Gyros are such as fan-favorite dish they have origin stories in both Greece and America.
This Greek recipe has won hearts around the world for both its taste and its versatility. People can choose their filling type from lamb, pork, beef, chicken or vegetarian options. And, people can choose the way the gyro is plated. While a gyro is commonly served in a pita, people also order it as a salad or a platter.
What is a Gyro?
A gyro is a Greek dish. It’s often made as a wrap, with a filling of thinly sliced meat from a vertical rotisserie, vegetables and a tzatziki sauce. As it’s a Greek specialty, the vegetables in a Gyro are Greek-typical, such as red onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Additionally, the recipe is usually made with lamb, which is very representative of Greek cuisine. Modern interpretations of the gyro also offer chicken, pork, beef or vegetarian-friendly fillings.
Gyros are often compared to shawarmas and donairs, as they are all wrap-based foods made with rotisserie meats.
Gyros don’t need to come in wrap form and can come as platters or salads.
It’s an indulgent dish with the perfect mix of fresh vegetables, juicy meat and a sauce to pull it all together. Gyros are typically enjoyed on the go or as a quick bite.
The History of Gyros
Gyros have been a Greek street food for centuries. Gyro derives from the Greek word “gheereezo,” which translates into “to turn.” A fitting name, as this delicious dish receives a lot of its flavor from the rotating skewered meat.
It’s believed that the Gyro originated in Greece in 1922, with influences from the Turkish donair kebabs. In 1922, thousands of Armenian and Greek refugees came to Greece from present-day Turkey (at the time, Asia Minor). The refugees started opening small shops and selling gyros to the public.
From there, gyros have achieved international fame. Gyros are popular in the UK as a take-away food. And, in particular, gyros are celebrated in the United States. America has its own history of gyros, and legend says that the first gyros were served in Chicago in the 1970s.
How to Prepare Gyros
Gyros are surprisingly easy to make at home, depending on what level of “homemade aesthetic” you want to achieve. If you choose to make the pita and tzatziki sauce from scratch, it can be a little more time consuming but also more authentic.
- Cook your choice of meat in spices and set aside. Make sure to cook your meat in strips which will make it easier to assemble.
- Warm your pita bread.
- Next, spread some tzatziki sauce in the pita.
- Add your fresh vegetables of choice (recommendations are red onion, tomato and lettuce).
- Add your meat into the pita and serve hot.
- If you prefer to serve as a platter, assemble all the ingredients on a plate with a side of cooked rice or potatoes. Use the tzatziki as a sauce for the platter.
- If you prefer to serve as a salad, assemble all the ingredients on a bed of lettuce. Use the tzatziki as a dressing for the salad.
If you are looking for a vegetarian-friendly version, we recommend this recipe from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen of a gyro salad with chickpeas and tzatziki dressing.
For anyone in a rush, this chicken gyro recipe from The Spruce Eats only takes 35 minutes total to prepare.
Alton Brown’s recipe from the Food Network includes instructions on how to prepare a delicious homemade tzatziki sauce.
And for the experienced chef, this recipe from Thousand Caminos has it all: homemade pita bread, tzatziki sauce and chicken gyro meat.
This delicious Greek recipe is an excellent choice for a quick lunch or a family dinner. It’s highly customizable, and you can decide which level of effort you want to put into the dish. Whip up a quick gyro with store-bought pitas and tzatziki sauce. Or, impress everyone at your table with some warm, homemade pitas and fresh tzatziki sauce. You can even choose the healthy route and make a large gyro salad for the table. Either way, rest assured no one will be complaining when you serve them a gyro.