Greek gyros are hands down one of the most popular Mediterranean dishes out there. Because of this, there is a great deal of variety in the way that this meal can be prepared, but for this recipe we will be making a truly authentic Greek gyro. This simple dish consists of flavorful meat and a refreshing sauce that compliments it perfectly, all on a warm pita and topped with your favorite vegetables. Anyone who is looking to try their hand at making gyros that will truly impress simply must try out this recipe.
Traditional Greek Gyro Recipe
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- ½ english cucumber peeled and shredded
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ lemon juiced
- 3 Tbsp chopped dill
- 3 Tbsp chopped mint
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- Salt & pepper
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 ½ tsp rosemary
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- 1 ½ tsp thyme
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 pitas
- 1 red onion
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 tomato
- Feta cheese crumbles
Peel and shred half of an english cucumber. Take the shredded bits and squeeze out any excess water thoroughly with a cheesecloth or coffee strainer.
Add Greek yogurt, shredded cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, dill, mint, and olive oil to a large bowl. Combine until well mixed and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the Tzatziki sauce to refrigerate for at least three hours.
Peel the onions and garlic and blend them in a food processor until well minced. Again, take it out and squeeze out any excess liquid.
Add the ground lamb, ground beef, onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to the food processor and blend until the meat is very smooth.
In a lightly greased loaf pan, spread the meat mixture out and pat it down to remove any extra spaces.
Bake the gyro meat in an oven set to 325°F for 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove the meat and refrigerate it to make slicing easier.
Once the meat has been chilled for a few hours, thinly slice it and sear both sides in a hot skillet.
Add the meat to a pita with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and top it off with feta cheese crumbles.
Step One – Prepare the Tzatziki Sauce
We will begin this recipe by making the delicious tzatziki sauce. This is largely due to the fact that the ingredients will begin to blend together while being chilled, greatly improving the overall flavor of the sauce. During this time the meat will also be refrigerated, allowing it to be sliced more easily.
Step Two – Peel and Shred the Cucumber
Perhaps the most notable ingredient in this sauce is the english cucumber. It adds a refreshing twist that couples very well with the grilled meat. However, it is important that we remove any excess liquid from the cucumber to keep the sauce from being too watery. Simply skin and shred the cucumber with a basic cheese shredder. Next, squeeze out any of the remaining juice with a cheesecloth or coffee filter.
Step Three – Combine All of the Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients
So now that we have got the cucumber shredded and dried, it is time to mix everything together. In a large bowl combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, minced garlic, chopped dill and mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. Mix it all together until well combined and refrigerate it covered for a few hours.
Step Four – Mince the Onion and Garlic and Remove Liquid
Begin preparing the gyro meat by first finely mincing the onion and garlic cloves. We do this step first so that we can once again remove any excess juice with a cheesecloth. It is important to get the onions as finely minced as possible, as any larger chunks will alter the meat’s consistency.
Step Five – Combine the Seasonings
There are a number of spices that are often associated with gyro meat. For this recipe we will be using cumin, rosemary, thyme, salt, and black pepper. This creates a rich flavor that is quite aromatic, but feel free to experiment with different herbs.
Step Six – Blend the Meat, Seasoning Mixture, and Onions Together
Next, we will be blending the meat, seasonings, and onion mixture together in a food processor. While this step of the process may be a bit less than appealing to look at, it is what gives the gyro meat its dense consistency. You will know it is perfect when the meat has an almost paste like texture that has no visible chunks.
Step Six – Bake the Gyro Meat
Lightly grease a small loaf pan and line it with the gyro meat mixture. Using your hands or a spatula, tightly pack the meat into the pan in order to remove any extra spaces. Place the pan into an oven preheated to 325°F and allow it to bake for 45 minutes. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the meat for up to an hour. A simple way to determine whether or not it is ready is to use a meat thermometer to see when the meat has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
Step Seven – Remove from the Oven and Allow the Meat to Chill
While this step is completely optional, chilling the meat allows all of the juices and flavor to be reabsorbed back into the meat and makes slicing much easier. Cover the gyro meat with foil and refrigerate it for up to four hours before slicing. We will be searing the meat later, so there is no need to worry about eating cold meat. If you decide to not chill the meat, allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Step Eight – Slice the Chilled Meat and Sear in a Skillet
Once the meat has been chilled, you are ready to begin slicing it and setting up the gyro itself. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the meat, around ⅛ inch is just about perfect. Take the slices and sear them for a minute or two on both sides over a hot cast iron skillet. This adds an excellent crust to each side of the meat, further enhancing its texture and flavor.
Step Nine – Serve Over Pita with Tzatziki Sauce and Vegetables
Finish your gyros off on a pita with the tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, and topped with feta cheese crumbles. Feel free to substitute out anything to suit your preferences, and enjoy!
While this recipe is for a truly authentic Greek gyro, there are a number of different ways that you can make this dish your own. Try adding a touch of spicy sriracha to the tzatziki sauce if you are looking for an extra level of flavor to this already flavorful sauce. Obviously lamb is not the most common meat to come by, so substituting it with beef, pork, or even chicken is perfectly acceptable. It doesn’t matter if you were born and raised in Athens or have never even tried a gyro before, this recipe will not disappoint and is definitely worth giving a try.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.