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What is a Gyro Sandwich?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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A gyro sandwich consists of various rotisseried meats, salad vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce and onions, along with a yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. These ingredients are placed on a hearty form of grilled pita bread and served as a wrap sandwich. In some countries, it may also contain french fries or mustard. The type of pita bread may also vary, from the pocket style to a greasier round flatbread.

The meats used in a traditional gyro sandwich may be pork, chicken, beef or lamb. In Greece and surrounding countries, the term gyro sandwich may also refer to a similar sandwich called souvlaki. Greek restaurants in other countries tend to define gyro meat as a mixture of minced beef and lamb, while souvlaki is generally considered a marinated pork product. The lamb and/or beef used is often pressed into a conical shape, then placed vertically on a spit rod for roasting. Sandwich makers will periodically shave off generous portions of this meat and sear it on a grill.

The grilled meat is then placed on a round piece of warmed or grilled pita bread. A traditional gyro sandwich sold in places other than Greece is notoriously oversized. Sandwich makers then add various ingredients, typically a leaf of lettuce, chopped tomatoes and sliced onions. Some makers add french fries at this point. The final step is the addition of tzatziki sauce, which is made with Greek-style yogurt, diced cucumbers, dill weed and a small amount of vinegar. The ingredients of a the sandwich are intended to work together, with the tzatziki sauce counteracting the spiciness of the meat.

Because a gyro sandwich can be prepared quickly with only a few ingredients, it has become a popular item on street vendors' menus. Many people encounter their first gyro sandwich at county fairs and other special events. Some grocery stores even offer sliced gyro meat in their deli meat section, or offer kits containing the meat, sauce and pita bread. This meat has also become a popular alternative to the traditional pizza toppings, especially in cities with a large Greek population.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon995412 — On Apr 26, 2016

Gyros is large pieces, while doner has the texture of a meatball.

By turquoise — On Feb 15, 2013

It's funny how some places that sell gyros don't know how to pronounce gyro sandwich!

By serenesurface — On Feb 14, 2013

@anon50771-- Well, if you feel that a restaurant is not up to standard, don't eat their gyros!

But as far as I know, gyro machine is prepared in the morning and the meat is used up during lunch time. It's prepared again during lunch for dinner. So there shouldn't be any left over.

Also, as the meat cooks, it is sliced off and the new layer of meat is allowed to be cooked thoroughly before it is sliced off again. So there is no risk of it being under-cooked and bacteria ridden.

By ysmina — On Feb 14, 2013

I usually eat beef gyros. I even make them at home myself. Some grocery stores sell gyro meat in the meat department. I buy my pita bread and gyro sandwich sauce and put it together at home.

The other day however, I went to a Lebanese grocery and they were selling gyro sandwiches there. I bought one to try and it tasted so different. It turns out the meat was made from lamb. There was also a different spice on it. It tasted odd to me, almost sour. I couldn't even finish it. I like beef gyros much better.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Dec 19, 2012

There is this Mediterranean restaurant close to me that serves this amazing appetizer. It is not authentic at all but it is delicious.

It is basically falafel wrapped in gyro meat and served with yogurt sauce for dipping. I know it sounds like something out of McDonald's Morocco, but it is really, really good. My wife and I get an order every time we go.

By clippers — On Dec 18, 2012

I would like to make my own gyros at home but obviously I do not need an entire spit of meat.

Can I buy gyro meat in smaller proportions and maybe keep it in my freezer? How hard is it to cook?

By jonrss — On Dec 18, 2012

I used to go to this dinner all the time that served what they called a gyro skillet. It was basically gyro meat cooked up with eggs, potatoes and a few veggies and then served with cucumber sauce. It was amazing! I could have eaten one every single morning.

By anon202082 — On Aug 01, 2011

I have worked in Greek restaurants where gyro meat was prepared on a vertical spit rotisserie, and I can tell you that an average cone of meat did not last for more than a few hours before being used up completely. I remember having to wash the skewer and other rotisserie parts in a big hurry in order to get a new cone started. If a restaurant really had meat rotting on the skewer, then it must be having a lot of other problems besides gyro sales.

The original ground lamb (some say goat) and beef gyro meat has a unique flavor that may take some getting used to. I prefer my gyro sandwiches to be overstuffed, with only lettuce, tomato, onions and tzatziki sauce. I've seen restaurants offer other ingredients such as feta cheese and diced bell peppers. The chicken gyro meat also has an interesting flavor, and it's not always prepared from a spit-roasted cone.

By anon50771 — On Oct 31, 2009

What about all the bugs that are multiplying inside when its cooking on the outside? I have seen some that seem to linger for days in shops near Birmingham, England.

By olittlewood — On Jan 25, 2008

i'm a little put off by the meat, but love, love, love a good gyro!

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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