The Greeks have perfected the gryo, so as much as I’d love to recreate it at home, I’m self aware enough to realize that I couldn’t even come to close to replicating it, no many how many times I try. Instead, I thought it would be fun to come up with a totally different version that still resembles a classic gyro, but won’t leave me feeling like I’ve come up short. Enter: Healthy Chicken Gyros with Feta Tzatziki and Sweet Potato Fries.
The fact that I’ve come up with not one, not two, but three different variations on the gyro might give you just a little bit of insight in to how much I love them, but out of all of them, this chicken version is probably about as close as you can get to the original. While it still has many of the flavors of the original with lots of garlic, rosemary and oregano, I swapped out the classic combination of beef and lamb for the healthier and quicker cooking option of chicken breast.
Classically, the beef and lamb is shaved from a giant rotisserie, which I obviously do not have access to, so to mimic that texture, I partially froze the chicken breasts and then used a super sharp knife to slice the meat as thin as I possibly could. From there, the “shaved” chicken gets marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dried rosemary and oregano.
Normally I like to marinate chicken for at least two to three hours, but since it’s sliced so thinly, the marinade penetrates the flesh in a fraction of the time, making this a dinner that’s not only healthy, but quick to make.
While the chicken marinates for 15 minutes or so, I get started on the sweet potato fries. Now, if you’ve ever been to Greece then you know, ninety-nine percent of the gyro vendors serve theirs with French fries tucked inside the pita along with the gyro meat. It’s something I was aware of before going to Greece, and was also something I thought I wanted no part of, but I ate my own words when I tried it, because it’s good, really good.
It’s actually pretty shocking to me that more gyro places in the United States haven’t adopted this procedure, especially since we’re the archetype for taking ordinary foods to the next level when it comes to indulgences. So for now, my knock-off version will have to suffice.
My method for baking sweet potatoes is pretty straight-forward. I toss the cut sweet potatoes with a few teaspoons of cornstarch and when it’s evenly coated, toss them with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Because olive oil was used in the marinade and again when the chicken is cooked, I wanted to stick with the same type of oil, but you could also swap out vegetable or coconut oil if you prefer.
The potatoes are evenly spread out on to a large, rimmed baking sheet, then popped in to a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes until they start to brown up. Because sweet potato have a tendency to burn, you really want to watch them and make sure you toss them after 12 minutes. Also, I like to season them about three-quarters of the way through the cooking process, because if you season them before, they don’t crisp up as well. Here, we seasoned them simply with a little bit of garlic powder and salt.
Once the chicken is done marinating, it gets dried off, then cooked in batches in a little bit of olive oil. The reason you want to cook in batches is so the meat gets a nice golden sear on it, if you overcrowd the pan, the meat will just steam instead of sear.
Once the meat is cooked, a generous portion is tucked into warm pita bread, stuffed with sweet potato fries and then covered in a super easy tzatziki sauce.
I like to serve these with a super simple Greek salad, but honestly, they’re super hearty on their own, so no side is necessary.
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tsp dried rosemary
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 3 garlic cloves, divided
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1 cup grated cucumber, squeeze of all excess moisture
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 8 pitas
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breasts in the freezer. Freeze until very cold, about 10 minutes.
- While the chicken chills, cut sweet potatoes in to fries. (I like to leave the skin on.
- Once the chicken is cold, use a sharp knife to very thinly slice the meat. Add chicken, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, rosemary, oregano and 2 garlic cloves to a large ziplock bag. Seal and massage the marinade in to the meat. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken marinates, toss the sweet potato fries with corn starch. Once the fries are completely coated, toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Evenly spread the fries out on to a large rimmed baking sheet. Do not overlap fries or they will steam. If your pan isn't big enough to to lay the fries flat in one layer, use two. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the bottom starts to brown. Use a spatula to toss the fries. Sprinkle with garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread back on pan and bake another 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Let fries cool slightly on baking sheet. When they get out of the oven, they may not seem crisp, but after they sit for a minute or two, they will crisp up!
- To make the tzatziki, stir the cucumber, yogurt, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons olive oil, feta and 1/4 teaspoon salt together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once the chicken has marinated, dry with paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with remaining salt. Heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add 3/4 tablespoon of olive oil. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- To assemble: Warm pita in the microwave for 35 seconds. Pile meat and a handful of french fries in pita. Dollop tzatziki on top. If desired, sprinkle with feta cheese.