Homemade Doner Kebab: A Turkish Classic

Doner Kebab
Anita Schecter
Ratings (8)
  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings

If you're familiar with the Greek gyros at your favorite take-out place, then you've eaten a doner kebab. The doner is a Turkish creation of meat, often lamb, but not necessarily so, that is seasoned, stacked in a cone shape, and cooked slowly on a vertical rotisserie. As the outer layers of the meat cooks, it's shaved off and served in a pita or other flatbread with vegetables and sauce. Doner is the "mother," as it were, of Arabic shawarma, Mexican al pastor, and the popular Greek gyros.

Although the sliced meat can be served on a platter with rice and cooked vegetables, it's most popular as a sandwich eaten as fast street food. You might find tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, cucumbers, or pickles inside the pita, and the sauce might be a Greek yogurt-based tzatziki or a Middle Eastern tahini.

Making an authentic doner kebab at home can be a bit tricky although still possible if you have the set up for a slow cooking vertical rotating spit. For most home kitchens, however, some improvisation will be required. But the flavors and spices will be easier to recreate than the exact shape. You can form ground lamb into balls and thread them on skewers, but the easiest way to get the sliced look of a street doner kebab is to make a sort of meatloaf.

Ground lamb or a combination of beef and lamb gets seasoned and cooked in a loaf pan. Allow it to cool, slice it thinly, and crisp it up on a pan for a more authentic feel. Then pile it into a pita stuffed with vegetables and slather on the sauce for all the deliciousness of doner kebab at home.

Ingredients

  • For the Kebab:
  • 1 lb. ground lamb (or 1/2 lb. each of ground lamb and ground beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 4 rounds of pita (or naan or flatbread)
  • 1 cup assorted lettuce
  • 1 large tomato (sliced)
  • 1/2 seedless English cucumber (sliced)
  • 1/4 large red onion (peeled and sliced)
  • Tzatziki sauce or tahini sauce

Steps to Make It

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the ground lamb, egg, garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper.

Place the mixture into a loaf pan and cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown.

You can slice the loaf immediately if you like but, for best results, cool completely, wrap in aluminum foil, and refrigerate until firm.

To re-heat, add a little olive oil to a large skillet, slice the loaf very thinly and crisp up the slices in the hot pan for a few minutes.

Assemble the sandwiches with the vegetables and sauce.