Frankly it’s pretty rare that I buy any pre-marinated meats. I usually make my own marinades. However when I saw TJ’s “Shawarma Chicken Thighs” it sparked my interest. Because I so love good Shawarma!

In short I liked this way more than I expected to. I found these Shawarma Chicken Thighs actually so tasty I have bought them many, many times since that first time.

TJ SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are quite flavorful and a bit unusual due to a lot of nice Middle Eastern type spices the use in the marinade. These thighs easy to make and very convenient. An unopened package can easily stay for a week in the fridge (they say state much longer but I think TJ’s printed “good until” dates are way too generous). You can freeze it too of course.

How easy is this to make? Pretty much just throw the chicken in a hot pan flipping it once. In about 16 minutes you can have dinner ready with the addition of a few sides. 

Upon cutting the bag opening you will immediately smell all those nice “Shawarma spice” seasonings. Be warned though taking the chicken out of the bag can be a bit messy (with stains). I recommend using tongs to pull out the chicken. If you use your fingers don’t be surprised as they get stained orange from the turmeric, as will your cutting board (just wipe with some bleach soon after to remove any stains). Sure one could just dump the whole thing in a bowl. You can blot the chicken a bit with a paper towel before grilling but this is optional. Personally I don’t want to remove any of the spices, though the chicken is imbued with the flavors having been marinated for some time.

COOKING: I like tossing the chicken into a hot black cast iron pan (or non-stick) with a tablespoon of oil (EVOO or a mix of oil and butter) and griling them on medium. Our kitchen smelled wonderful from all those nice Middle Eastern spices. Grilled in a pan these can be ready in about 16 minutes (8 mins a side). TIP: You can put some shallow slashes in the thicker parts of the thighs to help them cook more evenly (I even put slices of garlic in the slashes… extra fresh garlic never hurts!) Baking in the oven can work too and at the same time you could make a Sheet Pan Supper with veggies, a easy one-pan dinner.

I pan grill the chicken on medium/high heat for about 7-8 minutes per side. I suggest letting them cook without touching them (important!) so they can really get a good sear. Flip them over and cook about another 6-7 minutes on the other side, till browned on that side. So in as little as 15 minutes from package till plate you have can dinner ready with some sides, say basmati rice and veggies or a salad. You can (should!) serve them too as a real Shwarma sandwich with some Naan (see below) or pita. If you have the option to grill these on a real grill, with wood or charcoal or course they would probably taste even better.

The “shawarma spices” are “Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and parsley.” Of course you could add even more spices (fresh garlic, more cumin, Ajika, or something spicy…) I sometimes do add more spices like more ground cumin, a dash of Spanish smoked paprika, and especially fresh garlic. The marinade is not spicy so if you want some heat just add something of your choosing. TJ’s Zhough Green sauce goes especially good with these, with a bit brushed on at the very end, and/or on the side after cooking. You can throw veggies in the same pan (onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes…) and cook those up too of course and they will get some of the same flavors and spices. Peri-peri and greek yogurt might be great!

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 grilling in a pan method as best to stay juicy.

When the chicken is cooked to your liking, take the thighs out of the pan and rest them about 5 minutes before slicing them as thick or as thin as you prefer. Resting will help keep them juicy. Of course save any lovely juices that run out after you slice them and pour them back over the chicken. It wouldn’t hurt to hit them with some fresh lemon or lime juice. A little butter could be nice. I could have used a tiny bit less Sodium listed a wee bit high in the Sodium count on the package, but they were not salty especially served with other food. As mentioned, I found these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot cilantro sauce, which is quite spicy, and matches well with Middle East spices. Or, even just some greek yogurt and lemon mixed is a nice sauce. Or Greek Yogurt and Zhough mixed together in a ratio of your choosing (spicy or just a little). Chopped fresh cilantro goes great with these if you like it, or fresh parsley. You can slice up the chicken and plate with the juices. The nice thing about chicken thighs as opposed to chicken breasts are thighs are much more forgiving. Thighs stay juicy almost no matter what, and are almost impossible to overcook unless you really try hard, unlike boneless chicken breasts which are so easy to overcook so they are dry (mine? never! In a future post, I promise to tell my cooking technique for juicy soft boneless chicken breasts –) DONE: here it is (juicy chicken breasts)

Here’s one we made with the Shawarma chicken, served on TJ’s Garlic Naan with the Tzaziki sauce. Delish!!

How to serve the chicken? Any way you wish but one great way of course would be as a SHAWARMA wrap perhaps with TJ’s frozen Naan. Slice up the chicken and put it on some flatbread, warm pita or TANDOORI NAAN (yes!) or even TJ HABANERO LIME TORTILLAS…. add a few chopped veggies (tomato, cukes, shredded lettuce, scallion, parsley…) Some sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki dip!). YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you like spice! (TIP: You can soften up the spice level mixing in greek yogurt) Wrap it all up and you have Chicken Shawarma. A little messy to eat with your hands but oh so good. Or just eat with knife and fork. Your family will love them. Basmati Rice on the side, or as a bed is great match too of course with this.

TJ’S TZAZIKI SAUCE is a great match for these chicken thigns!  

Shopping notes : Chicken Thighs, Tzatziki, Frozen Naan, and veggies….. You will love Shawarma!

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs were to use them in Chicken Tacos and Fajitas. Despite the slight cultural melange, they were actually terrific as Tacos. Did you know that Lebanese migrants had a big part in Mexican food culture (Tacos Al Pastor)? They did! Some Green Dragon hot sauce with it’s tomatillo base made them quite Mexican on the tacos.

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 chicken but not a bad deal. A package can keep for quite some time in the fridge as they are in a marinade (a few weeks) or freeze them. These are excellent to 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 with these and it was terrific!

In sum the SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are a really good Trader Joe’s product and well worth trying. Would I buy them again? Absolutely, I have regularly. These are a TJ hit. Of course, you are paying a bit for the spices and packaging ($1 a pound?) So if you want to save a little money, naturally just buy chicken thighs and add some middle eastern style spices for a marinade on your own. 


  • UPDATE 1- Price increased since I first wrote this to $4.79/lb. (Jan 2021) May be higher when you see them due to Inflation
  • UPDATE 2 – TJ now sells two other varieties of marinated thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS (I think the other versions are not as good as the SHAWARMA one; ‘cuz they are too wet)

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


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


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