This Döner Kebab recipe with chicken is THE BEST and MOST AUTHENTIC homemade version of a Döner you have ever tried outside of Germany! I promise it will shut up your Döner Kebab craving like it has mine.
What Is Döner Kebab?
If you haven't experienced Germany, you are probably wondering what the heck a Döner Kebab is. Simply put, it is THE top-selling and most popular fast food in Germany with over 15,000 Döner restaurants that can be found throughout the country. Döner Kebab had its German breakthrough in Berlin in the 1970s, when many Turkish immigrants settled. Then different types of lettuce, cabbage, and vegetables were added to this German-Turkish sandwich to make the German Döner what it is today.
Traditionally Döner Kebab consists of marinated meat (most popular is chicken, but beef and lamb are also common) that is stacked high on a giant skewer weighing about 130 pounds! It is then grilled rotisserie-style inside the restaurant, where the crisped outer layers are shaved off and served inside a Turkish bread pocket (pide) with lots of creamy, garlicky sauce, vegetables such as tomato, onions and cabbage, and feta cheese. I also love adding lots of "scharf" aka spicy to my Döner. While I haven't found the exact seasoning in the United States, I think this Mexican seasoning blend comes reeeeeally close! I love it and I love lots of it! I also have a Döner Salad recipe version on my blog that you should check out!
Why Homemade Döner Kebab Recipe?
My Mama can testify to this: my visits home to Germany typically start with me being utterly exhausted, yet somehow requesting Döner Kebab RIGHT NOW! However, after cooking today's Döner recipe, I feel less inclined to follow this addictive habit because THIS CHICKEN DÖNER RECIPE IS SO GOOD! I could not believe how authentic this homemade Döner tasted!
While I am not sure many Germans would conquer these steps since Döner shops are EVERYWHERE there, it is nice to know where your ingredients come from that go into this meal. And since we're not in Germany (and not spoiled in that sense), please take this recipe to heart because it is SO WORTH MAKING! Close your eyes and imagine yourself at a Dönerladen in Germany!
What's In Doner Meat?
The most popular versions of a Döner in Germany is made from either beef, lamb (or a mixture of the two) OR chicken, stacked on a giant meat skewer that spins in a rotisserie grill. NEVER pork. If you've been to a Döner restaurant, they will often use filler meats such as ground beef to give the Döner stack more structure.
Commercially produced Döner meat will most likely also have a bunch of fillers, preservatives and flavor enhancers added. Scandals of rotted meat making it into Döner sandwiches have scared many people away. So guess what's THE SAFEST way to eat a Döner? You guessed it. Making a homemade version! And I promise you won't be disappointed!
Ingredients For Homemade Döner Kebab Meat & Sauce
- chicken breast. You could also use boneless, dark chicken meat like thighs or beef or lamb meat instead. I also included my recipe for beef (and lamb if desired) in the recipe notes below (scroll down to the recipe card).
- onion. yellow onion works great here!
- greek yogurt. I like the thicker kind from the Fage brand and always buy a huge container of it at Costco. You'll need it for the marinating the meat and to make the Döner sauce.
- olive oil
- spices and herbs. Dried oregano, garlic powder, paprika powder, salt, pepper.
- garnishes. Tomato, feta, cabbage, pepperoncini, spicy seasoning 'scharf'. Adding a bunch of veggies to your Döner is what makes this Döner version more German. And not to forget marinated cabbage! I quickly marinate my sliced cabbage in oil, vinegar, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Then stir it once after 10 minutes and it's ready to go. I found that this spice blend most closely resembles the typical 'scharf' seasoning you'll see at Döner restaurants.
- sour cream. You'll need this for the sauce. Feel free to use light sour cream if you'd like.
- mayo. Another sauce ingredient. Feel free to use light mayo if you'd like.#
Ingredients for Pide (the Turkish pita pocket)
- flour. Just plain old all purpose flour.
- yeast. I use active dry yeast.
- sugar. Just a little bit to activate the yeast.
- sesame seeds. Don't forget these! They add a toasted, nutty note to your Döner bread that's so lovely.
How To Make Doner Kebab Meat
Döner meat is stacked high on giant skewers, then added to a rotating grill to cook there all day. I don't do that. I simply marinate my meat (up to a couple of days in the fridge). Then I cook it over medium-high heat in a skillet. I tried grilling before, but the flavor changed too much for me and it didn't taste like the authentic Döner meat anymore! This is the BEST homemade Döner recipe I have come up with over the years of making it and I hope you agree and it helps you feel closer to Europe!
Döner Macht Schöner!
"Döner makes you more beautiful" is the translation to one of Germany's most well-known Döner sayings, meaning "Döner macht schöner." Bottom line is that we should probably all consume more Döner because it's really THAT GOOD, whether that's to overcome homesickness or not. I hope you LOVE this authentic German Döner Recipe as much as I do and that it helps you bridge that Döner craving until you get to go back to Germany again (or you may just want to make your own Döner because you then know exactly what goes into your Döner!). I won't be going home to Germany again until this summer, and this has definitely helped me feel more at home here in Kansas City!
Guten Appetit! Also, if you love German cooking and baking as much as I do, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to my blog and never miss a post! Danke! ❤️
Döner Recipe with Chicken
Ingredients for homemade Pide (Turkish bread):
Ingredients for creamy garlic sauce
- 150 grams Greek yogurt I use 5% Greek yogurt, but you could also use 0% Greek yogurt
- 150 grams sour cream I use full fat sour cream, but you could also use light sour cream
- 100 grams mayo
- 1 Tablespoon onion finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic finely grated
- sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Ingredients for Döner Meat
Other Döner Ingredients
- 1 tomato sliced
- onion thinly sliced
- ½ head white cabbage thinly sliced, I'll marinate it for about 1 hour in some white wine vinegar, olive oil, a little sugar, salt and pepper
- feta cheese sliced or crumbled
- spicy seasoning In German "Scharf" I use the "Posole Spice Blend" seasoning by Los Chileros, as I think it tastes most authentic to what is used at German Döner restaurants.
- pepperoncini peppers for garnish
Homemade Pide Bread
- Combine lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar, give it a good stir, and allow it to sit and bubble up for 5 minutes.7 grams active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 250 grams lukewarm water
- Combine the yeast mixture with the remaining pide ingredients, then knead for 5 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until doubled in size.500 grams all-purpose flour, 50 grams butter, 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Divide into 2 balls, then roll out each ball into 10-inch rounds (25 cm). Cover with a clean linen towel and allow to rest in a warm spot for one more hour. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 390° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).
- Prepare a shallow bowl with water and have the sesame seeds handy. Wetten the outer edge of your hand, then use it to make a diamond-like pattern into your doughs (this is super easy, and it's probably best to watch my video for this one).
- Now sprinkle the top of your doughs generously with more water and finally, sesame seeds.sesame seeds
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are just starting to brown.
- This makes 2 flatbreads, which means you will likely have some leftovers! For storing, keep them airtight (and possibly refrigerated if you need to store them for longer than 2 days). When ready to use, carefully cut a pocket in the middle, then reheat on low on a panini press or in your oven or toaster.
- Par-freeze the chicken breasts for 2 hours (this helps with thin slicing), then slice thin, small slices. Add all other ingredients for the marinade, then combine with the sliced chicken until all chicken is covered. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours before cooking. This will help develop incredible flavor and tender texture.600 grams chicken breast, 1 onion, 3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt, 6 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 teapsoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground paprika powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon of a high-heat cooking oil, such as avocado oil, in a sauteeing skillet over medium-high heat. Add just enough chicken to cover the bottom of your skillet (you may have to cook it in 2 shifts) and cook for several minutes until cooked thoroughly and browned. If you have a griddle, you can cook the chicken on it instead as well.
Make Your Sauce
- Whisk together all Döner sauce ingredients, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow marinating for at least 1 hour to allow the garlic and onion flavors to establish in the sauce.150 grams Greek yogurt, 150 grams sour cream, 100 grams mayo, 1 Tablespoon onion, 2 cloves garlic, sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Serve Your Döner
- For one sandwich, cut open ¼ of one pide bread to the outer edge, but not all the way through (warm for a couple of minutes on low on a panini grill if you have one), then open the "pocket." Start by adding some sauce on the bottom half, then working with tongs, stuff the pocked with the meat, then marinated cabbage, lettuce, tomato, onion, and feta cheese. Optional: Sprinkle with "scharf" (I always have to add tons of this seasoning to mine!). Guten Appetit!1 tomato, onion, ½ head white cabbage, feta cheese, spicy seasoning, pepperoncini peppers
- 1000 grams (2 pounds) ground beef and ground lamb (I used ½ & ½, but feel to use just beef as well)
- 1 large onion, finely grated
- 4 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teapsoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon ground paprika powder
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground is best!
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