coastal livin' · food · recipes · what's for dinner?


Are you wondering what exactly constitutes a donair?  According to (yes, believe it or not, that’s a thing), donairs are also known as “doners”, “gyros”, “doner kebabs”, and “donners”.  Whatever you may call them, they are traditionally either Greek or Turkish in origin.

We were introduced to the donair pizza on our first trip to Canada’s east coast.  Halifax claims to have invented the “Halifax” donair at Velos Pizza somewhere in the timeframe of 1971-1973.  This sweet sauce that accompanied this donair became a signature for the sandwich, as well as the pizza version, that is common throughout the maritimes.

I admit I was not a fan at first.  I enjoyed the meat, but found the sauce almost unpalatable.  I much prefer the tzatziki that is served with Greek gyros.  Having said that, I had ground beef out for dinner, but no firm plans.  My df girl asked for donairs, as we had purchased a big bag of pitas from Costco on our last trip to the city.

Traditionally, the meat would be seasoned and pounded into a very dense loaf then shaved into thin slices when cool.  Before serving you would fry the strips before adding them to your sandwich.  You can find the recipe here.  I am far too lazy for that, hence my cheater edition.  Similar flavour…less work.  Yesss.

Cheater Donair Meat

1 pound of ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
Fry it all up together.  Easy, right.


To keep it real here, I was not paying attention and actually put in 1 teaspoon of cayenne, thinking I had the paprika jar.  Oops.  Super spicy.  My cl boy’s friend stayed for dinner, and he barely got through it, even heaped with cheese.  I did tell him it was fine if he couldn’t eat it, I would make him a grilled cheese.  He declined and managed to finish it.  The rest of us are more accustomed to spicy foods, but it was hot even for us.  Lots of milk ingested at that meal.  Here’s a little fyi in case you were unaware:  a burning mouth from spicy food can be alleviated by consuming higher-fat dairy products. Thus the milk and cheese.
Back to our meal.  These sandwiches are usually served on a pita with onions, tomatoes and a sweet donair sauce.  I cheated even more and just bought some sauce.  You can do that here.  Depending on where you live, and whether donairs have wriggled their way into your local cuisine, you may need to make your own.

Donair Sauce

1 can of evaporated milk
3 tablespoons of garlic powder
3 tablespoons of white vinegar

Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.


I like to pile on veggies, with no sauce.  But as I said, I caved because it was so hot; I thought it would help temper the heat.  We had the requisite tomatoes and onions, along with shredded lettuce, a variety of peppers, cucumber, and the cheese.  You could add hot peppers (well, at least if you’re not eating at my house tonight), sour cream, mayo, pickles…be creative.  We had our favourite potato salad on the side.

Here on the east coast, donairs are taken very seriously.  They come in many guises:  donair egg rolls, donair poutine, and of course, the aforementioned donair pizza and the classic donair.  My donair is not classic…and I’m okay with that.



blog signature

One thought on “donair…cheater-style

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s