If you are a bit familiar with Turkish cuisine, you know the world-famous döner kebab, the irresistible, juicy enormous kebab cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Here is an easy homemade version of Turkish doner kebab that tastes as good as the real thing.
There are zillions of kebabs in Turkey, so it won’t be wrong to call it “the country of kebabs”. Among all these, the most famous ones are doner kebab and chicken shish kabob. Also check out our adana kebab recipe and lamb shish kebab recipe.
- What Is Turkish Doner Kebab?
- What Is Doner Meat Made From?
- Ingredients For Homemade Doner Kebab Recipe
- How To Make Doner Kebab Meat
- Is Turkish Döner Kebab The Same As Shawarma?
- Turkish Doner Kebab Spice Mix
- Types of Turkish Döner Kebabs
- How To Serve Doner Food
- What Goes Into A Doner Sandwich/Wrap?
- More Turkish Fast Food Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
What Is Turkish Doner Kebab?
Döner is just one of the kebabs in Turkey. Meat and fat are stacked on a rotisserie to form a huge cylinder shape. It is cooked vertically and rotating slowly. The outer parts are cooked as it rotates and those parts are carefully shaved thinly. Those thin slices are served in the form of a sandwich or a wrap with lavash bread. The taste of a good doner kebab depends highly on the following:
- the quality of meat(lamb or beef)
- the ratio of meat and fat
- how slowly it is cooked
Although doner is served with a variety of sauces and sides today, you really don’t need anything to complement a good quality, delicious döner kebab. That’s why there are traditional doner shops in Turkey that are serving plain doner. No sauces or sides.
What Is Doner Meat Made From?
Besides fat, doner meat is made from lamb or beef or a mixture of these two. But what type of lamb or beef to make döner? It is either made with only ground beef/lamb or with a combination of ground meat(beef mince) and soft beef or lamb steaks. Also, there is another version made with chicken, which is cheaper yet as tasty. Several doner kebab shops have two options: Chicken doner kebab and meat doner kebab. Although we love both, our first choice is mostly doner meat.
Ingredients For Homemade Doner Kebab Recipe
- Onion, pureed and sieved. We need its juice only. Don't add in the pulp.
- Ground beef (15% fat). You can use a mixture of lamb mince and beef mince if you want.
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Isot pepper/Urfa biber. If you can’t find it, use paprika instead, but the aroma of isot pepper is stronger.
- Butter to cook döner in the pan
How To Make Doner Kebab Meat
First, prepare the doner meat mixture. In a large bowl, combine the onion juice, ground beef, salt and all the spices, yogurt and milk well. Transfer it on a baking paper, give it a log shape and wrap it tightly. Give it a huge candy shape and let it rest first in the fridge for 2 hours and then in the freezer for 8 hours or overnight.
Next, make thin doner sheets. Remove it from the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes so that it is ready to slice. Hold the döner log lengthwise with a piece of baking paper and carefully make large thin slices using a sharp knife.
Now cook the doner slices. Heat one teaspoon butter in a non stick pan over high heat. Line sliced döner pieces in a single layer and cook both sides until nicely brown, about one minute each side. Cook the rest in batches and never overload the pan.
Tip: If you don’t want to cook all of it at one time, slice it as you need and wrap the rest and put it back into the freezer. And you can easily repeat the same process when you crave for doner kebab. Make sure it doesn’t stay outside the freezer long, so you need to slice it as quickly as you can.
Is Turkish Döner Kebab The Same As Shawarma?
Although the cooking method of Turkish doner kebab and Middle Eastern shawarma is the same, they are not completely the same dish. The sides or sauces that are served with these equally famous street foods make the difference. Shawarma, which is famous in Israel and Arabic countries, is mostly served with tahini and hummus dip while Turkish doner meat is traditionally served with sumac onions.
Another difference between these two street foods is that shawarma is a lot spicier than döner. The seasonings used in the preparation of meat are not the same. A classic shawarma seasoning is made of coriander, cumin paprika, turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and cinnamon. On the other hand, a classic doner kebab seasoning contains fewer spices.
Turkish Doner Kebab Spice Mix
The seasoning in the marinade of Turkish doner meat has the following spices:
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- isot pepper/Urfa Biber
You can easily make this doner spice mix at home and keep it in a jar to use in all meat dishes.
Types of Turkish Döner Kebabs
Döner is one of the most famous Turkish street foods and it has three main varieties in the country:
- Classic Doner Kebab, which is explained above
- Iskender Doner Kebab: It is served over sliced pita with a butter sauce, tomato sauce and a dollop of yogurt on the side. Go check out our Homemade Iskender Kebab Recipe!
- Yatik Döner (Cağ Kebabi): As the name suggests (yatık means horizontal in Turkish), this doner is cooked horizontally in the same huge. Unlike classic döner, this one is made with lamb meat and doesn’t contain any ground meat. Yatık doner is not as common as the other two doner kebabs in the country, probably because it requires really good quality lamb meat, which is not easy to access everywhere.
How To Serve Doner Food
You can serve Turkish doner kebab in a few ways:
- Plain with sumac onion salad
- Accompanied by rice pilaf with orzo and roasted tomatoes
- Wrapped in a Turkish style lavash bread and called dürüm.
- Sandwiched in a Turkish flat bread bazlama or in a Turkish loaf bread
What Goes Into A Doner Sandwich/Wrap?
A classic doner sandwich/wrap contains sumac onions, a simple shepherd salad and french fries. You don’t see ketchup or mayo in a classic doner, but chain doner restaurants or the ones serving in big shopping malls have the option with ketchup and mayo.
More Turkish Fast Food Recipes
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Easy Homemade Doner Kebab
Homemade version of world-famous Tuskish Doner Kebab Meat
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Turkish
- 1 large onion
- 1 kilo/2lb ground beef (15% fat)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon isot pepper (or paprika)
- 4 tablespoons yogurt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons butter to cook döner
- Puree the onion in a food processor. Sieve its juice into a large mixing bowl. We just need the juice.
- Put the ground beef, döner kebab seasoning, salt, yogurt and milk in the same bowl. Combine them well using your hand. Give it a log shape.
- Transfer it on a baking paper and wrap it tightly.
- Let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours. Then transfer it to the freezer and let it sit there for 8 hours or overnight.
- Remove it from the freezer and let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes. Hold the döner log with a piece of baking paper and carefully make large thin slices using a sharp knife.
- Heat one teaspoon butter in a non stick pan over high heat. Line sliced döner pieces in a single layer and cook both sides until nicely brown.
- Cook döner in batches and never overload the pan.
The chilling and freezing times are not included.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 420
- Sugar: 1.8 g
- Sodium: 893.7 mg
- Fat: 29.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Protein: 32.7 g
- Cholesterol: 125.2 mg
Keywords: doner kebab, turkish doner kebab, doner kebab meat, doner kebab recipe
Linda Barlow says
This was so flavorful. At first it seemed like a lot for 2 people, but we loved it so much we just kept eating it until it was gone. I used 1 pound lamb and 1 pound beef. I just kept it in the refrigerator and cut slightly thicker pieces due to it being softer.
Zerrin & Yusuf says
We are glad you liked our döner recipe. It's hard to stop eating, right?
Abdulmohsen Bai says
Thank you for the efforts and information.
Yakup Trana says
I used to make my doner at home by mixing thinly shaved steak and mix it with lamb or sometimes just lamb fat. After doing so many researches I found out that the real recipe calls for veal (70%) and lamb (30%). It is a very different flavor and it is closer to the restaurants in Turkey. I don't mean to say one is wrong or right. Just sharing. Cheers.
K E says
Made this yesterday, and loved it! Was pretty free and easy with the spices, but it worked really well. Will definitely be doing it again
Happy to hear that you loved it! You can even make it ahead and freeze for later.
Michael White says
I was stationed at Incirlik Air Base Turkey for 15 months and absolutely loved the food off base! I am looking forward to trying to replicate some of the foods I enjoyed while I was there.
Too much work for little flavor. Was completely disappointed!!
Hi Anna! Thank you for the feedback. Sorry to hear that the result was not as you desired. Well, the flavor highly depends on the meat. So buying it from your local butcher is the best. Another thing is that we cook the doner slices with butter in a pan. This will help the döner meat to taste like the real thing, which is quite fatty. When making this recipe, we tried to make the things as close to the authentic doner kebab as possible with few easy steps. You know, combining the ingredients, freezing and slicing it into thin pieces and then cooking them. And when you freeze it a day before, we thought there won't be that much work left the next day when you are ready to cook.
Served this in Pita Bread, with lettuce, tomato, etc, and it was so good! I love how efficient this was in under an hour! Love the flavor!
So happy to hear that you like it! Way easier than it looks. Right? And we always have some raw doner meat in the freezer to make doner whenever we crave for it 🙂
This is an absolutely fantastic recipe. I’ve ditched the skewers and bake mine in the oven for an hour, turning half way through. So good, thank you so much!
I haven’t made it yet, but my family officially loves you forever. I got my husband addicted to Iskender Kabob when I took him to Turkey in 2004, and I’ve been trying to make it at home since. Döner is one of my favorite foods in the world, and making it at home will be amazing!
Thank you for your kind words! Iskender kebab recipe is on our must-make-and-publish list.
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