Chicken Shawarma (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Grill)

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Chicken Shawarma that can be made in the slow cooker, instant pot, or on the grill. This healthy and versatile recipe is packed with all the flavor of your favorite takeout chicken shawarma but made at home.

216 CAL 2g CARBS 7g FAT 33g PROTEIN 2

This healthy Chicken Shawarma couldn't be easier to make with options for the slow cooker, instant pot, or grill. It's the perfect option for a pita sandwich, meal prep bowl, or salad. 

As someone who absolutely loves a good chicken shawarma pita, it has always remained one of those dishes that I thought was better left to the experts.

Living in Los Angeles, we are lucky that there are a ton of great places to get it so up until a few weeks ago when a reader requested a chicken shawarma recipe, I hadn't really considered giving it a try.

However, I am so happy I did. Not only is it really easy to make, but it's also much healthier than the take-out version. It's made with a handful of spices you probably already have at home. Dinner win. 

We also love these easy Chicken Kofta Bowls when we are craving Middle Eastern takeout.

Slow Cooker Chicken Shawarma in a pita with hummus and salad.

Now to be fair, this is more like shawarma-flavored chicken. We are missing the vertical spit that it is traditionally cooked on for hours where it picks up tons of flavor from cooking in its own fat and juices.

But I promise you, this is still really, really good. It's got all the right flavors and couldn't be simpler to make. I plan on cooking it in the slow cooker and Instant Pot during colder months and then throwing it on the grill when its hot. 

Ways to Cook Chicken Shawarma

  • Slow Cooker: This is probably the version I will make the most often since I can toss everything into the crockpot and forget about it. My plan will be to marinate the chicken the night before and then toss it in the slow cooker around lunch time so it's ready for dinner.
  • Instant Pot: The more I use my Instant Pot, the more I like it. Normally for chicken breast, I like to set a manual timer for between 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. Then I let it natural release. You could also use the chicken setting.
  • Grilled: Once it is warm outside, I can't wait to make this dish on the grill. It will add some smokiness and help get the crispy outside on a traditional chicken shawarma.
  • Getting it Crispy: If you opt to cook it in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, you may miss that crispy outside. You can still get it using the broiler to crisp it up or lightly frying it in a skillet. 

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma on a pit up with cucumbers and tomatoes

Toppings and Side Dish Ideas

You can't talk about Chicken Shawarma without talking about the toppings. Whether you are making traditional pita sandwiches, meal prep bowls, or salads - it won't taste like real shawarma without some extras. 

  • Tabbouleh: There are all kinds of different tabbouleh recipes out there. One of my favorites is this Quinoa Tabbouleh with Lentils, which is a heartier version of the traditional barley salad. I love making up a batch of this and serving the chicken right on top. 
  • Garlic sauce: Traditional Lebanese garlic sauce is made with a combination of garlic and canola oil, and although it is really delicious, it's also super high in calories and fat from all the oil. I like to make garlic yogurt sauce instead. This one is really delicious and much lighter.
  • Hummus: Hummus isn't traditionally served with shawarma, but many people like to add it. You could make homemade hummus, this artichoke one is delicious, or use store-bought. Drizzling tahini is also an option.
  • Israeli Salad: This cucumber and tomato salad is a great option for a pita topping or side dish. My favorite version is this chopped Israeli salad with lemon and fresh herbs.
  • Heat: I love a little bit of spice with everything. For shawarma, I love using store-bought harissa. Also, Trader Joe's has a Middle Eastern cilantro and jalapeno hot sauce called Schug that's killer. You can find it near the hummus and pesto. 
  • Grains: If you aren't wrapping the shawarma in a pita, then rice is the next traditional option. You could also use quinoa or cauliflower rice, like in this Vegetarian Shawarma Bowl.

Meal Prep

This is a great recipe for meal prep. Make up a big batch on Sunday and then pack it for quick weekday lunches. Usually, I will pack a couple with grains, cucumbers, tomatoes, and yogurt sauce on the side. The others I will pack up to make quick pita sandwiches. 

Chicken Shawarma on a wooden cutting board with hummus.

The Recipe
Chicken shawarma on a pita with Israeli salad and hummus on the side.

Chicken Shawarma (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Grill)

216 CAL 2g CARBS 7g FAT 33g PROTEIN 2
PREP TIME: 1 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 1 Hours, 4 Min
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  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

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Combine the chicken with all the ingredients. Marinate for at least one hour, ideally overnight.


Slow Cooker: Add the chicken and marinade to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours. Shred or slice.


Instant Pot: Add the chicken and marinade to the Instant Pot. Cook for manual for 8 minutes and let natural release. Shred or slice.


Grill: Remove from marinade, letting excess drip off. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side until cooked through.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 216
Calories from Fat 55
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 254mg
Total Carbohydrate 2g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 0g
Protein 33g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Chicken Shawarma (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Grill)
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September 19, 2021 - 12:22
Add a Rating:
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August 18, 2020 - 13:25
Hi! I was just wondering, do you marinate the full chicken breasts and put them into the slow cooker whole? Or do you cut the chicken up into smaller chunks? Love your recipes! Thanks!
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August 20, 2020 - 11:56
Usually, I just marinate the whole chicken breasts to keep things nice and easy.
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May 21, 2019 - 18:58
Add a Rating:
I really like this recipe- it's super easy! However, in both the slow cooker and the instant pot the chicken still tastes watery. Any ideas on how to cut that watery chicken bland taste?
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May 22, 2019 - 08:16
One thing to try could be buying organic chicken or chicken breasts that haven't been injected with water at all. Although they are a bit more expensive, I have found they tend to turn out less watery at the end since they aren't releasing as much liquid during cooking. Hope that helps!
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May 7, 2019 - 13:51
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This is absolutely delicious and so easy to make. We grilled the chicken; it cooked quickly and was fork-tender. The blend of spices has so much flavor. Next time I'll do it in the slow cooker and serve in pita bread.
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Molly’s Menus
July 29, 2018 - 19:32
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One of my favorites! I always have these spices on hand so it’s a really easy marinade to throw together. Tastes great in a pita or wrap with tzatziki and some lettuce and veggies!
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April 11, 2018 - 15:53
Brilliant! I'll be making this on Saturday, with leftovers for work next week! I love that you offer so many options, and the advice about crimping under the broiler is great! Thanks!!
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