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Chicken Shawarma Rice

$13.78 Recipe/$3.45 Serving

Chicken shawarma rice is the ultimate weeknight meal! Packed with flavor and ready in just 15 minutes, this hearty meal goes great with salad greens or along side of roasted veggies. This simple recipe is better than takeout and requires just 1 pot to make!

Chicken shawarma rice with fresh veggies and lime tahini dressing.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Perfect weeknight meal – because you already prepped the chicken and rice ahead of time, this recipe is ready in just one pot in 15 minutes from start to finish, making it perfect for busy weeknights. Better than takeout and much healthier than anything you will get at a restaurant. This recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy free and can be made low carb, paleo and  Whole30 friendly by using cauliflower rice instead of rice.
  • Easy to make – since this recipe uses leftovers, it’s simply about warming up the chicken and rice and adding in more flavors. The middle eastern flavors are added to the chicken and the rice, making it packed with flavor with very little effort. The hardest part of this recipe is not burning the onions and garlic and measuring out the spices.
  • Uses leftover chicken and rice – this is a great meal prep meal! If you prep chicken and rice ahead of time, you can transform those simple ingredients into a delicious, filling meal in just 15 minutes! Don’t have leftovers? Use rotisserie chicken and frozen rice or make your own chicken in just 10 minutes!
  • Budget friendly – this recipe uses pantry ingredients and is extra filling thanks to the rice! Serve it with roasted veggies or simple green veggies for a healthy and hearty budget friendly meal!
Ingredients to make chicken shawarma rice.
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Ingredients

  • Olive oil – this is to cook the onions and garlic in. If you are trying to reduce your fat intake, you can reduce the olive oil or use an olive oil spray instead.
  • Red onion and garlic – these add so much flavor and are the base of the dish.
  • Spices: Garlic powder, ground cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, turmeric – these spices are really what make this dish so delicious and flavorful. Caution: working with turmeric can stain your towels and wooden utensils.
  • Cooked chicken: shredded or cubed – Because this recipe uses precooked chicken, the most flavorful option would be to use shredded or cubed skinless boneless chicken thighs. You can also use chicken breast or even ground turkey as well depending on what you have on hand.
  • Cooked jasmine or basmati rice (brown or white) – jasmine and basmati rice reheats so well and provides the perfect base for this delicious dish.
  • Vegetable broth (or water) – to keep the rice from sticking to the pan, add vegetable broth or water to the pan. I like to use vegetable broth as it adds another layer of flavor. If you don’t have any on hand or are trying to keep costs to a minimum, you can use water instead.
  • Optional: Lettuce, grape tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives – these are the fresh veggies I like to serve along side of rice chicken shawarma however you can serve it along side roasted veggies or your favorite salad.
  • Optional: Lime Tahini Dressing (lime, tahini, water, garlic powder, salt) – the lime tahini dressing replaces typical yogurt-based sauces serve with shawarma. To keep this dairy free, I used lime tahini dressing instead. It is creamy, tart, and full of flavor and the perfect way to add flavor and creaminess to the dish.

How to make chicken shawarma rice

Start by finely dicing the onion and garlic.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes until onions are starting to cook down. Be sure the garlic doesn’t start to burn (if you see it getting dark, add a splash of vegetable broth or water to keep it from burning).

Red onion and garlic before and after sauteing.

Combine the spices in a bowl. Add the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with the chicken with half of the spice mixture. Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes.

Steps on how to make chicken shawarma.

Add the rice, the rest of the spices and the vegetable broth. Stir well and cook 3-5 minutes until warmed through and everything is well combined. Add more water or broth if you notice the rice starting to stick to the pan.

Steps to make chicken shawarma rice in skillet.

Optional: Make the lime tahini dressing by combining the ingredients in a bowl and chop up lettuce, slice cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and red onions. Serve the chicken shawarma rice over lettuce with a side of fresh veggies and top with lime tahini dressing.

Top tips

  • Be sure to cook the spices on the chicken and the rice for a few minutes to ensure they are not raw and harsh.
  • The turmeric adds a yellow color to the dish. Be sure to use silicone or metal utensils as the turmeric can stain wooden utensils. Also be careful with the kitchen towels you use when you wipe down your hands or place utensils on, as the turmeric can stain the towels as well.
  • If you do not have leftover chicken on hand, follow the 10-minute cooking method in this taco chicken recipe but replace the taco seasoning with 1/2 the shawarma spices during cooking and omit the vinegar.
  • You can buy precooked frozen jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s or you can find minute rice in most grocery stores if you don’t have leftovers. You can also make your own rice in bulk in the instant pot and freeze it for recipes like this. Simply take it out of the freezer the morning you are making this for dinner or defrost the rice in the microwave.
Chicken shawarma rice in a bowl with fresh veggies.

How to serve chicken rice shawarma

Over salad greens with fresh veggies and drizzled with tahini lime dressing

As part of a grain bowl with roasted veggies (Moroccan cauliflower would be amazing with this). Be sure to drizzle with the tahini lime dressing.

As a wrap with fresh veggies and cilantro tahini dressing.

Veggies you could add

Since I typically serve this with fresh veggies, I don’t add any to the dish. Sauté these veggies with the onions and garlic in the beginning and add an extra ¼ -1/2 tsp. salt to taste as needed. Wait to add the frozen peas or peas and carrots at the end and cover the dish with a lid for 3-4 minutes to heat through.

  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Zucchini or yellow squash
  • Baby spinach
  • Frozen peas or frozen peas and carrots

Common questions

What is shawarma

Shawarma is traditional middle eastern street food found in Arabic countries. Typically, shawarma is made from chicken or beef and is slow cooked in a rotisserie style of cooking. After being cooked, the meat is then thinly shaved off the skewers and is usually served in a wrap or pita. 

How to make shredded chicken during meal prep?

The easiest way is to cook the chicken in your instant pot and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days to use in recipes throughout the week. You can make shredded boneless, skinless chicken thighs or shredded chicken breast

You can also cook chicken breast ahead of time in the oven and slice it thinly while it’s still warm.

Note: 1 pound of chicken makes about 3 cups of shredded chicken.

Chicken shawarma rice in cast iron skillet.

How to make this dish if you don’t have chicken already cooked ahead?

If you don’t already have chicken prepped ahead, you can still make this recipe in about 15 minutes using the 10 minute chicken method. You will want to cook the chicken first in the pan, then take it out, add the onions and garlic and sauté them in the pan and finish the dish by adding the rice, the rest of the spices, vegetable broth and cooked chicken.

How to make rice for meal prep?

The easiest way to make rice ahead of time is to make it in the instant pot. This method is very hands off and you can make a large batch at once. Simply store the rice in the fridge for up to 5 days to use in different ways during the week.

You can also make rice ahead of time and freeze it yourself. You can freeze the rice in 2.5-3 cup servings or in 1 cup servings depending on how you plan on using it. For the 3 cup servings, I like to store it measured out in a stasher bag. For 1 cup servings, I like to use Soupercubes to freeze in 1 cup blocks. Once frozen, transfer the blocks to a freezer safe bag. Defrost the rice in the fridge the morning of so it’s defrosted for dinner or cook the rice in the microwave to break it up.

Note: 1 cup of jasmine or basmati rice equals about 2.5 -3 cups cooked rice.

How to make this dish if you don’t have rice already cooked?

You can use frozen jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s or use a quick cooking rice or microwavable rice to cook the rice while the chicken is heating up. Alternatively, you can cook the rice in the instant pot or on the stove. This may add to the overall cooking time.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Chicken should only be stored for 3-4 days total once cooked. Depending on when you prepped the chicken earlier in the week will dictate the storage of leftovers.

Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken shawarma rice for up to 3 months. I like to freeze this in 1 or 2 cup cubes for easy defrosting, this way you can defrost 1 serving at a time. Use Soupercubes to make this easy. Once frozen solid, remove the cubes from the silicone tray and pop the frozen shawarma in a freezer safe bag. Label with the name, date and use by date.

Defrost in the fridge overnight or use the microwave or defrost over low heat on the stove with extra water or vegetable broth.

Bowl filled with chicken shawarma rice and fresh veggies.

Substitutions

  • Olive oil – the olive oil is used to cook the onions and garlic. You could also use avocado oil, coconut oil or ghee. If you are trying to reduce your calories, omit the oil and use an olive oil spray or a bit of broth to cook the veggies in.
  • Onion and garlic – Use red, white or yellow onions in this recipe. If you don’t have onion on hand, you can use green onions or simply omit the onion. If you don’t have fresh garlic, simply omit it from the recipe, it will still be tasty!
  • Spices – most of the spices in this recipe are pantry staples.
    • Garlic powder: If you don’ have garlic powder, you can use onion powder or use more fresh garlic that gets cooked down.
    • Paprika: If you don’t have paprika on hand, you can omit it or even use smoked paprika or use chili powder (these options will change the flavor a bit).
    • Ground cumin: Ground cumin adds earthiness and a bit of smoky flavor, you can use smoked paprika in place of the cumin.
    • Cinnamon: Cinnamon adds a sweet, aromatic flavor to the dish. You could also use garam masala or simply omit the cinnamon.
    • Turmeric: turmeric gives the dish it’s color and adds a bit of an earthy flavor. If you don’t have turmeric, you can simply omit it, just know the color will be different.
  • Shredded (or cubed) chicken – this recipe uses precooked chicken. You can use shredded chicken thighs or shredded chicken breast; however, the chicken thighs will be juicier and have more flavor. You could also use chicken from a rotisserie chicken or ground turkey as well. To make this more budget friendly, you can replace some or all the chicken with cooked lentils (green or brown lentils).
  • Rice – jasmine or basmati rice are the best in this recipe. You can use brown or white, both works well in this recipe. You could also use quinoa, cauliflower rice (low carb) or other grains like farro or bulger (not gluten free).
  • Vegetable broth – vegetable broth adds flavor while ensuring the rice doesn’t stick and burn when warming it up on the stove. You could also use chicken stock or broth, bone broth or water.

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Chicken shawarma rice in bowl with fresh veggies and blue napkin.

Chicken Shawarma Rice

$13.78 Recipe/$3.45 Serving
Chicken shawarma rice is full of flavor and the perfect weeknight meal. So easy to make and ready in 15 minutes, this healthy recipe is better than takeout! This recipe uses meal prep chicken and rice to make a quick and simple lunch or dinner.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chicken and rice shawarma, chicken shawarma rice
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Salad Ingredients (optional)

  • 3 heads romaine lettuce - $2.69
  • 1 cup sliced tomatoes - $1.00
  • 3 tbsp. kalamata olives - $0.50
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced - $0.08
  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced - $0.50

Lime Tahini Dressing (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Finely dice the red onion and garlic.
  • Add the olive oil to the skillet and add the red onion and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes.
  • While onions and garlic are cooking, measure out the spices and stir them together to incorporate them well.
  • Add the shredded chicken to the skillet and 1/2 the spices. Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • After the chicken is warmed through add the cooked rice, the rest of the spices and the vegetable broth. Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Chop the fresh veggies if you are going to serve the optional salad.
  • Combine the tahini lime dressing ingredients in a bowl or jar if you are going to serve the dressing.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to cook the spices on the chicken and the rice for a few minutes to ensure they are not raw and harsh.
  • The turmeric adds a yellow color to the dish. Be sure to use silicone or metal utensils as the turmeric can stain wooden utensils. Also be careful with the kitchen towels you use when you wipe down your hands or place utensils on, as the turmeric can stain the towels as well.
  • If you do not have leftover chicken on hand, follow the 10-minute cooking method in this taco chicken recipe but replace the taco seasoning with 1/2 the shawarma spices during cooking and omit the vinegar.
  • You can buy precooked frozen jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s or you can find minute rice in most grocery stores if you don’t have leftovers. You can also make your own rice in bulk in the instant pot and freeze it for recipes like this. Simply take it out of the freezer the morning you are making this for dinner or defrost the rice in the microwave.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Chicken should only be stored for 3-4 days total once cooked. Depending on when you prepped the chicken earlier in the week will dictate the storage of leftovers.
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken shawarma rice for up to 3 months. I like to freeze this in 1 or 2 cup cubes for easy defrosting, this way you can defrost 1 serving at a time. Use Soupercubes to make this easy. Once frozen solid, remove the cubes from the silicone tray and pop the frozen shawarma in a freezer safe bag. Label with the name, date and use by date.
  • Defrost in the fridge overnight or use the microwave or defrost over low heat on the stove with extra water or vegetable broth.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
563
Fat
 
22
g
Carbohydrates
 
58
g
Fiber
 
14
g
Sugar
 
9
g
Protein
 
40
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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