Chicken Shawarma Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

Chicken Shawarma Salad is the low carb version of chicken shawarma with Middle Eastern spiced chicken, marinated onions and a zesty garlic tahini dressing!

overhead shot of chicken shawarma salad drizzled with garlic tahini dressing

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Just two weeks ago, it was snowing in the Sierras and raining here in California, and now temperatures have hit 100 degrees.

The weather has been very extreme, but I am glad that warm summer weather has arrived.

Despite the fact that I’m melting, of course.

front view of chicken shawarma salad drizzled with tahini dressing

I love loaded salads year round, but there’s nothing I’d rather eat when the weather is crazy hot. 

Some of my favorite loaded salads include:

This Chicken Shawarma Salad from Teri Turner’s cookbook No Crumbs Left will be in the regular rotation from now on as well.

I’ve told you before that I absolutely love cookbooks, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of this fabulous cookbook from Teri at No Crumbs Left.

No Crumbs Left cookbook

Teri is always whipping up tantalizing dishes that will leave your mouth watering at first sight.  I love that the recipes on Teri’s blog and her cookbook are approachable, family friendly, and perfect for entertaining as well.

The recipes are the type that you’ll want to make day in and day out, and they’re all next level delicious.

Oh, and did I mention that this book is Whole30 endorsed, with a foreword by none other than Melissa Hartwig Urban, the co-creator of Whole30?  It is, and that’s so impressive.

No Crumbs Left is filled with gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, Paleo and Whole30 recipes that the entire family will love.  

The book is broken down into the following chapters:

  • Magic elixirs, including marinated red onions, garlic confit and cashew crema
  • Breakfast, including zucchini pie, gluten-free chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes and chilaquiles
  • Soups and Sandwiches, including Whole30 vegetable soup, shrimp coconut bowl and Teri’s favorite chicken salad
  • Salads, including tropical cobb salad, asian steak salad, and BLT salad
  • What’s for dinner, including Greek lemon chicken, pork chops and parsnip puree, and fajita steak platter
  • Seafood, including shrimp pad thai, sweet and sour fish and sea scallops with orange tarragon sauce
  • Family, including Thanksgiving tips, not your mother’s meatloaf and plant-based chili
  • Vegetables and side dishes, including green beans almondine, old school red cabbage, apples & bacon and tangy stuffed baked potatoes
  • Building blocks, including Whole30 mayonnaise, potato croutons and jammy eggs

This cookbook has something for everyone, and I highly recommend it.

overhead shot of chicken shawarma salad with tahini dressing in top left corner

Chicken shawarma salad

This chicken shawarma salad is the low carb version of chicken shawarma!  The chicken is served atop a bed of crisp greens with marinated red onions, cool cucumber, sweet cherry tomatoes, and it’s topped with garlic tahini dressing.

It truly doesn’t get much better than this loaded salad during the summer months.

What is chicken shawarma?

Chicken shawarma is basically the Middle Eastern version of a gyro.  It’s spiced, marinated meat, which is normally lamb, chicken or veal. 

The meat is molded around a vertical, rotating spit, and is slow roasted until tender.  The meat is shaved off in thin slices as the spit rotates, and is served in pita bread or lavash, with vegetables and tahini or yogurt sauce like this Greek tzatziki.

See this recipe for traditional chicken shawarma.

marinated red onions, garlic tahini dressing and other salad ingredients

How to make chicken shawarma salad

There are a few components to this salad, but there’s nothing complicated about it, and each component may be done in stages.

Prep is as follows:

  • Marinate and roast the chicken
  • Prepare the marinated red onions
  • Prepare the garlic tahini dressing
  • Assemble the salad

Marinate and roast the chicken:  stir the spices together in a bowl until combined.  Add the garlic and mix well to make a paste, then add lemon zest and stir well.  Add the olive oil one tablespoon at a time while stirring constantly, then add the lemon juice and mix well.

Rub the marinade over the chicken well, then cover and refrigerate for overnight or up to 48 hours in advance.

Roast the chicken for 35-40 minutes.

Prepare the marinated red onions:  place one sliced red onion into a medium bowl.  Stir olive oil, vinegar and dried oregano together in a bowl, then pour over the onion.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours before using.

Prepare the garlic tahini dressing: Mix water, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar together in a medium bowl until combined.  Add the mashed garlic to the bowl and stir well.  Transfer to a food processor and add the cilantro and scallions, and process until smooth.

Assemble the salad:  Remove the bone from the chicken and cut into bite sized pieces.  Serve on a bed of chopped lettuce with the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and marinated onions, and drizzle with the garlic tahini dressing.  Serve with lemon wedges!

Recipe tips and substitutions

  • I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe.  I prefer them to chicken breast as the skin becomes extremely crispy in the oven, and the bone adds flavor and keeps the meat juicy. 
  • Pro tip: if the skin on the chicken is not crispy after roasting, remove it from the oven, baste the chicken with pan juices, and drain the remaining fat and juices from the pan.  Broil for 2-4 minutes until browned and crispy.
  • You may substitute skinless boneless chicken thighs to make this recipe lower fat.  If you opt to use chicken breast, I recommend bone-in to avoid over cooking.  Keep in mind that cooking times will vary when using a different cut of meat.
  • The marinated red onions will keep covered at room temperature for 3 days.
  • Make the dressing in advance, and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Love salads?  See all of my salad recipes.

More delicious chicken recipes:

Avgolemono chicken

Coconut curry chicken and vegetables

Greek chicken souvlaki

 

Chicken Shawarma Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes

Chicken Shawarma Salad is the low carb version of chicken shawarma with Middle Eastern spiced chicken, marinated onions and a zesty garlic tahini dressing! This salad is gluten-free, dairy-free and grain-free.

Chicken Shawarma Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

Ingredients

  • (8) bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac (or replace with 2 tablespoons lemon zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cups assorted greens
  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cucumber

Garlic tahini dressing:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Marinated red onions:

  • 1 small, 1/2 medium, or 1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Instructions

Prepare the salad:

  1. Place the chicken in a glass baking dish. Sprinkle both sides with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, smoked paprika, sumac, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon. Add the garlic and mix well to make a paste. Add the lemon zest and stir well. Add the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time while stirring constantly, then add the lemon juice and mix well.
  3. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, then flip and pour the remaining marinade over the other side. Rub the marinade into the chicken until well coated on all sides, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 48 hours.
  4. When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
  5. Arrange the chicken on a large baking sheet in one layer and roast until golden brown and cooked through, 30 minutes for boneless thighs or 35-40 minutes for bone-in.
  6. When cool enough to handle, debone the chicken and cut into 4 pieces.
  7. Arrange the greens on a platter or 4 plates and top with the chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. Drizzle with the tahini dressing and enjoy!

Prepare the tahini dressing:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix 1/4 cup water, the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar until combined well. Set aside.
  2. On a cutting board, use the side of a knife to mash the garlic cloves. When they become juicy, add the salt and mash it with the garlic until combined and broken down into a paste.
  3. Add the mashed garlic to the bowl with the tahini mixture and stir until combined. Transfer to a food processor and add the cilantro and scallions. Process until smooth, then adjust the seasoning as necessary. If the dressing seems too thick, add more water as desired.

Prepare the marinated red onions:

  1. Place the onions in a shallow bowl.
  2. Measure the olive oil in a glass measuring cup. Add the vinegar and oregano and mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the onions and press the onions down until submerged in the oil.
  3. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours before serving. Do not refrigerate! The oil itself may be refrigerated and used after the onions are gone.

Notes

  • Recipe adapted Teri Turner's cookbook No Crumbs Left.
  • I used skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe.  I prefer them to chicken breast as the skin becomes extremely crispy in the oven, and the bone adds flavor and keeps the meat juicy. 
  • Pro tip: if the skin on the chicken is not crispy after roasting, remove it from the oven, baste the chicken with pan juices, and drain the remaining fat and juices from the pan.  Broil for 2-4 minutes until browned and crispy.
  • You may substitute skinless boneless chicken thighs to make this recipe lower fat.  If you opt to use chicken breast, I recommend bone-in to avoid over cooking.  Keep in mind that cooking times will vary when using a different cut of meat.
  • The marinated red onions will keep covered at room temperature for 3 days.
  • Make the dressing in advance, and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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