The Real Difference Between A Gyro And Shawarma

They are both sandwiches, both make use of pita bread, and they are both made with packed slices of meat seasoned with a mouthwatering blend of spices, before being roasted slowly on a rotating skewer at very high temperatures — the cooking method actually allows the meat to cook in its own fat, making the meat particularly mouthwateringly succulent (via Dubailad). With having so much in common, how different can a gyro really be from a shawarma?

The answer is: Pretty different.

Gyros are Greek in origin

A gyro (pronounced YEE-roh) is Greek in origin; in fact, the dish's name is the Greek word for "to turn," or "revolution." A great gyro begins with slices of seasoned pork which has been packed into a cone and roasted on the aforementioned rotating skewer. When the meat is ready, it is served on a pita bread piled with tzatziki, tomato, and onion and made into a rolled sandwich (via The Spruce Eats). 

Stack Exchange also says while a gyro is predominantly made with pork in Greece, the same sandwich is made with a combination of beef and lamb in the U.S. The Serious Eats also says gyros can be made topped with french fries to create a substantial, all-in-one meal.

Shawarmas are enjoyed in the Middle East

What to the Greeks are gyros, are shawarmas for Middle Easterners. The meat for shawarma is marinated for at least a day, but preferably two. Then the meat is grilled, either in a vertical rotisserie spit or over a charcoal grill on a horizontal spit. When cooked horizontally, the meat is skewered evenly, and not shaped like a cone. 

"Shawarma is the Arabic fast food," says Chef Ahmad Salaibi. "The original shawarma recipe is Turkish and known as the Iskandar shawarma." Unlike the Greek gyros which have a fairly limited selection of meat fillings, the chef says shawarmas can be made with chicken, meat, or fish, all of which can be marinaded with garlic, yogurt, ginger, lemon, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, dried lime, spicy paprika, and (as with the gyros) vinegar. When the grilled meat is served in a shawarma, the pita bread and grilled meat is accompanied by sesame sauce, pickles, and onion, tomato, parsley, and sumac salad known as mbasbas (via Gulf News).