Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS


Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA SEASONING BONELESS & SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

RAVE

It’s quite rare frankly for me to buy any pre-marinated meats. Perhaps like you, I can easily make whatever marinade I would want myself. However when I first saw TJ’s Shawarma Chicken Thighs it somehow caught my attention. Because I so love good 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, I have bought this again and again. These are really 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, try these.

TJ SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are extremely flavorful, imbued with all the spices they used in the marinade. Those include: “Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric and parsley…”

This chicken is quite easy to make into a tasty dish. It’s convenient as an unopened package easily stays for a week in the fridge (they state much longer but I think the “good until” dates on the package are way too generous). Naturally one can also freeze it (to defrost overnight in fridge).

How easy is this to cook? Pretty much just toss the chicken into a pan. 15-20 minutes later, with the addition of a few sides (rice? veggies?) you have a delicious dinner. Upon cutting the bag open, you will immediately smell all the nice “Shawarma” spices in the marinade. Be warned, the tumeric and anatto used will stain your fingers and everything it touches an orange red color. I recommend using tongs or a fork, and if your cutting board gets stained orange just wipe it later with diluted bleach. Once removed from the package blot the chicken a bit with a paper towel of excess liquid. Any little fat that you may see will melt off during cooking and keep the meat moist, so I don’t trim it. Put a few shallow slashes in the thickest parts of the thigh to help it cook evenly. Our kitchen smelled wonderful from all those nice Middle Eastern spices during cooking. The chicken is imbued with spices having been marinated for some time but even so I do hit the chicken with a sprinkle of additional spices (smoked paprika, TJ’s Everyday Seasoning, etc) as more dry spices will make it brown up even more.

Shwarma Chicken Cooking with added onion and garlic

COOKING: I usually grill this in a black cast iron pan (or just use 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, till nicely browned. TIP: I let them cook without touching or moving them (important!) so they really get a good sear. I added sliced onion too and sliced garlic, which go great with the chicken.

When one side is done, turn and cook about another 6-7 minutes. So in about 15 minutes you have can dinner, with some sides, say basmati rice and veggies or a salad. 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.

Of course you could add even more spices (more cumin, Ajika, or something spicy…) I almost always add spices like Spanish smoked paprika which helps with browning 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 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.

Sliced and put back in the pan with some arugula

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.

Thighs are good because they are almost impossible 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)

When the chicken is done, take the thighs out of the pan and rest them 3-5 minutes before slicing (resting meat keeps it juicier). I slice the thighs pretty thinly, then put everything back in the pan including any juices to keep warm before assembling the shawarma. 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 mixture down the center, top with sauce, some optional veggies, and serve. To eat, fold gently and eat like you would a taco.

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

As mentioned, I find these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot cilantro sauce which is spicy and matches well with Middle East spices. Or Greek Yogurt and Zhoug mixed together. 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 perhaps with TJ Naan or other flatbread. Slice up the chicken, put it 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 a sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki sauce worked great). YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you like spice! Or a little BOMBA. Voila, you have Chicken Shawarma. A little messy to eat with your hands 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.

You will love these!

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

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs was to use them in Chicken Tacos and Fajitas. Despite the slight cultural melange, they were actually terrific used as Tacos. Well, you did know that Lebanese migrants had a big part in Mexican food culture and created the famed Tacos Al Pastor, right? It’s true. Some 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*. 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 a little money, naturally you could buy chicken thighs and add your own blend of “middle eastern style” spices for a marinade.

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

  • UPDATE 1- * Price increased since I wrote this to $4.79/lb. (Jan 2021) May be higher when you see them due to rampant Inflation now! OMG! Pretty serious price increase! They are up to $5.99/lb!! I just got sticker shock (Sept 2021)
  • UPDATE 2 – TJ now sells two other varieties of marinated thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS. I think these versions are not as good as the SHAWARMA one. For one thing, they are too wet)!

(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!