This beef shawarma recipe will allow you to make this beloved and delicious street food at home.
A well known staple in Middle Eastern countries.
Growing up in Amman meant that one of the few foods we could eat out was shawarma which was made by various vendors around town.
There was a range of meats we could choose from.
There were those vendors who used just lamb meat, others who would blend lamb and beef.
Then for something completely different, and a relatively new innovation, chicken shawarma appeared.
It was a great treat for us to go out and watch as the shawarma turned and sizzled on its spit.
The shawarma man sliced through all the layers of the crispy meat as it oozed in its own juices..
I remember my mouth watering as the shawarma man opened a pita and soaked up some of the meat juices on the inside of the bread.
Then using his long and sharp knife he would slice some of the shawarma meat as the spit continued to turn.
As the pieces of meat would fall he would catch the slices into the open pita in his hand.
He’d then squeeze the lovely and luscious tahini sauce on top of the meat and let it drizzle in between all the pieces of the lamb.
Then the pickles, onions, salad and hot sauce to complete the filling were put in before the pita was rolled and wrapped in paper.
We couldn’t wait to get home in order to get our hands on our sandwiches.
We would dip them in a typical garlic mayonnaise kind of sauce, and along with french fries we would devour our lovely treats.
Types of Beef Shawarma
The three main variations of this meal in the Middle East are the doner kebab, from Turkey, gyros from Greece, and Shawarma from the Arabic speaking countries.
Shawarma spices are unique to shawarma with doner and gyros having their own regional spices and flavors.
Homemade shawarma will normally be made differently than at a restaurant mainly because most people won’t have a spit to cook it on in a traditional way.
Instead the shawarma will most often be made in a pan using the shawarma seasonings to flavor the meat.
What is Beef Shawarma?
Originating in the Ottoman Empire, shawarma is the Arab version of a stacked meat dish that is cooked on a rotating spit.
Narrow on the bottom of the spit, and wider at the top, this cone shaped meat layered delight is cooked slowly.
The outer edge of the meat crisps up, giving it a bit of crunch when it’s slices off.
Usually these sandwiches are served with a tahini sauce, pickles and salad.
Either pickled cucumbers, or pickles which I really like, pickled turnips, dyed pink using a little beetroot.
Spices for Shawarma
It will feel a little like all the warm spices you know of go into shawarma spicing.
And you could be right!
One of the trademarks of food from the Middle East is all the spice mixes that dominate so much of it.
Generally the spices are of the sweet variety.
Not the hot spicy kind, if anything the hot is added on the side.
This does have a touch of hot spicy other than the balck pepper.
And what I like to use is chipotle for that bit of heat.
What Cut of Beef is Best?
Getting the right cut will always help make you dish a success.
So it’s worth putting quality in your food if you can.
At the end of the day you can choose the kind of cut you like best.
As long as you know the best way to cook it so it remains tender.
Nothing worse than having a shawarma that you have to fight with as you try and get your teeth through the meat.
Prime rib is what I normally try and use, or a tri-tip in thin slices.
Cuts like flank steak or hanger steak will work just fine if you let them marinate.
How to Make Beef Shawarma
This beef shawarma recipe is simple and easy to make!
If making shawarma at home you will most probably be making it in a skillet and not on a rotisserie.
It’s best to slice it into thin slices since you will want to cook it slowly, and all the way through as would be normally.
Place the sliced meat in a pan with olive oil.
Cook over medium heat until almost done, about eight minutes.
Add spices, and continue to cook until done, stirring occasionally an additional four or five minutes.
Once done put into a wrap or a sliced open pita bread, add tahini sauce, pickles and salad.
Roll up your pita and enjoy.
For the full beef shawarma recipe, you will find it at the bottom of this page.
How to Serve Beef Shawarma
There are several ways to serve this seasoned meat dish.
With all the fixins or even with a little bit of hummus.
You can put the shawarma in a wrap with sauteed onions, avocado, cucumber and pickles.
Along with a nice tomato and onion salad with a vinaigrette.
Or maybe you would prefer trying this shawarma with mashed potatoes and green beans.
Another thing to think of is to make the shawarma part of a stir fry with bean sprouts, onions, sweet peppers, with ginger and water chestnuts.