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.
Recipe Testing Notes and Changes
But then I came across this recipe from Serious Eats', J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who had tried and been disappointed with the same recipe I followed. 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 in lieu 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.
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.
Gyro Assembly Suggestions
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 Must Try Mediterranean Recipes
- Greek Salad
- Lamb Kabobs
- Lamb Shawarma
- Baba Ganoush
- And a whole collection of other delicious Mediterranean Recipes
How to Make Gyro Meat
Step 1: Combine ground lamb with salt and spices in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Step 2: Mince onion and garlic in food processor. Add cold meat mixture and bacon pieces; process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: Preheat broiler with oven rack adjusted to highest level. Slice loaf crosswise into ⅛-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.
Step 5: 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.
Gyro Meat Recipe
- 1 pound ground lamb or 85% lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ onion cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- 3 ounces bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
- 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 ½-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 ⅛-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.
- Note that nutrition information does not include pita or toppings.
- An easy way to warm pita bread is to broil on a baking sheet for 30 to 45 seconds per side.