Irresistible Greek Gyro: Answering Top 10 Questions

Find out the mouthwatering delight that has taken the culinary world by storm—the Greek Gyro Pita! With its irresistible combination of juicy, marinated meat, tangy tzatziki sauce, and fresh vegetables, this iconic Greek street food has captivated taste buds around the globe. A Culinary Journey of Flavors and Traditions!

Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply looking to embark on a flavor-filled adventure, it offers a delectable experience like no other. Join us as we unravel the secrets behind this beloved dish, exploring its origins, unique ingredients, and the best spots to indulge in Arizona. Get ready to satisfy your cravings and embark on a gastronomic journey through the flavors of Greece.

In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about this popular Greek dish, from how to pronounce “gyro” to making your own at home. So, grab a seat and let’s dive in!

We have already introduced a short blog post titled “What is A Gyro?” if you want to read a fast summary.

How do you pronounce gyro?

Before diving into what exactly constitutes a gyro, let’s clear up the pronunciation. Gyro is pronounced YEE-roh, not JYE-roh or GEAR-oh. That’s right, the “g” is silent! This reflects the sandwich’s Greek roots; in Greek, gyro literally means “turn” or spin,” referring to the rotating spit used to cook the meat. The next time you order one at a food truck or restaurant, you can feel confident ordering it just like a Greek local would. Now that you’ve got it down, let’s move on.

So, What is a traditional gyro?

A traditional Greek gyro consists of several main components:

  • Thinly sliced meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie
  • Warm pita bread or flatbread
  • Onions and tomatoes
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Sometimes, french fries or rice

The star ingredient is the sliced meat cooked vertically on a rotisserie or gyro machine. Chicken, lamb, beef, or a blend may be used. The vertical cooking method allows the meat to cook slowly while the fat drips away, resulting in flavorful, tender, and juicy slices. When assembled, the gyro contains the shaved gyro meat, crisp vegetables, and cooled tzatziki sauce wrapped in a soft pita for the quintessential Mediterranean flavor combination in every bite.

Ok.. Then..

What are the most important questions about authentic gyro meat?

1- Is ‘Gyros’ a calque of ‘Döner’?

The origins of gyro meat have been debated, but many believe it was inspired by Turkish döner kebab. Döner kebab is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, the same style later adopted for gyros. So while gyro preparation likely evolved from Turkish döner kebab, it morphed into its own distinct Greek street food over time.

2- Is gyro meat processed?

Contrary to popular belief, authentic Greek gyros are NOT processed meat. Traditionally, gyros are made from slices of marinated chicken, or lamb, stacked on a vertical rotisserie, and slow-cooked to perfection. The result is juicy, tender meat with a distinct flavor that will leave you craving more. It starts with a blend of ground lamb and beef seasoned simply with herbs and spices like oregano, thyme, rosemary, and garlic. This meat mixture is then formed into a large loaf and roasted vertically on a rotisserie or gyro machine to cook while the fat drips away. It is then thinly shaved for gyros. The minimal processing and vertical roasting results in natural flavor.

3- What meats are traditionally featured?

Gyros emerged in Greece, so traditional gyro meat features lamb, pork, or a blend of the two. Lamb lent its signature savory, faintly gamy taste while pork provides juiciness and fat. Later on, beef was sometimes added or used in place of pork for texture. Chicken or turkey gyro meat is now also common, though not as authentic to Greek tradition.

4- What part of lamb is used?

Since lamb is the classic gyro meat, the leg or shoulder cuts are typically used. They offer the right ratio of fat to lean meat and provide good flavor. Diced lamb leg or shoulder meat is combined with beef and then ground to the optimal consistency for rotisserie cooking.

5- What is gyro meat made from?

Greek-style gyro meat contains a blend of ground lamb, and/or beef mixed with chopped onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and Greek herbs and spices like oregano, rosemary, marjoram, and thyme. This seasoned meat mixture is formed into a log, cooked vertically on a rotisserie, then thinly shaved for juicy gyros.

6- How is gyro meat cooked?

Cooking gyro meat vertically on a rotisserie or spit is what gives it such distinctive flavor and texture. The constant rotation allows the meat to slowly cook while dripping excess fat away rather than sitting in it. The exterior gets nicely browned and crispy while the interior stays tender. This method infuses flavor throughout while keeping the meat healthy.

7- How much lamb is in gyro meat?

There is no set ratio, but lamb makes up at least half if not more of traditional Greek gyro meat. The lamb is mixed with or beef to balance out texture and fat content. The mix of ground meats can vary, but lamb is typically the star player when it comes to authentic Greek gyro flavor.

8- Why is it considered healthy?

The vertical rotisserie style of cooking gyro meat allows excess fat to drip away rather than soak into the meat. This means the meat retains moistness and flavor without the unhealthy saturated fat. Gyro meat can be considered healthy when enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

9- Is gyro meat low in fat?

Cooking gyro meat vertically helps minimize fat content compared to other preparations. The meat mixture itself is also usually made up of at least 50% lean lamb leg, with beef adding juiciness texture. So while not extremely low in fat, gyro meat cooked properly contains less unhealthy fats than similar meats.

10- Is gyro meat healthier than chicken?

While chicken breast may be lower in total fat and calories, gyro meat made from lean lamb and cooked properly on a vertical rotisserie contains healthy fats and provides a wider range of nutrients. Gyro meat can be considered part of a healthy diet in moderation, though chicken may fit better into some low-fat eating plans.

Gyro vs. Shawarma

Gyros are often compared to shawarma, another Greek and Middle Eastern meat preparation cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Though gyros and shawarma share some similarities, there are a few differences between the two:

  • Gyros traditionally use lamb, chicken or beef, while shawarma is usually lamb or chicken. Shawarma does not typically contain pork.
  • Gyros are seasoned with herbs and spices like oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Shawarma contains herbs and spices as well but relies more heavily on a marinade for flavor.
  • Gyros meat slices are placed inside pita or flatbread along with veggies and tzatziki sauce. Shawarma meat may be served in a pita, but is also commonly served over rice or in a wrap without tzatziki.
  • Gyro preparation likely has origins in Greece, while shawarma can be traced back to Levantine cuisine in Turkey, Lebanon and other areas. They emerged as distinct dishes as gyro vertical rotisseries became popular in Greece in the 1960s and 1970s.

So in summary, gyros and shawarma have some parallels, but gyros rely more heavily on Greek seasoning, lamb meat, pita bread, and tzatziki compared to the shawarma flavor profile and serving styles. Both make for tasty and distinctly Mediterranean treats.

What is the difference between Gyro and Al Pastor?

Gyro and Al Pastor are both absolutely delicious dishes, but they come from two very different culinary traditions. Gyro is a classic Greek favorite, but you can also find it in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

Now, when it comes to Al Pastor, it’s got an interesting story behind it. It’s a Mexican dish that has some Lebanese influence. Can you believe it? They took the idea of cooking meat on a vertical rotisserie and made it their own. Instead of lamb or beef, they go for thinly sliced marinated pork. The marinade is where the magic happens! They use a mix of dried chilies, achiote, spices, pineapple, and vinegar to give it this fantastic sweet and savory flavor. It’s seriously addictive!

So, the difference is not only in the type of meat they use, but also in the unique flavors they bring to the table. Gyro has that Mediterranean charm, while Al Pastor has that vibrant Mexican twist. You can find gyro served in pita bread or flatbread with all the fixings like tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and that creamy tzatziki sauce. On the other hand, Al Pastor is commonly served on soft tacos with chopped onions, cilantro, and juicy pineapple. Oh, and don’t forget that squeeze of lime to add that tangy kick!

Both dishes are fantastic options when you’re looking for something bursting with flavor and a touch of cultural heritage. Whether you’re in the mood for a taste of Greece or craving a fiesta of Mexican flavors, gyro and Al Pastor won’t disappoint!

Gyros vs Kebabs

Exploring the Differences Between the Greek and Middle Eastern Classics

Gyros and kebabs are both delicious Mediterranean sandwiches loaded with flavorful grilled meats. But what exactly sets these street food favorites apart?

While they have some similarities, gyros and kebabs have key differences when it comes to ingredients, seasoning, cooking method, and more. Read on to learn how to distinguish these iconic Greek and Middle Eastern dishes.

Defining Gyros and Kebabs

Gyros refer to the Greek sandwich consisting of thinly shaved meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, tucked into warm pita bread along with onions, tomatoes, and cooling tzatziki sauce. The most common meat is a blend of lamb, though chicken and beef are also used.

Kebabs encompass a wide variety of Middle Eastern dishes featuring skewered, grilled meats and vegetables. They have many regional variations, but common proteins include lamb, chicken, and beef. Spices like cumin, cinnamon, paprika and curry powder are used across kebab variations.

Meat Differences

While lamb is enjoyed across the Mediterranean, the specific cuts and mix of meats differ between gyros and kebabs. Gyros meat is typically a blend of minced lamb shoulder or leg along with beef. Kebabs use cubed cuts of lamb, beef or chicken threaded onto skewers for grilling.

Cuts like beef sirloin, chicken thigh, and lamb shoulder or leg that hold up well to grilling and skewering are preferred for kebabs. The diversity of protein options makes kebabs very versatile. Gyros are more narrowly focused on traditional lamb.

Spicing and Flavor Profiles

Gyros get their distinctive flavor primarily from Greek herbs and spices. Oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, black pepper, and garlic are used to season gyro meat. Lemon and olive oil can also be used.

Kebabs branch out to warmer, more complex spices like cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, paprika, coriander, curry powder, and chili powder. The spices depend on the kebab’s country of origin but tend to have robust, intriguing flavors.

Cooking Method

Gyros are cooked rotating on a vertical spit to allow the meat to cook evenly while juices drip away. The meat is later shaved and stuffed into pitas.

Kebab preparation involves threading cubed, seasoned meat onto skewers then grilling the skewers over high heat. The skewered meat chars and caramelizes as it cooks.

Serving Vessel

Traditional gyros are wrapped in warm, soft pita bread along with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce. The rich meat, cool sauce, and wholesome pita make for a perfect handheld meal.

While kebabs can be served in pitas, they are also frequently served over rice dishes or salads. Flatbreads like lavash or naan may enclose kebabs instead of pita. The diversity of vessels highlights kebabs’ flexibility.

Sides and Sauces

Gyros have a more limited roster of traditional sides: primarily tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, onions, and fries. The cool, creamy tzatziki is the star player balancing out the gyro flavors.

Kebabs enjoy a broader range of sauces and sides. Popular options include hummus, Baba ganoush, tabbouleh salad, stuffed grape leaves, couscous, flatbreads, and rice dishes like biryani. The variety complements the many kebab permutations.

Gyro White Sauce: Tzatziki Sauce

What really brings the flavors of a gyro together is the cool and creamy tzatziki sauce. This traditional yogurt-based sauce provides the perfect complement to the hot gyro meat. To make tzatziki, Greek yogurt is combined with diced cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dill, mint, salt, and pepper. The cucumber and seasonings blend beautifully with the creamy yogurt for a refreshing sauce or dip. Tzatziki can also be served alongside grilled meats and vegetables. It can even be used to top potatoes, breads and sandwiches for a tasty Greek flair. This versatile sauce only requires a few simple ingredients but packs immense flavor.

To make this delightful sauce, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, grated and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simply mix all the ingredients together, and voila! You have a tangy and creamy white sauce to elevate your experience.

Oregano and Thyme Gyro Seasoning

To achieve authentic Greek gyro flavor, the aromatic herbs and spices added are just as important as the cooking method. Gyros get their distinctive taste not only from the slowly roasted meat but also from traditional Mediterranean seasonings. The meat is generously spiced with dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and black pepper before cooking. These herbs and savory spices infuse the meat with aroma and Greek character. Additional lemon and olive oil are also sometimes used to coat the gyro meat before cooking for added moisture and flavor. Once sliced, the gyro meat offers a savory herbaceous taste that pairs perfectly with bright tzatziki sauce in a handheld sandwich.

What Are Some Good Gyro Side Dishes?

When it comes to side dishes, there are plenty of tasty options to choose from. Classic choices include Greek salad with feta cheese, kalamata olives, and fresh tomatoes, or a side of crispy, golden-brown fries. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try spanakopita (spinach and feta phyllo pie) or dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) for a complete Greek feast!

Gyro Side Dishes

Greek Salad: A refreshing blend of fresh vegetables, olives, and feta cheese, tossed in a tangy vinaigrette.
Gyro Fries: Crispy golden fries topped with gyro meat, feta cheese, and drizzled with tzatziki sauce for a flavorful twist.
Grilled Corn: Sweet and smoky grilled corn on the cob pairs perfectly with the bold flavors.

  • Rice – Gyro meat over a bed of fluffy seasoned rice makes for a hearty dish.
  • Roasted Vegetables – Greek flavors like oregano and olive oil enhance veggies like potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and peppers.
  • Hummus and Pita – Chickpea hummus and soft pita bread rounds out the meal.
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves – Savory, briny stuffed grape leaves called dolmas make a nice gyro accompaniment.

These sides complement the gyro beautifully, allowing you to enjoy even more fresh Greek tastes and textures.

Are Fries Traditional in Real-Deal Greek Gyros?

While fries have become a popular addition to gyros in many parts of the world, they are not traditionally served in authentic Greek food. Instead, the focus is on the delicious combination of tender meat, flavorful herbs, and aromatic spices wrapped in warm pita bread. But hey, there’s no harm in adding some fries if that’s your preference!

How to Make a Greek Gyro?

Making them at home is easier than you might think! Start by marinating your choice of meat with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and other Greek herbs and spices. Once marinated, stack the meat slices on a vertical rotisserie or broiler and cook until they’re tender and perfectly cooked. Finally, slice the meat thinly and serve it in warm pita bread with your favorite toppings and sauces. It’s a delicious, homemade treat!

Gyro Cone

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to whip up your own Greek gyro, here’s a simple recipe to get you started:


  • 1 lb gyro meat (lamb, beef, or a combination)
  • 4-6 pita bread rounds
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced onions
  • Lettuce

1. Preheat your grill or stovetop grill pan to medium-high heat.
2. Cook the gyro meat on the grill, turning occasionally, until fully cooked and browned.
3. Warm the pita bread on the grill for a minute on each side.
4. Assemble your gyro by placing a generous amount of gyro meat on the pita bread, topping it with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.
5. Roll up the pita bread, securing it with foil or parchment paper.
6. Enjoy your homemade Greek gyro!

Why Would You Love This Grilled Chicken Gyro Sandwich?

If you’re a fan of grilled chicken and crave the flavors of Greece, then the grilled chicken gyro sandwich is a must-try. Imagine tender, marinated chicken, grilled to perfection, wrapped in warm pita bread, and topped with fresh vegetables and tangy tzatziki sauce. It’s a flavor explosion that will leave you wanting more and more!

Can I Cook Gyro Meat on a Rotisserie?

Absolutely! If you own a rotisserie attachment for your grill or oven, you can cook gyro meat at home. Simply marinate your chosen meat, secure it on the rotisserie skewer, and let it cook slowly over indirect heat. The result? Juicy, perfectly cooked gyro meat that will transport you straight to the Mediterranean!

Commercial Vertical Rotisseries and Gyro Machines

To achieve that authentic gyro taste and texture, gyro broilers and machines are commonly used in restaurants and commercial kitchens. These specialized equipment allow for vertical rotisserie cooking, ensuring even heat distribution and the perfect crispy edges on the meat.

The unique flavor of gyro meat comes from the method of cooking thin slices vertically on a rotisserie. This slow, rotating cooking evenly distributes heat while allowing excess fat to drip away for healthier meat. Commercial gyro machines include vertical cone rotisseries that produce the authentic taste restaurants rely on. Choosing reliable, commercial-grade equipment ensures your gyro meat will cook safely with optimal fat drainage and ease of use. Machines also come in countertop sizes for easy gyro cooking in smaller spaces. Investing in the right vertical rotisserie or gyro broiler machine is key for restaurants and food carts striving to create authentic, Greek-style gyros.

For Arizona Gyro Lovers ?

Calling all food enthusiasts in Arizona, get ready to embark on a flavor-filled journey with the Greek pita! Whether you’re in Phoenix, Tucson, or anywhere in the Grand Canyon State, you’ll find numerous places to satisfy your cravings. From authentic family-run joints to modern quick-service spots, Arizona offers an array of options for savoring this iconic street food.

In Phoenix, check out Princess Pita Market in Mesa for piping hot gyros sliced fresh from the trompo rotisserie. Their hand-cut fries topped with gyro meat, feta, onions, tomatoes and creamy tzatziki are also a must-try. For a quick grab-and-go gyro, Princess Pita Market has several valley locations dishing out classic Greek flavors.

In Tucson, Yasou Greek Bistro crafts up delicious lamb and chicken gyros along with baklava and Greek salads. Drive through Gyro Xpress for speedy service of juicy gyro sandwiches and bowls loaded with add-ons like falafel and dolmas.

Up in Tempe, you’ll find Princess Market as a hidden gem Gyro Spot serving seasoned meat carved right off the spit along with scratch-made tzatziki sauce for next-level gyros. Nearby in Scottsdale, Our branch offer gourmet gyro iterations perfect for a unique take on this street food favorite.

So wherever your gyro cravings take you in the Grand Canyon State, you’ll find endless options to fulfill your Greek sandwich fixes. The difficult part may just be deciding which succulent gyro to devour first! From the thriving food scene in Phoenix to the university hangouts in Tempe to the Southern Arizona flavors in Tucson, Arizona is a paradise for this iconic Mediterranean specialty.

Indulge in the Gyro Experience at Princess Pita Market!

Now that you’re armed with all the knowledge about Greek gyros, it’s time to satisfy your cravings! Visit Princess Pita Market, your go-to restaurant in Arizona, and indulge in our fresh, flavorful, and halal options. Whether you’re counting lamb calories or craving chicken, we have something for everyone!

Come join us at Princess Pita Market for the ultimate experience!


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