【Halifax Donair Meat】How to make The Famous Classic Canadian food

Donair meat

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The authentic Halifax Donair typically uses ground lamb, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the unique flavour of lamb or even experiment with a delicious blend of ground lamb and beef.

Donair is a delicious sandwich or wrap. It originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This mouth-watering delicacy is made from seasoned beef or lamb, spit-roasted until tender and artfully sliced into thin, juicy strips.

What is a Canadian donair?

Is donair lamb or beef?

Where does donair meat come from?

Is beef donair healthy?

What is a Canadian “Halifax Donair”?

A Canadian “Halifax Donair” is a popular and iconic fast food item that originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is a type of sandwich or wrap made with seasoned and spiced meat, usually a mixture of ground beef and/or ground lamb. The meat is formed into a large loaf and cooked on a vertical grill, similar to a doner kebab. Once cooked, the meat is thinly sliced and typically served in a pita or flatbread.

The distinctive feature of a Halifax donair is its sweet and savoury sauce, known as ‘donair sauce’, which is made from condensed milk, garlic, vinegar and sugar. The sauce is drizzled over the sliced meat, along with diced tomatoes and onions, creating a flavourful and mouth-watering combination. The final touch is often a sprinkling of dried oregano or other spices.

This Canadian delicacy has become a popular street food in Halifax and other parts of Canada, with various restaurants and food trucks offering their unique twists on the classic Halifax donair. It has gained a loyal following both locally and nationally, making it an important part of Canada’s culinary culture.

Why are Canadians called donuts?

Canadians call it “donair” because the dish is inspired by the Turkish doner kebab. The doner kebab is a popular street food in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, consisting of spiced and marinated meat (often lamb or beef) cooked on a vertical spit. The cooked meat is then thinly sliced and served in a pita or flat bread with various toppings and sauces.

When the doner kebab concept made its way to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1970s, it underwent some adaptations to suit local tastes and available ingredients. The most important change was the use of ground meat, typically a combination of ground beef and/or ground lamb, instead of the traditional stacked pieces of meat used in the Turkish doner kebab. This ground meat variation was more suitable for the vertical rotisseries commonly used in Canadian outlets.

As the dish became popular in Halifax, it took on its own identity and eventually became known as the “donair”. The name probably evolved as a phonetic adaptation of “doner”, reflecting the dish’s Turkish roots while distinguishing it from the original style.

Over time, donair became a popular and iconic Canadian street food, particularly in Halifax, where it gained immense popularity. It is now an integral part of Canadian culinary culture, and the term “donair” has become synonymous with this specific Canadian variation of the Turkish doner kebab.


What are the differences between donair, doner, gyro and shawarma?

Donair, doner, gyro, and shawarma are all delicious and popular dishes with some similarities, but they have distinct differences in terms of ingredients, preparation, and regional influences. Here are the main contrasts between them:

  1. Donair:
  • Origin: The donair originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and is an adaptation of the Turkish doner kebab.
  • Meat: Donair typically uses seasoned ground meat, often a combination of ground beef and/or ground lamb. The meat is shaped into a large loaf and cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
  • Sauce: Donair sauce is a sweet and savory combination of condensed milk, garlic, vinegar, and sugar.
  • Serving: Donair is usually served in a pita bread or flatbread with toppings such as diced tomatoes and onions.
  1. Doner:
  • Origin: The doner kebab originated in Turkey and is a popular street food in many Middle Eastern and European countries.
  • Meat: Traditionally, doner kebab uses thinly sliced cuts of seasoned meat, often lamb or beef, which is stacked on a vertical rotisserie and cooked slowly.
  • Sauce: The sauces can vary depending on the region but often include yogurt-based sauces, garlic sauce, or tahini.
  • Serving: Doner kebab is commonly served in a pita bread or flatbread with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and sauces.
  1. Gyro:
  • Origin: Gyro, a Greek dish, is similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Middle Eastern shawarma.
  • Meat: Gyro typically uses seasoned, thinly sliced meat, such as lamb, beef, pork, or chicken, cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
  • Sauce: It is often served with tzatziki sauce, which is a yogurt-based sauce with cucumbers and garlic.
  • Serving: Gyro is commonly served in a pita bread or flatbread with vegetables and sauces.
  1. Shawarma:
  • Origin: Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish, believed to have originated in the Levant region, and is also similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek gyro.
  • Meat: Shawarma uses seasoned, thinly sliced cuts of meat, typically lamb, chicken, beef, or a mixture, which is cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
  • Sauce: Shawarma can be served with various sauces, such as tahini, hummus, garlic sauce, or yogurt-based sauces.
  • Serving: Shawarma is usually served in a flatbread, pita, or laffa, along with vegetables and sauces.

In summary, while all these dishes share the concept of cooking seasoned meat on a vertical rotisserie and serving it in bread with toppings and sauces, the specific meats, sauces, and regional influences distinguish each of them from one another.

How to Make a Homemade Donair meat

Making a homemade donair can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here’s a basic recipe to guide you through the process:


  • 1 pound (450g) ground lamb (or a combination of ground lamb and beef)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your preferred level of spiciness)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pita bread or flatbread for serving
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Donair sauce (see recipe below)

For Donair Sauce:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb (and beef, if using), garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix well until all the spices are evenly incorporated into the meat.
  3. Form the seasoned meat into a large loaf shape, similar to a meatloaf, and place it on a lightly greased baking sheet or in a baking dish.
  4. Bake the meat loaf in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until it’s cooked through and slightly crispy on the outside.
  5. While the meat is cooking, prepare the donair sauce. In a bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, white vinegar, and garlic powder until well combined. The sauce should thicken as you whisk it.
  6. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it thinly.
  7. Warm the pita bread or flatbread in the oven or microwave.
  8. To assemble the homemade donair, place a few slices of the cooked meat on the warmed pita bread or flatbread. Top it with diced tomatoes, diced onions, and a generous drizzle of donair sauce.
  9. Roll up the pita or fold the flatbread to enclose the fillings.
  10. Serve the homemade donair immediately and enjoy!

Feel free to customize your homemade donair with additional toppings, such as shredded lettuce, cucumbers, or pickles, according to your preference. The donair sauce can also be adjusted to suit your taste by adding more garlic powder or vinegar. Enjoy your delicious creation!

Assembling and serving Halifax Donair Meat

Assembling and serving the Halifax Donair is a straightforward process that creates a mouthwatering and satisfying meal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you enjoy this Canadian delight:


  • Cooked and thinly sliced seasoned meat (made with ground lamb and/or beef, as described in the previous recipe)
  • Pita bread or flatbread
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Donair sauce (sweet and savory sauce, made with condensed milk, garlic, vinegar, and sugar)


  1. Warm the Pita Bread or Flatbread: If your pita bread or flatbread is not already warm, you can heat it slightly in the oven or microwave for a few seconds until it becomes pliable and easy to fold.
  2. Prepare the Meat: Ensure that you have cooked and thinly sliced the seasoned meat, following the recipe provided earlier.
  3. Lay Out the Ingredients: Set up a clean and spacious work area to assemble the donair. Arrange the warm pita bread or flatbread, sliced meat, diced tomatoes, diced onions, and a container of the donair sauce for easy access.
  4. Place the Meat on the Bread: Take a few slices of the cooked and seasoned meat and arrange them along the center of the pita bread or flatbread.
  5. Add the Toppings: Sprinkle a generous amount of diced tomatoes and diced onions on top of the meat. These fresh toppings add a burst of flavor and texture to the donair.
  6. Drizzle with Donair Sauce: Now comes the signature element of the Halifax Donair—the donair sauce. Drizzle a substantial amount of the sweet and savory sauce over the meat and toppings. The sauce is a crucial component that brings all the flavors together.
  7. Fold or Roll Up the Donair: To complete the assembly, carefully fold or roll up the pita bread or flatbread to enclose the meat and toppings. You can fold it in half like a taco or roll it up like a burrito.
  8. Serve and Enjoy: Serve the assembled Halifax Donair immediately while it’s still warm and enjoy the delectable combination of flavors and textures.

Remember that the beauty of the Halifax Donair lies in its customization. Feel free to add shredded lettuce, cucumbers, or any other toppings of your choice to suit your taste preferences. Enjoy this Canadian classic in the comfort of your own home!

How to Store Donair Meat

Storing donair meat properly is essential to maintain its quality and ensure food safety. Here’s a guide on how to store donair meat:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have leftover cooked donair meat, let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. Place the meat in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Make sure to seal it well to prevent air exposure, which can lead to drying out or spoilage. Store the donair meat in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
  2. Freezing: If you want to store donair meat for a longer period, freezing is the best option. To freeze the donair meat, follow these steps:a. Allow the cooked donair meat to cool to room temperature. b. Slice the meat thinly, as you would do for serving. c. Place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap. d. Freeze the meat slices on the baking sheet for about 1 to 2 hours. This helps prevent them from sticking together during long-term storage. e. Once partially frozen, transfer the slices into a freezer-safe, airtight container or freezer bags. Be sure to remove any excess air from the bags before sealing. f. Label the container or bags with the date to keep track of storage time.

Donair meat can be kept in the freezer for approximately 2 to 3 months without significant loss of quality. However, for the best taste and texture, it is advisable to consume it within the first month of freezing.

  1. Thawing: When you’re ready to use the frozen donair meat, it’s essential to thaw it properly to maintain its taste and texture. The safest way to thaw donair meat is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly overnight. This gradual thawing process helps preserve the meat’s moisture and prevents potential bacterial growth.

Avoid thawing donair meat at room temperature or using hot water, as these methods can promote bacterial growth and compromise food safety.

Remember that when reheating leftover or thawed donair meat, it’s crucial to heat it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before consuming to ensure it’s safe to eat.

what is in donair meat

Donair meat is a spiced and seasoned meat used in making donair sandwiches or wraps, and its specific ingredients may vary depending on the recipe or regional preferences. The traditional donair meat, as used in Canadian Halifax Donairs, typically consists of the following ingredients:

  1. Ground Meat: The primary meat used in donair is usually a combination of ground beef and ground lamb. This mixture provides a good balance of flavors and textures.
  2. Spices: Various spices are added to the ground meat to give it its distinctive taste. Common spices include garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
  3. Binder: To hold the ground meat and spices together, a binder like breadcrumbs or finely crushed crackers is often added.
  4. Vegetable Oil: A small amount of vegetable oil is sometimes included to add moisture to the mixture.

These ingredients are combined, mixed thoroughly, and shaped into a large loaf, similar to a meatloaf. The meat loaf is then cooked on a vertical rotisserie, allowing the seasoned meat to cook evenly and develop a delicious outer crust. Once cooked, the meat is thinly sliced and served in pita bread or flatbread with various toppings and donair sauce, creating a flavorful and satisfying meal.

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