As a parent, there are definitely nights after school when I simply don’t have the time to spend creating a healthy meal from scratch (or times I really just don’t feel like it). In the interest of not blowing our budget or eating junk food, I always try to keep a batch of this slow cooker shawarma in our freezer. The night before a busy day I’ll put it into the fridge, so that when I get home I can pop it into the oven under the broiler, make a quick salad, and have an easy – and still healthy meal for the family.
I would not recommend substituting chicken breast for thighs in this recipe, only because they have a tendency to come out really dry. You’re cooking them twice – once in your slow cooker, then reheating under the broiler, and breast meat just tends to get stringy and unpleasant. I serve rolled up in lavash bread with hummus, salad, pickles, and hot sauce, but you can even serve it wrapped in a flour tortilla if that’s what you have on hand – or over a salad or bowl of homemade hummus. If you have commercial shawarma seasoning on hand, you can use that – though I’ve also included my own recipe – the recipe below will give you more than enough for at least three batches of shawarma.
Slow Cooker Shawarma
- Slow Cooker / Crockpot
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 to 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 Tbsp shawarma seasoning (see recipe below)
- 1 tsp salt
- Set slow cooker to low heat for six hours. Place your olive oil and chicken thighs in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with the shawarma spice and salt and cook.
- After six hours, allow the chicken to cool and then pull apart into bite-sized pieces. Place in the freezer for later, or for immediate use go to the next step.
- If putting in the freezer, add a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid to your storage container with the chicken – this will help it stay moist when reheated, though it's not necessary if you're putting it under the broiler immediately.
- Defrost the shawarma overnight. If cold from the fridge – place on a foil lined baking sheet into a 350°F (175°C) oven for 10 minutes. Once warmed, move the chicken closer to the broiler, then broil for an additional 5-10 minutes until slightly charred and crispy.
Shawarma Spice Blend
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorns (or ground)
- 1 Tbsp white peppercorns (or ground)
- 2 Tbsp allspice berries (or ground)
- 2 medium cinnamon sticks (or 1 Tbsp ground)
- 4-6 blades of mace (or nutmeg, or 1 Tbsp ground)
- 1 Tbsp cardamom (green), seeds (or 1 Tbsp ground)
- ½ Tbsp chili powder (or chipotle powder)
- ½ Tbsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
- ½ Tbsp dried marjoram (or oregano)
- ½ tsp cloves, whole (or ½ tsp ground)
- Grind all spices. Blend thoroughly.