Shawarma is easily one of the most popular foods in Israel and all across the Middle East. This favorite street food originated in Turkey, where the name means “turning” in Arabic, referring to the original cooking method of this dish. Shawarma isn’t shawarma without the shawarma spice blend!
Traditionally, shawarma is made from different cuts of meat, such as lamb, turkey, chicken, and beef. They are stacked up on top of each other in thin slices and piled onto a large spit or skewer in front of a heat source, which slowly cooks the meat as it rotates. By the time you get to your local shawarma joint, the strips of meat that you’re getting in your laffa, pita, or baguette have been slowly roasting for hours.
With the growing trend of plant-based foods, you can even find vegan and vegetarian shawarma places popping up, with strips of seitan, tofu, and other plant-based proteins instead. And the protein source isn’t the only thing that’s adapted with time. Since not everyone has the machinery at home to make a traditional shawarma recipe, new cooking methods using grills and ovens have allowed home cooks to easily make shawarma at home.
Regardless of the source of your shawarma protein, no shawarma would taste as good as it does without a good shawarma spice blend. Not only that, but as you’ve seen how versatile shawarma itself is, you can use this spice mix to elevate pretty much any protein dish you like.
I personally haven’t tried it on fish dishes, but I can definitely vouch for lamb, chicken, beef, turkey, tofu, and seitan. Remember, don’t be shy when using this spice. Even if you add a little too much, your dish will still taste great.
As with a lot of spice mix recipes, feel free to play with the quantities to your preferences. This recipe is for a basic shawarma spice blend with a few variations.
If you buy pre-ground spices, this will make things quicker. But grinding them yourself will give a fresher flavor.
Feel free to double or triple this shawarma spice recipe.
What is shawarma spice made of?
Shawarma spice is a Middle Eastern spice mix typically made of a blend of dried ground spices. This includes black pepper, sumac, cumin, cinnamon, coriander seeds, turmeric, allspice, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves.
Where does shawarma seasoning come from?
Shawarma seasoning comes from the Middle East.
What is the flavor of shawarma?
Shawarma gets its flavor from the shawarma spice mix, which is an alluring and tasty combination of spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and paprika.
Is shawarma spice spicy?
No, this shawarma spice blend recipe isn’t really spicy, as the only spicy ingredient is paprika. Instead, it has a very warm flavor thanks to autumnal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. But hey, if you prefer spicy chicken shawarma seasoning, you can swap the paprika for cayenne pepper or chili powder.
Is shawarma spice the same as seven-spice seasoning?
Shawarma spice and Lebanese seven-spice seasoning actually contain very similar ingredients. For example, these are the spices you’ll find in our homemade seven-spice seasoning:
But there are additional spices in shawarma seasoning that give it a distinct flavor.
Is garam masala the same as shawarma seasoning?
This is the same as the above answer. Garam masala and shawarma spice have similar spice ingredients, like coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. But once again, authentic shawarma seasoning has additional spices for that distinct flavor.
What makes shawarma taste like shawarma?
Shawarma tastes like shawarma because the meat is marinated all day and then slow-cooked in these flavorful shawarma spices.
Is shawarma spice healthy?
Yes, this DIY shawarma spice mix is packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and natural spices, so it’s a very healthy addition to any meal.
How else can you use shawarma seasoning?
Besides using it in shawarma, here are some other ways to use this homemade shawarma seasoning recipe in the kitchen:
Use it as a meat marinade or dry rub on chicken, beef, turkey, or lamb. To make a marinade, combine the spice mix with some olive oil and then marinate the meat anywhere from one to 24 hours. Then serve the cooked meat with a salad like a fattoush salad or tabbouleh.
2tspsBlack peppercorns or ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1stickCinnamon or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 - 2tspsGround turmeric
3 - 5taspsSmoked, sweet, and/or spicy paprika
½ - 1tspGround ginger
⅛tspGround allspice or ½ teaspoon allspice seeds
Grind the cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick.
Add the coriander, turmeric, paprika, ginger, and salt, and mix it all together until a uniform consistency is achieved. If you are using the extra spices, stir in the cardamom, cloves, allspice, garlic powder, and nutmeg.
Transfer the mix to an airtight container and store it for up to six months.
Gila was born in South Africa, grew up in the UK, and has lived in Israel since 2016. Food plays a central part in Jewish and Israeli culture, and as the youngest child, Gila spent a lot of time watching her family in the kitchen. She enjoyed learning about different food cultures and began cooking as a teenager. Scientist by day, Gila also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, and preparing food for friends and family. She loves trying out new ideas and focuses on making healthy, plant-based foods delicious. When she’s not in the lab or the kitchen, Gila enjoys camping, travelling and being in touch with nature, and her dream is to one day grow her own fruits and vegetables.