Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat)

6 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Halal Cart Chicken is boldly spiced and served with fragrant turmeric rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

There are so many delicious Copycat Recipes you can try making yourself at home like In-N-Out Animal Style French Fries (Copycat) and Chipotle Barbacoa Beef (Copycat). They are surprisingly easy to make, like the Chick-Fil-A Inspired Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Lemonade!

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

Halal Cart Chicken and Rice is a hugely popular dish in New York City. Along populated corners you can walk past a food cart selling street food, or a restaurant and smell the amazing warm spices of the chicken and rice and find yourself standing in the long lines before you even realize what happened. The Halal Guys are as much a reason to visit the city as any other food you’ve decided to put on your short list during a visit.

This Halal Cart Chicken and Rice is served up to a long line of fans for good reason. The seasonings are bold and delicious, crispy cooked chicken and seasoned rice. This dish is fantastic and isn’t too spicy for even the youngsters to enjoy (minus the sauce).

Give it a shot! It may seem intimidating because of the number of ingredients, but it is really just a slightly long list of really easy steps and the end results more than makes up for it! If you like this recipe, you’ll enjoy making P.F. Chang’s Spicy Chicken (Copycat) as well. While this does have a few more steps than most other recipes, the work is totally worth it and look at what it gets you! Yum!

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food. 

How to Make Halal Cart Chicken and Rice

The process for making this recipe is pretty straight forward. The amount of spices shouldn’t intimidate as they are incredible together. There are three main things to prepare: The chicken, the rice, and the sauce.

  • Step 1 – Marinade: This is critical to get a deeper flavor. Combine the chicken spices in a blender until smooth. Only marinade in the fridge for 3-4 hours max, or the chicken will get mushy.
  • Step 2 – Cook Rice: Stovetop rice:
    • Melt the butter, then add the spices stirring into the butter.
    • Add the rice and stir to coat.
    • Cook, stirring frequently for 4 minutes until the rice is toasted.
    • Add the chicken broth and season to taste with kosher salt and at least a teaspoon black pepper to start,
    • Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.
    • Remove from the heat and rest without opening the lid for 15 minutes. Once fluffed you can use the yellow rice as the base to the meal then top with chicken pieces.
  • Step 3 – Cook Chicken: Take the chicken out of the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Cook on medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes until well browned on each side. Once the chicken is cooled, then chop into rough chunks.
  • Step 4 – Mix Sauce: To make the sauce: Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper and Sriracha and let sit for an hour in the fridge. 

More Chicken u0026 Rice Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the white sauce made from?

The sauce is based in a greek yogurt mixed with Sriracha, which is a popular hot sauce. It’s a versatile sauce and can be used on many dishes, so be sure to make extra and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

You can substitute the yogurt for mayonnaise and then add a teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of garlic paste and blend well for a fun garlic mayo sauce.

What is the best chicken to use?

This recipe calls for skinless chicken thighs. But you can use regular chicken thigh or even chicken breast. You’ll be cutting into chicken into pieces so the boneless kind is what you want. 

Who are the Halal Guys?

An Egyptian-American started a food cart in New York over 30 years ago. They became popular by serving this dish with chicken or gyro meat which catered to the cab drivers. Their flavors boast a bold fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. It’s the quintessential American Dream story!

What spices do I need?

Your spice rack should be stocked with coriander, cumin, and turmeric. These can be pre-ground, but you’ll appreciate the flavors more if they are whole and you grind them as needed.

Halal Cart chicken and rice process collage

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

Key Ingredients in Halal Cart Chicken and Rice

  • Chicken: Find fresh chicken that is boneless and skinless. If using frozen chicken, completely thaw in the fridge before preparing.
  • Rice: Basmati rice is the best rice to serve with this dish as it is a long rice and fragrant making it popular in many popular dishes in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South Asia. You can use regular rice, but the dish is extra special with either extra long grain rice or Basmati.
  • Yogurt: Greek yogurt is thicker and more nutrient dense than regular yogurt. It also has less sugar. You can use regular yogurt, but the Greek yogurt will bring a tanginess that blends well with the food.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a versatile plant that is related to ginger! The powder is used as a textile dye as well as seasoning in many old-world dishes. It is packed with nutrients and can easily be found in the seasoning section of your closest grocery store. It’s not a spice that gets a lot of use in every day cooking, but this is really the secret ingredient in the dish, along with ground coriander seed! It is very bitter so only a small amount is used. 

Alternative Cooking: Using a Pressure Cooker

  • Rice: You can easily cook the rice in the pressure cooker. Use 2 cups of rice and 2 1/4th cups of chicken broth. Utilize the sauté option to melt the butter, activate the seasonings, and coat the rice. Then, after you’ve added the chicken stock, pressure cook on high for 3 minutes. Follow the recipe for cooking rice for your particular model for best results.
  • Chicken: Using the pressure cooker is technically possible, but isn’t recommended since the grill flavor won’t be strongly present and it is recommended to cook the rice in it instead. However, you can still do so by searing the chicken on the sauté option until browned on both sides. Remove the chicken and replace them with the little trivet for the chicken to stand on. Add 1 cup of water or chicken broth. Place the chicken back onto the trivet. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Once you release the quick release valve, you can remove the chicken, chop, and serve. 

More Easy Copycat Recipes

How to Store Halal Cart Chicken and Rice

  • Serve: Halal Cart Chicken and Rice can stay good at room temperature for up to 2 hours. If serving at a party, keep covered when not in use. You can also serve the chicken without chopping and it is still a gorgeous meal. 
  • Store: Transfer the Halal Cart Chicken and Rice to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. Be sure to reheat the chicken thoroughly. You can store the rice and chicken together or separate. 
  • Freeze: Freezing is great for meal prepping. Put your portions into a freezer bag or box and store in the freezer for up to 3 months for freshest taste.

Halal Cart Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

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Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat)

Halal Cart Chicken is boldly spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Author Sabrina Snyder


For the Chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic , roughly chopped (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon course ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs , boneless, skinless, trimmed of excess fat (6 to 8 thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Rice:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice , or extra long-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon course ground black pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper


  • To marinade the chicken: Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender until smooth.
  • Season to taste with Kosher salt and course ground black pepper.
  • Place the chicken in an airtight bag.
  • Marinade for 3-4 hours.
  • Take chicken out of the bag and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Cook on medium-high in a pan, skin side down for 4-5 minutes, or until well browned.
  • Turn over and cook for another 4-5 minutes until cooked completely through.
  • Let the chicken cool for 5-10 minutes, then chop into rough chunks.
  • For the rice: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven then add the spices and cook until you can smell them, stirring into the butter.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat.
  • Cook, stirring frequently for 4 minutes until the rice is toasted.
  • Add the chicken broth and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Bring mixture to a boil.
  • Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing.
  • Remove from the heat and rest without opening the lid for 15 minutes.
  • To make the sauce: Combine yogurt and Sriracha and let sit for an hour in the fridge.


Adapted from Kenji Alt’s Halal Chicken on Serious Eats.


Calories: 669kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 1522mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat)
Halal Cart Chicken and Rice plate closeup

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Halal Cart's Middle Eastern Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.
Halal Cart's Middle Eastern Chicken is boldy spiced and served with fragrant Turmeric Rice and spicy yogurt sauce. The perfect copycat of NY cart food.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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    1. I haven’t tried it that way so I’m not sure how it would turn out. Would love to know how it works out if you try it!

  1. I just made this – it’s delicious! My husband liked it too! I was unsure about the sauce but when you pair it with the chicken and rice – it’s sooo good ?

  2. I never write reviews but this one deserves it. Although it’s not exactly like the halal cart but it’s close enough. We loved it and I will definitely make it again. I did add extra amount of spices to everything but the yogurt sauce I used a homemade hot sauce!! Since we moved down south there’s nothing close to a NY halal plate- I’m so happy for this recipe. Great job girl. Keep it up and thank you for sharing it. Look forward to trying more of your recipes

  3. THIS IS NOT A COPY CAT RECIPE!!!!!!!! They do not put yogurt in their white sauce. It annoys me when people come up with their own inaccurate rendition of a recipe and label it as “copy cat” when its not a copy…

    Their white sauce is called “toum” in Arabic. Look for the toum recipe online and then just add a tiny amount of vinegar to it and lots of black crushed pepper. The sauce is a Mayo base, doesn’t have any yogurt. Are these fake reviews here??

    1. This is exactly what I was thinking when I saw the ingredients for the sauce. Toum is fairly easily to make too and is so much better than yogurt lol.

  4. Love this recipe! Pretty quick and easy and the kids even eat it. I have also used chicken breasts which also worked well.

      1. Right but if it’s boneless SKINLESS there is no skin. Either the ingredients should be updated or the instructions.

  5. Hi, can you add the marinade to the chicken and freeze it right away or will that make the chicken take on a bad texture once it’s defrosted?

    I’ve tried this recipe without freezing, as instructed, and it was amazing!

    1. Ive made a big batch fully cooked and froze the left over. as long as thawed properly it is still delicious, with just a bit difference in texture that can easily be remedied by a drizzle of olive oil when reheating stove top. better than freezing uncooked!

      1. I made this tonight for dinner and my 3 picky kids loved the chicken so much! Sadly there wasn’t enough as they wanted more. I promised them I’d make it again tomorrow!

  6. I love this rice recipe so much. Would love to know the water and time for brown rice instead of white rice. Any ideas?

    1. You’ll need to use about 3 cups of broth and allow it to took for about 30-45 minutes. It takes a lot longer to cook. Enjoy!

  7. Haven’t made this yet but curious about the directions. Ingredients call for skinless, boneless thighs but instructions say to cook ‘skin side down’. Are you just saying to cook on the side that had skin on it or is this a misprint? Sounds good will definitely try it.

  8. Absolutely delicious. I used brown basmati rice, which took a bit longer to cook, but it turned out beautifully. That was THE most delicious rice I’ve ever had (and I’m an Asian who eats a lot of rice!!!!). I didn’t have chicken thighs so instead used chicken breasts that soaked in the marinade overnight. The yogurt was the perfect add-on.

    It was one of the most savory dishes I’ve had. I will be making this often. Thank you.

  9. I’m middle eastern, so I was pretty skeptical with this recipe. It has a great start, but I did change the recipe around. The chicken was pretty good, I did add seven spice since I didn’t have any coriander. The rice wasn’t very flavorful, however, I see how it pairs well with the chicken and yogurt. I didn’t make the yogurt instead I sautéd peppers, onions, and tomatoes then combined it with the chicken. That’s when it became chicken gallaba. It turned out pretty good. I do have to say I’ve always made basmati rice with a 1:2 ratio, and it always comes out great. When I have tried less water, the rice comes out clumpy.

  10. I tried making the sauce but it doesn’t taste like the halal one… something is a bit off. Maybe it’s the sriracha?

    1. If you want to use long grain brown rice, use 1 1/2 cups of rice with 3 cups of water. It’ll take 30 minutes. Enjoy!

  11. I have had Halal cart many times in NYC, sometimes i see cardamom in the rice and bay leaves in the chicken. Any advice on how to incorporate it?

    1. I would add to your taste, with the rest of the spices. Start small (1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp of cardamom) and adjust to your liking.

  12. This was really good. I had a friend from Pakistan that would make this. Just wish I had a tandoori oven…it definitely makes a difference. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  13. First time trying any kind of Indian recipe, but I made this tonight & oh my goodness!! Soo much delicious flavor! My sauce was almost too spicy, but it amped up the flavor of everything that I couldn’t stop eating it. I used basmati rice & it’s so light, soft, and delicious! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!

  14. Delicious chicken (added a dash of cumin) and rice!! Chopped up some onion, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes to top it off. Used the yogurt sauce and zhoug sauce from Trader Joe’s. Just as satisfying as HG made healthier!!

  15. I’ve never eaten at Halal Cart. I was hoping to copycat a Lebanese place where my parents live, but this wasn’t even close. The chicken was pretty bland, but the rice was great!

  16. Delicious! I made this for dinner yesterday using just one tablespoon of Sriracha. It had a nice level of heat without being too spicy for my family. This recipe will be a repeat on upcoming menus. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I’ve made this recipe 3x in the last 2 weeks and it has been requested by both my daughter and my husband for dinner again tonight. This is easy to make and incredibly good, and just “different” enough to allow us to have chicken 2x a week w/o everyone getting bored.

    It’s super hot right now, so I do the whole thing in the instant pot. I make the rice first and while that’s cooking I prepare the sauce. When the rice is done, I wipe out the pot and cook up the chicken, which I pre-cut into bite-size pieces when raw (before marinating) just to make it easier.

    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  18. Sorry didn’t quite do it for me. Chicken pleasant enough, rice needed a bit more ie nuts fruit spice and yogurt dip needed an extra dimension. No idea what a halal cart is

  19. The dish was delicious and so easy to make. The “hard” part was marinating the chicken ahead of time. My only addition to the recipe would be to increase the amount of turmeric and cumin used for the rice. The flavor was a tad subtle for me, and the color not as vibrant a yellow as other basmati rice I’ve had. Overall though, this was a great dish that I’ll be adding to our rotation of recipes. Highly recommended and grateful for having found it! 

  20. Just made this – it was amazing! This is now added to our meal plan 🙂 I’ve never made middle eastern food before and was surprised at how well the flavours developed. The only thing I did differently was add a spritz of lemon after plating.

  21. I made this tonight…it was amazing! I didn’t have time to stand over the stove, so I cheated and threw the chicken under the broiler, but other than that I stuck to the recipe. It was still great. I could enjoy the smell of that rice cooking over and over again. I love Middle Eastern food, but I’m always at a loss for what sides to cook. Any recommendations?

  22. i tried the recipe out my family love it! i made a few minor changes like, adding chilli powder into the marinade and i made my own sauce out of roaste red peper+sesoning+ hot sauce+caramalised onion+lemon juice+tomato paste and mayo. 🙂 Thanks again, i’ll continue making this in the future.

  23. I am making this tonight for supper and excited to try it! I love trying new ethnic foods and since we recently discovered some Jewish ancestry in our family I love the idea of trying some Middle Eastern food! Just wondering what veggies would be good with this? I was thinking of just roasting some or adding some to the rice. What do you think?

  24. My teens barely left any leftovers. It seems like a lot of ingredients but it’s easy. It will be one of my go to to recipes! Thank you!!!

  25. I came across this recipe maybe eight weeks ago and it’s been in heavy rotation at our house every since so thank you! It’s really delicious — only substitutions I make are dried oregano for fresh, and I grill vs saute the chicken. Sometimes we do a little feta or cucumber garnish, too. The sauce is fantastic.

  26. I rarely ever leave comments on recipes that I try but OMG. This recipe is spot on. Absolutely delicious. I didn’t have fresh oregano so I used 1 tablespoon of dried oregano but everything else I followed to a T. I am so glad that I can make this delicious meal at home now. Super simple and crazy good. Thanks for sharing! The website isn’t let me give it any stars but if I could I would give it 10!

    1. Wow!! That’s such a great compliment!! I feel so honored that you loved it so much that you came back to let me know!

  27. Hello! Your recipe calls for skinless, boneless chicken thighs but the directions say to cook the chicken skin down. Which is it please? This looks so good I’d like to try to make it tonight.

    1. Sorry about that, depending on how I am serving it I do boneless or not. When served whole thighs I leave skin on for a moister roasting. When I am cutting it into chunks and browning the chunks in the pan I don’t bother with skin. I hope you enjoy the recipe, sorry for the confusion and for the delay in responding, the comment got snared in the spam filter.

  28. I just made this and it was good. I am allergic to garlic so left that out, garlic would obviously be better. I replaced the garlic (in white sauce) with oregano and dill for extra flavor. Next time, I will make a whole spatchcock chicken with these flavors. I added Deepak Chopra’s dosha spice (VATA) to the chicken and rice for extra flavor and body, mind, soul balance.

  29. Can you cook the chicken in the dutch oven and then cook the rice? Or does it have to be in separate pans. Also, is a dutch oven necessary to cook to the rice?

  30. Although we live in DC, I’ve never heard of this bender/dish ever before! However, the way you presented is just awesome and I had to try it! All my kids who are little picky in some ways, LOVED it!!!!!! The marinade, the sauce, and the rice… All in one plate, just SOOOO delicious!!! And the most I admire you about is you make everything SO easy!!!! We’ll make it again for sure and thank you so much for sharing this recipe <3 <3 <3

  31. OMG THIS IS SOOOOOO GOING ON MY TO DO LIST!!!! I will have the rice!! Hubs can have the chicken! And you know I’m thinking this will do damn good for dinner! Love it! I can see you are using the new camera huh 🙂 Love this SOOOO SOOO much!

  32. Hello! I just wanted to say that I made this for dinner tonight, but instead of using chicken I used Gardein meatless chicken strips. I brushed your chicken marinade over the top of the strips as they baked, to give them that flavor, and coarse chopped them like real chicken. (I didn’t have any chicken on hand but I had that and wanted to make it work haha) The rest of the recipe I followed exactly as written. I just wanted to share! I love this recipe! 🙂

  33. Sounds very delicious. I am going to try this tonite. I have one question, should rice be rinsed in water before stir frying?

    1. Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Since this rice is added to the butter before the liquid is added in I wouldn’t bother. Would love to know how your recipe turned out though since I was clearly way too late getting back to you. 🙁

  34. Hi! This looks delicious. I am adding it to my meal pan and making my grocery list now. Are those chopped tomatoes I see in the pic? Do you add those for garnish?

    1. Yes, just for garnish, thats how it is served at the Halal cart. Adds a nice fresh flavor. I also added some shredded iceberg lettuce.

  35. Made this today, it was delicious!! I am not a natural cook (I can only read a recipe and follow instructions exactly as written) but this was super easy to make, thanks!

    1. You could try harissa, or maybe a hint of cayenne. Even a tapatia would complement the flavors well. I hope you enjoy it!