Here is a homemade recipe for the mystery kebab meat you see on the vertical racks of kebab shops. It’s a miniature version, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste and authenticity! ! Use in skewers or gyros stuffed with beef or lamb.
Great food for big events – cutting edge and economical!
See also Yakitori.
How many times have you walked past a kebab shop, looked at that giant kebab the size of a punching bag, and wondered how long that meat had been there? I wonder if it’s really meat, or 90% stuffing?
Alright, stop being weird!
! Stores can use fillers, but we don’t have to!
Doner Kebab Meat recipe – beef or lamb
This homemade version of kebab meat can be made with lamb or beef. While beef is a favorite in Australia, in Turkey (the home of Doner Kebabs) it is made from lamb and beef. Both were delicious and I couldn’t choose a favorite!
Even though this is a miniature version of the brick and mortar store giant and we cook it like we cook it in our home kitchen, the end result is as real as it gets and you will be surprised !
Stand up, slice thinly and lightly fry until golden around the edges.
Your house will smell like rotisserie!
What is Doner Kebab meat made of?
Ah, you’ve thought about it, haven’t you? This is what you need. Bacon* is the secret ingredient of this surprising homemade version. More info below!
*NOTE: I get many emails/messages questioning the addition of bacon to this recipe.
I 100% agree that this is a non-traditional addition and you definitely won’t find it in Muslim countries (since Muslims don’t eat pork for religious reasons). It is added for extra fat because home cooks cannot get enough fat from meat to get the desired results. Without the bacon, unless you’re looking for extra fatty meat, you’ll be disappointed with the results – I’ve provided instructions in the recipe card.
- Beef or Lamb – Get 15% fat for best results. If you look closely at meat in a rotisserie, you’ll see it dripping with fat! ! Ours wasn’t as fatty, but when we tried it with lean meat, it just wasn’t the same. Also remember that the flavor of meat is all in the fat.
Mix lamb fat with lean beef and you’ll swear you’re eating lamb!
- Pork Belly Bacon* – The secret ingredient, discovered by Kenji at Serious Eats, whose Gyros recipe we use as a base. It won’t give the meat a bacon taste, but it will add salt to the meat and more importantly it will add fat. This is the key, don’t skip it! (or if so, don’t complain if you’re disappointed with the outcome of the recipe )
- Non-Pork Substitutes for Bacon – Two options to replicate the use of bacon in this recipe:
- If your meat is already Very fatty, use turkey bacon or
- Add duck or goose fat + 100g/4oz extra meat + 1/2 tsp salt.
Spices – a concoction we invented by tasting meat from our favorite rotisserie; and
- Onions and Garlic – essential seasonings!
- *A note about bacon and authenticity – As the skewers come mainly from Muslim countries, bacon may seem inappropriate as pork is not eaten for religious reasons. The reason it’s included is to make this recipe accessible to home cooks. Traditional kebab meat is made with a lot of animal fat. When you watch YouTube videos of layered versions of kebab meat, they put on a layer of meat (like chicken), then cover that layer with shredded fat, then chicken, then another layer of fat.
too big! Using bacon is an easier shortcut for the average home cook – my butcher doesn’t sell potted fat!
How to make Doner Kebab meat
The best part – how to do it! It’s easy. Once your head is near a piece of meat!
In a nutshell, the meat is pureed in a food processor, turning it into a “dough” that gives it its unique slicer-meat texture (as opposed to meatloaf, which has ground/minced meat made only from hand, more “crumbly” texture).
It is then rolled into a wooden shape using aluminum foil – it retains its shape when suspended from a skewer over a pan (otherwise the raw meat would sag) – and cooked in oven. Tear off the last leaf to be gilded and get up to cut! !
Carving and pan frying
The texture of the charcuterie can be sliced - just like in a rotisserie!
Shave it quite fine, cut it as much as you want/need once and fry it lightly until golden brown. It’s an amazing touch that really transforms the meat because once you scrape off the brown outer layer, the meat inside is pink. It’s as special as we make Mexican carnitas!
Here is a close-up of kebabs fried in a pan. Just fry it lightly, not to make it crispy, just to give it a little golden color like in a rotisserie to cool the meat.
only takes about a minute because it’s so thin.
It’s a big fat and juicy kebab! Very popular in Australia, especially after a late night at the pub with friends!
Made with Lebanese bread or other pancakes, spread with hummus and topped with skewers, lettuce, tomato, onion and sauces such as yogurt, garlic and chili paste. Optional extras include cheese (which I consider sacrilege!) and tabbouleh.
Imagine it over CHARCOAL!!
I had to cook with a boring old oven. I would love to do it with charcoal one day! Imagine it on a spit, slowly turning the hot coals…that smoky flavor will be addictive!
One day, one day…
Doner Kebab vs Gyros vs Shawarma
Gyro, shawarma and doner kebab all have the same meaning. These words both translate to “turning” or “rotating the meat” and refer to the braaispit cooking technique.
Which word to use depends on which part of the Mediterranean or Middle East you are in. Gyros is Greek. Shawarma is Israel and Arab countries (much spicier).
Doner Kebab is what they call in Türkiye.
If the finished product (type of pancake, sauce used) and the seasoning of the meat are of course somewhat different, they are similar in spirit!
As for animal meat, it varies. Chicken, beef, lamb and pork are used to varying degrees in different countries. Whether it’s layers (like chicken skewers) or smooth meat (which I’m sharing today) also depends on where you are.
One thing is certain. I have yet to come across a Doner Kebab/Gyros or Shawarma that I don’t like!
Recipes I’ve shared
In Australia, Doner Kebabs are common, although you will find Gyros in minority areas. In the US it’s the opposite – Gyros is the common version. Harder to find kebabs!
You can find both all over the world these days. I had some great kebabs from all places in central Paris last year!
Here is the Gyros/Shawarma/Doner Kebab recipe I shared before:
Excellent large format food to make ahead
There are two other advantages to this homemade kebab meat:
- is excellent to prepare in advance – it stays 100% fresh because the meat is so juicy (ahem! oily…). Bake the logs, refrigerate, refrigerate, or freeze, then reheat in the oven; and the
- is great for feeding a crowd – it makes a lot of money! 1kg/2lbs could potentially feed 8 people – go even further with shaved meat. Maybe 6 if you do very generous things.
Toast the slices on the grill so you can cook a lot at the same time, although you can also pan fry them and reheat them in the microwave (which I do and it works great).
If that’s not enough to convince you to do it, do it, because it’s an exact replica of rotisserie meat. Or your favorite gyroscopic car. It depends where you live!