I am extremely excited to bring you these Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Cups. Not only is this recipe quick and easy, but it’s my first self-developed IP chicken recipe. So it’s pretty special.
When the Instant Pot first came out, you would’ve had a hard time convincing me that I’d eventually jump onto that bandwagon. Aside from the fact that I was living a pescetarian lifestyle at the time, there was the fact that the IP seemed marketed toward busy mom’s desperate for a quick weeknight dinner solution.
I eventually phased poultry back into my diet and, soon after that, learned that quick weeknight dinner solutions were also a godsend to childless creatives that work at home—like myself—because seriously. Who doesn’t love a quick dinner. Ease and simplicity isn’t exclusive and I have no idea what world my head was floating in, but I’m glad I’ve grounded it.
Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Cups.
The first few recipes I made in the Instant Pot were extremely watery and left me feeling defeated. I remember having to remove the meat, hit the sauté function, and stir in a slurry to thicken the sauce. Unlike with a slow cooker, the liquid in a pressure cooker doesn’t evaporate and reduce—so you won’t end up with a thick, gooey, sticky, beautiful mess. With that in mind, if you use too much liquid you end up with a watery, flavorless bath.
The rule of thumb with the Instant Pot seems to suggest a minimum of 1 cup of liquid, but I’ve learned that 1/2 cup of liquid will indeed work, and I’ve been sticking with that so far. It’s worked perfectly for this recipe. You’re presented with just a bit of liquid upon opening the lid when done, and once you shred the chicken, stir it, and let it sit for a few minutes, the shredded chicken soaks up all of that saucy goodness.
The original recipe for IP chicken shawarma I found worked as a wonderful guide—but there were a few spices missing in the mix, like cardamom and all spice. After doing some research, I was able to come up with this concoction and I think it worked out really well in comparison to some of the shawarma I’ve had at middle eastern restaurants.
Why lettuce cups?
You surely don’t have to limit yourself to lettuce cups. Snuggle it into a wrap, lay it over a pita, or dump it onto a salad—it’s all delicious! Right now, my husband and I are in “I want to fit into this shirt/these pants again” mode, so we’re inching back on snacks and bad habits and trying to eat lighter with more proteins and veggies.
Load up on fresh ingredients.
This recipe inevitably calls for a topping of crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and a dollop of cooling tzatziki. When it comes to the tzatziki, I definitely recommend going the homemade route! It’s just so sososo good :)
If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3
Check out some of my other low-carb lettuce cup recipes:
Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Cups
Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma.
- 2 heads of bibb or butter lettuce
- 3 lbs chicken, boneless and skinless Can be thighs or breasts; look for cruelty-free ethically-raised.
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced and cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 TBSP cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1 TBSP ground coriander
- 1 TBSP ground cardamom
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili flakes
- 1 tsp turmeric
Place the chicken and the onions in a large freezer bag or plastic container; set aside.
Place the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and all of the spices into a large bowl and whisk until the mixture is well blended. Carefully pour the mixture into the bag or container, over the chicken. Seal the bag or container, then mix and shake until the chicken and onions are well coated.
Transfer the chicken and onions into your Instant Pot and mix things around to ensure even coverage. Close the lid (follow the manufacturer's guide for instructions if needed). Set the Instant Pot to the Manual setting, and set the timer to 8 minutes on high pressure. In the meantime, prep your tomatoes and cucumbers.
When the Instant Pot cycle is done, wait until the natural release cycle is complete—this should take about 15 minutes. (If you're in a rush, check the manufacturer's manual for quick release.) Carefully unlock and remove the lid from the Instant Pot. Let the steam release itself. When done and when safe, take two forks and shred the chicken so it resembles pulled chicken. Stir the chicken around to coat and let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the sauce.
Serve with lettuce cups, tomatoes, cucumbers, and tzatziki or hummus.