Aug 11, 2008

Gyros 101

Filed under: Greek Food,spice mixes,Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — Kay @ 2:54 pm


What to do when you run out of an essential ingredient?

I’m a spice-o-holic, there’s just no denying that. I have two kitchen cabinets completely stuffed with spices (somewhere between 100 and 150 spices, anywhere from salt & pepper to exclusive Indonesian spices). Told you I have issues!

I often buy my spices on the market. But when given the chance, I’d rather shop around those beautiful, authentic Chinese, Greek, Turkish or Moroccan stores we have downtown. It’s cheaper, you also run into other great items, you get to meet interesting people along the way, and possibly even learn some great recipes.

Today I ran out of my beloved gyros spice mix. When making gyros, it’s very important to get the spice mix exactly right or you won’t achieve that authentic flavor. So I whipped some up myself and then figured -since the recipe is pretty hard to come by yet very simple- why don’t I share my kitchen secret?


See the spoons? Told you they’d pop up. I just can’t help it, I love them. Anyway, I tried to approach the original mix as closely as possible, while keeping the ingredients basic enough for most people to have in their spice cabinet. If you want to make it a little more interesting, a good way is to grind some caraway and coriander seeds in a mortar and add those as well.



1/2 tsp salt (or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt)
1 tbsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cornstarch



Just combine all the spices in a small bowl and mix up. It’ll be a beautiful, rich color. Don’t get your hopes up, though, we’re about to seriously ruin that!


Add the cornstarch and whisk until it blends in with the rest. That took the pretty saturation down a nudge, didn’t it? Oh well, comfort yourself with the thought it’s about the flavor anyway! Just store the mix in a empty spice bottle, this should be enough to last you at least two to three times. Could it be any simpler?


I’m making gyros with thinly sliced lean pork, but of course it’s also scrumptious when you use lamb in stead. Add two tbsp oil to the meat. I’ve used a mild olive oil because I wanted a neutral flavor. Using a fork (or your hands) toss it around until all the meat is lightly coated.


Do the same with the spice mix. I used about 2 heaping tbsp. I like it seasoned well so I don’t skimp. At times I also add a little extra salt.


Now I have a rather unorthodox way of marinading meat. I like the flavor and tenderness lemon gives me, but I don’t like it to be too overpowering. It’s hard to dose when using lemon juice, so in stead I use lemon slices. The zest contains the most flavor anyway, so I’m getting best of both worlds.


Cover with foil and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. Preferably a few hours, that way the flavors will properly blend in with the meat. Because I’ve already added oil to the meat, I just heated up a skillet and browned the meat. This only takes a minute or so over high heat.

This is all it needs. Crunchy, juicy slices of red bell pepper and thinly sliced red onion.


Gyros should be served with Tzatziki. Seriously, a little sauce never hurt anyone! Now if you want to go a little more low fat (Greek yogurt can be a calorie bomb) on the sauce, or when you just don’t have enough time for a proper Tzatziki, you can also simplify the sauce. Make a faux Tzatziki, so to speak.

Mix up some garlic, cucumber, mint, whatever herbs you have on hand, a good pinch pinch of salt & pepper with some plain low fat yogurt. I threw in some chives as well, still had some left. Because the yogurt is a little more acidic, I opted for lemon pepper in stead of lemon juice. The sauce will be thinner than real Tzatziki, but just as flavorful.


Serve with warm toasted pita’s, and topped with bell pepper and onion. Lightly drizzle some sauce over the meat and serve the rest, and the vegetables, in small bowls on the side.

I don’t need much to be happy :)

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    1. 1

      i thought i needed a lot to be happy, but as it turns out, all i needed was a good gyro. i’ve never known exactly what the spices in a gyro were, and i’ll have you know that i’m mixing some up immediately. thank you! :)

      grace on Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:16 am Reply
    2. 2

      Mmmmmmm! Gyros are among my Top 5 favorite foods. Thank you so much for sharing your special spice recipe.. now instead of waiting for the next street fair or schlepping halfway across town I can just make it myself!


      Ashley on Aug 15, 2008 @ 9:12 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Oh yummy! How I miss gyros!

      Jerry on Aug 16, 2008 @ 4:33 am Reply
    4. 4

      This is great. Thank you so much for posting this. (It answers so many questions :)

      Kacie on Sep 23, 2008 @ 1:12 pm Reply
    5. 5

      My husband won’t believe someone has more spices that I do! Thank you for sharing that with us. :-)

      and he loves gyros. I can’t wait to try this out for him (and I have all the spices on hand)

      Cindy on Dec 15, 2008 @ 11:21 pm Reply
    6. 6

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!! When we moved to Alaska 3 1/2 years ago the only Greek restaurent close to us (65 miles away) closed within 6 weeks of our arrival! We love Greek food and have felt truly deprived for some time! About the spices… My husband likes to tease me about my collection but it pales in comparison to yours! It would interesting to find out what all you normally have in your “spice cabinets”. You don’t have a list by any chance, do you?
      Thanks for all your delicious posts! Did I hear something about you having a cook book? Or I am getting your site mixed up with another? Once again thanks!!!

      Peggy on Dec 16, 2008 @ 3:35 am Reply
    7. 7

      I’m definitely addicted to spices, Peggy, but never did make a list. Probably because I pretty much know everything I have by heart. I even have old bay seasoning, courtesy of my American friends :)

      No, I’m not … the pioneerwoman (Ree) is actually having a cook book.

      Kay on Dec 16, 2008 @ 8:45 am Reply
    8. 8

      Thanks Kay! It was one of those days! I think the long nights are getting to me, making me forget things… :) I’ll have to take another look for the info on PW about the cookbook. That’s all I need is another cookbook, at least that is what my husband thinks but he is so understanding that he just buys me more! Talk about needing a 12 step program… :)
      Have you ever tried Tony Chachere’s Cajun Spice? Think Lowry’s Seasoned salt with a bit of a kick! Our eldest likes it on pretty much everything!
      My family has been enjoying your recipes! It is nice to incorporate more vegetables into their diet without any fuse!! And your instructions are so easy to use.
      Hope you enjoy your Christmas holiday!

      Peggy on Dec 17, 2008 @ 10:13 pm Reply
    9. 9

      What a great way to make gyros! I love the spice combination and using lemon slices to mainade the meat. I will try this next time. Thanks for the tip!

      katie on Jan 10, 2009 @ 9:45 pm Reply
    10. 10

      That looks delicious!

      Do you mind telling me how much meat did you use? I couldn’t find anything about it on the page.
      Thank you!

      Inna on Jan 11, 2009 @ 6:31 pm Reply
    11. 11

      Inna, I always use about a pound of meat!

      Kay on Jan 11, 2009 @ 11:37 pm Reply
    12. 12

      Thank you!

      Inna on Jan 11, 2009 @ 11:54 pm Reply
    13. 13

      ooooohhh – mouthwatering. I.LOVE.YOUR.BLOG. You make all the recipes so easy with the photo step-by-step instructions. I soooo have to try these gyros with the spice mix you shared.

      Zaara on Jun 2, 2009 @ 8:09 pm Reply
    14. 14

      Very tasty. Next time I will try to put curry a little bit less, I felt it more than other spices.
      Thank you, Kay!

      Diana on Feb 7, 2010 @ 6:25 pm Reply
    15. 15

      Used to buythe gyros power ready mixed when in the military based in Germany then got a friend to send me 1 kilo bags until lost touch.
      So been a few years since I had this will try this afternoon  – I use on pork fried in olive oil with gieros salt.   Tastes lovely with a decent stir fry on the side and pitta bread and  with humus

      JIm on Apr 5, 2010 @ 1:47 pm Reply
    16. 16

      Thanks! I’ve been looking for a good gyros spice mix a long time. What kind of chili powder do you use? Pure ground chili (like cayenne?) or the chili powder-mix with other spices mixed with it (usually oregano, cumin and other spices)?

      Peter on May 30, 2010 @ 11:53 am Reply
    17. 17

      I love this recipe and have made it several times now, but it never struck me as that close to gyro spicing, at least the style I’m used to in my part of the US.  But, to me the flavor is almost exactly the delicious schwarma that I found all over Belgium and Holland, especially when I add a little stock to the cooking.  Regional differences I guess, but I love it just the same.  Thanks!

      Chuck on Jun 9, 2010 @ 9:06 pm Reply
    18. 18

      I have now tried the recipe, but with chicken instead of pork. It’s soooo delicious! I have to carve this recipe in stone so it never gets lost… :)

      Peter on Jun 17, 2010 @ 8:14 pm Reply
    19. 19

      years ago there was a Casbah brand Gyros Mix in a box that we used to get.  It seems that they still produce the Tabule and Felafel mix but discontinued the Gyros Mix (even though their web site still show the Gyros mix box that is not available any more!  Do you know if there are comparable mixes made by other companies?  Your mix sounds good but the Casbah mix had some kind of grain in it that holds together the ground beef and gives it texture to it.  Please advise.  Thanks.

      Berch on Sep 16, 2010 @ 8:18 am Reply
    20. 20

      Fantastic recipe!
      I use 1lb each of ground lamb and lean ground beef and double your spice recipe. I use half of the mixture for gyros and the remainder for the base of the best chili ever.

      I never thought to add fresh mint to my Tzatziki. I’ll never make it again without.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Bill on Apr 6, 2011 @ 11:17 pm Reply
    21. 21

      Thank you so much for the mix recipe.
      I used to live in Amsterdam and buy it in big bags from Albert Cuyp
      I was just about to finish my last bag so you have saved my life

      Andy Wilks on May 25, 2011 @ 6:48 pm Reply
    22. 22

      oh wow, i can’t wait to use your spice mixture! i’ve been looking for a solid recipe for ages and i will definitely have to try this! thanks!

      Stephanie on Jul 28, 2011 @ 4:56 am Reply
    23. 23

      A BIG thank Q for posting this spice mix,  my neighbour bought a frozen packet of Gyros from Lidl,  and loved it,  I haven’t tried it,  but as usual,   it was Greek Week in Lidl,  and so no more to be found.  I can now surprise him with a jar of the spice mix,  and he can do it for himself,  once I have taught him how to put his cooker on !!   I will try it myself also.
      Again many thanks. 

      Rhyannon on Oct 14, 2013 @ 2:04 pm Reply

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