Beef shawarma is a popular street food in the Middle East. The steak is marinated with an array of spices, stuffed in a pita or wrap, then topped with tahini sauce & several vegetables. It is one delicious mouthful of flavors and textures.
I first tasted shawarma many years ago on a trip to Jordan. There are some of the best shawarma spots there and it is a must to have some at least twice a week when visiting. Although I typically enjoyed chicken shawarma; beef shawarma was a very close second. The meat is so tender and packed with flavor and all the simple fixings just work especially with the creamy tahini sauce.
What is Shawarma?
You may have seen stacked thin pieces of marinated meat before on a large rotating skewer. More than likely, it was shawarma. The meat is traditionally cooked slowly on a rotating pit then cut with a large serrated knife. The most common are chicken and beef shawarma or even lamb. The meat is marinated with warm spices and dressed with lemon juice, vinegar, and oil. While many of us don’t have a rotating spit at home nor choose to diy one; you can most definitely achieve delicious shawarma other ways. In this recipe, I teach you how to make beef shawarma at home using a hot skillet to achieve both a sear and keep it tender and a quick meal.
Surprisingly, beef shawarma is really easy to make at home. Of course, I longed for shawarma when I came back to the states, and I can say that this recipe lives up to the flavors and authenticity of what I had overseas. You can almost find shawarma in every Arab restaurant you visit in the states as well but homemade is always best in my opinion. Also, almost every Middle Eastern grocery store will carry beef shawarma spices. These are already pre-mixed and ready for purchase to use as an all-purpose shawarma seasoning blend. However, I prefer making my own which I share below in the recipe card.
My go-to Beef Shawarma toppings:
To tie the sandwich together, I share the most common fillings. You need a pickled component to give a little texture and acidity. Pickled turnips or pickled mini cucumbers are the most popular accompaniments to shawarma. Other thinly sliced vegetables like raw thinly sliced onions and tomatoes are also a must, especially with beef shawarma. The sauce for beef shawarma is always tahini mixed with lemon juice and garlic. It is fairly simple to make as well and ties everything together.
Shawarma can be enjoyed in sandwich form, whether stuffed in a pita or wrap. It can also be the topping with its fixings for a rice bowl or add it on top of my arabic salad or tahini salad to keep it even healthier & hearty. You can have fun with it and even make a beef shawarma platter where you get to build your own sandwich or bowl.
As always, I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments below and share your creations with me on Instagram. If you don’t eat or favor meat, try my falafel sandwich which is a very common vegetarian street food option overseas.
Beef Shawarma Marinade
- 1 lb Skirt steak, thinly sliced (1 inch thick) flank steak or sirloin will work too
- 2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 2 tbsp White Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1 tsp 7 spice
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 Lemon's juice
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1/4 cup Tahini Paste
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Water, to thin the sauce out to your liking
- Arab style pickles or pickled turnips
- Thinly sliced red onions tossed in sumac
- Tomato slices
- Parsley, optional
- Fresh pita bread or wrap style bread or rice for bowls
- Fries, on the side to go with your sandwich is a common option
- First, combine the beef with all the marinade ingredients and marinate covered in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.
- Take the meat out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking so the meat rests and comes closer to room temperature. This will provide for a more tender bite.
- Heat a nonstick skillet then add the beef to the pan and cook for about 8 minutes on medium-high heat. The meat will release juices and cook in them. You can drain some of the oils that are released if you wish for more of a sear or you can keep it.
- In the meantime, make your tahini sauce. All you have to do is stir together the ingredients and add enough water to slightly thin out the sauce to your preferred consistency. I recommend a slightly thick but pourable sauce.
- Once the meat is cooked, set to the side and prepare other fillings for assembly.
- Cut your pita in half and open the pocket of the pita bread wide enough to be stuffed. Add the beef shawarma along with the fillings of your choice from the list above. Top it off with the tahini sauce to your liking and enjoy!
- You can also change this up and make beef shawarma bowls or wraps!