Beef shawarma is a popular dish that comes from middle eastern origins. While almost any meat can be used to make this Mediterranean classic, we think you will simply love this beef shawarma which is paired with crisp veggies and a warm pita for an easy go-to dinner.
What is Beef Shawarma?
Beef shawarma is a type of heavily marinated meat that is traditionally cooked on a vertical spit over a fire. Sometimes this meat is cooked for days before it is served to ensure maximum tenderness.
The meat is then carefully shaved off the spit and onto a piece of warm pita bread and served with veggies and a variety of sauces.
Equipment Needed to Make Beef Shawarma
While you likely don’t have the set up for a vertical spit at home, you can still make beef shawarma without one. Here is the equipment you will need to make this Mediterranean recipe.
- Medium-size pan (cast iron is preferred)
- Cutting Board
- 2 Bowls (medium)
- Measuring spoons
- Garlic press
Shawarma Seasoning Ingredients
The main thing that makes shawarma so tasty is the unique blend of spices the meat is marinated in. Below are the ingredients you will need for making your shawarma seasoning.
- Olive oil
- Coriander Seeds
Beef Shawarma Ingredients
Below are the ingredients you will need for making your beef shawarma a success.
- Fresh Parsley
- Olive Oil
- Pita Bread
- Tahini Lemon Sauce
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Beef Shawarma
Have everything you need on hand? Follow the below instructions to make your beef shawarma.
Step 1: Slice the Meat
First, you’ll start by cutting your beef into thin slices.
Step 2: Sauté the Spices
Then, in a pan, sauté the cloves, cumin, and cilantro whole until they are fragrant.
Step 3: Grind Your Seeds
After that, transfer the coriander seeds to a mortar and grind them until they achieve a coarse powder.
Step 4: Mince
Next, remove your garlic and cloves from the heat and mince.
Step 5: Slice
Then, peel and slice your onion into thin slivers.
Step 6: Toss the Beef
Take the raw beef and put it in a bowl with the spices, half the onion, and oil. Toss all together and then allow the meat to marinate for at least an hour.
Step 7: Make a Salad
While the meat is marinating, begin to prepare a basic Mediterranean salad. Cut the tomato and cucumber. Then mix with the other half of the onion.
Step 8: Add Herbs
Add the fresh herbs to your Mediterranean salad and mix well. Add a light dressing of olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.
Step 9: Cook the Meat
Once an hour has passed, put the meat in the pan over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes then remove from the heat.
Step 10: Heat the Pitas
While the meat is cooking, heat the pitas in a smaller pan.
Step 11: Serve
Cut open the pieces of pita breads and fill them with a bit of the salad, then add some of the meat. Top with a drizzle of the Tahini lemon dressing and serve.
What to Serve with Beef Shawarma
While pita bread is the most popular way to serve beef shawarma, there are several other dishes you can serve with it.
You can serve rice for an easy and filling side (or a gluten-free alternative). You can also serve this dish with mujaddara, a middle-eastern lentil dish, or with a side of potato fries. Pickled red cabbage and marinated feta also go well with this dish.
Expert Tips and Variations
- The longer you marinate the meat, the better. So if you can, plan to make this dish in advance and let the meat marinate overnight.
- Meat can be frozen in the marinade allowing you to prepare this in bulk in advance by simply thawing the meat when you are ready to use it.
- Fattier cuts of meat are better for making shawarma.
Different Ways to Cook Beef Shawarma
Besides being cooked in a pan on the stove, this dish can also be cooked on the grill, in a smoker, or on a shawarma spit over an open fire.
How to Serve Beef Shawarma
Beef shawarma is best served with a starch and a vegetable, both of which are achieved when you put your beef in a pita. But you can also serve it with rice and a small salad, or with fries and cooked cabbage.
How to Store Beef Shawarma
Once cooked, this dish needs to be stored in the fridge in a sealed container. It will stay fresh for approximately 5 days.
What Does Beef Shawarma Taste Like?
Since the beef is marinated in a variety of seasonings, the meat gets a garlicky and warm flavor similar to that found in curried meat.
Is Beef Shawarma Healthy?
This dish is typically made with the fattier cuts of meat meaning it is not considered a healthy meal even when it is paired with veggies.
What Other Meats Can You Make Shawarma With?
Shawarma can be made with chicken, beef, turkey, goat, or lamb meat.
What to Put on Shawarma?
Shawarma can be topped with anything you like, but cucumber, onion, tomato, cilantro, lettuce, and tzatziki sauce pair with the spicy meat exceptionally well.
Beef shawarma: Conclusion
Beef shawarma is an easy-to-make versatile dinner that everyone in your home will love. Just be prepared to cook it more often because your family will definitely want to have this dish more than once.
- 1 pound beef (the cut of your choice, but we suggest choosing one with a good ratio of fat)
- 1 red onion
- For the marinade:
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2-3 cloves
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 small cucumbers
- 2 tomatoes
- A handful of fresh parsley
- A handful of fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 4 pita bread
- Tahini lemon sauce for dressing
- Start by cutting the meat in thin slices if yours is not already been sliced.
In a pan add the whole spices (cloves, cumin, and cilantro) and toast them lightly on low heat until they become fragrant.
- Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind them to achieve a coarse powder.
- Finely mince the garlic cloves and set aside.
- Peel and slice thinly the red onion.
- In a medium sized bowl add the sliced beef, the olive oil, all the spices and half onion. Set aside and let marinate for at least 30 minutes or an hour.
- While the meat is marinating, prepare a basic Mediterranean salad with the tomato, cucumber, and the other half of the red onion.
- Chop the fresh herbs and transfer them to the rest of the salad. Mix everything well and set aside. Dress with some olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.
- Once the meat has been marinated in the spices, add it to a medium sized pan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes covering it. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While the meat is cooking heat the pita breads in a smaller pan.
- Serve by opening each pita breads and fill them with a bit of the salad, the meat and onions and dress with some tahini lemon dressing (or some plain tahini)
This delicious beef shawarma goes very well with our lovely Tahini lemon dressing sauce (link to it!), but it can also be dressed with the garlic sauce (another link opportunity)
Of course, the longer the meat marinates the better, but at least marinating it for 30 minutes is enough, so if you are in a rush, you’ll still get amazing results, however letting it marinate overnight is perfect.
You can also freeze the meat with the marinade and thaw it ready to cook. Store uncooked in the fridge for up to 6 months in a Ziplock bag.
Once cooked can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in a sealed container.
Amount Per Serving Calories 1257Total Fat 59gSaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 35gCholesterol 203mgSodium 1231mgCarbohydrates 107gFiber 14gSugar 16gProtein 79g