Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS


Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA SEASONING BONELESS & SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

RAVE

(still a Rave, but the price went up 33% since I first wrote this due to inflation !)

Now I almost never buy meats that come pre-marinated in a package. I usually simply make whatever marinade I want myself. However when I first saw TJ’s Shawarma Chicken Thighs they caught my attention. Because I so love Shawarma, I decided to give this a try. In short, not only did I like TJ’s Shawarma Chicken way more than I expected to, the fact is I liked it so much I have bought it again and again since!

This is actually quite a good product and this chicken is super 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!

TJ SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are extremely flavorful, deeply imbued from the Shawarma spices which include: “Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric, annato, parsley, lemon, vinegar, rosemary…”

These thighs are super easy to make and convenient to have in the fridge. Pretty much just toss the chicken into a pan and in under 20 minutes you can have a tasty dinner, with the addition of a few sides (rice? veggies? naan?) An unopened package can easily stay a week or so in the fridge (they state much longer but personally think TJ’s “good until” dates are way too generous. Naturally one can also freeze the package, and if you do I suggest a slow 24 hr defrost in the fridge.)

Upon cutting the bag open, you will immediately smell all the nice Middle Eastern “Shawarma” style spices. Warning: the turmeric and anatto in the marinade will stain everything it touches orange including your fingers. I recommend using tongs or a fork. If your cutting board gets stained orange just clean it with diluted bleach. Blot the chicken a little bit with a paper towel for any excess liquid. Any little fat that you see will melt off during cooking and keep the meat moist so I don’t trim it myself. I put a few shallow slashes in the thickest parts of the thighs to help it cook evenly. Your kitchen will smell wonderful from all those nice Middle Eastern spices. The chicken is imbued with the spices having been marinated for some time. However I frequently still add some and hit the chicken with a sprinkle of additional spices (Smoked Paprika, Everyday Seasoning, Ajika, another sprinkle of ground cumin, etc) as more dry spices will make it brown even better.

Shwarma Chicken cooking with added onion and garlic
Cooked then sliced 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 1-2 teaspoons of oil (and butter mix, as the butter adds great flavor and browns wonderfully). Cook on medium heat for 7-8 mins on the first side until deeply browned. TIP: I let the thighs cook without touching or moving them for a really nice sear (see pic). I added sliced onion and sliced garlic, half way. These are great additions with the chicken. Turn over and cook the other side another 6-7 minutes. If you have the option to grill these on a real grill with wood or charcoal or course they would probably taste even better. Baking in the oven can work too for 20 minutes on high. You could even bake it as a Sheet Pan Supper with veggies, for an easy one-pan dinner.

One can add even more spices (more cumin, Ajika, or something spicy…) I almost always add spices like Spanish smoked paprika which helps with browning. The marinade is not spicy so if you want some heat just add something of your choosing. TJ’s Zhough Green sauce goes especially well with these, with a bit brushed on at the very end, and/or on the side after cooking. A little Peri-peri hot sauce can be great! Cook veggies in the same pan (onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes…) and they will be really tasty.

What about cooking these under the broiler? When I tried cooking the thighs this way they gave up a lot of liquid that collected at the bottom of the pan so I kind of keep my pan grilling as my preferred method. Pan grilling works quite well. Chicken thighs are great because they are hard to overcook – unlike boneless breasts which are easy to overcook and dry out (side note – here’s my secret for cooking 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, take the thighs out of the pan and rest them 3-4 minutes before slicing them up (resting meat keeps it juicy). I slice the thighs a bit thinkly and put it back in the pan with the juices to keep warm before assembling the Shawarma. Add chopped fresh cilantro or fresh parsley or arugula if you like some green taste and color. Maybe a squeeze of lemon. Assembly; warm your flatbread, place some chicken down the center, top with sauce, some optional veggies, and serve. To eat, fold gently and eat like you would a taco. Wrapping the bottom half up with tin foil will keep things together.

As mentioned, I find these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot sauce which is spicy and matches well with Middle East spices. Or Greek Yogurt and Zhoug mixed together. TJ’s TZAZIKI sauce is pefect.

If you wanted to, you could even cut these up into chunks and thread them on skewers (with onions and peppers) and grill them as KABOBS.

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. Put the sliced chicken on flatbread, warm pita or TANDOORI NAAN (yes!) or even TJ HABANERO LIME TORTILLAS…. add a few chopped veggies (tomato, cukes, shredded lettuce, scallion, parsley…) Top with some sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki sauce worked great). YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you like spice! Or a little BOMBA. Voila, Chicken Shawarma. 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.

Shopping notes : Shawarma Chicken Thighs, Tzatziki, Naan, onion, garlic, veggies…..

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs was to use them in Chicken Tacos / Fajitas. Despite the slight cultural melange, these thighs work great for Tacos. Sidenote: You of course knew that 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.

The SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS cost $4.49 a pound* (note: big price increase!) 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…) I made an Arroz Con Pollo another time with these 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.

(LINK) TJ’s ARCHIVED INFO PAGE FOR SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS

  • UPDATE 1- * The price of these have increased since I originally wrote this from 4.49 to $4.79/lb (Jan 2021) Then wow, yet another increase! These have gone up again to $5.99/lb!! (Sept 2021)! May be higher when you see them due to rampant Inflation now! Since I wrote this, the package I had bought for $6 is now $9. A 33% percent increase. Sticker shock! Wow.
  • UPDATE 2 – TJ sells other varieties of marinated thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS. Personally I think these other flavors aren’t as good as the SHAWARMA version. For one thing, they are too wet)! I won’t buy them again.

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

A sheet pan supper using these? Why not? Just cut up the chicken and roast with veggies

THIS IS AUTHENTIC CHICKEN SHAWARMA COOKING ON A HUGE ROTATING SPIT. MEAT THEN SLICED OFF. If you ever get the chance, try it!

4 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

    Reply

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