This Beef Shawarma recipe is a delicious homemade take on a classic Middle Eastern street food! Steak pieces are marinated with some bright acidity and warm spices, then seared to tender perfection on a sizzling hot pan. It’s a remarkably flavorful, easy beef recipe that’s sure to satisfy!
What is Beef Shawarma?
If you’ve never had beef shawarma, you’re in for a treat.! A famous Middle Eastern street food, shawarma is made with chicken or beef that is heavily marinated in oil, lemon juice, and warm spices. Then, it is placed on a vertical rotisserie or spit and slow-roasted for days until it is unbelievably tender.
Most commonly, it is shaved off and served stuffed into bread with fresh toppings and a drizzle of tahini or tzatziki. However, you can also find it presented as part of a platter along with sides like tabbouleh and hummus. No matter how it’s plated, it’s always incredible and is guaranteed to leave you coming back for more.
Don’t worry, though. You don’t need a fancy spit to make your own beef shawarma at home. I’ll show you how to create the same bold flavor and tender texture by searing on the stovetop instead!
What’s the Difference Between Gyro and Shawarma?
Although they’re often confused with one another, gyro meat and shawarma are not the same. Both are cooked slowly over a vertical rotisserie. However, you’ll find that their primary differences come down to their origins and the flavors presented.
- Gyros are a Greek dish traditionally made with pork However, chicken gyros are commonly found as well. Either way, the meat is flavored with Greek seasonings such as rosemary, oregano, and thyme, creating a bright, refreshing taste.
- Shawarma is a Middle Eastern food traditionally made with lamb or mutton. Unlike gyro meat, shawarma is marinated in a warm, slightly spicy mixture that lends a more robust taste.
Homemade Beef Shawarma Ingredients
- Steak – I use New York strip steak that has been trimmed of excess fat. This cut is more tender than traditionally used flank steak.
- Olive oil – This forms the base of the marinade, adding flavor and tenderizing the meat.
- Red wine vinegar – The acidity helps tenderize the beef while enhancing its meaty flavor.
- Fresh lemon juice – If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, feel free to replace it with 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar instead.
- Minced garlic – Whole garlic cloves work best.
- Seasonings – Salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, allspice, oregano, ground cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper create the distinct flavor associated with beef shawarma.
What Is the Best Cut of Beef to Use for Shawarma?
Many cuts of beef can be used for shawarma as long as it is marbled with some fat and fairly thin sliced. However, the most common cuts are flank steak and skirt steak. Sirloin and strip steak works well, too.
I personally prefer strip steak or sirloin, or even tenderloin for the most tender result. But the selection is up to you. Luckily, the marinade does most of the heavy lifting, meaning this beef shawarma recipe is virtually fail-proof no matter which of these cuts you choose.
How to Make This Easy Beef Shawarma Recipe
- Create the marinade: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the ingredients for the marinade together until smooth.
- Marinate the beef: Add the steak pieces to the bowl of marinade, coating them completely. Cover the bowl, and transfer it to the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Cook the shawarma: Heat an oiled cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. Add half the steak, arranging it in a single layer. Cook until the pieces are browned on the bottom. Then, flip them over, and continue to cook until they’re medium in the center.
- Repeat: Transfer the cooked steak to a serving bowl or plate, and repeat the process until all the beef has been cooked.
- Cut the beef evenly. For the best results, slice your beef into strips that are 1 ½ inches long and ¼ inch thick. This will allow them to cook quickly without drying out.
- Use a meat thermometer. To avoid under or overcooking your shawarma beef, for food safety I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches a temperature of 145 degrees to kill off harmful bacteria. You can cook to medium doneness which is 130 to 135°F at your own discretion.
- Don’t marinate too long. Marinating the meat is crucial to infusing it with flavor and tenderizing it properly. However, you don’t want it to soak in the fridge for longer than 6 hours. If it does, the acidity may toughen it, creating the opposite effect.
Honestly, this quick beef shawarma recipe is so good, I could eat it on its own! However, if you want to turn it into a meal, try stuffing it into warm pita bread with fresh ingredients like tomato and cucumber salad, parsley, pickled onions, cucumbers, and a drizzle of tahini.
It also pairs well over salads, in tortillas for wraps or quesadillas, or sprinkled over chips for nachos. No matter how you serve it, you really can’t go wrong!
What does shawarma taste like?
Both chicken shawarma and beef shawarma have a distinct flavor profile that’s warm, spicy, and just a little sweet all at once.
Can I make this recipe in advance?
- Yes, cooked and cooled, leftover beef shawarma can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Although not ideal as it can become a bit tough, beef shawarma can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, place it in the air fryer, 350 degree oven, or microwave (on 50% power). Or gently reheat on the stovetop in a skillet with a little oil.
Is this beef shawarma recipe healthy?
Homemade beef shawarma can be healthier than takeout versions because you have control over the fattiness of the beef and the amount of oil used. Plus, you can serve it alongside lots of veggies for extra nutrients and fiber, making it a nutritious, well-rounded meal!
More Beef Recipes To Try
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- 2 1/2 lbs strip steak (such as New York), trimmed of excess fat*, cut into 1 1/2 inches pieces that are 1/4-inch thick
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for griddle
- 1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice**
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, allspice, oregano, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
- Add steak pieces and toss well to evenly coat in marinade. Cover bowl and transfer to fridge. Let marinate 2 to 6 hours.
- Heat a lightly oiled cast iron griddle over medium-high heat for several minutes and turn on exhaust fan.
- Quickly add half of the steak pieces to the skillet and very quickly spread them into a single layer leaving space between pieces. Let cook 45 to 60 seconds until browned on bottom.
- Very quickly turn pieces and let cook until medium in center, about 45 to 60 seconds longer. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- Repeat cooking process with remaining half of the steak. Serve plain or optionally serve over rice or in pita with desired toppings (see ideas below).
- *Prime sirloin will work as well or flank but flank steak will not be as tender.
- **I have also made this recipe without lemon if you don't have any. Just use 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar.
- Nutrition estimate does not include serving suggestions. It is just the steak.
- Pita bread, flatbread or flour tortillas, cooked white rice or coconut rice
- Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, turnip pickles, red onions
- Tahini sauce, tzatziki, tahini yogurt sauce, herb yogurt sauce