It is 39 degrees on the Outer Banks today. Never mind that it was 54 degrees a few days ago, winter is here and these days are meant for putting on multiple fuzzy layers with no intentions of going outside, making a cup of hot tea, and roasting something yummy in your oven. It’s Lamb Gyro day! Roasted lamb, slathered with garlic, sliced thin and broiled till it’s crispy… folded into a soft, warm pita spread with tzatziki sauce and topped with lettuce, onion, and tomato… OMG and the french fries? That we’re going to bake in the olive oil/lamb fat that’s leftover from broiling the lamb? You guys… what are we even doing here? Making the best wintertime dinner ever!!
There’s something about making an epic, two-hands-required, mess of a sandwich at home and piling up some salty french fries on the side that makes me feel all the things. I’m super satisfied with myself for the effort in the first place, then biting into the soft, pillowy bread with crispy meat inside, I know, for sure, food is 100% my favorite thing in the world. Specifically, this food. Right now.
This recipe uses a boneless leg of lamb, which is actually super easy to prep and cooks in about an hour and a half. It’s best to trim a little of the fat off the top first. If you have a fillet knife, use that instead of your regular chef’s knife like I did in this photo. I wasn’t paying attention and cut a liiiittle too much fat off that one side there. Try to leave a thin layer all the way across.
Salt and pepper the fat side, then flip it over and salt and pepper the other side. Spread it with minced garlic and dried oregano, then drizzle it with olive oil. Roll up the lamb and tie it with butcher’s string; the point is to make the lamb roughly the same thickness all the way through, so it cooks more evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and roast it in a 450 oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until your meat thermometer reads 135 degrees.
Once the lamb is out of the oven, let it rest, then you can slice it up and proceed. Or, let it cool to room temp, wrap it in foil and let it nap in the fridge overnight. Doing this makes it easier to get super thin slices the next day, but it’s not necessary.
When you’re ready to slice the lamb, just get it as thin as possible. If we are neighbors, I will lend you the knife Joey got me for this purpose. Yes, I have a gyro knife. Yes, I have my priorities in order. I think it’s actually called a “slicing knife” and it’s sharp and wide but also thin and perfect. Move a heaping pile of your sliced lamb to a baking sheet and tear it into roughly 2″ pieces. Toss the pieces in a bit of olive oil and pop them under the broiler until they’re crispy. Look what you made… gyro meat!
With your gyro meat, you need tzatziki sauce. What’s that? It’s a tangy, garlicky, cucumber-yogurt sauce. It’s simple to throw together: Greek yogurt, a clove of grated garlic, half of a cucumber chopped small, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. When you’re not busy inhaling lamb gyros, try the tzatziki as a dip or on toast – it’s delicious.
You guys! The fries! Gyro’s best friend in the whole wide world. Remember the baking sheet we broiled the lamb pieces on? It should be sitting aside with a nice layer of olive oil and lamb fat glistening on top. Grab your bag of frozen french fries – Don’t hate on me, I am not making homemade french fries today. Spread your frozen fries out on the pan with the left-behind lamb goodness , and bake according to the package instructions. If you are fancy, toss them in the world’s best salt for french fries.
Swap out that hot cup of tea from earlier with a cold beer or a glass of wine and enjoy cozying up with this deliciousness.Print
Crispy, roasted lamb piled high in soft pita bread with creamy, garlicky tzatziki sauce and some punched up store-bought fries on the side!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
for the lamb
- 3 lb boneless leg of lamb
- 1 T salt
- 1 T pepper
- 1 t oregano
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- extra virgin olive oil
Special equipment: butcher’s string (most grocery stores and hardware stores carry it)
for the tzatziki sauce:
- 2 C plain Greek yogurt (I use the 2% fat kind)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 of an English cucumber, seeds scraped out and chopped small
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
store-bought fries on the side
- Alexia brand yukon gold fries are my preference, but whatever you can find
- Save the pan you broil the lamb on in step 7
sandwich-makings of your choice
6 pieces of pita bread and, for the toppings: thinly sliced red onions, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, crumbled feta, hot sauce, and banana peppers are all great options.
for the lamb
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set a wire rack inside.
- Trim some of the fat away from the lamb, leaving a thing layer across the top. Sprinkle 1/2 a tablespoon of salt and 1/2 a tablespoon of pepper on the top, then flip the lamb over and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the oregano and minced garlic onto the non-fat side of the lamb and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
- Starting with the thicker, short end of the lamb, roll it up and tie it in 3 or 4 places, about an inch apart, with butcher’s string. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.
- Place the lamb on the wire rack set inside your foil-lined baking sheet and roast it in the oven for about an hour and a half, or until your meat thermometer registers 135.
- Remove the lamb from the oven and let it rest, tented with a sheet of aluminum foil for 20 minutes.
- Turn your oven to broil. Slice the lamb as thinly as possible and transfer a heaping pile of it to a clean baking sheet. Tear the slices into roughly 2″ pieces, drizzle on a little olive oil and toss with your hands, then spread the pieces out in a single layer. Broil for about 5 minutes until the edges are crispy.
for the tzatziki sauce
- Place the yogurt in a medium bowl and grate the clove of garlic over the bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
for the store-bought fries
- Place your frozen french fries on the same pan you broiled the lamb on and cook, according to package directions, tossing in the olive oil/lamb fat mixture halfway through cooking.
- Once the fries are cooked, transfer them to a large bowl and season with salt, tossing to coat the fries evenly.
Warm your pitas up in the oven or char them briefly on a gas stove burner for a few seconds. Spread tzatziki on each pita and top with a pile of crispy lamb. Then, add whatever toppings you like: thinly sliced red onions, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and crumbled feta are my go-to’s, plus a few shakes of hot sauce. Banana peppers are great too. Serve the fries alongside, or in the gyro if that’s your thing!
I apologize in advance, your oven may put off some smoke when roasting the lamb. You may need/want to (carefully) pour 1/2 a cup of water onto the surface of the baking sheet a couple times throughout the cooking to alleviate some of the smoking.