Doner Kebab is traditionally cooked on a kind of upright rotisserie, this meaty dish is actually easier than you might think to make yourself at home, and has become a much-loved late night meal.
Comprised of beautifully spiced, succulent meat and crunchy salad surrounded by warm, soft bread, it makes for an irresistible blend of both taste and texture.
Created in Turkey and popularized in Germany back in the 1970s – 1800s, Doner Kebab is now a much-loved late-night meal found in cities and towns across the world.
What is Döner
Döner is actually a street food from Turkey. It was invented in 1800 at Istanbul. It is basically marinated beef and lamb meat, cook vertically by using woodfire.
It is originally served in a special soft bread like Italian Pita. Döner generally is served with Iceberg, hot peppers, fried potatoes and tomatoes.
The doner meat that you will find in fast food joints is typically made from a mix of beef, chicken and lamb. However, minced beef is used in this recipe, but feel free to use lamb as its high fat content helps to keep the meat succulent and juicy.
The methods used for authentic doner kebabs can’t be replicated in most home kitchens, so using just lamb is a good substitute that keeps the texture close to the real deal. Leaner meats will likely make your doner kebab dry out.
If you are not in an area which provide minced lamb, that’s perfectly fine. Use good quality ground beef as used in this recipe.
If you have a local butcher, it’s well worth paying them a visit for your Doner Kebab meat. The end result will largely depend on the quality of your lamb or beef.
Doner kebabs are mainly found in Muslim countries. Pork is not consumed for religious reasons. To add more fat consider using butter or high fat meat to make this dish.
There are plenty of spices used to give Doner Kebab its signature flavor, including paprika, cumin, coriander and oregano.
Reminiscent of the dish’s Turkish roots, this aromatic blend brings some complexity to the meat, and should be thoroughly mixed to ensure delicious flavor in every bite.
The crunch of the salad in a Doner Kebab is key to the dish, providing the perfect contrast to the soft fluffy bread and juicy meat.
Iceberg lettuce is the ideal variety, with shredded white or red cabbage giving some additional texture. However, feel free to use whatever salad leaves you like best or whatever you have on hand.
We’ve even include it in our Caesar Salad recipe from time to time.
You will generally find Doner Kebab served in a large pita bread or flatbread, similar to the ones used in this Lebanese Falafel Recipe, so whichever type you prefer will do just fine.
A variation on the classic Doner Kebab is the Dürüm Doner, where the meat and salad is wrapped in a thin Turkish flatbread called yufka.
To replicate this at home, a large tortilla will make a fine substitute.
The bread used for Doner Kebabs is best served slightly warm, so placing it in a warm oven for just a couple of minutes before assembly is always recommended.
Paired with the cool salad and juicy filling, it truly is a match made in heaven!
How To Prepare
The full recipe with exact measurement is found in the recipe card below. For now, here’s a quick guide on how to make this recipe with ease each and every single time.
Chop the onion. In a food processor, add the beef, then the onion, salt, pepper flakes, black pepper, and yogurt.
Blend to a paste and until well combined.
Place in a aluminium foil. Roll into a log. Use skewer sticks, insert two long skewer sticks in the center of the ground beef log.
Place on a baking dish. Cook for 1 ½ hours at 325 degrees. Remove foil after 1 hour. Rotate once to brown all sides.
How To Make It Vegan
The doner cannot be made vegan due to method of cooking. However, vegetable minced meat might be used but we do not recommend make it vegan.
What To Serve With Doner Kebab
Authentic Turkish Doner Kebabs are usually served without any sauces, but in other parts of the world you will usually find them offered up with lashings of garlic sauce.
Doner Kebabs can be eaten on their own or served up with some crispy French Fries, or with this Yuca Fries, this sweet potato fries, this onions rings, or this deep-fried yucca fries for an even more satisfying meal.
If you have any Doner Kebab meat leftover, you can also serve it with fries but without the bread and salad for another late-night favorite, or you can even use it as a topping on a delicious homemade pizza.
How To Carve The Meat
Because the meat is cooked as a log. It makes it easy to carve or slice to create thin sliced bacon strips.
When slicing the meat, be sure to use a sharp chef’s knife as you want the cut to be precise. The beauty about this meat is that it allows you the ability to shave as much or as little as you need without “disturbing” the log.
Once you are done slicing, you may use the sliced meat to pan fry, similar to bacon strips. It takes just a minute or two to brown up because it’s so thin.
Doner Kebab vs Gyros
If you have ever wondered what’s the difference between a Gyro and doner kebab, the answer is simple. They are both the same or have the same meaning. These words translate to rotating or turning when referred to rotisserie cooking technique.
Depending on where you are in the Middle East, either word will be in used. Doner Kebab is used in Turkey.
As the words are used in different part of the Middle East or the Mediterranean, so does the type of meat that’s used to prepare this dish. In Turkey, Minced beef is used, which is what we refer to Ground Beef here in the States.
How To Make Into A Gyro Or Wrap
Cut the meat into thin slices. In a small skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
In the heated oiled skillet, add the desired slices. Brown on both sides but do not allow the meat to become dry. Only fry for 1 minute or so.
Remove from pan. In a flat bread, add lettuce or green leaves, cucumber slices and tomatoes feel free to use the cucumber tomato salad recipe here), the meat slices (bacon), fresh parsley if desired for extra freshness, and top it with the yogurt sauce used in the falafel recipe.
Roll the bread tightly then wrap in aluminum foil to prevent it from falling apart. Enjoy.
How To Make Ahead
Doner is great to make ahead. If using a fatty meat, it stays fresh for longer period as it is easy to freeze after cooking and remain the juiciness.
If you are not using a fatty meat, you can still prepare the log in advanced and cook it about a couple hours before serving. After cooking, cover it with aluminum foil to preserve the freshness and juiciness of the meat.
This is perfect for BBQ gatherings or the holiday. This will be a conversation starter for sure.
If you are not making it for a gathering, that’s perfectly fine. Doner Kebab also serve well when it comes to meal prep.
How To Store
When it comes to storing Turkey Doner Kebab, consider the following options:
Do not brown the meat when cooking. Best to cook the doner wrapped in foil to prevent it from browning.
When done cooking remove the foil, transfer to a frigerated safe container, and store up to 5 days. When ready to serve, wrap the doner in foil again and reheat in the oven until heated through. Brown as desired to serve.
Did not use all the meat? No problem! Unused meat can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months in a freezer bag or freezer safe container.
Use Quality Meat – The rule of thumb is to use a fatty meat. The fat in the meat will provide more juices and will result in great flavor. When it comes to choosing a good quality meat, it is best to go to a butcher and explain exactly what you need. Most supermarket meat contain less fat than those you would find from a butcher.
Meat Texture – We have included in the video what the texture should be. To be explain, it should have the consistency of “puree”.
Seasoning – Seasoning your meat is highly important. As the meat sits the salt content is infused in the meat, providing a tastier dish. Do not be afraid to add a little extra seasoning, or your favorite seasoning to the dish.
How To Roast – As you will noticed we have used skewers to help us hold the log together as it cooks.
If you don’t have skewers that’s perfectly fine. Here are some suggestions:
Use foil in the meat. This may sound crazy but taking enough foil and rolling it up about 2 inches thick will help the Doner kebab keep its shape. Simply roll the meat about the foil log
Use foil around the meat. To do this, simply roll the meat in a tight log. Place it on a baking dish but allowing the juice to fall, best to use a dotted pizza pan if possible.
Place the meat log in the middle of the dish or baking tray, then surround it with aluminum foil. This will help the meat to keep the log shape while it cooks.
More Recipes To Enjoy
If you enjoyed this Turkish Doner Kebab recipe, consider trying one of the following dishes next.
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Turkish Doner Kebab
- Frying Pan
- 1 Lb. Ground Beef
- ¼ Cup Yoghurt
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 Small Onion
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Blend to a paste and until well combined.
- Place in a aluminium foil. Roll into a log. Use skewer sticks, insert two long skewer sticks in the center of the ground beef log.Place on a baking dish. Cook for 1 ½ hours at 325 degrees. Remove foil after 1 hour. Rotate once to brown all sides.
- Chop onion finely and combine with yoghurt and spices.Pour it onto Beef Sirloin. Marinate it for 12 hours at first.
- After marinating, put the meat on a cling film and roll it.The roll should very firm.Put the roll to the freezer and freeze it for 6 hours.
- Take the frozen meat roll and use a sharp knife. Cut the meat as very thin slices.Heat the pan with oil and put meat slices. Cook the meat until brownish.Cook the meat until brownish. Take it from the heat.
This was really good. Me and my fiancée are raving about it.
I am so glad to hear that. Thank you!
Maria San Juan
Yummy! Will try this soon! Thanks for sharing this recipe!
This is really good!! My kids loved this! Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you very much!
I love homemade takeaway alternatives and this doner kebab looks delicious, and easy too.
Thank you Dannii.
Doner Kebab is one of my favorite sandwiches. It is almost similar to Kofta kebab, but they are both delicious.
This is an amazing recipe! It has such authentic flavor. It’s a regular in our house!
My husband loves doner kebabs. I’ll be making this at the weekend for him!
Than you, I hope he enjoys it.
We love a takeaway kebab and this looks like a delicious alternative.
Thank you, Dannii!
I love kebabs but for some reason I never thought one would be able to make them at home. Love your recipe, so delicious and flavorful, I can’t wait to try it!
Thank you very much, Petro
Printing this recipe and will magnet it on my fridge. It tastes really really good as my kids loved it. We’ll have kebab nights every weekend!
Thank you, Maria
I have always loved kebabs, but I had no clue how to make them. It seems so easy! I will make them tonight! Thks for the recipe!
This Doner kebab really hit the spot and my husband and I loved it! Who needs to travel when you can make this Turkish classic in your own kitchen 🙂
I am excited to try this one. I loved getting them from the street trucks in Germany such amazing food.
Wow – what a flavorful kebab! This dish reminds me of my teen years in the middle east!
So glad to hear that. Thank you.