Distinguishing Kebab & Shawarma: A Comparison

Kebab vs Shawarma

Sizzling meat grilled on a spit for an extended period is prepared and served in various ways and is known by different names in different countries. Whether kebabs, doner kebabs, Shawarma, gyros, or tacos, all these dishes have the heavenly aroma of sizzling meat inside. The fact is that many similarities exist in grilling and eating meat in this fashion, and to an unfamiliar person, it becomes challenging to differentiate between a kebab and Shawarma because of their similar aromas and tastes. However, these two meat delicacies are not the same, as will become clear after reading this article.


Kebab is a meat preparation considered a delicacy in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and many parts of Europe these days. It originated in the Near East, where it was believed to have been made by soldiers cutting the meat of wild animals, threading it on their swords, and grilling it on open flames to turn it into a delicacy. Kebab has traditionally been made with soft chunks of meat held on a skewer and grilled on fire. However, there is also a form of kebabs called Shammi kebab and Galauti kebab made with pounded meat fried on a large fry pan.

Meat grilled on skewers has been found to exist in ancient Greece and the Middle East. In different countries, various names are given to grilled meatballs, such as Souvlaki in Greece, Chuan in China, Chopan in Afghanistan, Kakori kebab, Shami kebab, Galauti kebab in India, Shawarma in Saudi Arabia, and so on.


Shawarma is a grilled meat delicacy from the Middle East. In fact, it is so popular that it has almost become a staple diet of the people there. Shawarma is a variant of the kebab and has been prepared and eaten in Saudi Arabia for thousands of years. It is basically tender meat that has been charcoal-grilled for a long time to cook and then served inside bread. However, shavings off the spit can be eaten directly too. Shawarma is eaten with bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, etc. As shawarma looks very similar to the doner kebab eaten in Turkey, some confuse it with doner kebabs. Doner kebab means turning kebab, so called because it keeps turning when grilled on a vertical spit.

Key Takeaways

  • Kebab is grilled meat or minced meat cooked on a frypan, whereas Shawarma is a variant of kebab as it is of Arabic origin.
  • Shawarma is served as a wrap inside bread, whereas kebabs are served on the skewer, directly onto a plate, or eaten with rotis and nans.
  • Kebab is of Near East origin, whereas Shawarma is of Middle East origin.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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