Effortlessly Tasty Donair Recipe

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

I was in Canada a few months back for a friend’s wedding and I just couldn’t wait to have a taste of the famous donair I have read so much about but not just any donair but the Halifax donair to be precise.

So, I called up my boy Jamie and asked him where I could get some tasty donair, he took me to the popular pizza place “king of Donair” as it is normally called there in Halifax plus I’ve heard that their donair recipe is the best of its kind. We eventually got there and placed our orders and in a few minutes, a donair dripping with enough garlicky sauce was sitting in front of me.

After the first bite, I had to stop, want to know why? I just couldn’t process all that awesomeness all at once I had to pause because It was simply amazing, as a matter of fact it was unlike anything I have ever tasted before and everything I had always imagined it would be, it was way better than shawarma’s and pizzas put together plus the taste of the sauce was simply out of this world.

Anyways while I was seriously munching on the delicious donair, I knew there was no way this was going to be the last time I would be eating the donair as I honestly don’t know when next I will be in Canada. So I had to take maximum advantage of this opportunity to learn about the danair recipe, which I did and perfected after a few trials.

Today I will, of course, be introducing you to basically everything and anything you need to know about the Halifax donair.

What really is donair and why is it so special – time to find out

So you probably must be wondering what donair is right. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about as it is a sweet, savory and tasty snack usually for persons that enjoy eating meat. It is a snack that consists of firstly the donair meat which is a very spicy ground beef that has a sort of loaf like shape roasted on a spit singed on a level top.

The meat is basically all beef that has been seasoned with numerous spices; it is cooked on a spinning grill to get the best out of it. The meat is however then placed on a very thin pita (Lebanese style) and topped with lots of diced tomatoes, onion, and mozzarella cheese.

Secondly, there’s the donair sauce which basically is the most unique part of this dish, it is a combination of the sweet perfect blend of evaporated milk, vinegar, powder, sugar, and most importantly garlic.

The donair snack is usually wrapped in tin aluminum foil because the pita sort soaks up the sauces and tends to fall apart. More so the sauce is very garlicky in nature and also deliciously sweet and can be used as a dipping sauce for other snacks like pizza crusts.

Donair – Origins

Although there have been claims by Nova Scotia (popularly known as the “King of Donair”) that made the first ever donair. However, according to history books, it is said that a Greek man who migrated to Canada had wanted to set up an eatery that served basically his traditional country food. He actually did successful set up the restaurant and was serving his traditional country meals and he was doing pretty well but not as good as he had anticipated.

So, he decided to add the good old traditional Canadian wrap to his menu via the usage of beef for meat including some other popular spices and the now famous delicious garlic sauce and voila, donair was born. It was something the Canadian Maritimers just couldn’t seem to get enough.

Making homemade donair

Preparing donair meat from home is quite simple and if you don’t have a meat grill no need to panic as there other alternatives.

So basically you simply just need to add the required spices for the recipe to the lean ground beef with some panko bread crumbs inclusive and form a sort of closely packed oval-shaped loaf and oven bake using a broiler pan at a temperature of 3000F for at least 2 hours. Ensure the loaf cooks properly for this length of time so you can get a taste closer to the original donair.

After cooking the meat allow it to cool overnight in the refrigerator as this enables you easily cut the meat into thin slice and also portion everything out. This also allows the flavor to further soak in the meat giving it that perfect donair taste.

How to make donair like a boss!

This recipe I will be showing you guys is one I have always used in making donair and I have worked on it numerous times to ensure I get that authentic Halifax donair sandwich taste. I think so far so good it has done quite well.

This recipe, however, creates enough meat for six persons. To prepare you will need the following ingredients:

For the donair meat

  • 4 lbs of lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano dried
  • ¾ cup of Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

For the sauce

  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • ¾ cup of sugar

To assemble donairs you will need:

Diced tomatoes, mozzarella Cheese, diced onion, pita bread to wrap and donair sauce

Preparing the meat

First thing first pre-heat the oven to a temperature of about 3000F

Combine all donair ingredients except for the beef and mix thoroughly using a stand mixer, mix for well over 10 minutes

Once that is done form the meat into a closely packed oval-shaped loaf and gently place the loaf on a broiler pan and allow to cook in the oven for 2hours 30minutes.

When the meat is thoroughly cooked allow to cool overnight in the refrigerator. Reason for freezing overnight is so that it enables you to easily cut the loaf into thin slices.

Note: you can try using chicken for the donair as it is a perfect alternative for the beef donair.

Preparing the donair sauce

The sauce basically plays an important role in giving the donair its unique taste. To prepare it, you just need to simply add the evaporated milk; sugar and garlic powder in a bowl (preferably of medium size) and mix thoroughly. Add the vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time to the mixture until it thickens to basically how you want it.

Preparing the wrap

This is quite easy, simply take a good portion of the donair meat and heat it up in a pan with a small quantity of oil in it and heat over low medium heat. Ensure the meat is not too brown when heating.

While the beef is being heated up in the pan, take the pita and soak it a little with some quantity of water. Once you have soaked the pita place it gently over the meat while it cooking. Allow it steam for at least a minute and flip it over to the other side and allow it to steam again for another one minute.

Once the pita is steamed enough place it on a square-shaped aluminum foil and top it with the donair meat and the other spices, then add the donair sauce.

Roll up the pita and fold up its bottom. Carefully wrap it up with the aluminum foil and place it in an oven for at least 10 minutes to warm. Ensure you set the oven temperature to 3500F. Repeat these for as many donairs you intend to make.

Peel off the aluminum foil and munch on your donair. Ensure you have lots of napkins as donair are usually messy.


Donair is definitely a snack you would want to try out and with everything that has been said about the donair recipe and its preparation I don’t see anything holding you back. So, get out there making some tasty donair and give your taste buds a treat.

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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