Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad

published Apr 11, 2024
Salad Person
Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad Recipe

This is the best way to use leftover chicken.


Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of chicken shawarma salad on a white serving plate, with two salad tongs resting on the plate.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

I want to introduce you to the salad I make most often. I try not to pick favorites, but I really love this salad and I never get tired of it. Meet: chicken shawarma salad. It’s fast, flavorful, and easy to make — the trifecta of a staple recipe! What sets this apart from all other salads? A trick using rotisserie chicken that delivers the fastest shawarma. 

I love to eat it in a salad, but you can use this technique to make wraps and rice bowls as well. Any pre-cooked chicken will work, but I think this is where rotisserie chicken really shines. Its shreddy, tender texture delivers almost the real thing.

Okay, I lied: There are two things that set this salad apart, and the second one is the dressing. It’s just Greek yogurt, garlic, and nutty tahini — but the secret ingredient is pickled pepper brine. Because the recipe calls for sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers already, go ahead and use some of the brine to make the salad dressing instantly more exciting.

Why You’ll Love It

  • This salad is a quick and filling meal. The best part: It calls for only 10 minutes of cooking and 15 minutes of prep. 
  • With just five minutes on the stove, shredded rotisserie chicken, olive oil, shawarma spice blend, and sliced onions gets browned and crispy around the edges — just like real shawarma. 

Why You Should Be Using Brine to Make Salads Better

Lots of recipes call for pickled onions, peppers, and just regular pickles, but they rarely call for using the brine! If you have a jar of pickled vegetables in your fridge or are buying pickle-y things for a recipe, I say get the most out of your ingredients. Swap in brine for vinegar or lemon juice in sauces and dressings; it will help you cut down on ingredients and add a bunch of flavor. Just hold off on seasoning until the end, as brine is plenty salty — you may not need to add any extra!

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad

  • Chicken. Skip the hassle of cooking the chicken yourself and pick up a rotisserie chicken.
  • Shawarma spice. For ease, I like to use a store-bought shawarma seasoning or bahārāt spice blend.
  • Lettuce. Extra-crunchy romaine gives the best contrast to the spiced chicken.
  • Crunchy vegetables. Cucumbers and red onion add textural variety to the salad along with juicy tomatoes.
  • Yogurt dressing. Make a simple dressing by combining Greek yogurt, tahini, garlic, and pickled pepper brine.
  • Pita. Crisp up a torn pita in a skillet for crispy-tender croutons.
  • Feta. Instead of using the pre-crumbled cheese, grab a block and crumble it yourself for a creamier, richer finish.

How to Make Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad

  1. Prep the vegetables. Slice romaine, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber to make up the bulk of the salad.
  2. Make the dressing. Stir together yogurt, tahini, garlic, and a couple of tablespoons of pickled pepper brine (you’ll be adding the peppers later). Thin the dressing out with a few tablespoons of water.
  3. Cook the chicken. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, then add shredded cooked chicken, shawarma spice blend, and half of the onions. Cook until the chicken is golden-brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with a little water and transfer the chicken to a plate.
  4. Make the croutons. Add a little more olive oil to the skillet and tear a pita directly into the pan. Cook, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the pita is golden and toasted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Assemble the salad. Toss the vegetables in the dressing, then top with the chicken and pita. Sprinkle with sliced pickled peppers and crumbled feta cheese.

Helpful Swaps

  • Add cooked rice, cooked couscous, or other grains to give this salad some extra bulk.
  • Use store-bought pita chips or croutons instead of toasted pita.
  • Substitute bahārāt spice for shawarma blend, or make your own (see recipe notes).
  • Drizzle a little hot sauce on top for some heat.
  • Swap the yogurt dressing for some store-bought or homemade tzatziki or add a dollop of garlicky toum to homemade dressing for an extra boost of flavor.
  • Add kalamata olives, chopped pickles, or a scoop of super-smooth hummus to your salad.
  • Swap or skip any vegetables and fresh herbs you like  — radishes, carrots, and shredded cabbage are all great options.

Salad Person is my column dedicated to making better, more delicious salads at home that you’re actually excited to eat. Each month, I’ll provide tips and techniques so you can enjoy them as much as I do — which is a lot! Follow along and find the recipes here.

Easy Chicken Shawarma Salad Recipe

This is the best way to use leftover chicken.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


For the salad base:

  • 1

    Persian cucumber or 1/2 English cucumber

  • 1/2 cup

    cherry or grape tomatoes

  • 1

    small red onion

  • 1

    medium romaine lettuce heart

For the yogurt dressing:

  • 1 clove


  • 1/2 cup

    plain Greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons

    brine from pickled banana peppers or pepperoncini

  • 4 tablespoons

    water, divided

  • 1 tablespoon


  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken shawarma and assembly:

  • 6 sprigs


  • 4 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 2 cups

    shredded, cooked chicken, preferably rotisserie (about 12 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons

    shawarma spice blend (see Recipe Note), such as Sadaf or NY Shuk

  • 1

    pita bread

  • 1/4 cup

    sliced pickled banana peppers or pepperoncini

  • 3 ounces

    feta cheese


  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Halve 1 Persian or 1/2 English cucumber lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup). Halve 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes. Halve and thinly slice 1 small red onion (about 1/2 cup); place half in the bowl and reserve half for the chicken. Halve 1 medium romaine lettuce heart lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips (about 4 cups).

  2. Grate 1 garlic clove into a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons brine from pickled banana peppers or pepperoncini, 2 tablespoons of the water, and 1 tablespoon tahini. Stir to combine. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Pick the leaves and tender stems from 6 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop (about 2 tablespoons).

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken, reserved onions, and 2 tablespoons shawarma spice blend. Toss to coat and spread the chicken out into an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and crispy in spots, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a plate.

  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pan. Tear 1 pita bread into 1 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pan. Toss to coat and cook, flipping the pieces occasionally, until toasted and golden-brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

  6. Add the dressing to the bowl of vegetables and toss to coat. Drain 1/4 cup pickled banana peppers or pepperoncini, then sprinkle over the salad. Top with the chicken shawarma and pita chips. Crumble 3 ounces feta cheese (about 1/3 cup) over the salad. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Recipe Notes

Shawarma spice blend: If you can’t find store-bought shawarma spice blend, you can substitute bahārāt spice or make your own shawarma spice by combining 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin, ground turmeric, ground coriander, garlic powder, and paprika with 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper.

Substitutions: Gluten-free pita bread can be used in place of regular pita bread.

Make ahead: The dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. The chicken shawarma can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container; reheat before serving.