Authentic Israeli Shawarma Recipe

a stone arch on the beach with the ocean in the background
By Daniel Goodman

Published July 10, 2024.

a shawarma sandwich is cut in half on a cutting board

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In Israel, food is more than just sustenance; it is a mix of woven cultural traditions that can be found in this Holy Land. One of the most beloved culinary treasures of Israel is shawarma, a dish that perfectly exemplifies this melting pot of flavors of different traditions and heritages.

Pretty much on every corner in Israel you will find a shwarma restaurant. If you think i am exaggerating, i'm not - you'll have to trust me on this one. Israelis absolutely love their Shwarma dishes. It's the perfect food mix and can be enjoyed at all times, especially; lunch and dinner. Shwarma is a dish that perfectly exemplifies this melting pot of flavors. Originating from the Levant, shawarma has been embraced and perfected by Israelis, becoming a staple of street food culture. Shwarma is a succulent, marinated meat, slow-cooked on a rotisserie and can be mixed; hummus, tachina an array of vegetables and even chips, all served in a bustling warm pita.

How to make the perfect Israeli shwarma:

Authentic Israeli Shawarma Recipe


For the marinade:

- 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs (or lamb/beef)

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 1/4 cup lemon juice

- 4 garlic cloves, minced

- 1 tablespoon ground cumin

- 1 tablespoon ground paprika

- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1 teaspoon ground coriander

- 1 teaspoon ground allspice

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional for spice)

- Salt and pepper to taste

For the shawarma:

- 4 large pita breads or laffa (flatbread)

- 1 cup tahini sauce

- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

- 1 cup diced tomatoes

- 1 cup sliced cucumbers

- 1 cup thinly sliced red onions

- Pickles (optional)


1. Prepare the Marinade:

In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and all the spices. Mix well until a smooth marinade forms.

2. Marinate the Meat:

Add the chicken thighs (or lamb/beef) to the bowl, ensuring each piece is well-coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.

3. Cook the Shawarma:

Preheat your grill or stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the marinated meat for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked and slightly charred. Let the meat rest for a few minutes, then slice it thinly.

4. Warm the Bread:

While the meat is resting, warm the pita breads or laffa on the grill or in a dry pan until soft and pliable.

5. Assemble the Shawarma:

Spread a generous amount of tahini sauce on the warm bread. Add a handful of sliced shawarma meat, then top with chopped parsley, diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onions, and pickles if desired.

6. Serve:

Roll up the bread around the fillings or fold it like a taco, and serve immediately. Enjoy your homemade authentic Israeli shawarma with a side of additional tahini sauce or hummus for dipping. (If you wish to make your own hummus we have the recipe for that too just below).

Throughout our blogs we have uploaded different Israeli foods and recipes that we think you would love:

  1. Gourmet Delights from the Holy Land
  2. Best Israeli Hummus Recipe: Step-by-Step Guide

We hope that this recipe will give you that little boost to try and make an Israeli shwarma for yourself and your loved ones. If you do try our recipe, let us know how delicious it is - we love your feedback.