Homemade Turkish Doner Kebab {Beef Recipe}


Yes, you can make delicious döner kebab at home! My easy recipe is a take on the popular Turkish kebab I had in Istanbul a few years ago. It’s made with juicy chicken thighs tossed in a bold yogurt marinade with lemon juice and loads of warm Middle Eastern flavors. You’ll love this chicken döner kebab recipe for wraps, platters, bowls, or over your favorite salad!


If you’ve had shawarma or gyros, then you’re likely familiar with doner kebab (or, more accurately, döner kebab)!

Döner kebabs date all the way back to the 19th century Ottoman Empire. Today, they are a popular Turkish street food with many delicious variations throughout the Eastern Mediterranean & the Middle East (and even in Berlin, Germany)!

I had a taste of these delicious Turkish kebabs in Istanbul a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since! After some experimenting in my home kitchen, I’ve recreated the delicious kebabs using juicy chicken, tossed in a bold, garlicky yogurt marinade with lemon juice and loads of warm spices.My doner kebab recipe is a close rendition that gives you tantalizing, thinly shaved grilled chicken that you can serve in wraps, platters, or over your favorite salad (I tried it over fattoush recently).

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How to lớn make doner kebab

What is döner kebab? & how is it made?

There are two main types of döner: et döner andtavuk döner. Classic döner kebab, et döner, consists of a heavily seasoned mixture of beef và lamb that is pureed into a paste, shaped into a log, và finally slow-roasted for hours on a vertical spit khổng lồ juicy perfection. (Tail fat is often added khổng lồ the meat mixture lớn keep it juicy and moist while it roasts.)

Nowadays chicken doner, or tavuk döner, is just as popular in Turkey. Chicken is similarly seasoned và marinated in a flavorful yogurt-based marinade, then stacked onto a vertical spit và slow roasted.

To serve doner kebab, the outer layer of charred meat goodness is thinly shaved off the spit, using a large, sharp knife, in a top-to-bottom motion. Yes, at that moment, the meat or chicken is meltingly tender & is made even more perfect when you add a warm, pillowy pita và flavorful fixings.

Is doner kebab the same as gyro or shawarma?

You’ll find some similarities in the preparation of doner kebabs, shawarma, and gyros. In fact, the names of these dishes mean similar things. Döner comes from the Turkish word dönmek, which means “to turn” or “to rotate”, shawarma means “to turn” in Arabic, and gyro means “round” in Greek.

But since all three come from different parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East, there are a few key differences.

Aside from their different geographical origins, each of these popular street foods has its own quality flavor profile. Khổng lồ my palate, the seasoning for doner kebabs is a tad more generous on cumin, paprika (I like smoked paprika here), and red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper.

Shawarma seasoning does utilize cumin, supported by other warm Middle Eastern spices often including coriander, turmeric, và ground cloves. Gyro seasoning is Greek-style, with a hefty amount of dried oregano.

You can serve all three dishes in platters or wraps with varied fixings, pickles, và sauces: tahini with shawarma; tzatziki with gyro; and, for doner kebabs, some skip the sauce, while others will use a red sauce or a garlicky yogurt sauce.

What cut of chicken khổng lồ use for chicken doner?

For this chicken doner kebab recipe, boneless, skinless chicken thighs will give you the best results. Và I don’t cut the chicken up into smaller pieces as larger pieces, stacked on the skewer, will give you far juicier, more delicious results.


The marinade for this doner kebab recipe

The flavorful marinade is by far the most important part of this homemade doner kebab recipe. It infuses the meat (or chicken, in this case) with loads of flavor while also working khổng lồ tenderize it.

My yogurt-based marinade for this chicken doner recipe consists of whole milk yogurt, fresh garlic, lemon juice, bold Eastern Mediterranean spices, và a little tomato paste, which is responsible for the beautiful red hue and also helps deepen the flavor with good tang và umami.

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While the seasonings may vary from one doner kebab recipe khổng lồ another, my marinade is closest to some of the Turkish và Eastern Mediterranean flavors I experienced when I visited Istanbul. Here is what you need for the marinade:

Whole milk yogurt - Yogurt-based marinades are very gentle on meat. With its lactic acid và calcium content, yogurt gently breaks down the proteins in the chicken, giving you perfectly tender, juicy results.Tomato paste - You’ll need 6 lớn 7 tablespoons (or a small 6-ounce can), to lớn give the chicken its deep red màu sắc and plenty of umami.Lemons - Zest và juice 2 lemons khổng lồ give the chicken doner kebabs bright acidity, and to work with the yogurt lớn tenderize the meat.Garlic - You don’t want khổng lồ skimp on the garlic here. I used 8 minced cloves to địa chỉ cửa hàng enough nutty, garlicky flavor khổng lồ this marinade.

How to lớn make doner kebab

These grilledTurkish kebabs are not overly complicated. I promise, skewering the chicken will be the only part where you’ll spend a little more time. And, if you vì have the time, budget a couple of hours for the chicken khổng lồ marinate. I give you two ways to cook doner kebabs: on the grill or in the oven.

Note that you can feed a crowd of up khổng lồ 8 people with this recipe, but to lớn make it for a smaller group of 4, simply cut the recipe in half. (Or just save the leftovers lớn enjoy the next day!)

Here’s how to lớn make tavuk döner kebabs:

Skewer the marinated chicken. Thread half of the chicken thighs onto three metal skewers. (Using 2 or 3 metal skewers helps to steady the chicken as you rotate the skewers over. Essentially, the 3 skewers mimic a big spit.) Make sure the chicken is quite snug on the skewers. Khổng lồ make it easier, prop the skewers on the edge of a pan or bowl. If the thighs are very large, you can fold them in half before threading them through the skewers. Repeat with the rest of the chicken thighs, using 3 more metal skewers. Once you"ve prepared the doner skewers, you have two options for cooking them: on the grill or in the oven.

To cook doner kebabs on the grill

Heat the grill to lớn 400 degrees F (which is medium-high heat on my grill). Place the skewers on the grates và close the grill. Cook for 10 to lớn 15 minutes until well charred, then turn over and cook for another 10 or so minutes. The chicken should be just about cooked through. Cooked chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, so I usually take my kebabs off the grill when they reach 160 degrees F. This is because the chicken continues khổng lồ cook as it rests. Double-check before serving that the internal temp has reached 165 degrees F.


Cooking chicken döner kebabs in the oven

For this method, you’ll need a large baking pan that has edges or walls. Arrange the kebabs on the pan so that the metal skewers rest on the edges of the pan. There should be some room between the chicken and the bottom of the pan, so be sure khổng lồ use a pan that is a little deep. Bake on the center rack of a 400 degrees F heated oven for 30 to lớn 35 minutes until golden brown và charred in some parts. Remove the baking pan from the oven và turn the skewers over (please wear oven mitts for this step!) before brushing the đứng đầu of the chicken with pan juices. Bake again for đôi mươi or so minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through (around 160 degrees F, as explained just above) và remove from the oven and allow it lớn rest for 5 to 10 minutes.


How lớn carve doner meat or chicken

Prop the skewers vertically at a slight angle, holding them in your non-dominant hand. With a sharp knife in your dominant hand, carefully slice the meat thinly from đứng đầu to bottom. If this is too difficult for you, simply pull the chicken thighs off the skewers first. Then place them on a cutting board, and cut them into thin, small slices. It won’t look the same, but it will still taste great. It’s more important to vì chưng it safely.

Ways khổng lồ serve these Turkish kebabs

You can serve doner kebabs a few different ways: in wraps, platters, or salad bowls. I’m partial to lớn doner wraps in warm pita, but here are some more ideas for how to serve doner kebabs:


Leftovers và storage

Leftover chicken doner kebabs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up khổng lồ 4 days. To lớn reheat, arrange the sliced chicken on a large baking sheet. Heat in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through.