Shawarma Vs Gyro

Shawarma Vs Gyro – What’s The Difference?

This vs That

What about shawarma and gyro which are two of the most popular food not only in restaurants but also in markets and street stalls in Middle Eastern and South-eastern European countries.

These countries offer famous dishes with thick savory sauces, fresh vegetable salad, and grilled meat wrapped in pita bread like gyro and shawarma.

I like to eat gyro and shawarma, but I will not be able to tell the difference between a shawarma and a gyro.

So, Is there a difference between gyro and shawarma?

Basically, the choice of meat for the filling and the seasoning added to it says a lot how different they are.

Shawarma which originated from the Middle Easter countries has either lamb, turkey, or chicken cooked with turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, or with other spices available in their area. Gyro however, which is said to be a Greek dish has either beef or lamb cooked with oregano, thyme, rosemary, or any other herbs common to Greek recipes.

Let us talk more about shawarma and gyro, then maybe after reading this article you would have chosen one to be your favorite.

What Is Shawarma?

Originally, shawarma is filled with grilled seasoned lamb or mutton as it is popular in Middle Eastern countries. Today, we can have a variety of shawarma because it is already made available in beef, turkey, or chicken.

You can buy it from their stalls in the market and streets that is why others call it a kind street food.

The Shawarma Ingredients

The original shawarma recipe which is considered a Middle-Eastern dish has lumps of lamb meat, chicken or turkey cooked in spices native to the given region or what is available like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and cloves in ample quantities that makes it flavorful.

Each shawarma is also packed with pickled vegetables, tahini, hummus, and some ripe sweet mangoes which complements the taste of each ingredients.

Some has a hint of curry flavor in it but of course, you can always choose your favorite spices and vegetables.

The shawarma filling is made colorful and healthy too because of some thinly sliced or shredded veggies like carrots, onions, cabbage, and other veggies.

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What Shawarma Is not

Many of the dishes from the Middle Eastern region has similar seasonings that even if you are having different dishes it has a distinct ingredient that somehow makes it tastes a bit the same.

Here are some of their staple food description that might surprise you if you have not paid attention to what they are called but like to eat it anyway.

Kebabs vs Shawarma: Kebabs are grilled meat in a skewer with sliced vegetables while shawarma are shredded vegetables and grilled meat wrapped in soft pita bread.

Doner Kebab vs Shawarma: Doner Kebab is Turkish in origin and made from grilled meat cooked in vertical rotisserie. The meat can be a lamb, chicken, or turkey with sliced onions and tomatoes. Like shawarma, the grilled meat is stuffed into a pita bread, but it also stuffed in other types of bread and serve it like sandwich. It has more chucks of mean than veggies while shawarma has an ample stuffing of both meat and veggies.

Falafel vs Shawarma: Falafels fine ground chickpeas which are seasoned and formed like balls, they are cooked by deep-frying and they are served with other dishes or as it is with other condiments.

What is a Gyro Sandwich?

Gyro is a Greek word which means “turn”, thus Gyro is meat grilled using a vertical rotisserie that continuously turn to cook meat evenly. Once the meat is cooked, it is then slice thinly and prepared to a gyro.

This dish originated form the South-Eastern Europe and is quite similar to shawarma of the Middle East because of the inspiration.

Nowadays, gyro is now available in chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or what kind of meat is available in their location.

Shawarma Vs Gyro
Shawarma Vs Gyro

The Gyro Ingredients

Gyro traditionally use flat bread or unleavened bread to wrap the grilled meat and vegetables. Today, we can have a gyro wrapped in soft pita breads.

In some restaurants, gyros are served in a platter unwrapped. You can choose to wrap it or not, but the grilled meat, shredded veggies, and pita are laid on the platter.

Original gyro recipe uses lamb or beef but because more variety were made available, you can have it with chicken or pork as well.

If shawarma has colorful veggies and grilled meat stuffed in a pita, gyros has a few vegetables in its recipe like shredded lettuce, thin cuts of onions and sliced tomatoes.

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Gyro is made tastier by its special creamy Tzaziki sauce that gives it a slight tangy taste.


What a Gyro Is not

Like any other countries, you can see various stalls in streets selling food and one of these is the yummy gyro. It is a very handy food which can be eaten anytime.

Many countries in South-Eastern Europe has restaurants that offers gyro in their menu, but they can taste differently. Some of their dishes can be mistake as a gyro too, especially if you are not familiar with this food.

Here is some information for you.

Souvlaki vs Gyro: Both dishes has grilled meat, but souvlaki is prepared by skewering lamb meat or pork whereas to prepare a gyro, meat is finely sliced from cooked meat in a vertical rotisserie. Like gyro, a souvlaki is also available in chicken and beef.

Pita vs Gyro: Pita is a flat bread commonly used to make different types of light to carry sandwiches especially in Middle Eastern countries. Pita is also used to prepare a gyro as well as other kinds of bread, but pita is not a gyro.

Greek Donair vs Gyro: Greek Doner or Donair which is inspired by Turkish doner is also originally prepared with grilled lamb with slices or red onions and tomatoes and dressed with creamy garlic sauce instead of Tzatziki. Nowadays, Greek doners are prepared with chicken or pork and sometimes include chips in it which is never an ingredient in a gyro.



Difference Between Shwarma and Gyro

Shawarma Gyro
Meat Mutton or lamb, chicken, beef, or turkey Traditionally of beef or lamb. Today, chicken, turkey, or pork has become popular.
Fillings Shredded carrots, cabbage, and white or red onions

Pickled vegetables and fruits

Red onions, tomatoes, and Lettuce
Seasonings Cloves, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, curry Rosemary, thyme, oregano, other herbs
Sauce/Spread Tahini and hummus Tzatziki (hummus)
Origin Middle Eastern Countries Greece


Basic Shawarma Recipe

First, prepare at least 2 pounds of meat by marinating it. Choose the meat of your preference whether lamb, beef, or chicken. A 2-pound meat can make up to 6 or 5 wraps.

Prepare the marinade by mixing 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the same amount of apple cider, then add half a cup of fresh lemon juice. You can choose from the following spices below to add to your marinade to get that original shawarma taste.

  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Caraway
  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne pepper or peppercorns (crushed)


Slice the meat for about 4 inches in length and not more than half an inch thick. Rub each slice with marinade and soak it overnight.

Prepare the meat for grilling. If you do not have a rotisserie, a grill is a good substitute. Grill meat for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the meat while grilling every 5 minutes to ensure it is well cooked and not burnt.

Spread ample amount of tahini and hummus on the pita bread. Slice grilled meat thinly and lay it on your pita. Topped it with your favorite shredded veggies or simply use the traditional carrots, cabbage, and onions. Adding pickled veggies or mangoes are also a great option.


Easy Greek Gyro Recipe

You need to prepare 2 pounds of meat to your preference to make 5 to 6 servings of gyro. If you want to follow the tradition, use lamb or beef. Then pick your own spices to meld with the meat like:

  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Ground pepper
  • Cumin
  • Rosemary
  • Sea salt


Rub the spices on the meat and marinate it for 2 hours while inside your fridge. After marinating, grind the meat in a food processor so you can easily form it into a loaf.

Form the ground meat in a tray or loaf pan for cooking. Be sure to grease the pan so the meat will not stick on it. Add boiling water halfway the sides of the tray or pan.

Set your oven at 350 degrees F and bake your meat loaf for about 50 minutes. Be sure to remove the remaining liquid on the pan once the meat is cooked. You can now slice it thinly and prepare your gyro.

Prepare a pita or any soft flat bread and spread some humus on it. Stuff the bread with sliced meat, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. You can add a generous amount of Tzatziki sauce. Wrap your gyro and serve.


Related Questions

How are shawarma and gyro pronounced?

Most people do not really care much about how they pronounce the word as long as it can be understood, so do not be anxious about it. However, here it is:

Shawarma: shuh * war * muh

Gyro: year * row

Are shawarma and gyro healthy?

These dishes are for the delight of the tastebuds and the tummy but not typically very healthy because of the grilled red meat. However, you can make it healthier by adding those fiber rich and nutrient-dense veggies of your choice if you will prepare it at home.

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