Monday 13 February 2012

Genuine East Coast Donairs

"In the early 70's, a Greek restaurateur in the city of Halifax introduced the donair. Within a few short years, virtually all pizzerias had added their version of the dish to their menus. Not to be confused with gyros, the donair has a vastly different flavour. Originally the dish was made with ground lamb, but this proved too costly and ground beef was later substituted. Technically, this resulted in an aberration of sorts, as the final product was not what the originator had intended. What resulted, however, is the legendary East Coast Donair."

I have always loved donairs. I remember being introduced to them as a teenager, lunching at a local Lebanese restaurant during high-school. Years later, finding ourselves on the west coast and making late night snack runs to the best donair place in Victoria. Then spending time in Halifax, and being torn between eating every donair in the city or filling up on the fabulous Greco's pizza, which is also unique to the East Coast.. 

This is the best recipe I could find that replicates the unique taste experience that is the Genuine East Coast Donair.

Genuine East Coast Donair


  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons white vinegar, or as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a cup or small bowl, mix together the salt, oregano, flour, black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Place the ground beef in a large bowl, and use your hands to blend in the spice mixture. If you want the smooth texture of meat that you see in a real donair shop, you must do this in a steel mixing bowl and on a sturdy surface. Pick up the meat, and throw it down with force about 20 times, kneading it after each throw. This also helps the meat hold together better when you slice it.
  3. Form the meat into a loaf, and place it on a broiler pan. If you do not have one, a baking sheet will do.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, turning the loaf over about half way through. This will ensure even cooking. This cuts better if you chill the meat overnight before slicing.
  5. To make the donair sauce, mix together the evaporated milk, sugar and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the white vinegar, adding 1 teaspoon at a time, until thickened to your desired consistency.
  6. Serve thin meat slices on warm pita with sauce, freshly chopped tomato and onion.

The Donair Shop

The Donair Shop


  1. Yum. I love all middle eastern food so I am going to make this. Thanks for sharing. By the way, I see several other tasty-looking recipes on your blog that I'm going to try. Have a great day.

  2. Jenn, I have never even heard of a Donair! Thanks for supporting Food on Friday: Garlic. Cheers

  3. I am desperate to know how it tastes! I am a fan of the gyro...and this is something I could make at! Looks amazing. Thanks for linking up at the IC!

  4. I'm a Greek girl that loves Lebanese and Middle Eastern food....and I mean - LOVE! Such a great share at our first link party at Inspiration Cafe! Pinning and trying this - I can't believe I have never had or heard of Donairs! I wonder how different the taste is from a Gyro? I'm on a mission to find out! ;) Thank you!

  5. This sounds delicious Jenn. And looks awesome - I will have to try this as w3e have nothing like it in New Zealand. Thank you for linking up to Inspiration Cafe xx Nat

  6. I have never heard of these, but I'm pinning it to try! I love everything in them and can't imagine that they would be anything short of awesome!! Thank you for sharing this at the Inspiration Cafe and helping to make our first party such a success!

  7. That looks so good! Yummy. :)

  8. Looks good. I bet my husband would love it!
    Thanks so much for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. Hope to see you again this week!

  9. Donairs are soooo yummy!! I grew up in New Brunswick and ate many! Glad to find a good recipe!
    People often change and use a tzatziki sauce... that is a Gyro and NOT a Donair!! The sweet, garlic sauce is a must!!!

  10. G'day! Love donairs and could go for yours right now!
    Thanks for sharing as part of Foodie Friends Friday Snack Party!
    Cheers! Joanne

  11. I've never heard of a Donair, but I can't wait to try them. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday!

  12. this is Turkish Döner Kebap!!!

    1. Thanks Emre! Donair is very similar to kebab, or gyro, or shawarma! See more here:

      Döner kebab (/ˈdɒnər kəˈbæb/, /ˈdoʊnər/; Turkish: döner or döner kebap, [døˈnɛɾ̝̊ ceˈbap]) is a Turkish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, normally lamb but also a mixture of veal or beef with these, or sometimes chicken. The dish is also widely known by its Arabic name "shawarma" (from Turkish çevirme) or the Greek name "gyros".

      The sliced meat of a doner kebab may be served wrapped in a flatbread such as lavash or pita or as a sandwich instead of being served on a plate. It is a common fast-food item not only in Turkey but also in the Middle East, Europe, Canada and Australia. Seasoned meat in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly against a vertical rotisserie, then sliced vertically into thin, crisp shavings. On the sandwich version, the meat is generally served with tomato, onion with sumac, pickled cucumber and chili.

      A variation known as donair was introduced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in the early 1970s. Peter Kamoulakos immigrated to Canada in 1959.[54] When he failed in his attempt to sell traditional gyros, Kamoulakos adapted the dish to local tastes. He substituted beef for lamb and created a sweet sauce. He claimed he invented the donair in 1972 and that it debuted at King of Donair's Quinpool Road location in 1973, but this cannot be confirmed.[55]

      A King of Donair outlet in Halifax at Pizza Corner
      "The Original" Mr. Donair is a company originally started by Peter Kamoulakos to further popularize donair via retail sales and food service. [56] [57]

      Donair initially gained popularity throughout the Atlantic provinces of Canada, and now there are many variations across the country which differ from the original Halifax donair. Donair meat is sliced from a conical loaf cooked on a vertical spit, made from a combination of ground beef, flour or bread crumbs, and various spices. The sauce is distinctively sweet compared to doner kebabs, being made from condensed milk, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. The meat and sauce are served rolled in a flatbread with diced tomato and diced onion. While not included on "original" donairs, some restaurants add lettuce or cheese as well.

      Many Canadian restaurants offer a donair pizza featuring all of the donair ingredients served on a pizza crust. In Atlantic Canada one can also find donair meat used in offerings such as donair sausage, donair egg rolls (an egg roll casing stuffed with donair meat), donair pogos (donair meat on a stick, battered and deep-fried, similar to a corn dog), donair calzones/panzerottis, and in donair poutine.

      In the summer of 2008, after numerous cases of E. coli related food poisoning due to the consumption of undercooked donair meat in Alberta, the federal government came out with a set of guidelines for the preparation of donairs.[58] The principal guideline is that the meat should be cooked at least twice: once on the spit, and then grilled as the donair is being prepared.

      In addition to the donair, in Canada it is also possible to buy traditional Greek gyros and Arabic shawarma sold under those names at various ethnic restaurants.


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