How to make chicken gyros at home, no rotisserie required

Traditional Tzatziki Dip, made with yogurt or sour cream. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Hearing the word gyro sparks my summer hungers, as well as memories of the years I spent working in a drab office building off 5th Avenue in lower Manhattan, where I’d stop for lunch at a sandwich joint run by a Greek family on the nearby corner. These two-fisted sandwiches are traditionally made with huge cuts of lamb or pork that are skewered on an outdoor rotisserie, fragrantly roasting until crackling crisp on the outside and juicy-tender within. The meat is served thinly shaved, rolled up in a warm pita, and loaded with sliced tomatoes and onions and slathered with tzatziki, the tangy herb-yogurt sauce.

The term comes from the Greek word gheereezo, which means to turn. These days you’ll find renditions of pork and chicken roasting on a spit or two offered in food trucks and diners in cities across the globe. The modern version of the sandwich became popular in Greece in the 1920s, and traveled to America with Greek immigrants after World War II.


For those of us without an outdoor rotisserie, this version relies on a hot oven or grill. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and copious garlic, cumin, paprika, a pinch of cinnamon, another of nutmeg, salt and black pepper. They’re roasted until the chicken turns crisp, golden and ragged, succulent and tender.

The test of a great gyro is the quality of the pita or lavash that wraps the meat.

You can also serve the meat over rice and top with the veggies and sauce. Offer a cold drink and sides of marinated gigante beans and olives from the salad bar to complete this hearty handheld feast.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Gyros

Serves 4 to 6.

You don’t need a rotisserie to make chicken gyros. This recipe replicates the flavorful street-food classic in a hot oven and is perfect for family and friends. Chicken thighs are the easiest meat for this method; they are full of fat and flavor and hard to overcook. (You’ll need to start preparing this in advance to give the chicken time to marinate.) To serve, slice the meat against the grain and pile into warmed pitas, then load with toppings. From Beth Dooley.

• 2 lemons, juiced

• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• 8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

• 1 tsp. coarse salt

• 2 tsp. ground black pepper

• 2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 2 tsp. paprika

• Generous pinch ground cinnamon

• Generous pinch ground nutmeg

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• 1/4 c. chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

• 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

• 1 large onion, cut into large chunks

• 4 to 6 pita or lavash for serving

• Sliced yellow or bell peppers, for garnish

• Sliced red onion, for garnish

• Tzatziki, for serving (see recipe)


In a large bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup of parsley. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour or cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread the chicken and onions on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the chicken is browned and crisp at the edges, turning halfway through, until it’s fully cooked, about 35 to 40 minutes or until the meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove and allow the meat to rest for about 5 to 8 minutes. Warm the pita bread in the oven.

Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve on the pita or lavash topped with the parsley, peppers, red onions and tzatziki.


• 1/2 c. grated English cucumber

• 1 c. Greek yogurt

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 clove garlic, grated

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, to taste

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, to taste

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In a small bowl, stir together the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, oil, garlic, mint, dill, salt and pepper. Store in covered container for up to 3 days.

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