Halifax-Style Donair Kabobs with Tomato Salad and Yogurt Sauce

Jul 28, 2021 | meat, Recipes, salads

One of my first food memories, actually just one of my first memories, is of a small pizza place under the MacDonald bridge in Dartmouth. It was only about two or three blocks from my family home, and I have a memory of trying my first bite of donair from there. We moved from Dartmouth when I was almost four, so that first donair experience would have been when I was about three. I have loved them ever since. Over the years, I have done my fair share of experimenting with donair flavours. I even once put a donair-spiced scallop dish on a menu. And so, I wanted to make a donair, without making a donair. I wanted the same flavours but in a different package. To do that, I went back to the origins of the donair but kept the flavours that I’ve loved for my whole life. And so, I present to you my Halifax-Style Donair Kabobs with tomato salad and yogurt sauce.

The Recipes

Halifax-Style Donair Kabob

Donair Kabobs seasoned in the Halifax Style. The perfect dish to add to your barbecue menu.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Barbecue, Donair, Grilling, Kabobs, Skewers
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 lb ground beef 454 g
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Knead the meat mixture for five minutes or until it develops a tacky texture and appearance.
  • Divide the meat in four and form each fourth of meat around a 12-inch skewer. If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 1 hour before skewering the meat.
  • Wrap the meat around the skewer and gently squeeze it to spread it out in an even layer around the length of the skewer.
  • Heat your grill to 400°f.
  • Grill the skewers on the hottest part of your grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through. Flip them every 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Take the skewers off the grill and serve immediately.


These Donair Kabobs are great with tomato and onion salad and garlicky yogurt sauce, but they also work very well in the traditional pita, with donair sauce, tomato and onion, or in a salad bowl with garlic mayo. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

A simple and delicious garlicky yogurt sauce for spiced beef, pork, or vegetables.
Prep Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Dip, Garlic, Yogurt
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Tomato and Onion Salad

Tomato and Onion Salad makes a great side dish for any summer meal. Don't let the simplicity of this salad fool you because it is loaded with flavour.
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Salad, Side Dish, Simple, Tomato
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cups large diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for one hour before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What is a Halifax Donair?

If you aren’t from Nova Scotia, you may be wondering to yourself, “What is a Halifax Donair?”. Let me enlighten you. A Halifax Donair is made from spiced beef that is cooked on a verticle spit. Thinly shaved and wrapped in a soft Lebanese-style pita with fresh diced white onion and tomato, and finished with a sweet and tangy sauce made of sweet and condensed milk, vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder. It is the kind of thing you usually only eat after a long night of drinking, or on a Friday night in with friends. Every Pizza Place in the province, except for some of the big national chains, sells donairs. And just about every Nova Scotian, at least from a certain generation forward, has a deep-seated love for them. I happily include myself in this group.

Other places in the world have Donair, often spelled doner kebab, or gyros, which are similar. But none are quite like the Halifax Donair, which was introduced to the region by Greek immigrants in the 1970s. It was originally served as a lamb gyro with tzatziki sauce, but the recipe was changed to what it is now to suit local tastes. Since then, it has been a local favourite and has now begun to spread across the country. However, only one city can truly claim it as their own. It is, after all, the official food of Halifax.

Making The Donair Kabob Meat Mixture

Okay, let’s get cooking. Start with a pound of lean ground beef. Add some flour (I used gluten-free all-purpose flour), Italian seasoning, garlic powder, dried onion or onion powder, cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper. See the recipe above for all the measurements.

Mixing and Tasting The Donair Meat

Mix the meat well. I mean really well. You want to knead it for about five minutes or until it develops a tacky look and texture. This will give the meat the right texture when cooked. Break off a little piece of the meat and cook it in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Taste it, and adjust the seasoning as needed. This is a good habit to get into whenever making anything with ground meat like meatloaf or burger. Season the meat, cook off a little piece and taste it.

Making Donair Kabobs

The picture below shows six skewers, but the recipe above only makes four. I apologize for the confusion. I adjust the recipe because the salad and the sauce were only enough for four.

Divide the meat into four evenly sized balls. Wrap each ball around a metal or pre-soaked wooden or bamboo skewer. Gently squeeze the meat to spread it out the length of the skewer in an even layer.

Grilling The Donair Kabobs

Heat your grill to 400°f and let it sit for about 10 minutes to get the grates nice and hot. Cook the skewers for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating every 2 to 3 minutes until cooked. The meat should be firm to the touch with a little spring back when fully cooked. Take the Donair Kabobs off the grill and serve immediately.

Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Traditional Donair Sauce is made with sweet and condensed milk, onion powder, and garlic powder. It is delicious but not great if you are trying to watch your waistline. So, I wanted to make a slightly healthier sauce. I made a version with non-fat Greek yogurt as the base. It is sweetened with honey, soured with lemon juice, has plenty of garlic, a bit of onion powder, and tastes delicious. Mix all the ingredients, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for an hour to let the flavours develop. This sauce works with any spiced meat and goes great on salad bowls too.

Tomato and Onion Salad

I have to tell you, the surprise breakout star of this meal is by far this really simple tomato and onion salad. I loved the Donair Kabobs, the Garlicky Yogurt sauce was fantastic, but this salad was amazing! Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes with garlic, red onion, parsley, white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. That’s all there is to it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes one of your new favourite summer side dishes. It has become one of mine. Just like with the sauce, mix all the salad ingredients, cover the bowl, and let it sit in the fridge for an hour before serving for best results.

Putting It All Together

All the components of this meal are good on their own, but when you take a bite with a bit of the meat, some of the salad, and a touch of the sauce, that is when the magic happens. The flavours come alive, and you really get that Halifax Donair experience. Minus the hangover and sauce dripping all over your hands, arms, and clothes.

The Warp Up

I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, and I am so happy that I finally got the opportunity. It was well worth the wait. I think you’ll be happy if you make any of the components of this meal, but I think if you make them all and serve it all together, you will be over the moon. Try it for yourself. You’ll be happy you did.

Thanks for reading, and remember to check out my brand new cookbook, “The How-To Cookbook For Men” It comes out on August 10th and is available for preorder here.

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