Grilled Lamb Shwarma

Shwarma, thin slices of roasted meat and condiments that are often wrapped in a pita, is a popular street food throughout the Middle East. Chris Hanna loves making shwarma for casual parties. In fact, she once prepared it for 30 people to inaugurate her outdoor kitchen. Rather than roasting meat on a spit in the traditional style, Hanna simply grills a butterflied leg of lamb. The lamb should sit overnight in a spicy, garlicky marinade before grilling, though three days would be ideal.


Slideshow: More Grilled Lamb Recipes


  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8
  • Time(Other): plus overnight marinating

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  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • One 6- to 7-pound butterflied leg of lamb
  • 2 orange bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Syrian Pita Bread, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the olive oil with the garlic, lemon juice, cumin, cardamom, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. Set the lamb on a rimmed baking sheet and coat it completely with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight or, preferably, for 2 or 3 days.

  2. Light a grill. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the bell pepper strips, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Season the peppers with salt and pepper and transfer them to a serving bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and add the onions. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper and transfer them to another serving bowl.

  3. Grill the butterflied lamb over moderately high heat, turning and shifting often, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 130° for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice the lamb across the grain and serve with the peppers, onions, Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Syrian Pita Bread.

Suggested Pairing

Chris Hanna's juicy, garlicky lamb shwarma has so much flavor that it needs a robust red wine to stand up to it, like a plummy Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.

Contributed By Photo © Ngoc Minh Ngo Published April 2007

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