Recipe: Shortcut Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Cups | MOBE

Recipe: Shortcut Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Cups

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that typically involves slow roasting—for days!—meat (lamb, goat, beef, turkey, or chicken) that’s thinly sliced and often served with pickled vegetables, yogurt, hummus, or pickles, then rolled into a pita or flatbread (or, in this case, lettuce cups). This shortcut version has all the great flavors of traditional shawarma, but can be ready in 40 minutes, as long as the vegetables are pickled ahead of time. The pickled vegetables are easy to make, but require marinating in pickle juice for 24 hours, so be sure to plan ahead when making this recipe. These shawarma lettuce cups are packed with veggies, fresh flavors, and spice. They are also rich in protein and provide a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes + 24 hours for pickling the vegetables
Serves: 6


For the pickled vegetables:

  • Pickle juice from one 24-ounce pickle jar
  • 8 ounces baby carrots
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into sticks, divided (reserve 1/3 for yogurt dressing below)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

For the chicken:

  • 1 ½ pound skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon anise seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

For the yogurt dressing:

  • 8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt
  • ⅓ English cucumber (from above)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (juice of about half a lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons dill weed, plus more for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

For serving:

  • 1 head bibb lettuce (about 8 ounces)
  • Dill sprigs (for garnish)


  1. Add pickle juice to a large resealable bag. (Keep pickles in the fridge in an airtight container and add back to pickle juice once vegetables are marinated.) Add carrots, cucumber, red cabbage, and red onion to the bag and seal. Lay flat in the refrigerator. Let marinate for 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or tinfoil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Place chicken on a baking sheet and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Add turmeric, cardamom, ginger, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and salt to a mortar. Using the pestle, grind the mixture until peppercorns and anise seeds are crushed.
  4. Coat all sides of the chicken breasts with the spice mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, as measured with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
  5. While chicken is baking, add yogurt, reserved cucumber, lemon juice, dill, garlic, and salt to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small bowl.
  6. Once the chicken has cooled slightly, thinly slice on the diagonal.
  7. To assemble lettuce cups, create a base for the lettuce cup using 2–3 leaves. Add chicken and pickled vegetables. Drizzle with yogurt dressing and garnish with a sprig of dill. Serve.

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories: 240; Total Fat: 5g (6% DV); Saturated Fat: 1.5g (8% DV); Trans Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 100mg (33% DV); Sodium: 240mg (10% DV); Total Carbohydrate: 10g (4% DV); Dietary Fiber: 3g (11% DV); Total Sugars: 6g; Added Sugar: 0g (0% DV); Protein: 39g; Vitamin D: 0mcg (0% DV); Calcium: 132mg (10% DV); Iron: 3mg (15% DV); Potassium: 679mg (15% DV)

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