or you may reserve it for using it later as a drizzle sauce for serving the Shawarma with Pilaf or as a Shawarma bowl.
- Skillet Roast the Chicken: This is a must step that’ll make the dish extremely flavorful & appetizing. 5 mins is all you need.
- No stove-top at home: However, if you do not have the option of a stove top in your household. Than I would recommend increasing the pressure cooking time to 10 mins followed by a 10 mins NPR. Dice the chicken right away and serve. You’ll end up with left over marinade in this case (as you’ll be skipping the second marinade coat & the skillet roasting part), you can store the left-over marinade in the fridge for 10 days & use it later.