Halifax Donairs!

Halifax Donairs!


Wow, just wow!! Using this recipe I was able to replicate the donair recipe that I grew up eating in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In case you’re not a Nova Scotian, here’s a little background on this delicious treat. Back in the 80’s, when you were about to head home after a night of dancing and romancing, you would head to one of the famous donair shops located at “Pizza Corner” in downtown Halifax. You waited in a long line and watched them carve the log-shaped beef that was balanced on a spit, into shaved pieces of deliciousness that fell inside a steamed pita bread. Then they topped it with diced white onion, and diced tomato before dripping on the sweet donair sauce. OMG! Heavenly! I was always afraid they were going to run out of meat before they got to me.

Officially, the Halifax donair was first invented in the 1970s by Peter Gamoulakos. Originally from Greece, he started selling Greek gyros (a pita stuffed with grilled lamb and tzatziki) from his restaurant, but the sandwich wasn’t a hit with the East Coast’s “meat and potatoes” crowd. So he swapped out the lamb for beef and whipped up the sweet donair sauce and tried it again. This time it was a huge success and Halifax’s signature dish was born.

When I made this tonight, I had my reservations. How close can it possibly be to what I remember from decades ago? That first bite had me convinced that I was listening to Cyndi Lauper again or Flock of Seagulls. Time after time, (see what I did there?), with every bite I’d take, I was eating the original. My husband had never had a donair before tonight and he is now a HUGE fan – he had four of them and then munched on the bits that were leftover saying they tasted like delicious jerky. [Just don’t ever refer to it as jerky in Halifax.]

So give it a try and I let me know what you think. Hope you like it, eh? 🙂

You can go home again!


  • 2 pounds of ground beef (I used Angus beef)
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 2.5 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I just used 1/4 tsp and it was plenty spicy)

Preheat oven to 350. Add all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with a paddle attachment. With the speed set to medium, paddle the mixture for 5 minutes or until smooth and pastey.

Drop it onto a piece of waxed paper and form into a log shape. Place the log into a loaf pan lined with strips of parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to gently force all the air out of the pan to allow even cooking. The meat should rest tightly together.

Place in oven set to 350 for 90 minutes.

Once finished baking, remove from the oven and let stand to cool before slicing thinly. (10-15 mins)

Thinly slice meat lengthwise. Toss into a hot frying pan with olive oil and saute until golden brown.

Serve with steamed pitas, donair sauce, diced tomatoes and white onions.

Enjoy my friends, enjoy!

PS: A fast way to steam your pita bread is to lay a cookie rack across the top of a pot of boiling water and flip them over a couple of times.


2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Stir it up, cover with cling film, and set in fridge until you’re ready to top off your donair with it. Give it a quick stir after you bring it out of the fridge to make it flow more quickly as it will thicken when it hardens.


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