Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Gyros on the Grill

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post. We bought our own Easy Kabab out of curiosity and have no affiliation with the manufacturer, but the link is an Amazon Affiliate link. 

I absolutely love a good gyro. Chef Adam Perry Lang calls them a "hyperseasoned crowd-pleaser" in his first book, Serious Barbecue. I have to agree because the bold flavors and tender morsels of meat make my mouth happy.

Homemade gyros cooked on a Big Green Egg
A batch of gyros that I cooked on the Big Green Egg last weekend.

What's a Gryo?

Gyro is a spicy ground lamb (or a mix of lamb and beef) that is roasted upright on a vertical rotisserie, basting itself as the fat renders. Thin slices of the meat are shaved off and typically served in a pita with sliced tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. The meat is slightly dense compared to the more loose texture of hamburger, yet very tender.

In Knoxville, your best bet for a great gyro is Yassin's Falafel House. His gyros are loaded with the highly seasoned meat, and the pitas are thick yet delightfully soft in texture.

A Crusty Strategy

For me, the best gyros have slices with crispy edges from the outer edges of the roasting meat. The crispy edges are like having bark in your BBQ, in that it adds texture and boosts the flavor. I've made Alton Brown's recipe and Chef Adam Perry Lang's smoked lamb gyro, and they were both delicious. But they both use a loaf or large roll for their process, which gives less of the crispy bits to go around. So I have started making my gyros as kabobs to get more of the crusty tidbits.

Grilling gyro kabobs on a PK Grill equipped with GrillGrates
Grilling my second test batch of this recipe on a PK Grill set up with GrillGrates.

I use a Fresno chile in my gyro meat recipe because I enjoy their mild heat. I have substituted a single serrano chile with excellent results. If you want more heat, use 2-3 serranos. 

I use some ground beef for 2 reasons. First, lamb is expensive, and second, I'm not a massive fan of lamb. I made a batch using just ground beef, and it tasted like seasoned hamburgers which was not what I was looking for. I think you HAVE to have a good bit of lamb in there to make it taste like gyros.

Gyros on the Grill


Published 08/19/2020


  • 1 pound fresh ground chuck
  • 1 pound lamb meat trimmed from bones
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 Fresno chile, fire-roasted, seeded and peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place the trimmed lamb meat, garlic, green onion, white onion, and chile in a food processor and pulse until the lamb meat is coarsely ground, about 10-12 pulses.
  2. Add the ground beef, cumin, oregano, marjoram, black pepper, and salt to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is thoroughly combined and reaches a paste consistency.  Note: If your food processor isn't big enough, remove the lamb mix to a bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Process this mixture in batches until done.
  3. Form the kabobs. We cheated and used Easy Kabob. If doing this by hand, it helps to wash your hands in cold water first or use cotton gloves under food gloves to keep the heat of your hands from melting the fat. Compress about 4-6 ounces of the meat mixture around a skewer and repeat. Keep the kabobs quite cold until right before they go onto the grill.
  4. Preheat a grill set up for direct heat to 450°f (medium-high heat).
  5. Grill the kabobs, rotating every 1-2 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 165°, a total of about 8 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and serve with pita bread, tzatziki sauce, sliced tomato, and white onion.

Yield: 8-10 kabobs

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Total time: 40 mins.

Tags: grill


Of course, you can't have gyros without tzatziki sauce, that's the best part of the whole gyro for me.

Tzatziki Sauce


  • 1 1/2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • kosher salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon


  • Prepping the cucumber to remove liquid is critical. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds. Grate or process the cucumber. Place in a tea towel or double paper towel and squeeze out all of the excess moisture that you can.
  • Place the cucumber and garlic in the food processor and puree them. Stir this into the yogurt and season with white pepper and salt.
  • Refrigerate for 2-4 hours before serving.

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Total time: 20 mins.

Tags: sauce

Making homemade tzatziki sauce
I've made several tzatziki recipes and have found the more straightforward, the better, for me.

I also prefer my tzatziki thicker, almost more like a dip. If you like yours thinner, just add a splash of lemon juice or chicken stock.

The mise en place for making home made gyros on the grill
Ground lamb isn't easily found around these parts, so I buy lamb chops, cut the meat from the bones, and "grind" it in a food processor. I could also use the grinder attachment on my KitchenAid, but I was already using the processor.

Making gyros with the Easy Kabob
I saw the Easy Kabob in a YouTube commercial, and I just had to try it. It's like a Pla-Doh® Fun Factory­ except for meat. It reminds me of the PVC piston that Jeannie of Cowgirl's Country Life made for stuffing breakfast fatties. I'll do a full review in a later post, but it does a good job making ground meat kabobs that don't fall apart. 

Pressing out a gyro kabob on the Easy Kabob
You just load the Easy Kabob with your mixture, insert a skewer from behind, and press down.

making gyro kabobs using the Easy Kabob
The piston pushes out a nicely compacted kabob.

Making gyros with the Easy Kabob
Then you just pinch and pull out the kabob. It was a bit awkward at first, but once I got a feel for it, it worked like a charm.

Setting up the PK Grill to cook gyros
I used my PK Grill for a few of the test batches. 

Large Big Green Egg in a Challenger Designs Torch cart set up for making gyros
This weekend I used my large Big Green Egg in the Challenger Designs Torch cart. This table is incredible, and I love it.  My set up was a ConvEGGtor deflector and pizza stone for making pitas on the egg before grilling the gyros.

Notice it's a little dark out for mid-afternoon. I was hoping to beat the incoming showers...

Mother Nature had other ideas.

Store-bought pitas just don't compare to the ones that Yassin's uses, so Alexis made some fresh pitas.

Making pitas on a pizza stone on the Big Green Egg
I made a rookie mistake and let the weather rush me - I didn't let my pizza stone preheat long enough. The pitas still tasted good and were tender, they just didn't brown much at all because pizza stone should have been hotter.

A tortilla warmer is an excellent way to keep your pitas warm.
A tortilla warmer is ideal for keeping your pitas warm and soft. Otherwise, you can put them in a wicker basket and cover them with a clean kitchen towel.

Using a heat shield like the one shown will keep your bamboo skewers from burning while cooking.
Don't you hate it when grilling kabobs and the skewer burns off before the food cooks?  I am using a Steven Raichlen skewer shield pictured here. You can make a shield by folding a piece of foil 4 or 5 times. It will work close to the same.

The Ballistic BBQ Griddle is doubling as a heat shield here.
That shield won't work well on a round Egg kamado grill. Instead, I use my Ballistic BBQ griddle, it worked perfectly for this purpose.

Cooking gryos on a PK Grill with GrillGrates
Can you hear the sizzling and smell the aromas wafting off of the grill?

Using a thermapen to check my gyros for proper cooking
The kabobs have been consistently done right at 8 minutes, but I still like to check with my trusty Thermapen.

Grilling gyros on the Big Green Egg
It's not the same as sitting on a vertical rotisserie all day long, but gyro kabobs over red hot coals come pretty close!

Look at all the crust on these kabobs, that's the good stuff!

Grilled gyros are delicious!
I could just drizzle tzatziki over these and eat them straight up like this.

Grilled gryos from the Big Green Egg kamado grill
But I wanted these loaded up on a pita with sliced tomato, onion, and a healthy portion of tzatziki sauce.

I'm happy with where the recipe is now, but I would like the gyro meat a tad bit more dense. Maybe the next time, I will press the meat in a loaf pan for a few hours to compress it more before doing the kabobs. That and I'll wait for the stone to get preheated better, I shouldn't have let the rain rush me.

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