Chicken Shawarma Hobo Packs

Posted on Posted in Chicken, Low Carb, One-Dish Meals

chicken shawarma biteReal foodsters eat their cinnamon on their meat.

Did you just imagine a steak with cinnamon sugar on it?  Well, don’t, because that is ridiculous, and probably disgusting.  (Although I have to try it now to confirm.)

But seriously, Cinnamon has gotten sidehorsed 1 as a one-trick pony, pulling a dessertey chariot alongside fellow charger Sugar. 2  In the western world, cinnamon = sweet stuff.

This is a mistake!  Well, not a mistake, because cinnamon rolls and apple cider are pretty fantastic, but an unnecessary and limiting pigeonholing! 3  Across a broad swath of the world, cinnamon is part of the panoply of savory spices.

I’ve used cinnamon in a savory capacity before in my garam masala and chicken tikka, but this was a new one to me.  Cinnamon, smoked paprika, and lemon juice make for a bright but deeply flavored marinade on chicken, which is then piled onto pita bread (or tortilla, in my case) and slathered with garlic sauce, AKA leftover aioli.  There’s a lot of strong, sharp flavors here, playing across the whole tastebud spectrum.  It’s like Pink Floyd is playing a laser-light show in your mouth.  Only, you know.  With tastes.chicken shawarma

I searched Pinterest for shawarma, and this Jo Cooks recipe was the first one that popped up.  And dudes, it is FANTASTIC.  You just mix up the spices in the marinade, dump the chicken in, let it sit for a bit, dump in onions, mix it up, then dump the whole mess into a pan and roast it!  I wanted to make this even simpler and faster, and create a whole meal out of it, so I thought I’d replace the chicken breasts with chicken thighs and include cauliflower and carrots in the roasting process.

I have a caveat to offer with this recipe: THIS IS A THEORETICAL RECIPE THAT I HAVE NOT COMPLETELY TRIED AS LISTED.  Here’s the deal: I wanted to make more foil-pack recipes to accommodate folks who are looking for a one-dish meal that doesn’t even require a dish to cook in.  BUT I didn’t have the boneless chicken thighs that cook so easily and neatly in foil packets; I had a bunch of bone-in thighs left from a skipped meal on last week’s plan.  I had to use ’em up.  So I did.  And it was delicious.  But because the bone-ins were so big, and took so much longer to cook, I had to cook them in a pan separate from the roasted veggies.  So this recipe might need some tweaking as far as cook time and temperature; I intend to come back to it and try it as envisioned in a few weeks, but in the meantime I could really dig some feedback, if anybody wanted to experiment on themselves and try it out.

Another note: In this THEORETICAL RECIPE, my conjecture is that the foil ‘boats’ will need to be left open to provide the browning necessary for maximum delicitude.  Closed foil packs with vegetables can also sometimes have an unpleasantly vegetal flavor and aroma, and I’m hoping that the open boat method will allay that problem.

Shawarma tacooooos!
Shawarma tacooooos!

So I need some peer review here.  Anybody want to guinea pig?

-Josh is listening to The Unicorns


Chicken Shawarma Hobo Packs
Levantine-spiced chicken with roasted cauliflower and carrots, cooked in easy hobo-pack style and served with lemony aioli.
For the shawarma
  1. 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  2. 2 tsp smoked paprika
  3. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  4. 2 tsp cumin
  5. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  6. 2 tsp ground pepper
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. juice from 2 lemons
  9. 1/2 cup olive oil
  10. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  11. 1 onion, sliced
For the veggies
  1. 1 carrot carrot, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
  2. 1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
For the sauce
  1. 1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  2. juice from 1 lemon
  3. 5 garlic cloves
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Mix all of the shawarma ingredients in a large bowl and marinate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  3. Take 4 squares of heavy duty aluminum foil. Pinch two of the corners together, then do the same on the other side, and crumple together and raise the touching corners so that you have a rough canoe shape. The bottom should be flat and the sides raised, so that the foil packs can hold your food without spilling liquid all over.
  4. Divide the carrots and cauliflower evenly between the packs.
  5. When the shawarma is done marinating, distribute it evenly (the marinating liquid too!) amongst the packs, on top of the carrots and cauliflower. Do not close the packs.
  6. Bake the packs for fifteen minutes, then turn the chicken thighs over and bake another fifteen minutes or until chicken thighs are browned.
  7. While the packs are baking, prepare the sauce. Finely mince the garlic, or use a garlic press if you have one. Mix the garlic with the salt in a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.
  8. Empty the hobo packs onto plates. Top with the sauce. If you want to be really awesome, slice up the chicken, grab some tortillas or pita bread, and pile the chicken onto that with a lot of the sauce. Trust me here.
  1. THIS PARTICULAR 'OPEN BOAT' HOBO PACK TECHNIQUE REMAINS UNTESTED. By me, at least. I'm getting around to it. Be the first! Tell me how it goes!
Adapted from Jo Cooks
Adapted from Jo Cooks
Feral Cuisine


  1. Totally a word!  The English language is always evolving, and the initiative of writers such as myself provides the lingual mutation that makes growth possible.
  2. That analogy kind of ran away from me…
  3. And ‘pigeonholing’ does not sound like a wholesome activity.

4 thoughts on “Chicken Shawarma Hobo Packs

  1. Haven’t had a chance to try the recipe yet, but if you want a real shawarma experience, try substituting tehini in the sauce instead of mayonnaise… it will absolutely blow your mind!
    Shawarma here is usually beef or lamb, but it is, without fail, in every falafel and shawarma stand in the country, served with tehini sauce on top.

    1. Tahini is getting easier to find here in the states, I’ll have to get some and try it out. Thanks for the tip! Where’s ‘here’? : )

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