AskDefine | Define gyros

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

From the etyl el γύρος.

Alternative spellings


rfc pronunciation section or after the Greek (which is pronounced sound sample in greek), but often pronounced , after "gyroscope" etymology.


  1. A sandwich made usually of sliced roasted lamb, onion, and tomato on pita bread.

Etymology 2

From gyroscope



  1. Plural of gyro

Extensive Definition

This article is about the food dish. For other uses, see Gyro. wikt gyros
Gyros or gyro ( or /ˈdʒaɪroʊ/, Greek: γύρος "turn") is a Greek fast food;. It is a kind of meat roasted on a vertical rotisserie. By extension, gyros may refer to the pita sandwich it is often served in, with various salads and sauces. The most common fillings are tomato, onions, and tzatziki sauce. French fries are a common side dish. Sometimes the name is applied to the form of the sandwich (pita wrapped around filling) rather than to the filling itself, and sometimes the name "souvlaki" is applied to the sandwich.
The Arabic shawarma and Mexican tacos al pastor are similar to gyros, all derived from the Turkish döner kebab which was invented in Bursa in the 19th century.
To make gyros, slices of meat are placed on a tall vertical skewer, which turns in front of a source of heat. The rate of roasting can be adjusted by varying the strength of the heat and the distance between the heat and the meat, allowing the cook to adjust to varying rates of consumption. The meat is sliced vertically. It is generally served in an oiled, fried piece of pita, rolled up with various salads and sauces.


The name comes from Greek γύρος 'turn', a calque of the Turkish name döner kebab 'turning roast'; the dish was formerly called ντονέρ [don'er] in Greece as well.
The Greek pronunciation is [ˈʝirɔs], but in English, the pronunciation of 'gyro(s)' usually follows English spelling rules, giving [ˈdʒaɪɹəʊ(s)]; though sometimes the Greek pronunciation is approximated (the intent of the spellings 'yeeros,' 'yiros' and 'Year-Oh'), giving [ˈjiːɹəʊ(s)].


Greece and Cyprus

In Greece and Cyprus, the meat is typically pork (except in North Cyprus where the population is predominantly Muslim.), chicken, and occasionally beef (a beef Gyro is mostly referred to as "ντονερ" doner). In Athens, and most of Greece, a "pita gyro" will contain tzatziki, tomato, onion and fried potatoes in addition to the meat. However some places offer different alternatives to the classic ingredients. A pita gyro with pork will be served with tzatziki as a dressing, whereas the chicken dressings vary from shop to shop but are most often a variant on mayonnaise.
In Thessaloniki an order of "pita gyro" includes tomato, onion, fried potatoes, mustard and/or ketchup in addition to the meat. Pitas are available in at least three types: 'plain', 'Cypriot', and 'Arabian' in some chain restaurants, however in most places only 'Plain' is offered. 'Plain' pita is around 20cm in diameter and the thickest of the three. 'Cypriot' pita are the same size but somewhat thinner, and are split like pocket bread. 'Arabian' pitas are crispy, and the flattest and largest. Gyros is also served in sandwich-type bread. Gyros was originally introduced to Greece from Thessaloniki, and specifically from the district of Toumba. There are several stories regarding Gyros's origin: One says that the first "gyradiko" (fast food shop) was "Giorgos" who brought gyros to Thessaloniki in 1970, another story says that Gyros came in 1950s in Piraeus from a cooker arrived from İstanbul. There are, however, photos of "manges", Greek figures of the underworld, in 1880, sitting in gyros shops in Athens of the time. This implies that the introduction of gyros was far earlier than the aforementioned dates., A typical sandwich could cost from 2 to 2,30 the most expensive (2007 rates). Finally, Thessaloniki will offer the biggest sandwich in all Greek cities.
On the island of Crete, pork meat is the most popular filling although in some of the larger cities (notably the city of Chania) there are also chicken (and even falafel) alternatives. Those in Crete usually enjoy strained yogurt in lieu of tzatziki, and many stands offer "Russian salad" which is a mixture of pickles and mayonnaise.
In Kos, a Greek island in the Aegean sea, the locals wrap chicken and add fried potatoes to gyros. This variation usually costs around 1 Euro (regional prices may vary)
In other Greek cities, like Patra, where gyros is not so popular, the sandwich is often prepared and then put in a toaster or toasted under a press, like a panino, popular grilled sandwich throughout Europe . A sandwich there can cost the same price as in Thessaloniki. In Kalamata it can sometimes be eaten in Thrakopsomo, a thick round loaf of country style bread cut in two halves and stuffed with a double serving of Gyro meat.


Merida (portion), is a way of serving meat, where instead of putting the meat into a pita or bread, it is put in a disk with aluminum foil or λαδόκολλα (baking paper). A 200 gr portion of gyros is put with tomato, french fries, sliced onions, and/or mustard & ketchup. The portion of gyros can vary from 150 gr to even 450 gr in more remote places.


Gyros in Australia are typically based on lamb, chicken or beef, or a combination of those meats. In addition to the usual fillings of onion, lettuce and tomato, extra fillings may include bulgur (cooked wheat), hummus, cheese and tabouli. The sauce is usually a yogurt sauce such as tzatziki, but chilli sauce (often Thai sweet chilli sauce) can also be used. The pita bread may be quickly toasted before the dish is assembled or the entire dish may be toasted in a sandwich press after assembly.
In Australia, the names gyros, souvlaki, döner kebab, and shawarma are used more or less interchangeably, depending on the vendor, the national group, or community in question more than on the nature of the food.
Different names are favoured in different regions of Australia. In South Australia they are known (both in the singular and plural) as yiros, a rendering of the normal modern Greek pronunciation into the Roman alphabet. In New South Wales they are known as doner kebabs or kebabs in Turkish or Lebanese shops or yeeros/yiros in Greek shops. In Queensland and Western Australia they are called kebabs. In Victoria (which has a large Greek population) they are generally known as gyros or souvlaki. In Tasmania they are generally called kebabs or souvlaki.
In most cases gyros or souvlaki tend to be made of thicker pieces of meat than that of doner kebabs which are usually made using thin shards of meat. Also different meats often vary on the region of Australia with beef and chicken being often used in Queensland while in Melbourne and Tasmania beef is less common with lamb used instead.


In Brazil, gyros is sold as churrasco grego (Greek barbecue).


In Canada, gyros are sometimes sold as donairs, especially in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John's, Newfoundland where it was first introduced to Canada in 1973. In areas with heavy Greek populations, such as the Danforth area in Toronto, they are still commonly sold as gyros. Donair meat is also available as a pizza topping. The sauce, however, differs from the traditional cucumber/yogurt tzatziki in that it consists instead of sweetened condensed milk and garlic powder.


While the name gyros is not commonly used in France, a similar and very popular fast food is sold under the name sandwich grec (Greek sandwich), kebab, chiche kebab or döner kebab (or shawarma in Lebanese and Israeli restaurants). As a street food, it is served optionally with chips (french fries) stuffed into the sandwich on top of the meat and salad.


In Iran and other Persian-speaking countries like Afghanistan and Tajikistan a variation of gyros is available called "Kabab Torki" (Turkish kebab) and is a popular fast food in certain major cities like Tehran and Isfahan. While the meat is prepared the in a similar, though different fashion as gyros (using beef or lamb) and sliced from a rotating spit, the preparation of the sandwich is different. After having been sliced from the spit, the meat is then chopped up and mixed with onions and green peppers on a grill. It is not generally served with any kind of sauce.


There is also a similar variation of the food in Malaysia. Usually called kebabs." Normally the filling consists of meat, after cut from the spit is pan fried with onions and chilli sauce then placed into a pita bread pocket before being filled with condiments such as tomatoes, mayonnaise, onion and lettuce. They are generally sold at the "pasar malam" (night market) all around Malaysia, once or twice a week.

Middle East

In Arabic-speaking countries the gyro is called "shawarma" and is usually made of chicken or lamb. The shawarma can be served in a pita, or in a lafa (a pita without a pocket which holds more food). The meat is not commonly prepared in strips like American Gyros, but chopped into smaller chunks and usually served with tahini sauce.

Turkey and North Cyprus

The Turkish variant Döner Kabab is similar to the gyro in terms of cooking, but beef is used instead of pork.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the name gyros is not widely known; the Turkish "döner kebab" is more common, and the general term "kebab" is more common still. However, soldiers ('squaddies') who have served on the British bases in Cyprus often refer wistfully to the delights of Gyros. Doner are a very popular post-pub/nightclub food with many high streets in the UK having a kebab house. These kebab shops were initially primarily owned by Turkish Cypriots, hence the use of the dry, hard 'pocket' Cypriot pita in place of the typically doughy, more naan-like Greek pita. Tzatziki is rare, and replaced by generic garlic and/or chilli sauce.

United States

Gyros were introduced to the Chicago area in 1968, and have since spread to all parts of the country. In the United States, gyros are usually made from sliced lamb, minced beef or possibly a combination of the two. Chicken is a common alternative in many restaurants serving gyros. The pita resembles a Greek 'plain' pita. The most common fillings are generally tomato and onion. The sauce is usually tzatziki, sometimes called "Cucumber", "Yogurt", or "White" sauce. These sandwiches are often served in luncheonettes or diners.
In the United States, many restaurants (and even Greek-American festivals) sell gyros with meat which is pre-formed into strips (as though they had been sliced from the rotisserie) and frozen.
gyros in Czech: Gyros
gyros in German: Gyros
gyros in Modern Greek (1453-): Γύρος
gyros in Spanish: Gyros
gyros in Esperanto: Giros
gyros in Italian: Gyros
gyros in Hungarian: Gírosz
gyros in Dutch: Gyros
gyros in Japanese: ギロピタ
gyros in Polish: Gyros
gyros in Slovak: Gyros
gyros in Swedish: Gyros
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