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The California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob

This California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob uses low-fat chicken breast with pita, fresh arugula and avocados. Sponsored by Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch dressing. Love kabob? Try my Persian kabob recipes.

Overhead shot of the California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabobs with avocados - by FamilySpice.com

Comfort food has different meanings depending on what part of the world you grew up in. These comfort dishes tend to evoke memories from your childhood and always bring a smile to your face, even on a rainy day.

I grew up in Texas, with a Persian mom and an American dad. Comfort food for me ranges from sausage and barbecue to Persian stews. My husband is Persian. His comfort food list is totally different from mine. And our kids?  They each have their own list of favorite foods.

What is shawarma?

My husband and I love making kabob for our kids, so it’s no surprise that “meat on a stick” is one of our family’s favorite comfort meals. Persian chicken kabob (joojeh kabob) is lightly seasoned and marinated in a saffron-lemon-yogurt mixture.

Chicken shawarma is a Turkish dish and is very aromatic with it’s array of spices. In the traditional sense, shawarma is cooked on a spit, rotisserie style, over open flame. It is typically served in pita with hummus and a very garlicky mayonnaise. Since I don’t have a spit, I decided to make them into kabobs.

The California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob Marinade by FamilySpice.com

What is California Cuisine?

When I was asked to develop a recipe using Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch dressing, I immediately thought about creating my own twist to chicken shawarma – a California twist. First, I used chicken breast instead of chicken thigh meat. It has less fat and is easier to cut and skewer. Because low-fat is a key to eating California-style!

My shawarma marinade is a combination of paprika, cumin, turmeric and other herbs and spices along with extra virgin olive oil and onions. The key to tender, juicy chicken shawarma is let the marinade do it’s magic.

It is best to prepare your chicken the night before, but I have also marinated the meat in the morning, to be cooked later that night.

Side view of California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabobs with avocados and fixings - by FamilySpice.com

Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob

Grilling is another key to my California twist, because we Californians love to be outside. Our backyards are an extension to our homes, an extra dining room to relax in. And in Southern California, we can and do grill 365 days out of the year!

You can use metal skewers or bamboo skewers for these chicken shawarma kabobs. My mom has these gorgeous metal skewers she bought over 40 years ago from Greece, so I used them. Aren’t they spectacular?

What to serve with Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob

Traditional shawarma is served with flat bread, tabouleh, tahini and/or hummus.  It is also served with a very garlicky mayonnaise. So how do I add some California into the mix?

I loved it on flat bread brimming with spicy arugula, creamy avocados, crisp radishes, sweet bell peppers, cucumber tomato salad (shirazi salad) and drizzled with Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch dressing. It has tremendous garlic flavor paired with the ranch dressing my family has always loved.

Yield: serves 6

The California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob

The California Grilled Chicken Shawarma Kabob

This California Grilled Chicken Shawarma uses low-fat chicken breast with pita, fresh arugula, avocados and Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch dressing.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 40 minutes


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 6 pieces of pita bread
  • 2 avocados, seeded and sliced
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • 3 oz arugula
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/3 cup Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch Dressing
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley


  1. In a blender purée olive oil, lemon juice, onion and garlic until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl mix together spices.
  3. Trim off excess fat from chicken and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  4. Place chicken cubes in a resealable bag and cover with seasonings, massaging the meat to thoroughly coat all of the pieces.
  5. Pour onion marinade into the bag with chicken, again massaging the meat to thoroughly coat all of the pieces.
  6. Remove the air and seal the bag shut. Refrigerate the meat to marinate 8 hours to overnight.
  7. Start your charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.
  8. If using bamboo skewers, soak in water.
  9. Slide chicken breast pieces close together onto skewers, leaving room on each end of the skewer to handle without burning yourself. This also insures the meat is resting on the hottest part of your grill.
  10. Grill kabobs for 8-15 minutes, turning occasionally to cook evenly. The chicken is done when the juice running out is no longer pink.
  11. Serve chicken shawarma with pita bread, avocado slices, radishes, arugula, bell peppers, green onions, parsley and Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch Dressing.


Serving Suggestions: If you don't want a sandwich, serve your chicken shawarma over rice or a bed of fresh greens.

You can also serve with hummus, tabouleh and/or Shirazi salad (pictured above).

Cooking Tips: You can also cook your chicken shawarma on the stovetop. Heat a large non-stick skillet on high and add 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, brown the chicken in 2-3 batches, until done. Add more olive oil as needed.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/3-pound meat

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 697 Total Fat: 34g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 26g Cholesterol: 130mg Sodium: 884mg Carbohydrates: 43g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 3g Protein: 55g
The California Grilled Chicken Shawarma with avocados and @HVRanch Garlic Dressing - by FamilySpice.com

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by TapInfluence on behalf of Hidden Valley® RanchThe story I have written is all true, and the opinions are truly mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.