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When I set out to create a Gyro Meat recipe, I assumed it would be a complicated process. At first, it was. It involved smushing a pulverized meat mixture into a loaf pan, then baking in a water bath before draining and weighing it down with a brick. A good deal of effort that led to a mediocre result. I was beginning to wonder if making gyro meat at home was worth it.

gyro served on a black plate

It is. With just a handful of ingredients and a clever method, it’s easy to make delectable, homemade gyro meat. (See my recipe video below – with more than 150,000 views on YouTube – to see the exact process.)

Ingredients You Need to Make Gyro Meat

  • Ground Lamb: or ground beef (85% lean)
  • Dried Oregano: ideally Greek oregano
  • Ground Cumin
  • Onion: white onion or yellow onion
  • Fresh Garlic Clove
  • Bacon: key ingredient for the best flavor and texture
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Recipe Testing Notes

I came across this recipe from Serious Eats’, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who had tried and been disappointed with the same complicated recipe I followed on my first try. Applying the scientific approach he’s famous for, he simplified the process while improving the outcome. He found that adding some fat (in the form of bacon), along with salting and chilling the meat mixture ahead of pureeing and baking, produced a reliably superior gyro meat, both in texture and flavor.

I admit my skepticism about free forming the meat puree into a rectangle on a baking sheet instead of pressing it into a loaf pan, imagining it disintegrating into a bubbly mess. But it holds together beautifully. He also added the clever step of broiling thin slices of the baked loaf to warm and crisp the edges. Not only does this add to the flavor and texture of the gyro meat, it transforms any leftovers into a 5 minute meal in the refrigerator just waiting for assembly.

Tips for the Best Texture and Flavor

Though I stuck with Kenji’s basic technique, I did make a few changes. I finely chopped the garlic and onion in the food processor before adding the meat mixture and bacon to avoid any chunks of onion in the finished meat. I also increased the amount of oregano and added a little cumin for flavor depth. And, because I love Tzatziki sauce on my gyros, I slathered it on instead of the yogurt and mayonnaise based sauce he suggests.

In my recipe testing, the gyro meat consistently took 35 minutes to reach 155˚F with an instant read thermometer (instead of the 30 minutes directed in the original recipe), but that could be a difference in ovens, so I’ve offered a range.

FAQ

What is gyro meat made of?

It is typically made with ground lamb and/or ground beef (and sometimes chicken), onion, garlic, oregano, and other spices. This recipe adds bacon for texture and flavor and uses a convenient, but non-traditional cooking method.

How do you pronounce gyro?

“Gyro” is pronounced YEE-roh.

How to Make a Gyro

To make the perfect Gyro: start with soft, warmed pita bread spread with a thick layer of Tzatziki sauce. Pile on several broiled gyro meat slices and top with thinly sliced red onion (or pickled red onions) and chopped tomato. Devour!

More Delicious Mediterranean Recipes

How to Make Gyro Meat

Combine ground lamb with salt and spices in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

mixing spices into ground lamb to make gyro meat

Mince onion and garlic in food processor. Add cold meat mixture and bacon pieces; process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

pureed gyro meat

Preheat oven to 300˚F. With moist hands, shape meat mixture into a 8-inch long by 5-inch wide rectangle on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes until center registers 155˚F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before slicing.

shaping gyro meat into a rectangle on a foil lined baking sheet

Preheat broiler with oven rack adjusted to highest level. Slice loaf crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices and arrange in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes until edges are crispy. Remove from oven and tent with foil.

slicing gyro meat
gyro meat slices before and after broiling

Assemble gyros: Spread a thick layer of tzatiki sauce onto warm pita bread. Pile with gyro meat slices and top with thinly sliced onion and chopped tomato. Serve.

Recipe Video

Gyro Meat Recipe

4.92 from 34 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Greek
Calories: 418
Servings: 4 people
Adapted from J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe via Serious Eats. To assemble gyros, you'll need pita bread, tzatziki sauce, thinly sliced onion and chopped tomato.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound ground lamb or 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt see recipe note #1
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 onion cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 clove garlic sliced
  • 3 ounces bacon cut into 1-inch pieces

Instructions 

  • To a medium bowl add lamb, salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 300˚F.
  • Add onion and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mince; scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Add lamb mixture and bacon pieces; process to a smooth puree, scraping down sides as necessary.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil. Transfer meat mixture to center. Wet hands and form meat into a rectangle, approximately 8-inches long, 5-inches wide and 1 1/2-inches high.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 155˚F. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
  • Adjust oven rack to highest position and preheat broiler. Line baking sheet with foil.
  • Transfer loaf to a cutting board and carefully slice crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices. Arrange slices on prepared baking sheet, leaving a little room between each one. Broil 2 minutes, until slices are hot and edges are crispy. Remove from oven and tent with foil.
  • Serving Suggestion: Warm pita bread and spread with a thick layer of tzatziki sauce, pile on gyro meat slices and top with thinly sliced onion and chopped tomato.

Notes

  1. Some readers have found this recipe too salty (others think it’s just right). If you tend to like less salty foods, I recommend making this recipe the first time with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt instead of 2. You can always add more seasoning before serving.
  2. Note that nutrition information does not include pita or toppings.
  3. An easy way to warm pita bread is to broil on a baking sheet for 30 to 45 seconds per side.

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 1372mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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88 Comments

  1. Juanita says:

    5 stars
    Question: can I bake the “loaf” of gyro meat and then freeze it?
    Thanks

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Juanita! Yes, absolutely. I recommend cutting the loaf into one-meal portions before freezing, so you can thaw just the amount you need.

  2. Matt says:

    5 stars
    Delicious,! Great recipe and so easy to make.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you enjoyed this, Matt!

  3. Brian Lucas says:

    5 stars
    Tried both with lamb and ground beef. Both amazing and good recipe. Going to keep this one, well done!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s wonderful to hear, Brian! Thank you for coming back to let me know.

  4. Amber Skinner says:

    5 stars
    Question: What if I have no food processor and I tried my vitamix blender….blended the bacon, onion and garlic…took it out to layer with the beef/moose (no lamb in my freezer in interior AK) and half way through my almost new vitamix blender just stopped working 😳😆😭😳😬

    I took out my kitchen aid hand mixer and mixed it all that way…will see if it was enough 🙏🙏🙏

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      oh boy…that is a predicament! I hope it turned out well, Amber.

      1. Amber Skinner says:

        5 stars
        Used 100% ground moose instead of lamb and beef. And its awesome and enough using my hand mixer. Delicious.

        1. Richard Smith says:

          yeah

  5. Mike says:

    5 stars
    Lessons Learned:
    Do NOT skimp on blending up that meat. Repeat. Triple Emphasis.
    Same goes with pressing the meat down.
    Them two things are so critical for the texture. The recipe states this… but i’m just elaborating from experience lol. Blend it SMOOTH.
    Lastly – Lamb is essential. I read one comment about someone not wanting lamb, and that is perfectly fine… and it tastes good still. I also think the beef is drier. If you use beef… try going for 80/20 maybe. The bacon I used didn’t quite have the fat content I needed.

    If you are used to “normal” Gyro meat and you opt for Beef + Bacon… You will clearly notice the difference in flavor/texture.

    Excellent recipe. Don’t skip the things I said. Lamb heavily preferred.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Love this, Mike! Thank you for your detailed cooking notes.