What is the difference between shawarma and kebab?

Every good Kebab lover should know what Shawarma is. Although many claim that they are the same, there are some notable differences between the two Arab foods.

It is difficult to differentiate between a kebab and a shawarma due to their similar aromas and flavors. Also, the word kebab comes from ‘Kababa’, an old Aramaic word for “char or burn”, while shawarma derives its name from an Arabic translation of the Turkish word meaning “to turn”.

5 differences between shawarma and kebab

The distinctions are not only found in the origin or use of their names. Although shawarma is how it is known in Latin America, there are other differences as well.

types of meat

In the beginning, lamb was used to make shawarma. Today, as it has become more widely known, it is prepared with many other varieties of meat, including beef, chicken, veal, and turkey. Regardless of the type of meat used, lamb fat can be added between the layers to make the shawarma meat juicier and more flavorful.

For kebabs, the traditional meat varieties is also lamb. But since many countries have developed their varieties of kebab, the dish is now prepared with different types of meat.


When it comes to meat preparation, shawarma only has one way of being done. The layers of thin meat are previously marinated and seasoned. These layers are then placed on the rod which will rotate them and cook them evenly from the outside.

Since it is difficult to create layers of meat evenly, people who assemble the shawarma meat cone must do so in a balanced way. This ensures that the meat cooks evenly from all sides of the cone. Shawarma layers are usually assembled to form an inverted cone.

For kebabs, there are multiple ways to prepare the meat depending on the specific variety being cooked. For the doner kebab, the preparations are largely similar to those for shawarma. Meat for shish kebabs is cut into even pieces. Depending on the size of the skewer used, the size of the meat cubes varies.

Meat for kebabs can also be ground. Just like shawarma, kebab meat can be marinated or seasoned beforehand.

shawarma o kebab

cooking methods

There is a cooking method for traditional shawarma. Layers of meat stacked on a spit are slowly grilled as the rod rotates. Once the outer layer is cooked through, it is scraped off to make shawarma sandwiches.

When it comes to cooking methods for kebabs, there is quite a bit of variety. Kebab on metal skewers can be cooked on fire. It can also be baked or fried in a pan. The latter is suitable for kebab varieties where the meat is cooked without skewers in the form of a patty.


There are multiple ways to serve shawarma. The meat can be served on a large plate along with the accompanying condiments, vegetables, and bread.

However, shawarma is a street food and many people prefer it to be convenient to eat on the go. Therefore, the sizzling shaved meat can also be served as a sandwich in pita bread. The most popular way to serve shawarma is by wrapping the meat in flatbread.

Kebabs are usually served on a plate, especially when the meat is cooked on small bamboo skewers. Kebabs can also be wrapped in different types of bread and served as a sandwich or wrap.


These dishes will never be eaten without garnishes and condiments. Shawarma, either on a plate or served as a wrap, usually comes with fresh vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, pickled vegetables, lettuce, etc. A popular sauce served with shawarma in Middle Eastern countries is tahini.

The kebab is served with fresh vegetables, such as shredded cabbage and diced tomatoes. The condiments that accompany the kebab are tzatziki sauce, spiced yogurt, mint and herb chutney, etc.