Roasted Cauliflower Shawarma

Shawarma is traditionally spit-grilled chicken or meat with succulent spices. Roasted Cauliflower Shawarma marries the same flavors that make classic chicken shawarma so delicious, in a gluten-free, vegan recipe.

Roasted cauliflower on a sheet pan with foil

The other day at a football tailgater at Michigan State, I met a kid of Dan’s cousin who found out not long ago that he has celiac, and can’t eat gluten. Not uncommon, I know—I was just touched when he saw the huge box of donuts open up before him, and his big beautiful eyes grew even bigger. His mom got right in there and redirected him to the back of their vehicle where he found special cookies he could eat.

The boy’s dad asked about my gluten-free recipes; are there many? There are many, of course, in the Mediterranean diet.

Whole cauliflower on the counter with red onion

Cauliflower cut in florets on the cutting board with knife

Then another cousin asked about vegetarian and vegan options? What she misses most, she says, are the flavors that are often reserved only for the meat dishes. Like shawarma.

We have gotten so attached to chicken shawarma that it’s one of those weekly gotta-have-shawarma things. A fix. Similar to the way I feel about sushi (Dan, not so much on the sushi fix, but the shawarma big time).

Marinade cup for cauliflower

I got to thinking about the truly complex flavors involved in shawarma spice, a mix of so many different spices, and how that spice blend ought to work well with certain vegetables.

The other important flavor in shawarma is the flavor of flame, not char necessarily, but certainly caramelized meat that is marinated in and then doused with rich (yet ever so healthy) olive oil.

Roasted cauliflower shawarma on a pan with foil

Seemed to me that cauliflower, being such a hearty vegetable, could stand up to the caramelization. I wanted this to happen in the oven, on a very hot sheet pan. This way a shawarma’d veg would be possible throughout the holiday season. And the vortex months in places like here where the grill is a no-go.

Guess what? I was right! The cauliflower loves the shawarma spice, and all of the olive oil, roasted on high heat (no problem with the oil). Such an unexpected yet natural melding of texture and umami flavor.

Roasted Cauliflower Shawarma. Fabulously at home as a vegan main, or aside turkey, roast beef, ham, you name it.

Roasted cauliflower on a sheet pan with foil

Roasted cauliflower on a sheet pan with foil

Roasted Cauliflower Shawarma

Maureen Abood
Cauliflower takes to the shawarma marinade perfectly. Be sure to lay the cut-side of the cauliflower down on the hot sheet pan to get the caramelization that makes the cauliflower shawarma so delicious. Make your own shawarma spice blend, or get my special blend at Maureen Abood Market here. Serve the cauliflower hot as a main dish or side dish, or at room temperature atop a salad.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Servings 6


Shawarma spice recipe (makes more than needed here):

  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons mint salt or crushed dried mint
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Place the pan in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the Shawarma spice with the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the cauliflower in a large bowl and toss to coat.
  • Take the hot pan from the oven and scatter the coated cauliflower on the pan, turning so the cut-side faces down on the hot pan. Lay the onion on the pan and drizzle the wedges with a bit of olive oil.
  • Return the pan to the oven and reduce the heat to 425 degrees. Roast until the cauliflower is golden brown and just soft enough to cut through, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle with more olive oil. Finish with a pinch of sea salt, and serve immediately.
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  1. Marie-France on January 10, 2020 at 3:47 PM

    Dear Maureen. In my family we are all “cauliflower freaks” !! So I’ve tried many, many recipes with cauliflower either from the Indian, French, Tex-Mex or Middle-Eastern cuisine….. but this recipe…. I mean YOUR recipe of Cauliflower Shawarma is absolutely insane. The first bite was so delicious that neither of us could believe it. Really, this is BY FAR the best recipe I have come across. The kind of feeling that takes you to the moon and back. Well, I am hooked !
    I strictly followed your instructions beside that I have let the cauliflower marinated for a good 3-4 hours in the spices mix (home made according to your recipe) and I believe it might have made a difference here, cause the longer the marinade the better the taste, right. And guess what ? I baked some uncooked left over the next : it was even better. Not need to say that your recipe is going to be a favorite of mine for at least the next 20 years.. (hopefully, I’ll live that long :). Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us. Wish you and your family a great year 2020.

    • Maureen Abood on January 11, 2020 at 12:56 PM

      Wow! This is such a wonderful comment, Marie-France. I can’t wait to give my cauliflower shawarma a full day’s marinade and taste the magic. Thank you!!!!

  2. Beth C. on January 10, 2021 at 1:19 PM

    This is absolutely delicious. Added to my favorites, thank you for sharing.

  3. Nick on January 31, 2021 at 6:23 PM

    Hi Maureen,
    I was a little hesitant on how well the combination of spices would work with this recipe. But I am glad I forged ahead. The Sunday afternoon Between conference football championships and the Super Bowl I thought would be a good time to try. I eat roasted vegetables often, and this combination of spices with the hint of lemon was phenomenal! Within 15 minutes of taking it out of oven everyone in my family has sampled and and gave it high praise. Next time I will have to make a bigger batch! Thank you

    • Maureen Abood on February 2, 2021 at 8:54 AM

      This is so great Nick!! Thank you!

  4. Sandra on July 18, 2021 at 3:16 PM

    During the summer at the farmer’s market I find purple and orange cauliflower. I have been using all colors to make this recipe, The flavors given by your spice is amazing. Since I am vegetarian, this is now my “I will have something to eat” dish. Thank you.

    • Maureen Abood on July 23, 2021 at 11:16 AM

      How great is that! And a beautiful dish with all of the cauliflower colors.

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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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