Ingredients for crispy lamb pitas, including lamb, yogurt, lemon, garlic, herbs, vegetables, and yogurt.

I am such a fan of gyros and souvlaki and other Greek and Mediterranean-style "things in pita." I occasionally make gyro meat at home, though without a rotisserie, it doesn't quite have the same charm.

This week's pitas were my simplified homage to this favorite food, and I actually think it might be my new go-to. I marinated the ground lamb with some lemon juice, garlic, and dried herbs and spices, and then cooked it until it was super crispy around the edges and rich and caramely.

Rather than make a tzatziki sauce, I made a little cucumber salad and spread plain yogurt on my pitas. You get the same vibe without the grating and the salting and the straining and the waiting. A true tzatziki has a place in my heart and my kitchen, but I think this shortcut did the job for this weeknight meal.

Let's take a look! This recipe made enough for 4 pitas, which are nice and hearty. You could serve them alongside another veggie or a salad, if you want, but I didn't miss either.

Here's what I used:

Ingredients for crispy lamb pitas, including lamb, yogurt, lemon, garlic, herbs, vegetables, and yogurt.


  • 1 lb ground lamb – You can use other meats here, but the lamb lends a particular flavor that is hard to replace.
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano – You could use fresh, if you have it.
  • 1 teaspoon dry rosemary – I pulverized this in a mortar and pestle, because I don’t like the texture, but you don’t have to. You can also use fresh, if it’s available.
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided use -- Any neutral-flavored oil is fine.
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, quartered and chopped – Any cucumber, seeded or seedless, is fine.
  • 1 to 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion – You can use more, if you don’t have onion-haters at the dinner table. Any color is fine, including shallots or even scallions, if that’s all you have.
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar – Any vinegar is fine here.
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 pitas, warmed -- You can warm the pitas in the oven (wrapped in tinfoil) or in the microwave (wrapped in a damp paper towel).
  • Chopped dill, for serving (optional) – I found this in my refrigerator at the last second, so I used it, but I don’t think it was essential.


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, oregano, rosemary, cumin, salt, lemon zest, garlic, and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Mix until well-combined, cover, and refrigerate for about an hour, or up to overnight.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, vinegar, and the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Season with a pinch of salt and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Heat a large non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat to the skillet and use a spatula to press the meat into a thin layer (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Cook until it is golden brown and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes.
  4. Use the spatula to cut the meat into easy-to-handle portions and flip. Cook for another minutes or so, then use the spatula to break the pieces into roughly 1-inch pieces. Some may be smaller, some may be a little larger, all are okay. Cook, flipping the pieces as needed, until they are crisp all over and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. To serve, spread a few tablespoons of yogurt down the center of a pita. Top with the cucumber salad and lamb, and sprinkle with dill, if using.

Crisply lamb pitas

  • The meat + veggie + yogurt combo would be equally tasty as a topper for a green salad or rice/grain bowl (#glutenfree). I might add a lemony vinaigrette to either of these.
  • For a non-dairy variation, substitute hummus, blended soaked cashews, mashed avocado, or even just a swipe of tahini for the yogurt.
  • My wilted dill was lackluster here, but you might enjoy a heavy sprinkle of minced parsley, cilantro, and/or mint.
  • Olives, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, or any briny veggie condiment would be great as an addition.