How to make Shawarma seasoning at home with a combination of 11 spices; perfect for seasoning proteins, legumes, grains, and more!
When it comes to spice blends, I’m pretty loyal – once I find one I love, it’s officially in my rotation, and I work on making a homemade version for optimal quality and tweaking to my liking. I’ve already shared my methods for making homemade Easy Falafel Spice Mix (Middle-Eastern Spice Blend), za’atar, and Italian seasoning. Now it’s the turn of this shawarma seasoning.
Shawarma, and ‘kebab’ in general, are a very popular takeaway and street food here in the UK, with Turkish, German, and Middle-Eastern kebab shops all over the UK serving up Kebabs in one way or another; usually with a fluffy flatbread or pita.
However, no matter which type of kebab you get, making homemade shawarma will be far healthier, contain less fat, yet still a ton of flavor in comparison to your local takeaway! Best of all, homemade spice blends are super adaptable!
This shawarma spice blend combines 11 spices (several, if not all of which, may be in your kitchen already) for a flavor-packed seasoning ready-to-go. Use it to marinate your favorite protein (chicken, beef, tofu), legumes – like for these roasted chickpeas, and more. Keep reading to see my full list of suggested uses.
What is shawarma?
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish similar to Turkish doner kebab and Greek gyros, where thin slices of meat are stacked on a metal spinning spit/rotisserie in a cone-line shape that slowly turns while it cooks.
When serving, a knife slices downwards through the various meat slices, shaving down the sides to serve as you wish.
Each version has its set of spices, though, and variations in the way they are served. For example, Shawarma uses a typical Levantine spice blend that can include cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, paprika, etc. It is traditionally served as part of a wrap, sandwich, or pita and served with garlic sauce (toum), pickles, fries, lettuce, and tomato, or even middle-eastern appetizers like hummus and tabbouleh.
When buying shawarma spice, the ingredients used and amounts used will vary. The below blend is what I’ve found to be my favorite combination.
- paprika powder
- cumin seeds
- black peppercorn
- fennel seeds
- cardamom pods – make sure to use green cardamom
- ginger powder
- star anise
- cinnamon stick
Read the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the exact ingredient quantities.
How To Make Shawarma Seasoning
First, grate the nutmeg using a Microplane grater or garlic grater dish.
Then add all of the spices into a spice/coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder.
TOP TIP: For extra flavor, you can ‘bloom’ your spices in a hot pan (with no oil). Toast the spices in the pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes until they smell toasty, then allow to cool before storing.
If you don’t have a grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle, though it will take a little arm muscle and a lot longer.
Once ready, transfer to an airtight glass container (I prefer to use non-absorbent materials like glass when storing spices).
How To Store
Once prepared, store the shawarma spice mix in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dark cupboard for between 4-6 months (when using fresh herbs).
Note that the dates on the herbs will impact the shelf life of the shawarma spice mix.
How To Use Shawarma Seasoning?
There are tons of ways that you can enjoy this shawarma seasoning recipe, including the below options:
- To marinate proteins: chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, or even vegan alternatives like tofu or jackfruit.
- Sprinkled over potatoes: like these roasted potatoes, Homemade Baked Potato Skin Chips, Crispy Accordion Potatoes (On A Stick) smashed potatoes, even a little mixed into mashed potato when you want to add a little something extra. You can also add a little to dishes like Potato Salad With Egg.
- Over roasted vegetables: whatever veggies you plan on roasting, you can swap out your usual seasoning and use a little of this shawarma spice mix and salt instead. For example, with this Simple Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Head. The same goes for legumes, like Lightly Spiced Crispy Chickpeas.
- Grains: sprinkled into brown rice, quinoa, and other grains and stir-fried grains for extra flavor.
- To eggs: I love using different spice blends to sprinkle within or over my egg dishes like veggie omelettes, cloud eggs, scramble, and a vegan tofu scramble.
- Sauteed vegetables: sprinkle over sauteeing vegetables with a little salt – like these sautéed mushrooms.
Let me know in the comments if there are other ways that you love to use this shawarma seasoning!
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If you try this shawarma seasoning recipe, then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe card rating (below) and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.
How To Make Shawarma Seasoning (11-Spice Blend)
- 1.5 Tbsp paprika powder
- 1.5 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorn
- 1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp cardamom pods 14 pods
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek
- 9 cloves
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole nutmeg grated
- Grate the nutmeg using a Microplane grater or garlic grater dish.
- Add all of the spices into a spice/coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder.TOP TIP: For extra flavor, you can 'bloom' your spices in a hot pan (with no oil). Toast the spices in the pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes until they smell toasty then allow to cool before storing.
- If you don’t have a grinder, you can use a mortar and pestle, though it will take a little arm muscle and a lot longer.
- Once ready, transfer to an airtight glass container (I prefer to use non-absorbent materials like glass when storing spices).
How To Store
- Once prepared, store the shawarma spice mix in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dark cupboard for between 4-5 months (when using fresh herbs).Note that the dates on the herbs will impact the shelf life of the shawarma spice mix.
- If there’s a spice you really dislike, feel free to reduce the amount or omit it entirely. Obviously, this will change the flavor – but part of the beauty of homemade blends is catering it to your own taste. I suggest reducing things rather than outright eliminating them, if possible.
- Coffee/Spice grinder: if you don’t already own one, this is one of my most used gadgets in the kitchen and didn’t cost much either.