(Update: while I still give this product a Rave I am ranting for so many price increases since I first wrote this post. (orig. $4.49/lb->now $6.99? Up about 50%)

I don’t know about you but for me it’s kind of rare to buy some pre-marinated meat or chicken. I normally just buy something and marinate it myself, however I want. But when I first saw this product: Trader Joe’s “Shawarma Chicken Thighs” I was intrigued. This caught my attention because I just happen to LOVE Shawarma. So I decided to give this a try. In short, not only did I like TJ’s Shawarma Chicken way more than I expected to, I liked it so much, that I have bought it many times since then because it’s really tasty. So if you don’t want to read this whole piece and just want to know if these are worth buying, the answer is yes. If you want to know more, read on dear reader….

SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are very flavorful, having been deeply imbued from many “Shawarma spices” used which include: “Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric, annato, parsley, lemon, vinegar, rosemary…”

This chicken is convenient to have and easy to cook. You pretty much just toss them into a pan, and in less than 20 minutes you can have a tasty dinner ready – with the addition of a few sides (rice/grains, veggies, naan?) The unopened package can easily stay a week or so in the fridge. They state much longer but personally I find TJ’s “good until” dates are way too generous. Naturally one can also freeze it. If you do, I suggest a slow 24hr defrost in the fridge.

Upon cutting the bag open (Be careful, its messy) you’ll immediately smell those nice Middle Eastern “Shawarma” style spices used. (Note: Turmeric and anatto in the marinade will stain everything it gets on orange, so I recommend using tongs or a fork to remove the chicken. Your cutting board will get stained orange. Just clean the board with diluted bleach).

Any fat you see still on the chicken will melt off during cooking and it keeps the meat moist so I don’t trim it. I do put a few shallow slashes in the thickest parts of the thighs to help even them out with the thinner part to cook more evenly. You can blot the chicken a bit with a paper towel to dry them off (optional). I actually sprinkle on a few more spices (Smoked Spanish Paprika, Everyday Seasoning, Ajika, another sprinkle of ground cumin, etc) as more dry spices on the surface will make it brown up even more.

Chicken cooked halfway, with added onion and garlic
Cooked, sliced up and put back in the pan (with some arugula)

COOKING: I usually grill the chicken in my cast iron pan (or use a non-stick pan). I add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil (or oil/butter mix as the butter adds flavor and browns well). Your kitchen will smell great cooking these from all those nice Middle Eastern spices. Cook on medium for 7-8 mins until deeply browned on one side, then turn. TIP: I let the thighs cook without touching or moving them until they get a really nice sear (as you can see in the picture) Optional, but added sliced onion and garlic about half way will make for great additions for the chicken (and possibly green/red/yellow peppers).

When first side is done, flip and cook another 6-7 minutes. If you can grill these on a real grill with wood or charcoal of course they would probably taste even better. Baking in the oven can work too for 20 minutes on high. You could even bake this as a Sheet Pan Supper with veggies for an easy one-pan dinner.

This marinade is not spicy so if you want a little heat just add something like Bomba or Zhoug goes especially well with these, with a bit brushed on at the very end and/or served on the side after cooking. Cooking veggies in the same pan on the side (onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes…) is good and tasty.

Broiling? I tried cooking the thighs this way once but they gave up a lot of liquid that collected at the bottom of the pan so I kind of keep my pan grilling as preferred method which seems to seal in juices. Chicken thighs are great because they are harder to overcook – unlike boneless breasts which can dry out easily (side note – you can check my method for juicy boneless chicken breasts –) : (juicy chicken breasts).

Shawarma chicken, served on TJ’s Garlic Naan with Tzaziki, and veggies. Super yummy!!

When the chicken is done, rest them 3 minutes before slicing them up (resting meat keeps it juicy). Put the sliced chicken back in the warm pan with any cutting board juices and mix with the grilled onions if you made some. Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley or arugula perhaps for color plus a squeeze of lemon are good.

SHAWARMA SANDWICH ASSEMBLY – warm your naan or pita. Place some chicken down the center, top with sauce (TJ’s TZAZIKI sauce is perfect). Top with veggies. To eat, fold gently and eat like you would a taco, or just use a knife and fork

As mentioned I find these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” spicy sauce which matches well for a Middle Eastern flavor. Or mix Greek Yogurt and Zhoug together 50/50. You can serve the chicken many ways but sure a great way of course would be as a SHAWARMA wrap with Naan or other flatbread. Use flatbread, warm pita or TANDOORI NAAN (it’s perfect for this) or even TJ HABANERO LIME TORTILLAS as a wrap …. add chopped veggies (tomato, cukes, shredded lettuce, scallion, parsley…) Top with sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki sauce worked great). A little messy to eat but oh so good. Your family will love them. Basmati Rice on the side, or as a bed, would be a great match with this.

Another one: this a DIY version from scratch on whole wheat pita bread with sauce and veggies

Shopping list : Shawarma Chicken, Tzatziki, Naan or Pita, onion, garlic, veggies…..

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs was to use them for Chicken Tacos / Fajitas. Despite the cultural melange (middle east and mexico) these work great for Tacos. Sidenote: Of course you already knew Lebanese migrants had a big part in Mexican food culture and created the famed Tacos Al Pastor, right? Green Dragon hot sauce with it’s tomatillo and cilantro flavor made them perfectly Mexican on our tacos.

(note: price has gone up a few times since I wrote this!): TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are $4.49 a pound* The 1.5 lb package I bought was just over $6 and I got two meals out of it, with sides, so more than if you just bought plain chicken but not a bad deal. These are excellent to also use as the Chicken part of a dish, say a Chicken and Rice (brown the meat with onions, throw in rice, add broth, cook 18 minutes…) I made an Arroz Con Pollo kind of dish with this and it came out terrific! So TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are a good product and worth trying. These are a TJ hit. If you want to save money, naturally you could buy chicken thighs and add your own blend of “middle eastern style” spices for a marinade and leave it for a few days in the fridge.


My DIY Shwarma on Naan

DIY SHAWARMA – IT’S CERTAINLY POSSIBLE TO MAKE THIS YOURSELF FOR LESS . Buy boneless skinless thighs and marinate with yogurt and shawarma spices (from 2 hours to up to 3 days) “Middle Eastern spices” – Ground cumin, fresh and/or dried garlic, onion salt, turmeric, black pepper, Ajika, Zhoug, Hatch Flakes... DIY Shwarma style chicken will be really good as well!


(LINK) Here’s A Recipe I found on TJ’s site with these for Shawarma Chicken Rice Soup

TJ’s sells other varieties of the marinated chicken thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS. Personally I found these other flavors aren’t as good as the SHAWARMA version. For one thing, they are way too wet) and I won’t buy either again.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE (SPICY!!!!) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves!)
  2. Trackback: Trader Joe’s Harissa Chicken Thighs | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (Mostly Raves with a few rants!)
  3. Trackback: TJ’s Tzatziki Sauce | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (Mostly Raves with a few rants!)
  4. Helene Schilian
    Jul 28, 2021 @ 16:21:30

    Always on our dinner rotation! Roast in convection oven, then slice thinly and brown in cast iron. Served with flatbread, hummus, Israeli salad and zhoug.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: DiscoverNet | The Untold Truth Of Shawarma
  6. zach
    Apr 18, 2022 @ 15:56:36

    it give my family and I the biggest diarrhea. three days of it. stoking, flatulent farts. This a pass for me



  7. Trackback: Trader Joe’s BUTTERMILK BRINED CHICKEN | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  8. Trackback: DIY Shawarma Chicken (Recipe) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  9. Trackback: Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLOFF SEASONED RICE MIX” | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)
  10. Susan Zacharias
    Aug 08, 2022 @ 13:43:16

    Is this chicken antibiotic free? Organic?



  11. Trackback: Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)

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