Grilled meat in pita bread is a staple throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. Names, recipes and seasonings change depending on the region. This version is a simply spiced Greek version, but we’ve also made suggestions for a spiced shawarma version if you and your spice cupboard are feeling inspired.
Enjoy with a quick tzatziki recipe below for authentic flavors!
1-2lb chicken breast or tenders (this works well with lamb and beef cubes too)
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 onion, very thinly sliced
4 cups lettuce, chopped
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 fresh sprig or 1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional spices: cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon or specialty spices like sumac or ras el hanut. (see how to use below)
Mix the following; refrigerate until serving.
1 clove garlic crushed and chopped very fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cucumber (seeds removed), grated on a cheese grater, or chopped very fine. After grating, salt lightly and let sit for 3 minutes. Then squeeze hard with your hands to remove excess water.
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Marinate chicken (ideally 12 hours before, but at least 1 hour prior)
In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, a large pinch of both salt and pepper, and oregano (optional). Note: If you want to spice it up and make things a bit more like a chicken shawarma, add a 1/2 teaspoon of any or all of the optional spices. If you like it spicy, add a pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper.
Once marinade is mixed, submerge chicken refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
Step 2: Prep veggies
Cut cucumber and tomatoes into bite-size chunks. Very thinly slice onion and finely chop lettuce. Set aside.
Chef’s tip: If you want to take it up another level, you can quick pickle your onions. To do this, mix red wine vinegar with a equal pinch of sugar and salt in a bowl. Submerge sliced onions and let sit while you make the rest of the dish. When ready to eat, drain and add onions to the gyro.
Step 3. Cook chicken
The chicken can be grilled, roasted or cooked on the stovetop (ideally in a cast iron pan). If grilling, grill the breast whole or cut into chunks on skewers. Skewers can be fun if you are hosting a party, as you can serve everyone the whole skewer and they can pull the chicken off themselves. If roasting or pan cooking, we suggest keeping the breast whole and then cutting into pieces afterward.
If grilling, do so over medium high until fully cooked (about 5 minutes per side)
If pan cooking, heat a pan with a glug of oil to medium-high heat. Cook until fully cooked and nicely browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.
If oven roasting, cook for roughly 20 minutes until fully cooked.
One the chicken is cooked, set aside to rest while you ready your other ingredients. At the time of serving, you will need to chop in into bite-size pieces.
Step 4. Assemble the gyro and enjoy!
Chef’s tip: You can use the pita bread as is, but we suggest warming it slightly on whatever heat source you just finished cooking your chicken on. If you grilled, place it on the warm grill, flipping for 30 seconds so it warms but does not burn. If you used a pan, do the same in the pan. If you used an oven, place in the warm oven for 1 minute.
Smear the warmed pita with tzatziki, or if yogurt isn't your thing, try hummus. Next chop chicken into bite-size pieces and place on the pita. Now top with all veggies. Crumble some feta cheese over everything then sprinkle a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon and serve!
Pairs well with potato wedges!