Packed with flavor and fun to make, this Vegan Shawarma Bowl is the customizable bowl of your lunch, dinner, or meal prep dreams. Loaded with homemade Vegan Shawarma (gluten-free!), hummus, pickled red onions, harissa, and other goodies--you can build a bowl (or do it in a flatbread!) according to your tastes.
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Hey Internet, spring has officially begun (although I won’t be surprised if it snows again… Illinois likes to do that) and I’m starting to crave more raw veggies, but I’m still wanting something warm with those raw veggies.
Vegan shawarma bowls are PERFECT for that, because you have the warm shawarma with cool homemade vegan hummus, cold and crunchy veggies, and warm pita to scoop it all up with.
I love to vary up the base of my meat replacements--I like most of them. Seitan, tofu, and soy curls are my three favorites, though, and guess what: this recipe is made with soy curls too.
But the last time I published a seitan recipe, although there were many who loved it, there were also many people who reached out to me and asked if I could make some more gluten-free main dish recipes, since seitan is not gluten-free.
So here’s a new one for ya!
What Exactly is Shawarma?
Shawarma actually refers to thin pieces of meat (can be many different kinds such as beef, lamb, chicken, etc.) that are rolled into a warm pita or flatbread.
Well, we’re vegan here, so I made really delicious vegan chicken shawarma. You could easily make it taste like beef by using vegan beef broth instead of vegan chicken broth.
And you’ll notice this is not a sandwich or rolled up thing--it’s a bowl. I really like the deconstructed, build-your-own type of deal.
We have a local chain of Mediterranean counter serve restaurants--you know, kind of fast-casual, build it and they’ll make it in front of you. And those are great--I usually just get one with rice and veggies, while my husband gets falafel.
But unfortunately, they don’t offer any meat replacements. So I really wanted to try my hand at making some vegan shawarma.
Enough gabbing, let’s talk about the recipe and everything you’ll need or can pick from to build your perfect bowl.
What You’ll Need
For the Vegan Shawarma:
- Soy Curls: Butler soy curls are the base of this recipe. I used a whole bag, discarding the fine powder at the bottom of the bag. The small crumbles I save and use whenever I make soup, chili, or like a TVP pasta sauce. If you prefer not to use soy curls you could use chickpeas would work really well here (just bake or air fry them with the seasoning and a little bit of oil or broth to make the spices stick), baked or air fried tofu (or even puffed tofu), seitan beef like my simple recipe for instant pot seitan (instructions for those without an instant pot are included), or a store-bought vegan beef product like Gardein.
- Vegan Chicken Broth: I like to use vegan chicken broth for this recipe so I can have that particular flavor. I use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with water. The soy curls won’t absorb all of it so I usually strain it into a jar and use it in a soup or sauce later in the week (can also be frozen). You could alternatively use prepared vegan chicken broth, bouillon cubes, or vegetable broth.
- Spice mixture: You can customize these spices however you like. I played around with them quite a bit and I found that this is a pretty delicious blend but again, feel free to adjust to your preferences. The exact amounts are in the recipe card below, but I used: ground cumin, ground turmeric, dried oregano, granulated onion (or onion powder), paprika, garlic powder, and salt.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil OR Broth: After we dry fry the soy curls, we’ll need to get them a little moist (sorry) again to get the spices to stick. I’ve tested this recipe a bunch of different ways--the best way was with a little olive oil. It helped make the soy curls resemble meat a little bit more and made the flavors pop. HOWEVER, I prefer not to eat oil when I can help it, and I know some of my readers feel the same way, so I tested it a lot without oil too. The next best thing is to add a little bit of broth at a time to keep the soy curls moist (again, sorry) and to make the spices stick.
For the Bowls:
Keep in mind this is customizable! This list is just what I used for the pictured bowls.
- Hummus: I used my homemade oil-free vegan hummus but store-bought works too.
- Purple/red cabbage: Whatever you call it, I LOVE this kind of cabbage in Mediterranean dishes. Before I start the rest of the meal, I like to slice it very thinly and marinate in the juice of a small lemon and about ¾ teaspoon of salt. This softens the cabbage making it easier to chew and it also gets rid of the bitter taste. You can also add a drizzle of olive oil to make it extra delicious, but I usually don’t bother.
- Harissa: I like to use this mild harissa but any will work!
- Pickled red onions or if you don’t have pickled, chopped red or green onions are great in this dish.
- A sprinkle of za’atar spice
- Pita bread
- Anything else you like! I can think of a lot of things that would be great in this dish, such as tomatoes (especially halved cherry or grape tomatoes), chopped greens like kale, avocado, cilantro, roasted broccoli or cauliflower, tahini, zhoug sauce, cooked quinoa or rice, chopped bell peppers (or thinly sliced mini bell peppers would be nice), shredded carrots (especially if you marinated those in lemon juice and salt too) OR roasted carrots would be good, pickled or roasted beets, canned or roasted chickpeas, etc. SO many options!
How to Make Vegan Shawarma + The Bowl
- Prep work: I like to make the hummus and marinate the cabbage first. To marinate the cabbage, slice it very thinly and break apart any clumped together pieces with your hands or two forks. Squeeze a small lemon (or half a large lemon) over the cabbage and sprinkle on about ¾ teaspoon of salt. Mix with two forks or spoons (or a pair of tongs!) and let sit until ready to serve.
- Add the soy curls to a large bowl and cover with the vegan chicken broth. Press down with your hands or the back of a spoon so everything is covered. The soy curls will float to the top but that’s okay. If you remember, you can stir it halfway through the 10 minute soaking period. Soak for about 10 minutes total.
- Working with one handful at a time, gently squeeze the excess broth out of the soy curls and set aside. You don’t have to go crazy getting them dry--just squeeze out the majority of the liquid, whatever comes out in 1-2 squeezes.
- Strain out the excess broth--I like to save it in a jar and use it in soup, rice, or other things throughout the week or it can be frozen for later use.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the soy curls. I don’t use oil when I do this because I feel like the soy curls absorb the oil and stay kind of wet. The dry frying technique really helps to brown the soy curls.
- Cook them in the pan for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let them get a little browned--if you notice them starting to burn, turn the heat way down.
- Add the olive oil OR about 1-2 tablespoons of the remaining broth. Stir until all the curls are moistened and sprinkle on all the spices. Stir well until the soy curls have some nice color. Cook about 3-4 more minutes and remove from heat.
- Assemble your bowls. I like to add a large dollop of hummus (and if you’re feeling fancy, give it a swoop with the back of your spoon) first. Then add a big scoop of the vegan shawarma soy curls. Add as much as you like of the marinated cabbage, sliced cucumbers, pickled red onions, and whatever else you’re using. If you like, add a spoonful of harissa, a generous sprinkle of parsley, and a sprinkle of za’atar spice. Serve with warm pita and enjoy! You can also wrap all of the contents in a pita or a large flexible flatbread (like lavash) and eat it handheld.
- These bowls are great for meal prep! I’d store everything except the hummus and pita bread in the same bowl but pack those two separately. You may also want to pack the harissa separately. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days or freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
More Delicious Gluten-Free Main Dish Recipes
Whether you’re avoiding gluten or just looking for more easy meal ideas, I hope you’ll find some more good staples below!
- Vegan Chicken Teriyaki
- Vegan General Tso’s
- If you like rice dishes, try my vegan mushroom risotto or vegan asparagus risotto
- Vegan Chop Suey
- Vegan Chicken Salad (great on sandwiches, crackers, or just with a spoon!)
- Tuscan Butter Bean Ragout
- Vegan Biryani
- Vegan Tuna Melts
- Or these Vegan Honey Mustard Chicken Wraps
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. It warmed my heart that he just kept telling me it was so good. :)
This Vegan Shawarma is:
- Perfectly spiced
- SUPER customizable
- Surprisingly healthy
- Perfect for meal prep
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!