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!
This was amazing! The marinade is THE best I’ve ever made, so full of flavor and perfectly balanced!!!
Thanks so much, Catherine!
I have tried many many recipes for Shawarma and this is seriously my absolute FAVORITE of all time!!! It smells and tastes just like what I used to get in my local restaurant! This recipe is now my go-to, I’ve legit made it so many times that I have it memorized now😛 omgggg THANK YOU!!!!
That means so much, thank you!
Loved this shawarma recipe! By far the best I’ve ever tried! So much flavor in every bite. Was simple and easy to make. My kids loved it. Now my son thinks I’m the best cook… all thanks to this recipe!! ☺️
I am marinating beef now using your recipe. Made the tahina sauce. Very good. New to Middle Eastern cooking. Getting ideas with your recipes and photos. Keep it up.
Wow, this is such a simple and flavourful recipe!!! Extremely happy with the outcome, and it’s going to be a staple dish in our restaurant. Thanks for sharing!!!
Perfection! Trust me when I say this is so full of flavour and I will never have to order this again now that I can make it on my own. Crowd favourite at my place! Shookran Heifa!
Thank you, Courtney!
So I used the recipe for the beef shawarma plate and it’s slightly different from the beef shawarma sandwich one.
Not sure if you perfected the recipe and changed it a little
The one for the plate doesn’t have coriander powder.
Is it better with coriander or without?
I know it’s a silly question
PS I did your aish al Saraya recipe yesterday and it was Ah-maaazing!! Thank you!!
I am a little confused as to what other beef shawarma recipe you are referring to. This one has coriander and its the one you used, right? This is the recipe I use for both sandwiches or plate. I’m happy you liked the aish el saraya. I would kindly appreciate a review of that recipe underneath the recipe for it!
This was amazing!!! It’s an easy to follow recipe and quick to make yet packed full of flavor.
Enjoyed every bite! I can’t wait to make it again!
I am so happy to hear that, Rajaa, Thanks lots!
Made this for iftar last night, it was delicious and very easy to throw together!
Love to hear that!
I made these for iftar the other day and it was so satisfying! My husband, who is rather new to Middle Eastern cuisine, said it was one of the best beef dishes he’s ever had. It was also so simple to make. Marinated the meat in the morning before work, cooked it when I got home, with 2 toddlers at my feet. That’s how quick and simple it is without sacrificing flavor.
Thanks so much! I am happy it was enjoyed.
Made this last night and invited some family over for iftar. This was such a big hit. Lots of flavor and especially with the yummy tahini sauce. We have leftovers for tonight so so excited to make more. Thanks Fufu for sharing your delicious recipes.
I love to hear that, Dana. Thanks!
Absolutely delicious recipe. The marinade is so easy, and packs so much flavor. We will definitely be adding this to our regular dinner rotation! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.
This is so good it taste like a lamb shawarma. My favorite recipe ever !
Thanks so much!
I have falefel spice mix do you think this would be an appropriate substitute ?
Hi Kiran, I would not substitute falafel seasoning for beef shawarma. It has similar flavorings but would not be the same.
Made this recipe and the flavors were phenomenal!! So so delicious! And it was super simple!
Amazing recipe! I’ve made this at least 5 times so far! Xx
The best beef shawarma MashAllah! It turned out amazing! The marination is just perfect and was tender. Definitely will be doing it again! Thank You Heifa for your delicious recipes 😊
I made this a few days ago using a couple of frozen sirloins I needed to use up. My teen is a very picky eater. The smell of the meat cooking got her to come out of her room to see what I was up to… which is a pretty big deal. After it was done, she ate almost all of the finished product. I made it again yesterday using a flat iron steak (?) but I didn’t follow the recipe closely. I wish I had paid closer attention. I think I hit the meat with about half the amount of spices I needed to use. It smelled great but it didn’t taste as great at the first time. I bought an extra cut of meat so I’ll be making it again in the next few days. I think I added too much salt the first time so for me, it was pretty salty but my teen still LOVED it and asked about it when I got home the next day. That is literally the highest praise I can think of. This is a FANTASTIC recipe. I am always looking for recipes I think my teen will like and this one is a big winner. Thank you SO much. 🙂
Thanks so much for the lovely review! What a compliment!!