Greek Gyros with Homemade Gyro Meat Recipe
Make your favorite American-style Greek gyros at home! This gyro meat recipe combines ground beef and lamb to get that distinctive flavor you find at Greek restaurants. The texture is meatloaf-style rather than restaurant-style, but the flavors are on point. Doing it this way saves tons of time. Top with Tzatziki Sauce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers!
We heard a giant crash and a scream last night. I ran into the room to find my 3-year-old daughter Valentine buried under the dresser. The scariest moment as a parent, right?? She is okay, just a scrape and maybe some light emotional scarring. Just kidding! I’m sure she will forget about it soon, I hope?? Eric has since bolted the dresser to the wall. There are so many things to feel anxious or guilty about as a parent, but not having the dresser bolted wasn’t even on the list!
I’ve spent the last couple days reading my mom’s journal from when she was about my age: she had just had her fifth baby (me!) and I’ve just had my fourth, and our days are spent corralling children. It’s actually not a journal, it’s a bunch of letters sent to her best friend, who had just moved far away. Because let’s be real, moms with 4 or 5 kids don’t have time to journal!
It is shocking how similar our problems, successes, struggles, and joys are. I guess motherhood is motherhood, right? If we went back 500 years would it read the same? My mom just finished telling the story about how she was carrying a pot of boiling potatoes to the sink to drain it, and ran into my brother, who was 4. Can you imagine accidentally spilling boiling water all over your son?? Gah! It makes me feel a little better about not having the dresser bolted.
Here are a few excerpts from her letters, in italics. You moms will be able to relate:
Yesterday I got in a huge fight with my oldest, took away $5 that I owed him, and now I can’t remember the slightest detail. This led, of course, to the conclusion that I’m a worthless, inconsistent parent prone to hysterics. So what else is new, huh? (“Prone to hysterics” sounds familiar. Like mother like daughter!)
(From when she was pregnant with me, her fifth:) Since it had turned hot I hadn’t been as hungry, and I had even cut out potato chips (daily) so I was feeling smug about my weight – and I gained 9 pounds. In 3 weeks. So I decided that if I’d already been convicted I may as well commit the crime. I’ve eaten potato chips with wild abandon every day since.
Well, it’s 5:30, Rich will be home any second and I have not even started dinner. Poor man, I’m sure when he got married he thought he was getting a wife, and instead he got me. This is me, every day.
A 2 year old who’s potty-trained – what a novel idea. I’m not even going to try until Nathan has a 1000 word vocabulary – including the sentence, ‘I believe I need to use the toilet, mother.’ Then I’ll tackle it.
I read somewhere that most women living in pre-20th century didn’t have much problem with menopause – they were dead before they were old enough to experience it. Wild hormone swings certainly account for witches, wild women, and sorceresses down through the ages. (I guess this explains the Salem witch trials?? Ha!)
Well, there you have it. Me, basically, if I had been a mom in 1987. Oh how history repeats itself!
Traditional Greek Gyro Ingredients
Today we are talking GYROS. (pronounced “hero.”) If you have never had a Greek gyro before, you are totally missing out. It is a warm pita bread, topped with lemony-garlicky Tzatziki Sauce, gryo meat, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
In other words, HEAVEN. Seriously my favorite item to get anytime there is a food truck situation. In Greece they serve it with french fries in the pita itself instead of served on the side. It is now my life mission to make it to Greece someday to try it that way for myself!!
How to make Gyro Meat
The gyro meat that you will find in most Greek restaurants in the United States is made with a combination of beef and lamb. I’ve never been to Greece, but I’ve read that it is actually more common to see gyros made with pork in the homeland.
Today’s recipe is an easier version of the beef and lamb combo you will see in the US. To make it the way the restaurants do, you have to grind the meat very finely using a meat grinder or food processor, then press it down so that there are no air pockets, and let it marinate for a while. Then they skewer it onto a rotisserie skewer and cook. The meat is sliced off the edges.
It’s delicious, obviously, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, we are taking all the flavors you love and basically making meatloaf. It takes about 30 minutes to make the meat, start to finish. Ground beef is combined with ground lamb and spiced with cumin, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. The resulting meatloaf is tender and flavorful and perfect for a weeknight gyro fest! It comes together pretty quick.
I like to shape the meat into individual patties so that you get lots of crispy edges. You could easily shape it into one meatloaf if you prefer, and slice to serve. You will just have to cook it a bit longer.
The ground lamb is what gives this gyro meat it’s distinctive flavor. I know it can be tricky to find sometimes. If you can’t find ground lamb, you could substitute ground beef or ground pork, but the flavor won’t be the same. Go to your local butcher to find ground lamb, if your market doesn’t have it!
More Greek recipes you will enjoy!
- Gyro Style Shredded Beef (Instant Pot/Crock Pot) << This recipe for shredded beef is another great idea for filling gyros! Or eat it bowl-style with cauliflower rice!
- Chicken Shawarma << this is the same idea as gyros but uses yogurt-marinated chicken. YUM.
- Oven Baked Greek Chicken with Veggies << one of my most favorite 30 minute meals!
- Greek Salad with Feta Cheese << I could eat this every day.
- Greek Lentil Tacos with Cucumber Pico de Gallo << a delicious vegetarian meal!
- Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets << basically a Greek style hot pocket. What’s not to love??
- Moussaka << An insanely complex Greek layered casserole. Worth every second.
- Tzatziki Sauce Recipe << Make this as an appetizer and bring it to a party with toasted pita. Everyone will love you.
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade from FoodieCrush
- Greek Meatballs from Recipe Tin Eats
- Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Real Greek Recipes
Greek Gyro with Homemade Gyro Meat
For the gyro meat
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease , OR butter*
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed and finely minced
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, yes, 4 teaspoons**
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, optional
- 1 batch Tzatziki Sauce
- 1 large red onion, sliced thin
- 2-4 tomatoes, sliced
- 1-2 cucumbers, sliced
- 8-10 pita rounds
- fresh dill, to garnish, optional
- Start by making the Tzatziki Sauce. It needs time to marinate, so get it done first so it can sit in the fridge while you make the rest.
- Make the gyro meat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Or line with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
- If you have a food processor, use it to finely chop the onion and garlic. If not, use a knife to chop finely.
- In a large bowl, add all gyro meat ingredients: 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground lamb, 2 tablespoons butter OR bacon grease,* 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 cup Panko crumbs, chopped onion, minced garlic, 4 teaspoons kosher salt (see note), 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon marjoram. (It's ok if you don't have the marjoram.)
- Combine the meat using your hands. I like to wear disposable gloves when I do this. Using your hands feels a little weird, but it mixes the meat so much faster and more evenly than using a spoon, resulting in nice tender meat (as opposed to being overworked.)
- Shape the meat into about 10 oval patties. See photos. Line them up on the pan making sure they are not touching each other.
- Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, prepare the gyro toppings: Thinly slice a red onion. Slice the tomatoes. Slice the cucumbers. Warm the pita bread either in the microwave or in the still-warm oven. Chop extra fresh dill, if you want.
- How to construct your gyro: Add a layer of Tzatziki Sauce to a warm pita. Slice a gyro patty in half lengthwise for easier eating, and place on top of Tzatziki. Garnish with red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh dill. Devour!
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