Easy Lamb Shawarma With Tahini Dressing

April  6, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio Food Stylist: Drew Aichele
Author Notes

Shawarma is one of those dishes that many think of as a takeout-only food. While it's difficult to beat the freshly-shredded meat straight off a spinning rotisserie skewer, there's a different comfort found in a homemade shawarma, starting with the fact that you can spice and dress it to your exact liking. It's also much easier than you think, and can be a fun and interactive meal perfect for a family.

As an Egyptian who grew up in Southern Africa, one of my favorite things about visiting Egypt was having shawarma. Pulling the paper-wrapped roll out of the bag and smelling the spiced lamb was enough to make us all immediately start chowing down (get home to eat at the table? No need!). The anticipation of what was ahead was so great, we’d eat in the car, or on the street outside the restaurant. Shawarma takeout was not as prevalent in our part of the world (compared to the Middle East, or even Europe or the United States) but thanks to my dad, who perfected an oven-roasted recipe, I now love to make shawarma at home whenever the craving hits.

This recipe is a one-dish meal: thinly sliced lamb leg, onions, vinegar, tomatoes, and spices like turmeric, paprika, and seven spice, also known as baharat. The most intensive part of the recipe is thinly slicing the meat: use a sharp knife to make this process easier, or ask your butcher if they can do it for you (a real time saver). For a slightly cheaper version, use half beef (sirloin or fillet), and half lamb. While people love all sorts of different toppings for their shawarma, in my opinion, the essentials are tahini dressing, some kind of pickle (I like pickles or turnips), and folding everything into a flatbread or a tortilla for the perfect balance of flavor and texture. —Mary Fawzy

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
  • Meat Filling and Shawarma Assembly:
  • 2 1/4 pounds boneless leg of lamb, sliced as thin as possible (1/2-inch or less)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Arabic seven spice or baharat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 chiles, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • Tahini dressing, for serving (see recipe below)
  • Flatbread, pita, or flour tortilla, for serving, optional
  • Pickled cucumbers or turnips, for serving, optional
  • Sliced cucumber and tomato, for serving, optional
  • Tahini Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch ground cumin (optional)
In This Recipe
  1. Meat Filling and Shawarma Assembly:
  2. Heat the oven to 425℉.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, spices, tomatoes, onions, and a big pinch of salt and pepper to the meat. Place in the fridge to marinade for at least 30 min. Alternatively, leave out the onion from the mixture, cover, and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate overnight, then add the onions 30 minutes before cooking.
  4. Add the meat with marinade to a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil, toss, and cook uncovered for about 10 min, until the meat is lightly browned and registers at least 145ºF on an instant-read thermometer.
  5. Remove the meat from the oven. If there is excess liquid in the dish, pick up the meat with tongs and place it in a clean dish or serving platter. Serve meat in flatbread, pita, or a tortilla, drizzle with tahini dressing and top with pickles and sliced cucumber and tomato, if using.
  1. Tahini Dressing:
  2. In a small bowl, add tahini and vinegar. Using a small spoon, mix well for about 1 minute as you add remaining ingredients. The mixture will transform, first seizing up and then smoothing out into a pillowy creamy sauce as you add the water. Mixture should be light and slightly runny, if it’s too thick for your preference, add a little more water. Alternatively, you can make this dressing in a food processor.

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1 Review

birdman_jenkins April 19, 2021
Do you slice the lamb before or after the oven?