Kebab vs Gyro – Are They The Same?

Looking at both from a distance, you’d almost conclude they’re the same thing. But, you know, looks can be very deceptive. Kebab vs gyro, what then is the difference between them?

They’re both delicious. To some persons, the doner kebab is like a progenitor, while the gyro is its younger descendants. I will answer your question in this article.

You’ll learn about the contents of both, their similarities, and their differences. You will also see why the kebab is an ancestor of the gyro. 

What is a kebab?

Kebab is a famous Middle Eastern food prepared by mounting pieces of meat with or without vegetables on a skewer and mounting the skewer on a grill. Kebab is a Turkish word that means “grilled meat.”

You can find this food in places like Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and several other countries in the Middle East.

It is also prominent in locations with a large population of Middle Easterners, such as parts of Britain and the United States. Additionally, in India, people eat Kathi kebab. This kind of kebab is cooked in a tandoor oven.

For many people, the most common form of kebab is the shish kebab. It is prepared with meat which is cut into pieces and lightly spiced up before being skewered.

Meanwhile, for others, adding vegetable chunks such as onions, peppers, squash, and mushrooms to their shish kebabs is the real deal.

You can also find kebabs prepared with long streaks of meat with doner kebabs, prepared by grinding meat, setting it into a cylinder around a skewer, and roasting it slowly.

Although you can use chicken and beef to make kebabs, lamb is one of the most popular meats for preparing kebabs in the Middle East.

The best part is that you can easily make your kebab at home. All you need is either a grill, an oven, or a pan.

What is a gyro?

First, the right way to pronounce Gyro is, ‘YEE-roh,’ which is the Greek word for “turning.” Gyro is a stacked meat dish that is usually vertically spit-roasted. It is usually cooked in front of a vertical rotisserie.

Conventionally, Greek gyro is prepared from pork. However, the American style of the dish commonly comprises lamb, beef, or a flavorful combination of the two.

Both versions are usually jammed between two fluffy layers of pita bread and capped with tomato, onion, and a yogurt sauce. This sauce is called tzatziki.

In the history of Greeks, the origin of the gyro is credited to soldiers from the army of Alexander the Great. It is recorded that they skewered meat using their swords and roasted it over an open flame.

Many believe that the gyro was introduced to the U.S. by an increasing population of Greeks in New York City in the 1970s.

Kebab vs gyro

Both are extraordinary. How gyro is roasted, and the spicy taste of kebab is so amazing, you can’t even compare. The slight difference is that gyros are thin pieces of roasted meat, whereas kebabs are peppery minced meat skewers.

The meat used in preparing gyro is left to get absorbed in Mediterranean herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

Also, the gyros are very related to the well-known doner kebab. Besides, both are cooked on a vertical rotisserie.

Doner kebab vs gyro

The doner kebab is known to be an ancestor to its younger offspring – the shawarma and the gyros. It originated from the Ottoman empire back in the 1200s. The meat is usually cooked in a large cone-like shape on a vertical spike that turns as it roasts.

Just looking at both foods, doner and gyros look similar. This similarity also extends to the way the meat is prepared as both are roasted on a vertical rotisserie.

SEE: What Are The Difference & Health Benefits Of Doner Kebab vs Gyro

Chicken kebab vs chicken gyro

Chicken kebab is simply kebab made with chicken. On the other hand, the chicken gyro is also a type of gyro prepared with chicken. Some specific similarities include:

  • They’re both popular dishes
  • You can serve them in a similar way
  • They are both healthy options. You can make both of them either by roasting or grilling. This cooking process doesn’t add any fat to the meat.
  • Both are served with healthy ingredients. You can serve them with a lot of fresh vegetables and Greek yogurt.

Also, there are some differences between these two fast foods that you should take note of. They include:

Cooking procedure

While chicken is cut into chunks, then skewered and grilled on a regular grill for preparing the chicken kebab. For chicken gyro, the full chicken is roasted in a vertical rotisserie oven.

Texture

Chicken gyro is thinner and contains more juice, whereas chicken kebab can be dry and is thicker.

Popularity

Predominantly, you can find chicken gyro on the streets or in restaurants. In contrast, you can easily make chicken kebab at home. This doesn’t rule out the fact that it can also be found on the Greek streets and in restaurants.

Kebab vs gyro – differences

Both dishes are similar in some ways, including how they look. But then, don’t let the looks deceive you. There are key differences between these two famous fast food dishes. I will explain these differences in the following categories;

Origin

Stacking meat vertically in a cone-like shape and cooking it on a spinning spit became prominent in the Ottoman Empire in the 1200s. This led to the innovation of the kebab. It is still one of the most prominent dishes in that region and many other places.

On the other hand, since Greece was also a part of the Ottoman Empire until the nineteenth century, many dishes like the gyros in Greek cuisine thrived under the leverage of Turkish culture.

After the Greeks obtained the gyros, they developed and combined many elements of Greek cuisine.

Preparation

For cooking the meat, the process is similar for both dishes. However, the difference is in the seasoning used as an enhancer to flavor the meat of both dishes. For kebab,  ground meat is used.

You can mix it with seasonings, minced onion, and lamb tail fat. After the mixture, you can shape it into a roller on the roastery sticks and leave it to chill. This prevents it from having a crumbly texture.

Meanwhile, in preparing gyro, you use thin, flat slices of meat and pile them on top of each other to create an inverted cone. Then the piled-up slices of meat slowly roast inside a rotisserie. This way, it cooks the meat from the outer part to the inside.

Serving

To serve gyro, the chef shreds off the meat from the outer layer and leaves the rest on the spit. This applies to kebab. You can serve gyros as a wrap just similar to burritos. This is why pita bread is the most typically used in Greek cuisine.

In contrast, kebabs can be served in more different ways. You can have döner directly on a plate, supported by vegetables and fries or it can be served to you inside a flatbread.

SEE: The Differences, Types, And Uses Of Pita and Flatbread

Ingredients

The first evident difference is in the choice of meat. For kebab, the meat normally used is ground lamb, chicken, or beef. Whereas, for gyro, the meat used is typically lamb or chicken.

You can also use beef and pork. However, they are used in very rare cases. Besides, the meat for gyros is not formerly minced as it is if you’re preparing döner.

In preparing the meat for kebabs, you can use a Turkish spice mix. This contains cumin, garlic powder, salt, coriander, pepper, oregano, and smoked paprika. These spices make the mixture spicy and it a strong flavor.

On the other side of the coin, gyros meat is left to get absorbed in Mediterranean herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

In addition, the sauce in the kebab is a combination of yogurt and garlic. It has a similar taste and texture to mayonnaise. Meanwhile, the Greek sauce that comes with most gyros is a mixture of garlic, cucumber, and olive oil with a type of salted yogurt, and it is called tzatziki.

SEE: Can You Eat Lamb Medium Rare Or Is Not Safe?

Popularity

You can say that gyros are more prominent in the U.S. than döner. This is because, in many places across the United States, döner is taken as gyros. However, döner is widely popular in Japan, France, Germany, and the United States.

This is credited to Turkish and Greek settlers spreading their traditional cuisines all around the world.

Kebab vs gyro – which is better?

This depends on your taste and which flavor profile you most prefer. If you prefer the salty, creamy taste of döner sauce and the spicy Turkish flavors, you may say it is better.

But then, if you like that unique flavor of tzatziki and prefer chicken to lamb or beef, you may prefer gyros more.

Furthermore, in serving kebabs, you have much more alternatives. But, gyros are restricted to the inside of pita bread.

SEE: What Is Swagbucks and How Much Can You Make?

FAQs

What is another name for English kebab?

English kebab can also be called shish kebab, kabob, or cabob. It is a dish that contains small pieces of meat, tomatoes, onions, etc., worked onto skewers and grilled, commonly over charcoal.

Do Americans have doner kebab?

Yes, they do. It is a popular street food around the world. Even though gyros are generally more popular in the U.S., doner kebab can also be found in America.

Are kebabs a healthy option for you?

Yes, they are. Kebabs are a healthy fast food choice. That’s because kebabs are not deep-fried. Plus, you can serve them with bread and salad.

Nonetheless, the meat used in preparing kebabs contains fat, and the amount of fat depends on the type of meat used. You can prepare a more adequate quality of kebabs with New Zealand lamb shoulder steak. This meat contains around 10-15% fat.

What portion of the animal is doner meat?

The parts used are; veal leg meat, lamb meat, and lamb tail are the absolute mixture of doner kebab in Turkey and some other countries.

Chefs prefer to use fatty slices to keep the meat moist and tasty as it cooks slowly on the rotisserie. For serving, you can mix thinly sliced meat with ground meat.

Conclusion

Now that you understand kebab vs gyro, you can make your choice and enjoy yourself. Even though it is healthy, you must pay close attention to the type of meat. This is especially if you’re making it yourself at home.

Thank you for reading.

You can read more about kebabs and other related articles at Cheffist.