What Is Beef Shawarma?

What kind of meat to use for beef shawarma?

Shawarma can be made at home using a variety of meats. I used 1 12 pounds of beef flap steak, a thin, relatively lean steak that is a component of the sirloin butt, in this recipe. Flap steak is known by different names depending on where you are, such as sirloin tip or bavette. It is a reasonably priced beef cut with just the right amount of fat for flavor.

Although flap meat has slightly more marbling, which makes it juicer and more tender, flank steak will also work in this situation. If you have the money and would like to treat yourself to a beef rib eye steak, that will also work.

You can find beef shawarma, chicken shawarma, or a combination of beef and lamb on the streets of the Middle East. So feel free to experiment with various variations while still utilizing the shawarma seasoning in this recipe.

What Is Beef Shawarma?

How to make beef shawarma: Step-by-step

  • Get a large mixing bowl and combine the shawarma seasoning (listed above) with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, and the zest and juice of one lemon to make the shawarma seasoning and marinade. This makes your marinade for the meat.
  • Slice the meat thinly against the grain—this is especially important if you’re using flank or flap steak, which can become chewy if cut improperly. The meat should be cut into bite-sized pieces (3 inches or so), but more importantly, it should be relatively thin for the best texture.
  • Slice the meat and place it in a large bowl with the marinade. Add fresh garlic and onion slices after thoroughly seasoning with a generous pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Make sure the meat is thoroughly coated by giving everything a good toss with a pair of tongs. At this point, you have two options: you can cover it and refrigerate it for up to two hours, or you can let it marinate at room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • I prefer to cook the beef shawarma in a sizable cast iron skillet, but any sizable pan will do if you don’t have one. Using tongs, add the meat to the pan as it is heating up over high heat. Spread the meat out to cover as much of the hot surface as you can; if necessary, work in batches. Cook for 8 to 15 minutes, occasionally flipping and tossing (if you prefer less juice and more charred meat, you probably want to cook it for 15 minutes).

Make a mean shawarma sandwich!

There are a few different ways you can serve it at home if you’re wondering how to:

  • Shawarma sandwiches. You’ll need some warm pita bread (cut in half to create pockets). Put some of the cooked beef shawarma, my quick 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad (basically a tomato and cucumber salad with parsley), and a generous drizzle of tahini sauce in each pita pocket. Add some pickled onions, pickled cucumbers, or thin slices of preserved lemons if you’d like. These are completely optional.
  • Dinner bowls. Try something similar to what I did with my chicken shawarma salad bowls if you want to reduce your carb intake. Pick up some dinner bowls (or plates), spoon some beef onto them, then top with your preferred Mediterranean salad (tabouli is excellent), followed by some hummus on the side.

What Is Beef Shawarma?

Equipment and special ingredients used in this recipe

  • I use a 14-inch cast iron skillet or this large cast iron pan.
  • Visit our online shop’s spice selection if you’re looking for the spices used in the shawarma seasoning.

More sandwiches and wraps you may like

What Is Beef Shawarma?

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Sweet Spanish paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Shawarma + Marinade

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 pounds of beef flank or flap steak, thinly sliced against the grain into bite-sized pieces.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 Pita bread loaves, halved (8 pita pockets)
  • 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad (or tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley, cut into slices)
  • 1 Homemade Tahini Sauce, follow this tahini sauce recipe
  • Pickled Cucumbers, optional.
  • Add the spices for shawarma to the bottom of a sizable mixing bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice and zest. Using a spoon, mix to combine.
  • With a chef’s knife, slice the flap steak thinly (no thicker than 1/4 inch), into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add the sliced meat to the bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and onions. Make sure the meat is thoroughly coated with the marinade by tossing with a pair of tongs. Set aside to marinate for a few minutes at room temperature (or, if you have the time, cover and chill for a few hours)
  • a sizable cast iron grill pan or skillet heated to a high temperature Add the meat pieces with a pair of tongs, spreading them as widely as you can. Cook the meat until fully cooked over high heat for anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes. (You’ll probably cook the meat for about 15 minutes if you prefer more char on the meat and less liquid in your pan. Additionally, if your pan is insufficiently large, cook the meat in batches.)
  • Prepare the pita pockets and toppings while the meat is cooking. Make my 3-ingredient Mediterranean salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley. Make the tahini sauce. And prepare your pickled cucumbers, if using.
  • Assemble the shawarma sandwiches. Open your pita pockets, fill them with the beef shawarma, salad, and plenty of tahini sauce, and close them up. Serve immediately! .
  • This recipe makes 8 pita pocket sandwiches. The serving size is 1 pita pocket sandwich.
  • Visit our online store here for the spices and olive oil required for this recipe.
  • Storage: Place any beef shawarma that is left over in the refrigerator in a glass container with a tight lid. It should keep well for 2 to 3 days.

*For the benefit of readers, this article and recipe were recently updated and first published on The Mediterranean Dish in 2018.

How to Make Beef Shawarma at Home


What is beef shawarma made of?

What is shawarma? It is a traditional street food that consists of grilled beef or chicken that has been heavily marinated in olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and warm spices. One of the most popular street foods worldwide, shawarma is particularly well-liked in the Middle East.

What does beef shawarma taste like?

Shawarma is given a complex flavor that is both tangy and warm by being carefully marinated all day in seasonings and spices like garlic, turmeric, dried lime, cinnamon, and cardamom.

What’s the difference between gyro and shawarma?

Their origins and flavor profiles account for the majority of the differences. Shawarmas are Middle Eastern foods with a spicier and more complex flavor, while gyros are Greek and have a fresh flavor. Gyros and shawarmas both contain all three macronutrients and are frequently eaten by themselves while traveling.

What animal is beef shawarma?

Thin slices of seasoned and marinated lamb, mutton, veal, beef, chicken, or turkey are used to make shawarma. On a skewer, the slices are stacked about 60 cm (20 in) high. To increase the stack’s juiciness and flavor, fat pieces may be added.

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