The Delicious Donair Migration

Posted on: 27 May 2015


Canada is experiencing a western migration of a culinary nature.  The Halifax donair, also known as the doner, donner, gyro, kebab, doner kebab, and kebab, is making its way across the continent from Nova Scotia, where it was created in the early 70's.  Originally meant to be more of a gyro type food, the donair evolved into a ground-beef based sandwich that is primarily served in pizza places throughout the nation:


Food historians tell different versions of the origin of the East Coast Donair, but most believe a Turkish or Greek immigrant brought the food to Halifax in the early 70s. Originally, lamb was used  as the main ingredient, but this meat proved too costly, so ground beef was substituted. When a major pizza restaurant added the item to its menu, a legend was born. Now many Canadians cannot imagine life without this classic sandwich.

Halifax Donair

It's all in the sauce when it comes to the popularity of this famous version.  The Halifax donair sauce is made from sugar, condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic. This combination goes on top of a mixture of ground beef, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, and other ingredients that vary slightly restaurant to restaurant.

The entire concoction is usually wrapped in pita bread, although flatbread is also sometimes used. The sweeter taste of this version compared to the original has led to its still-growing popularity.  


This delicacy has been around for decades, and its migration has been steady.  The donair is now a staple in pizza joints all the way to Quebec, Alberta, and beyond.  While the donair is well known throughout Canada, the southern migration has been slower.

Fortunately for those folks to the south, the donair can be found in the United States as well, particular in their northern cities such as Seattle.  Canadians are amazed to learn that many Americans have never tasted a donair and do not even know what one is.  Fortunately, the sandwich is a secret they are willing to share.  

For those who have not tried them, the first bite of a Halifax donair is nearly an out-of-body experience. The combination of the extra sweet sauce with the tangy ground beef satisfies the most demanding of appetites.  The sweet and savory dish is addictive and will continue to migrate, so those who are currently donair-deprived should not despair. Soon they too will be able to enjoy this deliciousness at the local pizzeria.