The Difference Between Gyro vs Shawarma

At first glance, you may not be able to tell the difference between a gyro vs shawarma. They are both sliced seasoned meat wrapped in some kind of bread such as a pita with salad and sauce. 

The Difference Between Gyro vs Shawarma

Both of these dishes originate from European countries. The gyro is from Greece whereas the Shawarma is from Turkey. Both dishes are popular for street food markets as they can be cooked fresh and served perfectly wrapped for on-the-go snacking. 

But, what sets the gyro and shawarma apart? The top difference is the meat. The shawarma uses lamb, turkey, or chicken. Whereas, the gyro is made with either beef or lamb. 

Another difference is the way that the meat is prepared and seasoned. Shawarma is made tasty by adding spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom. Gyros can be found to be seasoned with herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary. 

As you can see from above, the different seasoning techniques show how different the dishes taste from one another. Just because they taste different, doesn’t mean that one is more delicious than the other though!

Other differences set both of the dishes apart. Keep reading to find out what makes gyro and shawarma beautifully unique in preparation and taste.

What is a Shawarma?

As we have already mentioned above, shawarma is either lamb, turkey, or chicken meat that has been seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom.

It is a popular dish from Turkey and the Middle East. 

So, what is shawarma made from? Let’s take a look at the ingredients in further detail. It is one of the most popular dishes at a street food market for very good reasons. 

Meat – lamb, turkey, or chicken

Seasoning – cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom

Fillings – hummus, tahini, salad, and pickles

Bread – flatbread or pita

What is a Gyro?

Even though shawarma and gyro may look similar to the eye, they are very different in taste.

Gyro is again a popular street food dish which is made from marinated beef or lamb that is wrapped in a pita.

The fact that they are placed into a handheld wrap, makes them ideal to carry around whilst snacking.

The main differences between gyro and shawarma are seen in the ingredients list. For a closer look, you can tell from the list below.

Meat – beef or lamb

Seasoning – oregano, thyme, and rosemary

Fillings – shredded lettuce, red onion, tomato, and tzatziki sauce

Bread – pita

Frequently Asked Questions

What came first: shawarma or gyro?

Shawarma was created for the first time in 1870 by Iskender Efendi. It incorporated meat roasted from a vertical system that was seasoned to perfection. The first record of these being made was in Bursa, Turkey. 

The shawarma was so delicious that it soon spread far and wide to other cultures in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. To this day, it has become a tasty meal that people enjoy worldwide.

Gyros were created in 1922 in Greece. It all started when the movement of refugees from Istanbul and Ismir. It was well known that the refugees began to set up shops in the Greek towns that they now called home and used to sell gyro. 

After World War II, the news of how tasty the gyro was started to travel fast. Soon, it was one of the most popular fast foods in the world. To this day, it is a popular dish served in street food markets.

Is shawarma healthy to eat?

Typically, shawarma can be customized to make it into a healthier meal. For example, you could remove the outer bread and eat it with some salad and fresh cucumber.

The meat content is packed full of protein so it will keep you feeling fuller for longer. 

However, if you did want to keep the bread, it shouldn’t be a problem. As long as you eat a balanced diet usually, the bread in the shawarma won’t break your diet drastically. 

On average, one chicken shawarma wrap contains 392 calories. That is a good amount considering it is a filling meal.

Is gyro meat good for you?

If you decide to go for the traditional lamb gyro, then you will be glad to know that the meat is healthy for you. Of course, you must follow a balanced diet regularly to reap the benefits of this. 

Lamb gyro is usually low in calories which makes it fantastic if you are on a diet. It is packed full of protein too so that full feeling will stick around for much longer than if you had a hamburger instead. 

You can expect a filling sandwich with less than 500 calories when you choose a gyro for lunch or dinner. If you decide to go for all the trimmings, expect calories of up to 430. Still, this is a good number for what you get included in the wrap.


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  1. Lamb or beef gyros is available in Greece but not so Common as you think.
    Living in Greece,I can assure you, typical gyros is made with pork or chicken. Some offer lamb too but, beef is rarely, if ever seen and if, then almost exclusively as kebab variant.

  2. My thoughts exactly and I remember cumin was a regular ingredient and that you are offered tzatziki with it quite often.
    Also the flat bread is circular and folded around the filling and tastes much better than the typical pitta bread pocket that holds a doner kebab.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.