This vegan shawarma recipe is made from jackfruit, seasoned with shawarma spices and rolled in pita bread for a traditional Middle Eastern shawarma wrap with tahini sauce and veggies.
Traditional Middle Eastern shawarma in pita gets a plant-based makeover with my jackfruit shawarma. Healthy, filling, and easy to make, you’d never know this delicious dish is a vegetarian shawarma.
This saucy vegetarian shawarma takes canned jackfruit and sautees it in a pan with a shawarma paste blend. Served in a vegan shwarma wrap with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, tahini sauce, and harissa, this is a finger-licking Middle Eastern feast waiting to happen.
This is one of the most satisfying vegan meals you can imagine, with all the traditional shawarma flavors in a healthy, easy vegan shawarma wrap.
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is one of my favorite parts of Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a savory street food that involves slow-roasting spiced meats like chicken, lamb, or beef. The meat is then cut into thin slices and wrapped in a warm pita alongside a whole array of toppings like cucumbers, tomatoes, and occasionally french fries.
My jackfruit shawarma celebrates the flavors and tradition of shawarma in pita in a way accessible to vegan and vegetarian diets. If you ask my family, they'll agree that this veggie shawarma is as good as the original!
This plant based shawarma is easy to make, has a flavorful sauce and fresh veggies, and involves no chemical meat replacements.
The Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Jackfruit is a wonderful ingredient if you’re adhering to a plant-based diet or simply trying to incorporate more plant-based dishes into your routine. Not only does this fruit carry a meat-like texture, but it’s also very healthy.
Jackfruit has a low glycemic index and is also fairly rich in protein, compared to other fruits. Plus, jackfruit contains important nutrients like Magnesium, Manganese, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. With some pre-made shawarma seasoning, it's an easy and flavorful vegan shawarma alternative!
Ingredients you need to make Vegan Shawarma
- Canned jackfruit is the heart of this veggie shawarma! Its texture most closely mimics that of shredded or shaved meat or chicken. Buy canned jackfruit in brine, not syrup. If canned jackfruit is unavailable, you can use seitan, tofu, or oyster mushrooms as a substitute.
- Shawarma paste is used in this recipe to add a bold and flavorful seasoning to the jackfruit, creating a similar taste to traditional shawarma. If shawarma paste is unavailable, you can use a homemade shawarma spice blend of spices such as cumin, paprika, and coriander to season the jackfruit.
- Cilantro is used in this recipe as a fresh and fragrant herb that complements the flavors of the shawarma-spiced jackfruit. If cilantro is not available, you can use parsley or mint instead.
- Lebanese cucumbers are used in this recipe to add a refreshing crunch and coolness to the dish. If Lebanese cucumbers are unavailable, you can use English cucumbers or pickles.
- Tomatoes are used in this recipe to add a juicy and acidic flavor to the dish. If tomatoes are not at their ripest, you can use cherry tomatoes or roasted red peppers.
- Lettuce is used in this recipe to add a crisp and fresh texture. If lettuce is not available, you can use spinach or arugula instead.
- Red onion is used in this recipe to add a sharp and tangy flavor to the dish. Feel free to omit if needed.
- Tahini is used in this recipe to create a creamy and nutty dressing that complements the flavors of the shawarma-spiced jackfruit. If tahini is not available, you can use yogurt sauce or almond butter, or peanut butter instead to make a shawarma sauce for this pita.
- Harissa sauce is used in this recipe to add a spicy and smoky flavor. If harissa sauce is unavailable, use your preferred hot sauce or chili flakes instead.
- Pita bread is optional in this recipe but is traditionally used as a vessel to hold the shawarma-spiced jackfruit and toppings. You can use naan, tortillas, or lettuce cups if pita bread is unavailable.
See recipe cards for exact quantities.
How to Make Jackfruit Shawarma
Clean the jackfruit
To make vegan shwarma pitas, start by cleaning the jackfruit. To remove the brine or canning liquid, begin by draining and rinsing the canned jackfruit under cold water. Next, cut off the hard core from each jackfruit piece and discard it. Then, use your fingers or a fork to pull apart the jackfruit into small shreds that resemble pulled pork.
Sautee vegan shawarma
Once the jackfruit is cleaned, it's time to sauté the vegetarian shawarma. Begin by heating a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shawarma paste, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice to the jackfruit and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit is slightly browned and crispy.
Assemble shawarma pitas
Finally, it's time to assemble and serve the vegetarian shawarma pitas. Start by cutting the pitas in half and warming them in the oven for a few minutes. Then, slice the cucumbers, dice the tomatoes, and slice the red onion. Add the sautéed jackfruit to each pita half to assemble the shawarma pitas. Top with some lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion on each pita half. Drizzle a spoonful of tahini sauce and harissa to each pita half. Finally, fold the pita halves around the filling and serve immediately.
The vegan shawarma can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use a skillet or baking tray to warm the leftovers back up. You can also store the shawarma filling in an airtight container in the freezer for about 3 months. Simply thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving.
If you are looking for a few additional vegan shawarma variations, consider these options:
Tofu - Extra-firm tofu can also be turned into a delicious vegan shwarma. Start by pressing the tofu block and shredding it into strips or pieces. You can marinate the tofu in the same shawarma paste and then roast it on a baking tray at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes.
Mushroom - Portabella mushrooms are another filling choice for vegetarian shawarma and a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables. Follow my recipe for vegan pulled pork to see how I turn mushrooms into a pulled meat texture. After you've prepped the mushrooms as needed, sautee them in the shawarma paste, and cook in a skillet over high heat until lightly brown.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Feel free to mix the jackfruit and shawarma paste together and leave to marinate overnight so it’s ready to cook the following day.
Shawarma paste is the ingredient that gives shawarma its signature flavor. There is some variation from brand to brand, but it traditionally involves tomato paste, garlic, onions, ginger, and various spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and sumac. I personally love to use the Teta Foods brand for making shawarma at home.
In place of shawarma paste, you can use a homemade shawarma spice mix. To make a shawarma spice blend, mix together 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mixture with ½ teaspoon paprika and ½ teaspoon turmeric.
Harissa is a chili paste or sauce that usually includes dry red peppers or chilies, garlic, olive oil, and a few additional spices. Harissa originated in Tunisia and its smokey, spicy flavor can be found throughout Middle Eastern and North African cooking.
To complement your vegan shawarma wrap, you may want to consider serving some other Middle Eastern dishes. Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started:
Cool down with a Middle Eastern Mint Limonana, a refreshing drink that combines fresh mint leaves, lemon juice, sugar, and water.
Creamy roasted sweet potato hummus is a twist on traditional hummus that includes roasted sweet potatoes for a slightly sweeter flavor.
Moroccan Couscous Salad Recipe with Israeli Couscous is a flavorful side dish that's packed with vegetables and spices. It makes for a beautiful side dish to serve with this vegan shawarma recipe.
These dishes are a great way to round out your Middle Eastern-inspired meal and offer a variety of flavors and textures to enjoy alongside your vegan shawarma wrap.
For more delicious vegan recipes:
Tried and loved this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! Your reviews mean a lot to me, so if you've got any questions, please let me know in a comment.
Vegan Shawarma Pita (Jackfruit Shawarma)
- 2 cans young jackfruit in water or brine, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons shawarma paste
- ⅛ cup cilantro diced
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 4 pitas
- 1 cup lettuce diced
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers sliced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- ¼ cup red onion sliced
- ¼ cup tahini sauce or more, to taste
- 2 teaspoons Harissa more or less, to taste
- Additional toppings: olives vegan yogurt, pickles, preserved lemon, red cabbage salad and more
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Drain the canned jackfruit and rinse it under cold water to remove any brine or canning liquid.
- Cut off the hard core from each jackfruit piece and discard it.
- Using your fingers or a fork, pull apart the jackfruit into small shreds that resemble pulled pork.
- In a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and the shredded jackfruit. Add the shawarma paste, cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the jackfruit is slightly browned and crispy.
- While the jackfruit is cooking, prepare the pita and toppings.
- Cut the pitas in half and warm them in the oven for a few minutes.
- Slice the cucumbers, dice the tomatoes, and slice the red onion.
- To assemble the shawarma pitas, add the sautéed jackfruit to each pita half. Top with some lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion on each pita half.
- Add a spoonful of tahini sauce and harissa to each pita half.
- Fold the pita halves around the filling and serve immediately.
Welcome to At The Immigrant's Table! I blend my immigrant roots with modern diets, crafting recipes that take you on a global kitchen adventure. As a food blogger and photographer, I'm dedicated to making international cuisine both healthy and accessible. Let's embark on a culinary journey that bridges cultures and introduces a world of flavors right into your home. Read more...