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Easy Homemade Gyro Meat Recipe

Gyro Meat is easy to make at home and so much less expensive than eating out! Savory, herbaceous and homemade deliciousness! I can’t wait for you to taste this!

gyro sandwich on a cutting board with sliced gyro meat in the background next to fresh dill and red onion slices
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What’s Gyro Meat?

Gyro Meat is most often ground lamb and ground beef with a distinctly Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern flavor profile. Mine is, of course, an Americanized version of this delicious dish, utilizing ingredients and seasonings readily available to me. Traditional gyro meat, especially the cooking process, just doesn’t work in my kitchen.

In the Mediterranean and Middle East, the classic gyro meat mixture was traditionally shaped into a densely packed cone around a vertical spit and roasted over a wood fire.

easy homemade gyro meat served on pita flat bread

My Version

My easy Gyro Meat is a pound of ground lamb and a pound of ground beef. (It’s even possible to sub in some ground pork.)

Like other gyro meat recipes, mine contains onion and garlic as the beginning of the savory flavor base. Then I add herbs and spices that give this gyro meat something that mimics the flavors of traditional gyro meat, with my own personal flair.

loaf of homemade gyro meat on a cutting board - gyro recipe

Traditional Gyro Meat Cooking Methods

If you’ve ever eaten a gyro at a summer fair, you may have seen a modern vertical rotisserie spinning and roasting gyro meat. The vertical spit allows a crispy caramelization to form on the outside of the cone of meat. The meat is shaved off the cone in very thin slices to make sandwiches and the rotisserie continues to spin and add a new layer of caramelization.

I definitely don’t own a vertical rotisserie or an outdoor spit over an open fire. So, while the traditional gyro meat recipe isn’t possible for me, I believe I’ve created a scrumptious copycat recipe. And I bake it right in my own home oven.

homemade gyro meat sandwich on a cutting board with sliced gyro meat in the background next to fresh dill and red onion slices

What Else Can I Make with Gyro Meat?

Reworking the Easy Homemade Gyro Meat recipe from my original Busy-at-Home blog, back in 2014, reminded me how much I love a tasty gyro sandwich.

Gyro sandwiches are usually assembled on pita bread with tomato wedges, slivers of onion, and creamy tzatziki sauce. In our family, we like to add lettuce, too. We have used pita flat breads and also pocket pitas with equal success when using this gyro meat recipe.

But, this gyro meat recipe is great in more than just gyro’s. We use it:

Gyro Quesadilla - with homemade gyro meat, sliced tomatoes, slivered onions, kale and cheddar cheese on a flour tortilla
Gyro Quesadilla

And if you’re looking for other unique and absolutely scrumptious sandwich recipes, check out Sherry’s delicious Egg Drop Sandwich over at From Michigan to the Table, or my soul-satisfying open-faced Hot Beef Sandwich. You’ll love my Crunchwrap Supreme Recipe made with chicken, too!

The Ingredients

Gyro Meat ingredients are pretty straightforward. Most will be things already in your fridge and pantry.

Ground Beef: I like to use fairly lean beef to avoid lots of grease. Use all lamb if that’s your preference. You could even use part ground pork.

Ground Lamb: Again, if you want to use all beef, you can. You could even use part ground pork.

The Aromatics: Onion and Garlic

Herbs: oregano, thyme, cumin, rosemary, coriander, sage, smoked paprika and sumac. See my note about seasonings.

Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Is Lamb Critical to Flavor in Gyro Meat Recipes?

I like the slight gamey earthiness of lamb combined with beef. But, if lamb isn’t something available to you, you can still make really superb gyros with all beef.

Lamb usually has a stronger flavor than beef. Some refer to it as gamey. It can stand up to some truly delicious bold seasonings. If you have tasted 100% grass fed and finished beef, you might find it is somewhat similar, but lamb is still stronger. Honestly, it probably most closely compares to goat. lol I know, probably unfamiliar to you, too.

Lamb isn’t critical, but it rounds out the flavor in gyro meat recipes. It’s delicious! If you can get it, I highly recommend using it in equal parts with beef.

My Homemade signature seasoning blend in a decanter jar with a Tablespoon of seasoning heaped up and spilling over onto a black table.

How to Season Gyro Meat

Choosing a Spice Blend

I am so intrigued by the traditions of other cultures that surround the blending of spices they use in their cooking. Many spice blend recipes are closely guarded family secrets. The formulas are often passed from generation to generation. That’s why even though you are eating a traditional food from a specific region, the flavor profile or recipe can be completely different than one being made just 10 or 20 miles down the road.

I LOVE that! Putting your own flair on any recipe and making it your own will be what sets your dishes apart and makes them the ones your family loves above all others.

I have actually been working on a family spice blend that has been heavily influenced by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. It’s especially fantastic on lamb and pork. I haven’t shared it, because I’m still in the testing and tweaking stage of the recipe. But, many of the spices I use in this gyro meat recipe are taken from that signature blend.

My personal blend contains only one ingredient I think might be unfamiliar in an American pantry. But, I LOVE it! It’s sumac.

What is Sumac?

Sumac is a delicious spice that is common in Middle Eastern cooking. It is the dried and ground fruit of the sumac shrub. It adds a citrus-like tang to dishes. And, it’s great on meats, in salad dressings, in soups, stews or on vegetables. It’s not easy to find in my small-town market, so I usually order from Amazon [affiliate link].

There Has to Be Tzatziki

Tzatziki sauce is almost as important to the gyro, as the meat. The recipe for this cool cucumber-yogurt sauce is super simple. I’ll include it in the Notes section of this recipe card, but if you want to see the details of how to make it, visit my Tzatziki sauce recipe page.

tzatziki sauce

How to Make Homemade Gyro Meat

  1. Place all the ingredients into your food processor. Pulse until things start coming together and then you can switch to high.
gyro meat mixture in food processor
  1. Press the meat mixture tightly into an *10″x5″ loaf pan[affiliate link].  I used to bake this in an 8″x4″ pan, [affiliate link] but I like that the slices in the larger pan came out shorter. The thinner strips from the larger pan remind me more of the shaved meat from a rotisserie at the fair. Both pans work great. Use the size you have on hand.
  2. Bake at 350° for 45 to 60 minutes. When the internal temperature hits 155°, I pull it out and allow it to rest in the pan for at least 15 to 20 minutes to finish coming up to the USDA recommended temperature of 160°.
raw gyro meat mixture pressed into loaf pan for baking
  1. Cool the baked loaf on a cooling rack until it reaches room temperature. Wrap in plastic wrap and foil or seal in an airtight container until you are ready to slice and the homemade gyro meat.
baked homemade gyro meat loaf on a cooling rack

Slicing Your Homemade Gyro Loaf

About slicing the gyro loaf.  One of the most notable things about gyro meat is that the slices are super thin. Chefs and purveyors of gyros shave the meat off the spit-cooked cone with large knives.We’ve baked our meat as a loaf, so the process is a lot less complicated.

Cool the meat before slicing for the best results.  If you want to serve it right away, then you can definitely slice it warm.  However, you may have some problems with crumbling.

I find it’s easiest once the loaf has been refrigerated for a couple hours. Slice it very thin.  You’re shooting for 1/8″ or thinner.

Slicing easy homemade gyro meat  into 18" or less slices.  - gyro recipe

How to Rewarm Homemade Gyro Meat

Method 1: Air Fryer

  • (This Is my preferred method, now that I have an air fryer oven.) Preheat to 400°.
  • Spray air fryer basket lightly with cooking spray.
  • Air fry for 3 to 4 minutes. The goal is to barely caramelize just one side, like it would be if rotating on a spit. I don’t let it go long enough to get crispy, but it gets beautiful color.

Method 2: Microwave

  • (This method works really well when heating up leftover slices for just one or two people.
  • Lay the slices in a single layer on a plate.
  • Microwave on high power for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cook just until heated through. Microwaves are all different. I recommend checking every 30 seconds.
  • The goal here is to warm the meat. It will not caramelize.

Method 3: Oven

  • (This method is good when heating for a large number of sandwiches.) Heat the broiler in your oven.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Place slices of meat in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Brush the slices with melted butter or avocado oil.
  • Broil for 1 – 2 minutes until you achieve the level of caramelization you’re looking for. (Don’t walk away from the broiler. The meat can burn in a blink, so keep a close eye on it.)

Method 4: Skillet

  • (Again this works best when reheating enough for only 1 or 2 sandwiches.) Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of butter or avocado oil to the skillet.
  • Place the gyro meat into the skillet in a single layer and heat them through. It will only take 30 seconds or so to warm them and a few seconds longer if you want to achieve some caramelization.

Assembling the Sandwiches

Assemble the restaurant style sandwiches:  Arrange warm meat slices, slivered raw onion, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and tzatziki sauce on warm pita bread.  Fold in half (like a taco) and enjoy.  I have also successfully made gyros inside pocket pita bread.  Use the one you can easily find in your area.

homemade gyro meat sandwich on a cutting board with sliced gyro meat in the background next to fresh dill and red onion slices

The Recipe

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gyro sandwich with homemade gyro meat tomatoes onions lettuce and tzatziki in a whole grain pita

Easy Homemade Gyro Meat


  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1012 servings 1x

Description

These are just as wonderful as the gyros you’ve eaten at street fairs and in restaurants.   And I believe the flavor is even better than restaurant gyro meat.   You can easily make these delicious sandwiches at home, now! 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 (med.) red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • optional, 1 teaspoon ground sumac (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Place all ingredients into food processor.
  3. Pulse until things start coming together and then you can switch to high.  High speed breaks down the proteins in the meat and incorporates all the ingredients, thoroughly. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the meat looks more like paste, rather than ground meat.  You’ll know, then, that you have it right.
  4. Press the meat mixture tightly into an *10″x5″ loaf pan [affiliate link].  I used to bake this in an 8″x4″ pan, [affiliate link] but I like that the slices in the larger pan came out shorter. The thinner strips from the larger pan remind me more of the shaved meat from a rotisserie at the fair. Both pans work great. Use the size you have on hand.  Really press the meat into the pan, tightly.  You want to create a dense finished product without many air pockets.
  5. Bake at 350° for 45 – 60 minutes.  Start testing at the 45 minute mark.  Pull it out when a meat thermometer inserted into the center hits 160°.  Set the pan on a cooling rack and allow it to rest for 15 or 20 minutes.
  6. There will be a lot of drippings in the pan.  I usually discard them, but some people save them to add to the meat when they warm the thin slices.
  7. About slicing the gyro meat.  One of the most notable things about gyro meat is that it is sliced very thinly.  This is much more easily accomplished once the meat is cool.  If you want to serve it right away, then you can definitely slice it warm.  However, the process is simpler after the meat has cooled.  If cooling the meat first, remove the loaf of gyro meat from the pan and set it on the cooling rack to come to room temperature. Slice it at that point or wrap the loaf whole and refrigerate and slice it when you are ready to serve it.  Make the slices very thin.  You’re shooting for 1/8″ or thinner.
  8. To use the thinly sliced gyro meat for gyro sandwiches, you will need to reheat them.  There are four methods to choose from and each works well, so it is a matter of preference and the tools available to you.
  9. How to Warm Homemade Gyro Meat

    Method 1: Air Fryer

    • (This Is my preferred method, now that I have an air fryer.) Preheat to 400°.
    • Spray air fryer basket lightly with cooking spray.
    • Air fry for 3 to 4 minutes. The goal is to barely caramelize just one side, like it would be if rotating on a spit. I don’t let it go long enough to get crispy, but it gets beautiful color.

    Method 2: Microwave

    • (This method works really well when heating up leftover slices for just one or two people.
    • Lay the slices in a single layer on a plate.
    • Microwave on high power for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cook just until heated through. Microwaves are all different. I recommend checking every 30 seconds.
    • The goal here is to warm the meat. It will not caramelize.

    Method 3: Oven

    • (This method is good when heating for a large number of sandwiches.) Heat the broiler in your oven.
    • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
    • Place slices of meat in a single layer on the baking sheet.
    • Brush the slices with melted butter or avocado oil.
    • Broil for 1 — 2 minutes until you achieve the level of caramelization you’re looking for. (Don’t walk away from the broiler. The meat can burn in a blink, so keep a close eye on it.)

    Method 4: Skillet

    • (Again this works best when reheating enough for only 1 or 2 sandwiches.) Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
    • Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of butter or avocado oil to the skillet.
    • Place the gyro meat into the skillet in a single layer and heat them through. It will only take 30 seconds or so to warm them and a few seconds longer if you want to achieve some caramelization.
  10. Assemble the sandwiches:  Arrange warm meat slices, slivered raw onion, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and tzatziki sauce on warm pita bread (We prefer the flatbread style but pockets work as well.)  Fold in half (like a taco) and enjoy. 

Notes

**Sumac is a delicious Mediterranean/Middle Eastern herb.  It is earthy, but has a citrus aroma and zing.  It can really brighten a heavy or savory dish.  I love it, a lot.  If you can get your hands on it, it’s excellent in this recipe.

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce Recipe

  • 1/2 cup cucumber, minced fine
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (For dairy-free try coconut yogurt.  It just needs to be thick.)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Taste as you go and adjust salt and pepper or other seasonings, as needed.
  2. Cover and chill the tzatziki in the fridge until ready to serve.
  3. Garnish with more minced cucumber and dill before serving, if desired.
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 50 min
  • Category: Meat, Beef, Lamb, Main Dish
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean American

If You Enjoyed the Gyro Meat Recipe, You Might Like to Try:

glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

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