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Vegan Shawarma

$9.85 Recipe/$2.46 Serving

Vegan shawarma rice is the easiest and most flavorful 10 minute meal, perfect for busy weeknights or make ahead lunches! This healthy vegan shawarma recipe is made with lentils, rice and shawarma spices making it budget friendly and incredibly comforting and satisfying.

If you love this recipe but want to make it with chicken, try this 15 minute chicken shawarma skillet meal!

Lentil and rice vegan shawarma with chopped veggies in a white bowl.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Ready in 10 minutes – this recipe utilizes leftover rice and cooked lentils to come together in just 10 minutes! If you are not currently cooking a large batch of rice early in the week, let this recipe be the one that convinces you that it’s always worth doing! Dinner in 10 minutes has never tasted better!
  • Simple, budget friendly ingredients – the base of this vegan shawarma is lentils and rice so it’s incredibly budget friendly! It can be served so many ways depending on what you have on hand! Stuff it in pitas or tortillas, serve it on salad greens or serve it besides a quick vegetable combo for a simple but flavorful meal!
  • Great for meal prep or weeknight meals – Since you can easily make a huge batch of this, you can certainly prep a big batch for meal prep and enjoy it for lunch or dinner all week. You can also simply prep the rice and lentils in advance and make dinner in 10 minutes. Perfect for those nights when you need to put dinner on the table quickly!
  • Bold, vibrant flavors perfect for plant based or meat-eating guests! This healthy vegetarian shawarma recipe would be the perfect party food! Easy to make a large batch and each guest can build their own bowl or pita based on their preferences! See the list below on ideas of what to serve along side this shawarma rice recipe.
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil – this is to sauté the onions and garlic in. You can use whatever your favorite oil is or omit the olive oil and simple sauté the onion and garlic in water or spray the pan with nonstick spray.
  • Red onion and garlic – these help to provide a depth of flavor to this leftover meal. The onions and garlic are sauteed before the rest of the ingredients are added to the pan to be reheated. You could also use white, yellow, or green onion but I prefer the flavor from the red onion in this recipe.
  • Cooked green (or brown) lentils – green lentils when cooked look brown. You can cook dry lentils ahead over the weekend, or buy lentils precooked (steamed or canned) from the grocery store. You can find steamed lentils in the refrigerated section of the produce department and canned lentils in the canned beans aisle. If you are using canned, be sure to drain and rinse the lentils.
  • Cooked jasmine or basmati rice – this recipe utilizes leftover rice to help get dinner on the table quickly. You can also use the minute rice packets from the grocery store or defrost frozen rice you can buy in the grocery store or make yourself and freeze for later. I often freeze leftover rice in 1 cup containers so that I can easily use it in recipes like this and it’s already pre-measured.
  • Vegetable broth – this helps to keep the dish moist and helps to get the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet after sautéing the onions and garlic (that is where all the flavor is).
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric – these spices help to create a quick and simple shawarma spice blend that help give the lentils and rice a boost of flavors and really take this dish to the next level. Check out the substitutions below if you are missing any of these spices!

Optional:

  • Salad veggies: Lettuce, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives – these veggies provide a base for the vegan shawarma and rice.
  • Pita or tortilla shells for stuffing the shawarma rice in.

Cilantro tahini dressing (optional):

  • Tahini – tahini helps to create a creamy dressing without dairy. You could also use almond butter or cashew butter if you don’t have tahini.
  • Cilantro – cilantro helps to create a fresh, herby dressing that pairs so well with the shawarma spices. If you don’t love cilantro you could use a combination of flat leaf parsley and fresh mint.
  • Water – water is used to thin out the dressing as tahini based dressing can get very thick and creamy.
  • Lime juice – lime juice provides acid to the dressing and helps to cut through the nutty flavor of the dressing.
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder – these help to give the dressing more depth of flavor.

How to make vegan shawarma

Start by preheating a large skillet over medium heat.

Finely chop the onions and garlic.

Add the olive oil to the hot pan then add the chopped red onions and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Cast iron skillet with onions and garlic before and after cooking.

Once the onions start to cook down, add the lentils and half the spice mixture. Stir well and cook 1-2 minutes.

Cast iron skillet with lentils and spices before and after stirring.

Add the rice, the rest of the spices and the vegetable broth. Stir well, turn off the heat and cover the pan.

Rice and spices added to cast iron filled with lentils, before and after stirring.

Chop the fresh veggies for the salad or pita and make the dressing in the blender (optional).

Assemble the shawarma in pitas or bowls and enjoy.

Cilantro tahini dressing on top of salad filled with vegetarian shawarma.

Top tips

  • Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan after you add the vegetable broth. There is so much flavor in those brown bits that add to the overall flavor of this dish.
  • Turn off the skillet after you add the rice and vegetable broth. The skillet and lentils will be warm enough to heat the rice through. I find that if you keep the heat on once you add the rice, the rice can start to stick as the vegetable broth gets absorbed into the rice.
  • Buy precooked lentils in the grocery store in the refrigerated produce section or canned in the canned good aisle by the canned beans. You can also use cooked chickpeas or white beans in place of the lentils if needed.
  • You can buy quick cooking rice from grocery store if you don’t have any premade at home. You can also find frozen jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s and in most grocery stores now. Be sure to defrost the rice before adding it to this recipe.
  • Make a big batch of this simple shawarma seasoning so you can use it on veggies before roasting or to make this recipe even easier to make going forward.
Lentil and rice vegan shawarma in cast iron skillet with wooden spatula.

How to serve shawarma

Stuffed in a pita, gluten free tortilla or lentil flatbread with fresh veggies and homemade hummus.

Over salad greens with cilantro tahini dressing or creamy cilantro lime dressing.

Over tortilla chips or pita chips with pickled onions and tahini lime dressing or chimichurri sauce.

What to serve alongside of shawarma rice

You can also serve this in a grain bowl like what you might get at restaurants like Cava. Some great sides for a grain bowl include:

Common questions

What is shawarma?

Shawarma is a middle eastern/Mediterranean dish that is typically made of meat or chicken that is slow roasted and shaved off the skewer right onto a pita and served with a creamy yogurt dressing.

This vegan shawarma uses similar spices but uses lentils and rice instead of meat, making it budget friendly and plant based!

What are shawarma spices?

Shawarma spices are the spices that you would typically find on those skewers of meat. They differ by region and recipe but often include spices like paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, all spice, cayenne. There is typically a balance of savory and sweeter spices in the blend.

Vegan shawarma in white bowl with veggies, cilantro tahini dressing in background.

How to make rice in advance?

The best rice to make in advance for meal prep is jasmine rice or basmati rice since they don’t get hard and dry out when stored in the fridge. you can use brown or white jasmine/basmati rice when you are meal prepping, they both work great.

The easiest way to cook a large batch of rice is to use the instant pot. You just simply set it and forget it. Once the rice is done cooking and the pressure has been released, put the rice in containers in the fridge or freezer for later in the week.

I like to use a large pyrex bowl with a cover in the fridge and I like to freeze leftover rice in 1 or 2 cup portions using Soupercubes. Once frozen, pop the frozen cube out of the mold and transfer it to a freezer safe bag or container. This way I know how much rice I’m defrosting, since it’s measured out by the cup.

What if you don’t have rice prepped?

You can make rice in the instant pot or on the stove, that will add about 20 minutes to the cooking time of this recipe. You can also use quick cooking rice from the grocery store or you can defrost frozen rice (you can buy frozen jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s and many grocery stores). You could also use cooked quinoa or use frozen cauliflower rice that you cook 5-7 minutes to defrost and remove excess water.

Storing leftovers

Fridge – store leftovers in the fridge up to 4 days in an airtight container. Note: cooked rice can only be stored in the fridge about 5 days so if you are using leftover rice, take that into account.

Freezer – freeze leftover vegan shawarma for up to 3 months (just the rice and lentils). I like to freeze in individual portions using Soupercubes. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer safe bag or container and label the container with the name, date and use by date.

Substitutions

  • Red onions and garlic – red onions and garlic build the base of flavor for the shawarma rice. You can use white, yellow, or green onions in place of the red onion if needed. If you don’t have garlic, you can omit it or use more garlic powder (about ½ teaspoon).
  • Cooked green or brown lentils – If you don’t have cooked green (brown) lentils, you can use chickpeas, white beans or even black beans in place of the lentils. I do not recommend using red lentils as they are too soft when cooked.
  • Cooked jasmine or basmati rice – You can use brown or white jasmine or basmati rice. If you don’ have rice on hand, you can also use cooked quinoa, or cooked cauliflower rice in place of the cooked rice.
  • 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.
  • Vegetable broth – you can also use vegetable stock, chicken broth or stock (not vegan) or simply use water in place of the broth.
  • Tahini Cilantro Sauce – if you don’t have cilantro you can make tahini lime dressing. If you don’t have tahini, you can use cilantro lime dressing.
Cilantro tahini dressing on top of salad filled with vegetarian shawarma.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Greek White Bean Salad

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

Hummus Pasta Salad

Apricot Chickpea Curry

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
White bowl filled with vegan shawarma, onions, cucumber, tomato and lettuce.

Vegan Shawarma

$9.85 Recipe/$2.46 Serving
Vegan shawarma is quick, easy and so flavorful, the perfect lunch or dinner meal ready in just 10 minutes! This healthy, plant based meal uses leftover rice and lentils but would also be great for meal prep. Serve on salad greens or stuffed in a wrap or tortilla with your favorite creamy dressing for a simple gluten free meal.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chicken and rice shawarma, lentil shawarma, vegan shawarma, vegetarian shawarma
Prep Time: 1 min
Cook Time: 7 mins
Total Time: 8 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

Cilantro Tahini Dressing (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by finely chopping the onion and garlic. While that you are working on this, preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • When the skillet is preheated, add the olive oil and onions, cook 3-4 minutes.
  • After 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • After 1 minute, add the spices and lentils to the onions. Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes until lentils are warmed through.
  • After 1 minute, add the vegetable broth and rice. Stir well. Turn off the heat and cover the skillet, let the residual heat warm the rice.
  • While the lid is on the skillet, chop the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and olives.
  • If you are making the dressing, put all the ingredients in the blender and blend on high 1 minute until smooth.
  • Assemble the salad bowls with veggies, shawarma rice and lentils and top with dressing.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan after you add the vegetable broth. There is so much flavor in those brown bits that add to the overall flavor of this dish.
  • Turn off the skillet after you add the rice and vegetable broth. The skillet and lentils will be warm enough to heat the rice through. I find that if you keep the heat on once you add the rice, the rice can start to stick as the vegetable broth gets absorbed into the rice.
  • Buy precooked lentils in the grocery store in the refrigerated produce section or canned in the canned good aisle by the canned beans. You can also use cooked chickpeas or white beans in place of the lentils if needed.
  • You can buy quick cooking rice from grocery store if you don’t have any premade at home. You can also find frozen jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s and in most grocery stores now. Be sure to defrost the rice before adding it to this recipe.
  • Make a big batch of this simple shawarma seasoning so you can use it on veggies before roasting or to make this recipe even easier to make going forward.
Storing leftovers
Fridge – store leftovers in the fridge up to 4 days in an airtight container. Note: cooked rice can only be stored in the fridge about 5 days so if you are using leftover rice, take that into account.
Freezer – freeze leftover vegan shawarma for up to 3 months (just the rice and lentils). I like to freeze in individual portions using Soupercubes. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer safe bag or container and label the container with the name, date and use by date.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
571
Fat
 
16
g
Carbohydrates
 
89
g
Fiber
 
26
g
Sugar
 
12
g
Protein
 
28
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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