Lamb Shawarma

5 from 6 votes

Lamb shawarma is marinated overnight in a homemade marinade paste, then slow-roasted to fall-off-the-bone tender perfection. Middle Eastern street food at its finest, it’s flavorful and hearty. Shredded and served on a warm pita with tahini yogurt sauce, red shatta, and fresh chopped vegetables, it’s incredibly delicious!

overhead: platter with shredded lamb shawarma and toppings

The first time I tried lamb shawarma I was instantly impressed — this unassuming open-faced sandwich made from marinated meat and topped with veggies and sauces is completely bursting with flavor and texture. Like most Middle Eastern street foods, actually!

It’s all about the marinade. It comes together with a handful of bright and robust seasonings, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. I let the meat marinate in the fridge overnight for this one — giving my lamb shawarma recipe plenty of time to soak up all of those flavors.

closeup: lamb shawarma recipe on a plate with toppings

Serve with the recommended sauces and vegetables, plus some pickled turnips and a side of tabouli and you’ve got a filling and unique dinner option.

overhead process shot: lamb shawarma smothered in marinade
lay on bed of red onion

Tip From Kevin

Shawarma vs Gyro

Shawarma and gyro are both popular street foods in the Middle East and Mediterranean that feature seasoned meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. 

However, shawarma is made with lamb, chicken, or beef and is seasoned with Middle Eastern spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika. It’s served with tahini or garlic sauce.

Gyro, on the other hand, originated in Greece and is seasoned with different spices. It’s served with tzatziki, tomatoes, onion, and lettuce.

The differences are subtle, but they’re there!

overhead process shot: roasted and shredded lamb shawarma recipe in pan with juices
roasted and fall apart tender

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

(Be sure to check the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and quantities)

extreme closeup: shredded lamb shawarma on platter with cucumber, tomatoes

How to Make Shredded Lamb Shawarma

  1. Make the Marinade. Place the onion, garlic, and ginger into a food processor and blend until finely minced. Add the cilantro, parsley, dried seasonings, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil and pulse to form a coarse paste. Place the marinade in a non-metallic container that’s large enough to hold the lamb.
  2. Marinate the Lamb. Pat the lamb dry and use a large knife to piece small holes all over. Smear with the marinade paste to coat evenly, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Roasting Prep. Remove the lamb from the fridge at least 1 hour before roasting. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Roast. Place 2 red onion slices on the bottom of a large roasting pan, then place the lamb on top. Pour the chicken stock into the pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 4 hours.
  5. Increase the Temp. Remove the foil and bake for another hour, then increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast for 30 more minutes.
  6. Shred. Remove from the oven when the lamb is tender and easily pulls away from the bone. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes, then shred with forks directly in the pan.
  7. Assemble the Lamb Shawarma Recipe. Serve shredded lamb in a warm pita topped with yogurt sauce, red shatta, sliced cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley. Finish it off with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy!
  • Food Processor – The easiest way to create your marinade paste is with a food processor. You could also use a high-powered blender.
  • Large Non-Metallic Container – You must use a non-metallic container to marinate the lamb. The vinegar in the marinade will react with metal containers, which will affect the taste and safety of the meat.
  • Large Roasting Pan – Feel free to use a Dutch oven if you have one — and if it’s big enough for the lamb.

Storing and Reheating

Store leftover lamb shawarma in an airtight container in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to store it separately from the other ingredients for the best results — especially the pita and vegetables. The bread will go soggy if stored together! 

Use your microwave to reheat single servings in 30-second bursts until warmed through. You can use your oven for larger portions. Preheat to 300 degrees F and place the lamb on a baking dish. Heat for 10-15 minutes, or until hot.

overhead: platter of my lamb shawarma recipe with toppings

Frequently Asked Questions

What is authentic shawarma made of?


Authentic shawarma is made by roasting thinly sliced marinated lamb, chicken, or beef on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is typically seasoned with spices like cumin, paprika, and garlic. Just like my lamb shawarma, it’s often served in a warm pita with chopped veggies and various sauces.

What cut of lamb is best for making shawarma?


The best cuts of lamb for my lamb shawarma recipe have a good balance of lean meat and fat, like shoulder or leg. Both become tender and flavorful when slow-roasted — I’m using shoulder as it’s easiest for me to find at the store!

How can I make shredded lamb shawarma crispy?


If you want your lamb shawarma recipe to crisp up just like the street vendors do, all you need to do is throw it under your broiler for a few minutes after shredding. Keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning. It should only take about 5 minutes tops.

closeup: scooping lamb shawarma to serve

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Lamb Shawarma (Shredded)

5 from 6 votes
Make my lamb shawarma and enjoy Middle Eastern street food at home. Marinated slow-roasted lamb piled with veggies, tahini yogurt sauce, pita.
Servings: 8
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Marinate Time: 8 hours

Ingredients 

  • 5 lb lamb shoulder bone in
  • 2 red onions sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock

Paste/Marinade

Serve

Instructions 

Paste/Marinade

  • Place the onion, garlic and ginger into a food processor and process until finely minced. Add the cilantro, parsley, spices, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil then pulse to form a coarse paste, then transfer to a non-metallic container large enough to hold the lamb.
  • Pat lamb dry and pierce all over with a small, sharp knife. Smear spice paste and coat generously all over. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Cook

  • Take lamb out of fridge 1 hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Spread the 2 red onion slices on bottom of large roasting pan. Place the lamb and paste/marinade on top and pour chicken stock into pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 4 hours.
  • Remove and discard the foil and bake for a further 1 hour, then turn heat to 350°F and bake 30 minutes more.
  • The lamb is ready when it is tender and easily pulls away from the bone. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes and roughly shred the meat directly in the pan with forks.

Serve

  • Serve the shredded lamb in warm pita with tahini yogurt sauce, red shatta, sliced cucumber, tomato, onion and parsley. Squeeze lemon on top of Lamb Shawarma sandwiches.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 537kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 853mg | Potassium: 946mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 753IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 125mg | Iron: 6mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Levantine, Middle Eastern
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): lamb shawarma shredded

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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25 Comments

  1. I have a tiny kitchen, no room for electric tools, so use shop bought garlic paste and ginger paste. Is this OK for your recipes. Also I live alone so could I use just a half shoulder of lamb – would blade or knuckle be best.
    Can’t wait to try the recipe

  2. Hi, smells delicious – already marinating in the fridge! Are you sure about the measurements of cumin? Its in tablespoons, everything else in teaspoons.

  3. 5 stars
    looks amazing, I love shawarma a lot, even though shawarma does not mean turning in Arabic. I think name is of a Turkish origin. Some also add pomegranate molasses to the marinade!

  4. 5 stars
    I have home raised lamb legs in the freezer and will be trying this recipe. Going to get one out to defrost right now! 😀

          1. Definitely. Not sure of time conversion though. Maybe 5 hours on High and check to see if meat easily shreds. Let me know!