top of page
  • Writer's pictureKevin Dam

"Evolution of The Donair: From Middle Eastern Origins to Canadian Icon"

The Donair is a popular street food in Canada, especially in the East Coast region. Originating from the Greek gyro, it was adapted to Canadian tastes to become what it is today—a deliciously spiced, roasted meat served typically with a sweet garlic sauce. Here's how you can prepare a Donair at home, with some tips and tricks to nail the recipe.


  • Dish name: East Coast Donair

  • Cuisine: Canadian (with influences from Greek cuisine)

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes

  • Cooking time: 10 minutes (for meat); 3 minutes (per Donair)

  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef (lean)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 4 pita bread

  • For the sauce:

  • 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

  2. In a bowl, combine ground beef with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until it's fully combined and the mixture becomes tacky.

  3. Form the meat into a loaf shape and place it on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until fully cooked. Let it cool.

  4. To make the sauce, combine evaporated milk, sugar, and garlic powder in a bowl. Gradually add the vinegar and continue to mix until the sauce thickens.

  5. Once the meat has cooled, slice it into thin strips.

  6. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat, add sliced meat, and fry until the edges are crispy.

  7. Warm the pita bread in the oven or a dry skillet.

  8. To assemble, place the cooked meat strips onto a warm pita, add chopped tomatoes and onions if desired, and drizzle with plenty of the sweet garlic sauce.

  9. Roll up the pita around the fillings, and serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Meat Preparation: For authenticity, the meat should be very finely minced. Some people partially freeze the meat before slicing to get very thin, almost shaved pieces.

  • Dense Meat Loaf: Knead the meat mixture well to ensure a dense loaf that holds together when sliced. Some even recommend punching the meat mixture down to remove any air bubbles.

  • Sauce Consistency: The sauce will thicken upon standing. If it's too thick, thin it with a little milk; if too thin, add a bit more sugar.

  • Balancing Flavors: Donair meat is traditionally quite spicy and strong in flavor. If you prefer a milder taste, adjust the spices accordingly.

  • Meat Cooking: If you want to replicate the vertical rotisserie style at home, you can shape the meat mixture onto a skewer and roast it vertically in the oven, rotating occasionally.

  • Leftovers: Leftover slices of Donair meat can be used in other dishes such as salads or pizzas.

  • Gluten-Free Options: Use gluten-free pita or wrap alternatives for a gluten-free Donair.


Enjoy creating this Canadian street-food favorite right in your kitchen!

12 views0 comments


bottom of page