East Coast Donair
I was so excited to get this recipe for an East Coast Donair when I heard the electrician Nathan Munroe, that did our kitchen reno talking about it. Wonderfully spiced donair meat piled high on pita bread and topped with onions and tomatoes, it makes a great meal for lunch or dinner.
This is a true Canadian recipe that I grew up on in Ontario and still love them to this day out here in Alberta. Thanks again Nathan for this wonderful recipe!!
I don’t think I realized though that it is was a very Eastern Canada thing from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians are proud to call this their own. Want to try another great east coast treat, try our other Amazing Shrimp Roll Recipe.
Helpful Items for This Recipe
This post contains affiliate links.
Porcelain Broiler Pan and Grid, Black
Large Foil Hamburger / Sandwich Bag
Hard Anodized Nonstick Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free 8 and 10-Inch Fry Pan Cookware Set, 2-Piece, Black
What is a Donair?
What exactly is this? It is a truly Canadian invention by a man named Peter Gamoulakos originally from Greece.
He was selling his beloved Greek Gyros in Halifax but they weren’t jiving with the east coast meat and potatoes crowd. So he swapped out the lamb for ground beef and made a sweet “donair sauce” with evaporated milk, sugar, garlic powder, and vinegar. When you add the vinegar the mixture thickens on its own.
This was instantly a hit and caused a feeding frenzy!! It is the perfect late-night snack after a night of indulging!! Trust me, I have been there and done that many times!!
So loved this is that Halifax city council in 2015 made it the official city’s food!!
How to Make a Donair?
It is traditionally made with ground beef that is molded into a log and formed around a spit. The spit then rotates standing up and thin slices of meat are carved off the spit in thin strips.
What makes the donair killer though is the sweet sauce, I always ask for extra!!
To start with, mix together all of the Donair spices and add them to the ground beef. Make into a loaf and place on a greased broiler or roasting pan.
Bake at 275F for 3 hours. Check with a thermometer for doneness, it should read 160F. When the loaf is finished let cool or refrigerate (I found it sliced even better after being refrigerated).
While the meat is cooking I make the sauce by adding in the evaporated milk, sugar, and garlic powder. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Gently add in the vinegar but don’t over stir; it will now thicken. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When ready to eat, make up some rectangles of wax paper and foil. Slice off thin strips from the loaf. Fry in a non-stick pan with a small amount of water.
When the meat is heated lay a pita bread on top and let it steam slightly. Take the pita off and lay it on the wax paper that is on top of the foil. Top with the beef slices. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, and sweet sauce. Wrap up and serve.
Late Night Noshing
We are talking eating to the supreme here!! Now you start to see the donair creeping into donair pizza and more. They are in pizza shops out here too.
I have so enjoyed going down memory lane (may it be a bit foggy from the late-night noshing), thinking back about this delicious recipe!! This was a favorite to get after the bar in our home town.
You will want to make this recipe and compare it to the donairs you have also loved or if you have never had one then hell, get on it.
You have no idea what you are missing!!
Why is it called Donair?
Donairs are Greek or Turkish in origin. They are also called doners, gyros, doner kebabs, kebabs, and donners. Their history or origins go way back past Halifax to Greece and Turkey.
They say it is not a donair without tomatoes and onions; I like lettuce and some like other toppings like cheese. Any way you slice it, you will love this classic Canadian dish!
In the video we had created, the meat is cooked in a loaf pan, which is not traditional but easy. The slices should be very thin, not like meatloaf slices.
I have also made it on top of a roasting pan on the rack to let the juices drip off and dry the meat out more.
Having cooled the meat lets you slice it easier. You rewarm the slices in a pan anyway at the end.
East Coast Donair Recipe
East Coast Donair
This East Coast Donair is a true Canadian classic made with spicy beef, sweet garlicky sauce, and fresh veggies like tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.
For the Donair
- 2 tsp. garlic salt
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. onion salt
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- (I did not have the "salts" so I used 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder and onion powder)
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper (2 tsp. makes it spicy)
- 2 tsp. white pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon
- 3 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- Chopped tomato
- Chopped lettuce
- Diced onion
- Foil and wax paper for each donair
- Pitas, whole wheat or white
- Mix together all of the Donair spices and add them to the ground beef. Make into a loaf and place on a greased broiler or roasting pan. Bake at 275F for 3 hours. Check with a thermometer for doneness, it should read 160F. When the loaf is finished let cool or refrigerate (I found it sliced even better after being refrigerated).
- Meanwhile make the sauce by adding in the milk, sugar, and garlic powder. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Gently add in the vinegar but don't over stir; it will now thicken. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- When ready to eat, make up some rectangles of wax paper and foil. Slice off thin strips from the loaf. Fry in a non-stick pan with a small amount of water. When the meat is heated lay a pita bread on top and let it steam slightly. Take the pita off and lay it on the wax paper that is on top of the foil. Top with the beef slices. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, and sweet sauce. Wrap up and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 814Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 1406mgCarbohydrates: 73gFiber: 5gSugar: 44gProtein: 63g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.
Comments & Reviews
Anita Schecter says
I’ve been waiting for this recipe since you teased me with it. 🙂 The bullion is an interesting addition but sounds delicious.
I had never heard of donairs, but love gyros. I’m sure I would really like this too as long as the beef was very tender!
Dawn Lopez says
I have never even heard of a Donair before but now I definitely want to give them a try! That sauce especially sounds totally yummy. What a great flavor combo!
This is the first time I’m hearing of Donair. This recipe looks amazing too. I need to make it soon and give it a try. I bet it tastes great.
Mama to 6 Blessings says
I am drooling! This looks so tasty! This meal would be a hit in my home for sure!
Anne S. says
I’m a big fan of gyros, but would love to try this Canadian variation. Plus, I much prefer beef!
Cheryl Voelk says
Well that is definitely Voelk approved. What an excellent recipe and so very easy!
The six of us adults loved it and there were no leftovers! Ate every morsel of beef!
Thank you so much Tara!!!!
Tara Noland says
So glad you enjoyed it, I can’t wait to make it again!!
Should it be baked on a baking rack or just sitting in a roaster
Tara Noland says
You can do it either way, we made them last night and just put the meat on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.
I wish recipe sites would stop putting a highschool essay before the recipe.
Nobody reads it. Ever.
Just put it after.
Tara Noland says
Hi Alez, as most people don’t know but Google completely dictates what we do for each and every recipe with the number of words etc. We of course as bloggers want our recipes to be seen. The “high school essay” as you put it has relevant information pertaining to each recipe with commonly asked questions etc. But at the top of our posts, we now have a friendly “jump to recipe” button that enables the reader to go right to the recipe. As this is a business we have guidelines and practices to be met not only by Google but our advertising agencies. I hope this helps you understand things slightly better.