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I was living in Dallas when I first tasted gyros; this was a long time ago, so I don’t remember where. Likely the place is no longer there anyway. But when my daughter, Hannah, worked for a pizza place a few years ago, that also served gyros, I tried my hand at them. Scroll down to find the homemade gyros recipe that I continue to use today.
Some people mispronounce the word, making the hard ‘g’ sound. Rather the g is silent, more like a ‘yu’. ‘Yeeroh’ is really how it’s pronounced. And gyros originate in Greece. Gyro in Thessaloniki means to turn. While in Athens the generic word is ‘souvlaki’, and ‘souvla’ is a skewer. So both terms are correct, because a gyro is shaved meat on a rotating skewer, served in a pita.
Ingredients for Homemade Gyros:
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- one onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 lb each of ground mild Italian sausage and ground beef
- one green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, divided
- one tomato, seeded and diced
- 2 tsp each of dried oregano, ground cumin, dried marjoram, dried thyme, and ground dried rosemary, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 pita bread rounds or 12 naan flatbreads
- tzatziki sauce
Instructions for Homemade Gyros:
- Heat butter or oil in large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add ground Italian sausage and ground beef. With a spoon, break apart the meat into smaller pieces.
- While the meat is cooking, add 1 tbsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp each of the dried spices and herbs. And continue breaking up the pieces of meat till there is no pink remaining. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the meat to a bowl; cover and set aside. In the same pan, add a little more butter or oil for your vegetables. And keep the heat on medium.
- Then add onion, bell pepper, remaining garlic, and the rest of 1 tsp of dried spices and herbs. Stir till well combined. Next, cover until the vegetables soften.
- Toast the pita rounds or naan flatbread in the oven for ~ 2-3 mins on each side.
- And spread tzatziki sauce on the bread, fill with the meat and vegetables; and top with diced tomatoes.
This is not a traditional gyro recipe. Because traditional gyro recipes sort of congeal the ground meats together before cooking them on a rotating skewer. And then the cooked, congealed meat is sliced. Also, there are instructions out there for that kind of recipe, if you’re interested. However, it takes some time to get the meat to congeal. And I don’t have that kind of patience. Sometimes I do, but it wasn’t important for me to have the congealed, and then, sliced meat.
Most meats, like beef, pork, chicken, and lamb go into gyros. Additionally, the spices and herbs I listed for this recipe seem to be common. Though, other recipes might have added or left off one item. So when I started making homemade gyros, I kept the meat ground up, just added the spices, and everything else. Then served them in flatbread. And this is definitely a family favorite. Although, the gyro isn’t complete without the tzatziki sauce.
Ingredients for Tzatziki Sauce:
- 1/2 European cucumber, finely grated
- 1 c Greek plain yogurt
- 1/2 tbsp minced garlic, mashed with 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp dried mint
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Instructions for Tzatziki Sauce:
- Toss the finely grated cucumber with a generous amount of salt. Next, leave in a colander in the sink to wilt for ~ 15-20 minutes. Then rinse and drain on paper towels.
- With a whisk, mix together the yogurt, garlic, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil. Then stir in the cucumbers. And adjust the seasonings if needed, and serve.
Here’s a link to the original sauce recipe. You’ll notice I’ve cut the recipe in half, because it makes too much sauce. But even with it cut in half, there still remains a lot of sauce leftover.
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