Donairs--the Vegetarian Canadian Experience

Vegetarian Donair with homemade pita and donair sauce.

A vegetarian version of the classic Canadian Donair with a bonus Donair Sauce recipe.

When I say Donairs are a Canadian Experience, I mean just that.  Canadian Donairs were invented and introduced to the Canadian palate in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1970s and have since spread throughout the Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada.  You can find Donairs at specialty donair shops and in most pizza shops. Donair kits can also be found in many supermarket delis for those who'd like to put theirs together at home.  

The Donair meat is a mildy spicy meatloaf-like mixture.  At home it is baked in a loaf pan. After baking, I find it best to refrigerate the vegetarian version before using.  The cold baked meat is sliced thinly and fried before eating in the pita bread with tomatoes and sweet onions all drizzled with Donair Sauce.  

The tangy, sweet and garlicky Donair Sauce is essential to the sandwich and is what makes it uniquely Canadian.  The sauce can be bought in most grocery stores in Canada but it is easy to make and so much cheaper and you get loads more for your money.  I've included the recipe for Donair sauce which is not only used on the sandwich/wrap but is a must when eating garlic fingers.  

Donairs are best served on fresh homemade pita bread but store-bought pita bread can be freshened up by sprinkling a little water on both sides of the bread and placing each pita in a hot frying pan for a few seconds on each side.  Or you can always heat them in the microwave.

Of course, my Donairs are vegetarian, something you won't find at your local donair or pizza shop.  I've adapted this recipe from Dash's Donair  recipe on  If you would like to make the meat version you can find it there.  

Printable recipe at end of post.
Donairs--The Canadian Vegetarian Experience
  • Vegetarian Donair meat
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced sweet onions
  • Donair sauce
  • Pita bread

Donair Meat–Vegetarian
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fine cracker crumbs
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 package Yves Ground Round, regular or Italian or other veggie burger equivalent to 1 pound of hamburger meat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, oregano, black pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and flour.  The flour will help mix the herbs and spices together. 

Place the ground round in food processor bowl, and blend in the spice mixture, cracker crumbs, milk, eggs and oil.  Process until almost smooth.  You really can't over process this as you want it really smooth.

Place mixture in the prepared loaf pan and cover the top with more parchment or foil wrap.  

Bake covered 40-45 minutes or until firm but not dry. This cuts better if you chill the meat overnight before slicing.

Assemble the ingredients for the donair meat.  Place everything in the food processor.

Process ingredients until very smooth.

Bake in a covered loaf pan until baked but not dry.

This is ready to go in the refrigerator.  The meat will slice much better when it's cold.


This recipes makes quite a bit of sauce but it will stay in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks if not longer.  If you think you won't use this much, just half the recipe.  If you run out it only takes a few minutes to make more. 

Donair Sauce
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoons garlic powder plus more to taste
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar, or as needed
To make the donair sauce, mix sugar and garlic powder together until well blended and then mix with the evaporated milk until the sugar is dissolved.  Add vinegar to milk mixture and let curdle for a few minutes.  Whisk the curdled milk together.  It should become a thick creamy sauce.  You may have to add more vinegar if required. The sauce should thicken upon sitting.  Keep refrigerated until needed. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Super easy donair sauce can be made in minutes. Mix the sugar, garlic powder and evaporated milk together.  Add the vinegar and let curdle.  Whisk together until smooth. See how creamy the end product becomes. 

When I can find this concentrated vinegar I use it instead of regular vinegar. I use only 1 teaspoon and it works excellent in this recipe.  Fish and Chip restaurants use this to make their own vinegar.

To prepare the Donairs:
1.  Heat a pita bread for each donair you will be eating or serving.
2.  Spread each pita bread with 1 or 2 tablespoons of Donair Sauce.
3.  Place 3 or 4 slices Donair Meat on top of sauce. Use enough meat to almost cover pita bread.
4.  Place chopped tomato and onion on top of meat, as much as you like.
5.  Drizzle a little more Donair sauce over fillings.
5.  Fold pita bread around the filling.  Grab a napkin.  Eat and enjoy.  
6.  Wipe your mouth and hands with the napkin.

Slice cold Donair Meat. I like to slice the meat longways for nice sized slices. Dice onions and tomatoes.

Fry Donair Meat in a little oil until it starts to turn brown.

Spread Donair Sauce on heated pita bread.  Homemade pita bread is the best but heated store-bought bread is sufficiently good for a superb tasting donair.

Layer on the fried meat, tomatoes and onion.  Drizzle on a little more Donair Sauce and fold the bread around the fillings.

Bring the Donair carefully to your mouth and dig in. 

A great Canadian favourite. 

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩          


  1. cant wait to make these for my son, he seems to get left out when we make non vegetarian meals, Thanks :)

    1. I hope your son enjoys these as much as we do.

  2. Seriously bless your soul. I gave up meat 4 months ago and donairs are the only thing I've been missing, and because they're an Atlantic Canadian delicacy I couldn't imagine finding a recipe. Thank you so so much! I can't wait to try these!!

    1. What a lovely comment! I hope these donairs hit the spot. We certainly enjoy them.

  3. do you think the donair 'meat' would freeze ok? would love to make these ahead

    1. You shouldn't have any trouble freezing the "meat". It sure would make things easier on the day you'the re making donairs.

  4. The taste of the meat and sauce are just like Halifax Donair's in Nova Scotia. I used to buy them regularly. I rolled the processed meat with a rolling pin and pressed it with my hands on a baking sheet to about 1/4 inch thickness. After cooking and cooling I was able to slice the meat and it held it's shape, couldn't tell it was veggie crumbles looked like pressed meat. I didn't bother frying it. It was a lot more drier than my 1st attempt with the loaf pan. Love this recipe


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