Hawawshi is a deliciously spiced minced meat pita sandwich. It's one of my favorite authentic Egyptian food recipes because it’s very easy to make, delicious, and freezer-friendly! Hawawshi is just like Lebanese arayes, except for a few differences in the spices used for the minced meat mixture.
This pita sandwich is cooked to perfection in an oven or grill and served with some pickles and homemade french fries.
While my Egyptian mother-in-law was visiting, I asked her to teach me how to make it. She gave me her secret hawawshi recipe from scratch. This recipe is a very large serving size. The reason for this big batch hawawshi recipe is that it gives you a few options:
- Lunch for the next week already made
- Sandwiches are freezer-friendly
- The meat mixture is freezer-friendly
What I Love About Hawawshi
I really like making recipes that are flexible. And what I love even more is having freezer-friendly meals available.
I freeze already baked hawawshi sandwiches in freezer-friendly bags. When I need a quick lunch or dinner option, I take out what I need and pop it in the oven. Just heat the oven to 375 ℉ (190 ℃) and toast the sandwich for about 10 to 15 minutes.
What I love the most about these hawawshi sandwiches is that they reheat really well. Like you wouldn't have known that they were previously frozen. And this my friends, is a great secret weapon to have when you have unexpected guests over or you are running out of time to prepare a meal.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Ground meat: I recommend an equal ratio of ground lamb to ground beef. If you have trouble finding ground lamb then you can just use ground beef. Unless you have dietary restrictions, I recommend going with the fatty 80% ground beef. Ground lamb is already a pretty fatty cut of meat. The fat content adds a lot of flavor to the sandwiches.
- Baladi bread: Baladi pita bread is thick pita bread. Lebanese pita bread is thin and not the ideal pita to use for this recipe. If you use thin pita bread, just be mindful that the bread will crispy up quickly. The thicker pita bread soaks the flavors better, and it's more durable in the oven when baking.
- Vegetables and herbs: This is what flavors the meat and makes these sandwiches irresistible. If you don't have fresh mint and fresh parsley, you can substitute dried parsley and dried mint. Chop the onions, peppers, and tomato finely. I recommend mashing the garlic with a mortar and pestle.
Tips and Tricks
- Use Egyptian Baladi bread. If you can’t find Egyptian Baladi bread, you can use any type of pita bread (preferably a thick pita). If you use thin pita bread, I highly recommend coating the outer bread surface with some water and putting the baking pan at the bottom of the oven. The bread will brown very quickly, so it’s important to give the meat stuffing some more time to cook.
- Use fatty meat. The fat in the meat adds flavor to the sandwich. If you only have lean ground meat available, rub some avocado oil or olive oil on the outside of the bread prior to baking.
- Use parchment paper if baking in the oven. I bake these pita sandwiches with parchment paper, so the bread doesn't stick to the baking pan.
- Put the thick side down. Pita bread has a thick side and a thin side. Make sure the thick part is on the bottom and the thin side is on the top.
- Don't flip. If you flip the hawawshi with the thin side down, the sandwich will fall apart or not crisp up.
- Make the stuffing ahead if short on time. The meat stuffing can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months or fridge for up to 24 hours. If going this route, make sure the stuffing is drained prior to stuffing the Baladi bread.
How To Stuff Minced Meat Into Pita Pockets
Spread the meat stuffing in a very thin layer. The amount of meat depends on the size of the pita bread you are using. I make sure there is enough meat covering the bread in all of the corners, but in the thinnest layer possible. Less is more in this case.
For a 10" (25 cm) diameter pita bread (like the one below), I stuff about ¼ cup of the meat mixture into each halved pita bread. So for the whole 10" pita bread, I will use about ½ a cup. If you overstuff the pita, the sandwiches will not overcook on the outside and undercook on the inside. And, the meat to bread ratio will be off.
What Goes With Hawawshi?
One of the best side dishes to go with hawawshi is Egyptian pickled vegetables (torchy), pickled turnips, or homemade spicy refrigerator pickles. If I have time, I’ll make a salad like my Lebanese Fatoush.
Hawawshi On The Grill
My mother-in-law insists on using charcoal in the oven. Being that most homes in the US have a smoke detector, I don't use charcoal. However, when she makes them in Egypt with the charcoal, you can really taste a difference.
If you would like that charcoal flavor, you can grill these pita sandwiches instead of using the oven. If you grill these sandwiches you need to adjust the flame to low heat and monitor them closely. The bread can quickly burn, so I recommend using the thicker Baladi bread if going the grilling route. Lastly, don't flip the sandwich! Make sure to keep the thick side of the bread facing down.Print