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Maritime Donairs

Donair, Pizza Delight style

I love Donairs!  I could eat them at least once a week. There is just something about the spicy flavor that my taste buds adore! That being said, I also realize that eating out can get very expensive. I tried the store bought “Donair meat” and sauce but found every brand to be lacking in something, be it texture, smell, taste or spiciness. They all had some kind of drawback. Then I thought to myself (with help from the Mrs) “Self, what if you made your own authentic Donair meat?”

“Hmmm…” I mused out loud. Time to do some research.  Well that research paid off.  My Mrs found an “Authentic Maritime Donair  Meat” recipe. It  proved to be simple and incredibly delicious. It was so good that we were “forced” to share with our friends and neighbors, whom have all commented on how it was the best Donair they have ever had.  I love the texture and taste of this recipe, combined with our super awesome sauce, the donair comes alive with delicious spicy sweetness.  If you would like to try the recipe out yourself, we have included the recipes for the meat and the sauce as well as assembly tips.


The Maritime Canadian version of a Donair has close links to the Turkish Doner Kebab, which means “Rotating Roast”. It was traditionally made of lamb or beef or both. The meat is cooked on a vertical spit and cut into long thin slices and can be served in many different ways.

The Canadian version was introduced in Halifax in the early 1970’s by a restaurant called “King of Donair”. The meat is a combination of beef, flour or bread crumbs and a blend of spices. It is most often served with a sweet garlic sauce on a flatbread pita, with tomatoes and onions.

Maritimers have grown to love Donairs and is one of the most sought after “take-out” items when residents move away from the area. Purists will argue that the King of Donair’s version is the only acceptable one but much-loved variations abound. From the addition of pepperoni, mozzarella and lettuce, Donair meat and sauce can be found combined with any of these in a pita, on a pizza, in a sub sandwich, in an egg roll, and in other tasty concoctions.

Making the meat and sauce are actually very simple and the ingredients are readily available in many kitchens or easily obtained at your local grocery store. And the best part is that you really don’t need a special vertical spit to cook the meat.


I followed this recipe for the meat


  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef


Preheat oven to 350F (175C). In a cup or small bowl, mix the salt, oregano, flour, black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

Place ground beef in a large bowl, and use your hands to blend in the spice mixture. If you want the smooth texture of meat that you see in a real Donair shop, you must do this in a steel mixing bowl and on a sturdy surface. Pick up the meat, and throw it down with force about 20 times, kneading it after each throw. This also helps the meat hold together better when you slice it. (You can also use a food processor or sturdy stand mixer)

Form the meat into a loaf, and place it on a broiler pan. If you do not have one, a baking sheet will do.

Bake 1hr 15min in preheated oven, turning the loaf over about half way through. This will ensure even cooking. Refrigerate the meat overnight before slicing.


I followed this recipe for the sauce


  • 2/3 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 c  white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp  garlic powder


Stir the milk and garlic powder together.  Add vinegar then stir the sauce for a couple of minutes in order for the vinegar and milk to mix properly.  Leave it sit for a few minutes then refrigerate.  The Donair sauce will last a few weeks in the refrigerator and I find that it is best served cold.

Doubles easily by using the whole can of condensed milk and doubling the other ingredients.


For a Halifax-style Donair:

  • 4oz thinly sliced Donair meat
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Chopped fresh or sautéed onions
  • Donair sauce
  • Pita bread

For a Pizza Delight-style Super-Donair, add:

  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Small pre-cooked pizza shell (instead of pita)

Halifax-style Donair: 

Add sliced Donair meat to a hot pan with a touch of oil and stir fry it until it is hot. Steam pita by placing it on the heating meat. Once warmed, place meat on pita, top with sauce, onions and tomatoes. Roll it up and enjoy with lots of napkins.

Pizza Delight-style Super Donair: 

Heat Donair meat and pepperoni in a pan. Place meats on a small pre-cooked pizza shell.  Add shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Add lettuce, onions, sauce and tomatoes. Roll and enjoy with lots of napkins on hand.

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