Grilling and then roasting adds smoky notes to the lamb and jump-starts the browning, but you can simplify by roasting at 475° for the first 10 minutes, then lowering the heat.
- 6 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder, excess fat trimmed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- ½ cup chopped mixed herbs (such as thyme, oregano, sage, and/or rosemary)
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
Rub lamb all over with 2 Tbsp. salt, massaging into meat; place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Combine yogurt, herbs, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl; generously season with black pepper. Rub all over lamb, working into nooks and crannies. Chill, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
Let lamb sit about 1 hour to come to room temperature.
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 300°. Grill lamb, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, 8–10 minutes. Return to wire rack inside rimmed baking sheet and transfer to oven. Roast until meat is very tender and bone wiggles easily, 3½–4½ hours.
Transfer lamb to a cutting board, pour any juices in baking sheet over, and tent with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes before removing bones and tearing meat into pieces.
Serve lamb on flatbreads with yogurt sauce and pickled chiles.
Nutritional ContentCalories (kcal) 1060 Fat (g) 72 Saturated Fat (g) 27 Cholesterol (mg) 185 Carbohydrates (g) 53 Dietary Fiber (g) 4 Total Sugars (g) 18 Protein (g) 52 Sodium (mg) 1810Reviews Section
Lamb Gyros is one of my favorite foods. We enjoy going to Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati and eating at this little Greek stand within the market. The gyros are so delicious and I was really inspired to make an authentic gyro at home and skip the traffic going downtown.
To give Lamb Gyros that authentic flavor and texture, it is important to follow each step in the “meatloaf” preparation. That is really what we are doing here: creating a meatloaf with Greek flavors. Once the meat and flavors are mixed, you will place it all in the food processor, form your meatloaf, cook, slice, broil and build the gyros. The steps are somewhat time consuming but well worth it and not difficult. Lamb Gyros is a great recipe for weekends or when you have some extra time during to prep dinner during the week.
You can’t have lamb Gyros without the tzatziki sauce. We have a recipe here at Simply Made Recipes for tzatziki sauce HERE.
Pick lamb and ground beef that are fresh and bright red. The seasonings will brown it like you see in the photos. I typically go for very lean ground beef but in this case, get a meat with some fat to add in the moisture and help keep the meatloaf together.
I recommend naan bread but pita works well also and is what I used today. My grocery store is inconsistent about stocking naan so it isn’t always an option for me. Either bread will be just fine though.
Love Greek flavors? Try our recipe for Lamb and Feta Nachos with an awesome marinated, slow cooked lamb over tortilla chips with avocado, tomatoes, feta, olives and tzatziki sauce.
What is Gyros?
Gyros, pronounced YEE-ros, is a meat dish cooked on a tall vertical rotisserie which rotates slowly in front of an electric grill &ndash gyros means &lsquoturn&rsquo in Greek.
You can find gyros in any fast food joint that also sells souvlaki and you would be forgiven for thinking the two are interchangeable. In fact &lsquosouvlaki&rsquo, like gyros, refers to the cooking method, meat cooked on a skewer &ndash souvlaki translates as &lsquolittle skewer&rsquo.
Both souvlaki and gyros are usually served on pita bread spread with tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, onions and occasionally fries or fried halloumi. The pita is wrapped to encase the filings and there you have it, Greece&rsquos favourite food to eat on the go.
What type of meat?
In Greece, gyros is traditionally made with pork, although chicken gyros is also becoming popular (take a look at my Chicken Gyro Recipe). Occasionally you will also find lamb and beef gyros. In the US gyros is made with a mixture of ground beef and lamb.
The meat is first seasoned with spices, salt and pepper and marinated in vinegar and olive oil. It is then threaded on a large skewer building up a gyro &lsquocone&rsquo which is then cooked on an upright rotisserie.
The gyro is the shaved or sliced usually with an electric knife before being served on pitta with all the trimmings. You can also order gyro &lsquomerida&rsquo (portion) served with salad and fries if you are so inclined. I am frequently inclined, when in Greece 😉
The spices used to marinate gyros are salt, pepper, sweet paprika and lots of Greek dried oregano (rigani). It&rsquos well worth sourcing Greek oregano if can as it is much more aromatic.
I have used the same seasoning in this recipe and the taste is pretty authentic, even if the cooking method is not the same, vertical rotisseries being a little hard to come by at home!
Gyro: An Ancient Greek Street Food
Who would’ve known! There is actually a National Gyro Day and this year it is Sept. 1! Yes, gyro, as in that tapered tower of thinly sliced meat rotating on an upright spit that is a delectable street-food in many parts of the world.
Gyro, pronounced “GHEE-ro” in Greek comes from the Greek word “gheereezo,” which means to turn. As mentioned above, it’s a stacked rotating pile of thinly sliced meat, either lamb, pork, beef, or some combination thereof, with latter-day renditions that include chicken and even fish. As the tightly packed stack roasts upright, the layers meld together and the grill person manning the gyro rotisserie cuts off paper-thin slices, which he or she fixes in a pita wrap with tomatoes, raw red onions, parsley or lettuce, Greek yogurt or tzatziki, and sometimes fried potatoes and a sprinkling of paprika or cayenne pepper.
Gyro is the poster girl, so to speak, of Greek fast food, even though it may or may not be 100% Greek. It has a surprisingly long and, pun intended, rotating history.
The gyro as we know it more or less today first arrived in Greece in 1922, with the hundreds of thousands of Greek and Armenian refugees from Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Most came from Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna (Ismir). The best gyro masters were Armenian, or so the legend goes. As the refugees began to settle in their newfound homeland, many became merchants. They opened small shops, among which were the small holes in the wall on every street corner selling gyro. After WWII, gyro started to travel west following the immigration patterns of the Greeks themselves, so shops began popping up across Europe, in the States, and Australia. It became one of the first global fast foods, although no such label could really describe it at the time because most shops were mom-and-pop run.
Gyro wrap with fried Greek potatoes
As theories go for how food travels, the above seems fairly straightforward. This being Greek cuisine, rife with layers of history way more complex than a delicately spiced or marinated proper gyro, there are other theories as to the origins of this most delicious if somewhat less than wholesome wrap. By some accounts, gyro is the scion of a long and old family of skewered meat feasts, one with roots that stretch back to the time of Alexander the Great and his returning armies, whose soldiers were known to skewer and roast various cuts of meat on long, swordlike blades over an open fire.
Wherever there are Greeks, there’s gyro, and the food is inarguably one of the most popular among tourists. The sale of this savory street wrap has, of course, progressed beyond the mom-and-pop realm into the world of American chains (some owned by Greeks) as well as onto the internet. In Greece, circa 2019, there are dozens of online sites where one can order a gyro for home delivery. In the U.S. and elsewhere, gyro remains a steadfast symbol of Greek casual dining and street fare.
Greeks, Arabs, and Turks alike all make gyro. The Turks know this delectable street food as doner kebab and make it with lamb or beef. The Arabs know it as shawarma and make it either with beef, lamb, goat, or chicken. In some parts of the Arab world gyro/doner kebab/shawarma is served neither with yogurt nor tzatziki but with a thin, delicious dusting of seasoned pistachios. Yum. That’s universal for delicious!
- ½ onion, cut into chunks
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon ground dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Place the onion in a food processor, and process until finely chopped. Scoop the onions onto the center of a towel, gather up the ends of the towel, and squeeze out the liquid from the onions. Place the onions into a mixing bowl along with the lamb and beef. Season with the garlic, oregano, cumin, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Mix well with your hands until well combined. Cover, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Place the meat mixture into the food processor, and pulse for about a minute until finely chopped and the mixture feels tacky. Pack the meat mixture into a 7x4 inch loaf pan, making sure there are no air pockets. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place the loaf pan on the towel, inside the roasting pan, and place into the preheated oven. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.
Bake until the gyro meat is no longer pink in the center, and the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) on a meat thermometer, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pour off any accumulated fat, and allow to cool slightly before slicing thinly and serving.
Lamb and Beef Gyros
I came up with this recipe because I was missing the delicious gyros at our favorite Greek place back home. If you’re looking for a fabulous homemade gyro, this is it!
- 1 whole Medium Onion
- 1 pound Ground Lamb
- 1 pound Ground Beef, 80% Lean
- 2 teaspoons Oregano
- 2 teaspoons Marjoram
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
- 4 cloves Garlic
- Pita Bread
- Onions, For Garnish
- Tomatoes, For Garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop the onion and put into a food processor. Blend in the food processor for 30 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides. Pour pureed onion onto a dishcloth or paper towel. Squeeze out the onion juice and discard (or reserve for later use). Return the drained pureed onion to a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Blend until well combined.
Press meat mixture into a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack. Cover the top of the meatloaf with foil and weight the foil down with heavy cans or a brick. Let rest and cool for 30-45 minutes.
When cool, slice the meatloaf into very thin slices. In a skillet set on medium high, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Brown several strips of meat, approximately 2 minutes per side. Let meat drain on a plate covered with a paper towel. Add more meat strips to the pan (no need to add more oil) and finish browning meat in batches.
Serve wrapped in a pita with Tzatziki sauce, onions and tomatoes. For my Tzatziki sauce recipe, search Tasty Kitchen for “Tzatziki Sauce”.
And here is a big fat juicy Doner Kebab! Wildly popular here in Australia, particularly after a late night out at the pub with mates!
Made with Lebanese bread or other thin flatbreads, smeared with hummus, topped with Doner Kebab Meat, lettuce, tomato, onion and sauces such as yogurt, garlic and chilli sauce. Optional extras include cheese (which I think is a blasphemy!) and tabbouleh.
GYRO SAUCE / TAZATZIKI SAUCE
A Tzatziki is a cool refreshing yogurt based sauce, very authentically Greek.
Ingredients for Tzatziki Sauce
- Lemon Juice
- Grated Cucumber
- Herbs (fresh oregano, dill and mint— or your favorite)
- Salt and Pepper
Just mix all of these together into a zesty creamy sauce. Also a note on the cucumbers: after you grate the cucumber, make sure you drain as much liquid from it as possible. You don’t need a soggy Tzatziki!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise and 1/4 teaspoon ginger season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, bread, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger season with salt and pepper. Form into 4-inch patties. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the patties until just firm, about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
In the same skillet, add the poblanos, onion, garlic and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Wrap the pita in foil and keep warm in the oven.
Chop up the lamb patties and add to the pan, increasing the heat to medium-high. Cook the vegetables until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley.
Top a warmed pita with the reserved yogurt sauce and lamb mixture and fold over.
Shame on me, back in the winter my wife most lovingly gave me the gift of endless rotating meats with the Weber rotisserie attachment, and up until now, all of my exploits with my favorite grilling accessory have been shared with my fellow Serious Eaters, leaving my meaty minions here in the dark. That comes to an end today with one of the most ubiquitous of revolving meats&mdashgyros. While my past adventures with the rotisserie have focused mainly on duplicating one of my favorite chickens, this gyro represents new ground for the Meatwave, so get excited as I bring you into the tasty, tasty land of the lamb gyro loaf.
Truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan of the gyro loaf. For me, the gyro has to be stacks of sliced meat piled high on a vertical rotisserie, then shaved off per order. That method produces juicy meat from the fat that constantly bastes it along with extra crunchy edges&mdashperfection in my book. I wasn't quite sure if that method would fully translate to a horizontal rotisserie, and was kind of interested in learning how to achieve the extra fine texture of the loaf, so decided to take that direction and started the journey by grounding up two pounds of a boneless leg of lamb.
After the grind, the meat was mixed with salt, pepper, and Greek oregano, then allowed to chill for an hour in the fridge. Once nice and cold, the lamb mixture went into the food processor with onion, garlic, and some bacon sliced to add a little more fat to the game. A minute whirl produced a very fine meat mixture, which is the key to getting the end texture of the loaf just perfect.
Once processed, I wrapped the meat tightly in plastic wrap and let it firm up in the fridge overnight so it'd be sufficiently solid to withstand being skewered on the spit&mdashI didn't want my loaf falling apart while it cooked, so this was an important step.
The loaf held together like an all-star on the rotisserie and came out beautifully browned after a 45 minute spin. In an ideal world I would have liked shave the meat off the loaf while still cooking, allowing each newly exposed layer to brown again before carving off the next, but the grill was needed for many other meats that day, so instead I took the whole loaf off and sliced it as is, and while the inside wasn't as pretty as the outside, it still had all the flavor needed.
The gyro loaf was pretty perfect, with a mellow lamb flavor that combined with the oregano and onion to give it a distinctly Greek taste. The texture was super fine and cohesive, and the meat was juicy as can be. I enjoyed mine stuffed in a pita with onion, tomato, and tzatziki, which came together to form such a perfect sandwich that I totally forgot this is the style of gyro that I normally shy away from&mdashlong live the loaf!
Published on Tue Sep 14, 2010 by Joshua Bousel
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 3 Hours
- Cook 30 Minutes
- Total 4 Hours
- 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
- 1 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 7 slices sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- For serving
- Greek pocketless pitas
- Tomato slices
- Red onion, sliced thin
- Grind the lamb through the large die of your meat grinder. Switch to the small die and send the ground lamb back through. Combine lamb, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl and mix together until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night.
- Place the lamb mixture in bowl of food processor with the onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary. You may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your food processor. Turn the meat out onto a double layer of plastic wrap and form into a loaf shape. Wrap tightly in the plastic and place in the fridge for at least two hours to firm up.
- Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When the charcoal is all lit and covered in gray ash, dump out onto the charcoal grate. Arrange half of the coals on each side of the grate and place a drip pan between the two piles of charcoal. Run a spit through the center of the lamb and place on the rotisserie. Cook until the meat registers 165 degrees in the middle, about 30-45 mins. Slice the lamb and serve in pitas with tomato, red onion, and tzatziki.
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Ronny 1st- next Passover, 86 the brisket and serve the Gyro. Please . Poppy will be 83 by then. I'll just tell him it's Brisket.
B- Reading this just cost me about $75. Thanks. Posted Tue, Sep 14 2010 3:56PM
Josh @Ronny I guess Gyros would be fitting for an Astoria Passover. might need to omit the bacon for that one though. Posted Tue, Sep 14 2010 4:00PM
Mike in NJ Would it be possible to flatten the meat out, and/or grill the meat in parts, so as to maximize the browning surface? If flat, maybe on a grill pan to keep it together? Or would flattening it lose some of the loaf-shape-imparted flavor? Posted Tue, Sep 14 2010 5:29PM
Josh @ Mike in NJ Another way to do this would be to cook the loaf whole, then cut it into slices and grill the slices over high heat until just browned%u2014in retrospect, I probably should have done that. I think the original cooking really needs to be done as a loaf, the mixture is too soft to slice it and cook in strips from the get-go. Posted Tue, Sep 14 2010 6:41PM
Gary House I am so surprised that it held up on the rotisserie! Never would have thought that! Great article, might just this one.
Gary Posted Tue, Sep 14 2010 11:16PM
Chris I think I'll be trying this. I did Alton Brown's recipe years ago before I had a rotisserie and liked it. Can't wait to try this one now that I am packing! Posted Thu, Sep 16 2010 8:26PM
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