Chicken is such a popular and versatile dish, but it can often be pretty bland. Chicken Shawarma is anything but bland, with a lively marinade of lemon, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Chicken Shawarma is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that is usually served on warm flatbread topped with a savory yogurt sauce. While flatbread is not compliant with a low carb diet, full fat Greek yogurt is fine. This recipe for low carb Chicken Shawarma foregoes the yogurt sauce and focuses primarily on the flavorful spice mix used in the marinade. Creamy Greek yogurt would be a great addition, depending on whether you enjoy dairy.
Low Carb Chicken Shawarma is Quick and Easy
The hands-on part of this low carb chicken Shawarma recipe is very quick and easy, although you do have to allow a couple of hours for marinating and cooking time (about an hour marinating in the fridge and an hour in the oven). Add some greens and/or yogurt and you have a perfect, semi-fancy low carb chicken dinner without much prep time at all!
Classic shawarma is cooked with stacked, spice-marinated meats– lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, or a mix of meats– on a vertical spit. The shawarma turns and cooks on the spit for hours and hours, basted in fat and its own juices. Sometimes it is served with a tahini sauce which I could probably modify to be low carb compliant, but I was going for quick and easy with this dish. Honestly though, it was delicious without flatbread or yogurt or tahini sauce and if you didn’t know that it was usually served that way, you would never miss it! Some other ideas for accompaniments might include tomatoes, cucumbers, hot sauce, olives, fried eggplant, feta or a tahini sauce.
Honestly though, it was delicious without flatbread, yogurt or tahini sauce- and if you didn’t know that it was usually served that way, you would never miss it!
Recipe for Low Carb Chicken Shawarma:
Keto or Slow Carb Chicken Shawarma
- 2 lemons freshly juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 5-6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp cumin preferably toasted seeds which are then ground
- 2 tsp paprika I used this sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 lbs chicken thighs skin-on
- 2 onions yellow or red, quartered
- For the marinade: In a medium to large bowl, combine lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
- Add chicken thighs and toss to coat them with the marinade. Cover and store
in refrigerator for 1 hour up to 12 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat over to 425o F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or oil. Quarter the onions (or cut in large chunks) and coat with the marinade in the bowl. Remove the chicken and onion and place on baking sheet. Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken.
- Roast the chicken in the oven until it is browned, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit a couple of minutes while you make the accompaniments if using. Serve and enjoy!
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