Homemade Gyro Recipe: A Greek Classic That's Quick

Lamb kebab.
Rob Macdougall/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 Gyros
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Some 30 years ago I stepped into a taverna in Athens, Greece and was captivated by a vertical spit of meat rotating slowly in front of a multi-level charcoal brazier. 

The gentleman behind the counter sliced off pieces of meat, piled it on a round of flat bread, slathered it with some kind of sauce. He then added tomato and chopped onion before rolling it up. This I had to try and that first gyro was a major culinary event in my life.

Gyros are surprisingly easy to make at home and it is a great sandwich for both lunch and dinner. This particular recipe uses ground meat. For a more traditional Greek taste, lamb would certainly be preferred, yet beef does a fine job as well.

You can also season and slice whole cuts of pork or ham for a tasty gyro

What You'll Need

  • Meat Mixture:
  • 1 pound  ground lamb (or beef)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon  fresh lemon juice
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 4 rounds of flatbread or pita.
  • 1 leaf of lettuce
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Tzatziki sauce

How to Make It

To Make the Meat Mixture

The first step in making any gyro is to prepare the meat. It is very easy and should take just a few minutes though you will need to let it marinade for an hour, so plan ahead.

  1. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Divide into four equal portions and shape into oblong patties about 3" wide, 6" long, 1/2" thick.
    • Notice that the patty is shaped more like a sausage - long and thin - rather than a hamburger patty. This is so the patty fits in the flatbread.
  1. Refrigerate for one hour.

To Build the Sandwich

You can grill the patties on your outdoor grill or fry them up in a pan on the stove. The goal is to have crisp edges on the patty.

Also, the toppings that go into a traditional gyro are simple: tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, and onion. If you prefer, you can skip the onion because there are already onions in the meat.

  1. Grill the patties over a hot fire for 3-4 minutes per side.
  2. Spread tzatziki sauce down the center of a flat bread round.
  3. Add a lettuce leaf, some diced tomato, and a few thin onion slices.
  4. Add the patty, fold the bread over the lamb, and enjoy.

Tip: Gyros are messy to eat. You can avoid it falling apart in your lap by wrapping each gyro in foil.