Vegetarian Gyros

When I started this blog, I had a few goals.  One was to constantly push my boundaries as a novice cook/baker, but the other goal was to spread the word about meat-free dishes.  At age 15, I made the decision to become a strict vegetarian.  By the time I was 21, without hardly any knowledge of how to prepare food or a kitchen (dorm life didn’t really allow it) and due to external pressures, I decided to return to meat.  Starting with fish, then chicken/turkey, then into the realm of pork/red meat, I reluctantly took on the lifestyle again more out of convenience than out of my personal beliefs.  (***And, as a sidenote, I’m supportive of whatever your diet may be.  I believe that everyone’s dietary preferences are personal ones.)  The nice thing was that my love of food and curiosity of the chemistry behind it led to my B.S. in Nutrition Science.  I had a blast in my food chemistry labs-making peanut brittle, preparing broccoli umpteen ways, and figuring out what happens when you caramelize something.  It was a complete joy (and a secret way of learning a lot of biochemistry at the same time).

I have many friends who have adopted the growing Meatless Mondays trend.  I am of the mentality of “don’t knock it til you try it”.  And these friends are now saying that they have increased the meatless days to Mondays AND Wednesdays…and that they didn’t realize how easy it would be.  Whether it is for their health, their lifestyle, the environment, their budgets, or their moral beliefs, I haven’t met anyone who has tried going meatless for one day a week and didn’t like it.

Back to the present day.  A year and a half ago, I made the decision to go meat-free again.  I eat fish/seafood rarely.  And, like I said, finding vegetarian options and having the knowledge and the means (no more dorm rooms!) to play around in the kitchen and experiment, in a way, is much easier than it was then.  So I’ve been messing around.  Playing with meat substitutes.  Having some epic kitchen fails.  But also finding some really good vegetarian alternatives in the process.  When I first went back to it, all I could think about was what I COULDN’T have anymore.  Forget that.  Now it’s all about finding alternatives that are just as good (if not better!).  I even made vegetarian sausage biscuits and gravy during the holidays, and my father (a strict non-vegetarian) cleaned his plate thoroughly before I told him that he had just eaten a completely vegetarian breakfast (my mom and I were snickering the whole time he was eating it because he couldn’t even tell.)

For this dish, I played with seitan.  It’s made of wheat gluten (so, unfortunately, it’s not gluten-free), but it’s a great alternative to use in place of tofu (because here I was, thinking that tofu might be the only thing out there that I could use…silly me).  You can buy it in several forms, but I found mine (pre-made seitan strips) in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods near the veggie dogs/veggie alternative products.  The rest of the ingredients are relatively easy to find.  And, since the seitan is basically pre-cooked, the meal is literally ready in minutes: just enough time to heat it through and clean/chop your veggies.

So, whatever your dietary preferences may be, this recipe is another keeper.  It’s messy, full of flavor, and savory-just like a gyro should be. I cannot wait to make it again soon.


Vegetarian Gyros

Servings: 2


1 8-ounce package of seitan (preferably already in strips-if not, roughly chop in strips)

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch cayenne pepper

Pinch nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper, to taste

2 whole wheat pitas, warmed

For garnish:

1 cup lettuce, shredded

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 medium tomato, diced

Tzatziki (homemade or prepared), as desired


1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the canola oil and heat until shimmering.

2. Add the seitan and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the seitan is cooked through and lightly browned.

3.  Add the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine.

4. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until fragrant, and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, assemble the pitas with the lettuce, onion and tomato.

6. Add the seitan and drizzle with tzatziki sauce. Serve immediately.


Source: Adapted from


June 2, 2011 - 9:19 am

kelley - These look delicious and perfect for packing into a summer picnic basket

June 2, 2011 - 2:32 pm

DessertForTwo - I’ve been back and forth all my life with meat. On one hand, I don’t really crave it. I’d rather have something vegetarian that feels lighter in my belly. But there are days when I need red meat. So I eat it. But those days are coming months apart. Long story short, love your recipe 🙂

June 2, 2011 - 2:38 pm

Pretty. Good. Food. - They look gorgeous! You’ve inspired me!!! Meatless gyros here I come!!

June 2, 2011 - 6:11 pm

Jenny - I’ve cooked with tempeh and tofu, but never seitan. Now I’m eager to try–this looks like a great recipe!

June 2, 2011 - 7:52 pm

Apron Appeal - You are an ANGEL for posting this. I had no idea there was a non soy, non bean meat substitute. Seitan. I can’t wait to start experimenting.

June 11, 2011 - 5:37 pm

Vegetarian Gyros « healthy food | lazy people - […] Brave New Food, ever a bountiful source for good ideas, recently sent me a link to a post about vegetarian gyros at Curvy Carrot. […]

July 19, 2011 - 11:26 am

Week of 07.18.11 « Tight Bites - […] Vegetarian Gyros: One of these days I need to try seitan and see what it’s all about. […]

January 12, 2012 - 11:51 am

72 Healthy Recipes to Jumpstart 2012 - […] Vegetarian Gyros […]

January 17, 2012 - 8:13 am

Barbara - Looks great! check out my tumblog for some yummy vegetarian recipes 🙂

March 23, 2012 - 4:40 pm

Sarah - Can tempeh or tofu be substituted? I’m easing my way in to a meatfree diet, and am new to all the meat substitutes. What would be better? Looks delicious, btw, thanks for sharing!

March 23, 2012 - 6:01 pm

srlacy - Hi Sarah-

If you can’t get your hands on seitan, I would try the tempeh-it has a firmer consistency. But, in a pinch, tofu might be ok, too, but just make sure to use the extra firm kind. Let me know how they turn out if you use either-I’m curious! Good luck!

June 4, 2013 - 12:23 am

Sarah B - I’d like to say your sight has truly inspired me! A few months ago I decided to go vegetarian. I am, however, a 16 year old high school student living in a meat-loving house who isn’t the best at cooking edible meals. I found this sight about a month ago, and it has truly helped me so much. This time next year, I will be that kid in the dorm (can you say graduating young??!) and I really want to uphold my meatless ways through college. Having a wonderful sight like this is a priceless resource. Thank you for all of your posts, and PLEASE don’t stop! 🙂

June 4, 2013 - 1:15 pm

srlacy - Hi Sarah! Nice to meet you-thanks for the kind words-they mean a lot. And congrats on keeping with a meat-free diet!

August 31, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Sandra - We used Tempeh and it was way delicious. We even made our own Tzatziki sauce. Yeah children had fun making it! I’ll be saving this recipe. Thank You so much.

January 17, 2014 - 3:32 pm