Shawarma Burgers with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Everything you love about a Mediterranean shawarma, but made at home in 30 minutes! The delicious tahini sauce and lamb patty are sandwiched with a mixture of fun toppings and fresh herbs.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 clove garlic

3/4 cup yogurt 

1/4 cup tahini paste 

1 lemon 

1/2 teaspoon cumin 



1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or ground white and dark meat chicken combined

Salt and pepper 

1 tablespoon (scant palm full) cumin 

1 tablespoon coriander 

1 tablespoon paprika 

1 tablespoon sumac, optional

1/2 tablespoon (1/2 a palm full) turmeric 

1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom 

1 teaspoon (1/3 palm full) crushed red pepper flakes or ground pepperoncini 

About 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 

About 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg 

2 large cloves garlic 

1 small onion 

A small handful each mint leaves and flat parsley tops 


To Serve, Mix 'n' Match:

4 sesame seed rolls such, as Big Marty's or brioche rolls, split

Gem romaine, or lettuce of choice 

Pickled hot cherry peppers or jalapeno peppers 

Thinly sliced Persian or seedless cucumbers 

Whole leaves of parsley and/or cilantro 

Very thinly sliced fennel and onion, white or red, dressed with lemon juice and EVOO, salt and pepper 

Long bamboo toothpicks with knot on top or frilled burger toothpicks 

Fancy chips of choice 


4 giant pita

A jar of giardiniera 

Israeli pickles (canned with garlic) or half sour deli pickles 


  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. For the sauce: Peel a clove of garlic with a crack of knife against the heel of your hand. In a small bowl, whisk up yogurt, tahini, the juice of 1 lemon and cumin. Then grate the garlic into the sauce with a zester or paste it with a knife (add a fat pinch of salt). Whisk sauce again.
  3. For the burgers: Preheat a cast-iron skillet or heavy griddle or frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.
  4. Place ground lamb or chicken in a mixing bowl. Season the meat with salt and pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, sumac if using, turmeric, cardamom, crushed red pepper, allspice and nutmeg. Crack 2 cloves garlic and grate them into the bowl or finely chop. Peel the onion and grate about 3 tablespoons of it into the bowl. Finley chop the mint and parsley then add them to the lamb. Combine all the ingredients and mound up. Score meat into 4 equal portions and form 4 patties, thinner at the center for even cooking.
  5. To prepare the burgers, add EVOO, 1 slow turn of the pan, to skillet (a thin layer to just glaze the surface). Add patties and cook about 7 minutes for lamb, a minute or two longer for chicken, turning occasionally. If cooking lamb, press down with spatula when you turn the patties -- lean ground lamb tends to tighten as it cooks more so than other ground meats.
  6. When you remove the patties they can be served as such but for a more authentic facsimile of shawarma, we rest the patties and very thinly slice them on a bias. Regardless, while the burgers cook, prepare your toppings of choice.
  7. Assemble burgers: bun bottoms, sauce, patty or thinly sliced shawarma, lettuce, hot cherry peppers, cucumbers, herb leaves, dressed fennel and onions, bun top. OR split a pita and fill with giardiniera and Israeli pickles.
  8. Poke with a couple of toothpicks and split burgers down the middle. Serve burgers with chips.