Chicken Shawarma with Shredded Lettuce Salad


Cookbook authors Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi deconstruct chicken shawarma, creating a beautiful and bountiful platter of spiced chicken, roasted onions, tangy salad, lemony crème fraîche and more. Slideshow: More Chicken Thigh Recipes 

Chicken Shawarma with Shredded Lettuce Salad
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs



  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 8 wedges


  • 1 cup crème fraîche

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 pound head of romaine lettuce, thinly shredded (4 cups)

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño (from 1/2 chile)

  • Pita bread and green olives, for serving


  1. Make the chicken In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and spices. Add the chicken and onions and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange the chicken on it skin side up. Add the onions. Scrape any remaining marinade in the bowl over the chicken. Roast for about 40 minutes, until the chicken and onions are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and coarsely shred with a knife and fork.

  3. Meanwhile, make the salad In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice; season with salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, cilantro, scallions and jalapeño and toss to coat. On a large platter, arrange the salad with the chicken, onions, pita bread and olives. Serve with the lemon crème fraîche alongside.

Make Ahead

The lemon crème fraîche can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.

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