East Coast Donairs

If you have ever been out on the town for a night in Halifax NS, there are very high chances your night ended at a Pizza shop on the city’s famous “Pizza Corner”!

I remember thinking to myself the first few times I had one – I’m not sure what this meat is made of but man it is tasty! And that sauce… YUM! 

If you have never had one – it’s shaved seasoned beef (traditionally shaped into a large cylinder shape and cooked on a spit) served on a warm pita, topped with chopped tomatoes, raw onions and a garlic sauce.

In recent years, I have tried a few different recipes (My friend Mel Chmilar Jr – Darkside of the Grill on IG – has a great one – that’s where the idea of summer savory came from. Matty Matheson has one. And many more. Most are very similar in terms of the spices used). In the end I landed on a seasoning ratio that I am very happy with… Chef Ted Readers seasoning really gives the meat a nice hint of heat. You can substitute it out for Cayenne in a pinch but I would highly recommend the Hot & Spicy Bonedust (careful, as it is truly hot and spicy so I would not add more than the recipe calls for).

When it comes to Donair sauce it doesn’t get much easier… I have tried a few different recipes – including one from a friend who is a chef and never had much success. Using Sweetened Condensed Milk is key for a thick sweet sauce!

Smoked Donair Meat


Donair Meat

·         2 pounds Ground Beef

· 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

·         2 teaspoons Dried Oregano 

·         1 teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper

·         1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning 

·         1 teaspoon Summer Savory 

·         1 teaspoon Garlic Powder 

·         1 teaspoon Onion Powder 

·         ½ teaspoon Ted Readers Hot & Spicy Bonedust 

·         1 Tomato chopped

·         1 Medium Onion chopped 

·         1 Package of Pita Bread 


Donair Sauce 

·         1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

·         2 teaspoons Garlic Powder

·         4 tablespoons White Vinegar



  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl
  2. In a large metal mixing bowl, sprinkle spice mixture over ground beef.  Knead the meat and spices well to ensure that you get even flavour.
  3. It is important to try to get all the air out of the meat mixture when you press into the pan.  If you do not – the final product will have holes.
  4. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Cut your paper to be equal to the long side of the pan and had enough length to overhang the sides.  It does not need to cover the sort ends so to speak.  The paper will allow your meat to release from the pan easier when you go to smoke the meat. 
  5. Place your meat into the lined loaf pan.
  6. Punch the meat down to remove any last air pockets then using a spatula you can flatten/smooth out the top of the meat. 
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator over night or for at least one hour.
  8. Pre-heat smoker to 350F
  9. Remove meat from loaf pan and place on the smoker.  Discard the parchment paper.
  10. Smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F – about 60-90 mins
  11. While meat is cooking – whisk sweetened condensed milk, garlic powder and vinegar in a small bowl until well blended.  Cover and place in refrigerator.
  12. Remove Donair meat and allow to cool 20-30 mins. 
  13. Slice the meat using a meat slicer or sharp knife.  About 1/8” thickness is good
  14. Sautee meat in a large frying pan until browned (only using as much as you plan to use).
  15. While meat is cooking, you can place pitas in a single layer on top of the meat to warm them (flipping occasionally).
  16. Once the meat is browned and the pitas are warm, place the meat on the pita, top with chopped tomatoes, chopped white onion and the donair sauce.
  17. For the authentic experience, you can serve the donair wrapped in foil with a side of napkins.
  18. Enjoy! 

Note – any unused cooked meat can be frozen in portions and used later as a tasty snack!  Best frozen vacuum-sealed in unsliced portions.

Hot & Spicy Bonedust by Chef Ted Reader
Garlic Donair Sauce

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