Gyro vs Shawarma – Just What Is the Difference Between These Popular Street Foods?

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Both gyros and shawarma are types of kebab that are marinated, fatty cuts of beef that are gently spit-roasted and served either straight on a plate or rolled up in a piece of flat bread. They are both derived from the Turkish kebab doner. Although they might often seem the same, the primary distinction between gyros and shawarma is their respective origins: gyros are Greek, while shawarma are Arabic. As a result, the two dishes are both seasoned and garnished in quite different ways.

Just What is Gyro?

In Greece, gyros (pronounced “yee-roh”) are normally cooked with ground pig with a high fat content, but in the United States, they are often made with either lamb, beef, or a combination of the two. After being firmly packed and seasoned with oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme, the ground beef is put on a vertical rotisserie (also known as a spit roast) and roasted at a low temperature for a long period of time.

This method of cooking the beef lets the flesh to cook in its own fat, which imparts a wonderfully luscious flavor to the finished product. In point of fact, the word gyro derives from the Greek word gyros, which may be translated as “to turn.”

The cooked meat is sliced very thinly and served on pita bread or gyro bread that has been gently toasted and oiled. It is accompanied with lettuce, cucumber, onion, and tomato, and it is topped with tzatziki, which is a yogurt sauce made with garlic, dill, and cucumber. It is possible to get this dish in northern Greece, where it is topped with mustard or ketchup rather than tzatziki. When everything is layered on the pita, it is then folded up and wrapped, transforming it into the ideal snack for street vendors to sell since it can be consumed on the go by those who do not have time to sit down for a meal.

When refugees came in Greece in the early part of the twentieth century from Istanbul and other regions of Turkey, they carried their recipes with them. Soon after their arrival, little businesses and food carts that offered gyros began to pop up all throughout the country. Following the conclusion of the Second World War, Greek refugees relocated to a number of other nations, taking the gyro with them.

A Greek donair is similar to a gyro, except instead of tzatziki sauce, it is often served with a sweet garlic sauce.

If you want to create gyros at home, you may massage a mixture of oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, cumin, salt, crushed pepper, and garlic into a fatty meat of your choosing. If you want to make gyros using lamb, you can use lamb chops instead of gyro meat. After allowing the rub to sit for a couple of hours to absorb into the meat, chop it very finely, ideally using a food processor. After that, you will need to press the ground beef into a loaf pan and then pour boiling water over the top of it. After that, the meat may be baked much like a traditional meatloaf at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour, or until it is fully cooked in the centre.

After it has finished cooking, the meat must be removed from the loaf pan and sliced very thinly. After that, you may spread some hummus on a pita or a piece of flat bread and top it with tomato, lettuce, and tzatziki sauce.

Traditionally, both gyros and shawarma are prepared using more fatty slices of meat since leaner cuts of meat do not contain sufficient fat to make the meat as moist and soft as it ought to be. If you do decide to create your own gyros, there is no reason why you cannot use a slimmer cut of beef in order to reduce the amount of fat that is included in the finished product.

How is Shawarma Different to Gyro?

Popular in Arab and Balkan nations, shawarma is often referred to as shawurma and may be pronounced “shuh-war-muh.” It can be cooked with lamb, turkey, veal, beef, or chicken, or a mixture of any of these, and it is commonly seen in restaurants. Before being cooked on a vertical spit for as long as two days, the meat used to make shawarma is first seasoned with spices including as cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, dried lime, paprika, and cardamom. This is in contrast to the seasoning used for gyro, which is mostly comprised of herbs.

After the meat has been shaved into thin slices, it is served with tabbouleh, which is a salad made of herbs and bulgur, or fattoush, which is a salad made of fried bread, or with cucumber and tomato on taboon bread as a wrap or ‘laffa,’ or just on a plate.

Traditionally, shawarma is garnished with hummus, tahini (which is a paste made from sesame seeds), pickled turnips, and amba (which is a mango pickle). However, shawarma can also be garnished with other items, such as pickled carrots, fried or mayonnaise-coated eggplant, spicy cauliflower, and purple cabbage.

The original recipe for shawarma was brought to the Middle East from Turkey in the nineteenth century by refugees who had escaped from Ottoman Bursa settlements. This recipe, known as the Iskandar shawarma, is considered to be the most authentic. Originally eaten with pig, shawarma has to be prepared with either lamb, chicken, or turkey, or a mix of one or more of these meats, in order to adhere to the religious and cultural norms of the Middle East. Other kinds of shawarma, such as the Israeli kind, are often served with pickled fruits like mango. One example of this is an Israeli shawarma. Shawarma may be prepared using fish in addition to being prepared with other kinds of beef.

The word shawarma comes from the Arabic verb shawar, which means “to turn,” since the meat is roasted on a rotisserie. This is also the origin of the word gyro.

Some freshly squeezed lemon juice, half the recommended quantity of apple cider vinegar, and olive oil are all you need to create your own shawarma at home. Mix the liquid, spices (such as cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and caraway), salt, garlic, and crushed peppercorns together. The spices include: cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and caraway.

After that, you may apply this shawarma spice mix all over pieces of fatty lamb or beef that have been chopped into strips around four inches in length and two to three inches thick. It is recommended that the beef be marinated in the refrigerator for at least one night. After that, you may cook the meat on an indoor grill for around fifteen minutes and an hour and a half on the medium setting. When the meat is finished cooking, place it on warm pita bread along with hummus and tahini, and then top it with red onion, shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, and either pickled veggies or pickled mango.

Is Shawarma a Kebab?

Kebab is the term given to a piece of grilled meat, whereas shawarma is the name given to a sandwich that comprises grilled meat along with additional garnishes. The grilled meat or kebab that is the centerpiece of the Turkish dish known as the Doner kebab gives the dish its name. Doner kebab is generally made with meat that has been grilled and then wrapped in thick bread from Turkey, along with onions or tomatoes. Therefore, shawarma is a kind of kebab since it is prepared by grilling the meat.

In Summary

The gyro is a traditional dish from Greece and is created with either ground lamb or beef that has been packed tightly and then marinated with various herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, and marjoram. After being grilled over a low heat for a prolonged period of time, the gyro is sliced and served with tzatziki sauce, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and onion on pita bread or a platter.

Compared to that, shawarma is an Arabic dish that may be prepared with a variety of meats and is flavored with spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and turmeric. Shawarma is often served on pita bread with red onion, shredded carrot and cabbage, hummus, tahini, and any pickled vegetables or fruits that are desired after a long cooking process that lasts for a couple of days.

Consequently, despite the fact that shawarma and gyros are both popular street foods that can have a similar appearance and are both made with meats that have been marinated before being slowly cooked, there are significant differences between the two, not the least of which is the manner in which they are both seasoned and garnished.


Is gyro and shawarma the same?

The shawarma may be made with either chicken, turkey, or lamb. However, the gyro may be cooked with either beef or lamb according on your preference. One further distinction is seen in the manner in which the meat is seasoned and cooked. Cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom are some of the flavorful spices that contribute to the deliciousness of shawarma.

What makes shawarma different?

The meat used in shawarma is marinated for an extended period of time in spices like as turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and garlic, which results in an incredibly delicious and juicy dish. Unlike gyros, which often come topped with the same combination of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, shawarmas typically have a variety of pickled fruits and vegetables piled on top of them.

Whats the difference between a gyro and pita?

The gyro pita remains the same; however, the meat is switched out for gyro meat, which may be beef, pig, chicken, veal, or lamb, or even a combination of these, and is cut off the gyros cones and put inside the pita.

What is the meat in gyros called?

Chicken is the most prevalent option, although lamb or beef could be encountered less often. Gyros that are mass-produced in the United States often consist of finely ground beef combined with lamb. When gyros are created by hand, the meat is first sliced into about round, thin, flat slices. These are then placed on a spit and seasoned before being cooked. In most cases, scraps of fat are scattered throughout.

Is shawarma a junk food?

Although shawarma may be a convenient option for a quick snack or meal on the move, it is by no means a healthy one. The marinated strips that are shaved off from the spinning cone of meat already have fat flowing through them, and it is quite probable that they were drenched with even more fat while they were being cooked.

Are gyros healthy?

Gyros are famous for having a high concentration of iron, which is beneficial to one’s health. Iron is an essential component for the synthesis of red blood cells, as well as for the metabolism of your body and its blood. In addition, your body relies on iron to transport oxygen from your lungs to your heart, and iron is essential for this process. Niacin is found in high quantities in gyro meats.