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Shawarma vs. Doner: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 21, 2024
Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of thinly sliced meat, roasted on a rotating spit, often served in a flatbread, while Doner is a Turkish dish of similarly cooked meat, typically served in a bread like a pita.

Key Differences

Shawarma, originating in the Middle East, is known for its unique blend of spices, which often includes cardamom, cinnamon, and turmeric. Doner kebab, from Turkey, traditionally features a simpler spice mix, often focused on oregano and paprika.
The meat used in shawarma is usually lamb, chicken, or beef, and is often marinated for several hours. Doner, while also using lamb, beef, or chicken, is sometimes not marinated as long as shawarma.
In terms of serving, shawarma is typically wrapped in a thin flatbread, such as pita or lavash, and accompanied by vegetables and sauces. Doner kebab is often served in a thicker, more bread-like pita, sometimes as a sandwich or on a plate with accompaniments.
Shawarma is usually seasoned with a variety of sauces, ranging from tahini to garlic yogurt. Doner kebabs are often accompanied by a slightly different set of condiments, like yogurt-based sauces or spicy red sauce.
The cooking technique for both involves a rotating spit, but shawarma spits are often taller and thinner, allowing the meat to cook in its own juices. Doner spits are typically shorter and have a different heating method, which can affect the texture and flavor of the meat.

Comparison Chart


Middle Eastern.

Spice Blend

Blend of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric.
Simpler, often with oregano and paprika.

Meat Preparation

Often marinated for longer periods.
Sometimes less marination.

Bread Type

Wrapped in thin flatbread like pita or lavash.
Served in thicker pita, sometimes as a sandwich.

Sauces and Condiments

Variety of sauces including tahini and garlic yogurt.
Often accompanied by yogurt-based or spicy sauces.

Shawarma and Doner Definitions


A Middle Eastern meat dish, roasted on a spit and served in flatbread.
He savored the shawarma wrapped in fresh pita bread.


A Turkish dish of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, often served in bread.
After the game, they all went for a doner kebab.


A street food delicacy often accompanied by vegetables and sauces.
She enjoyed her shawarma with a generous helping of garlic sauce.


Slices of marinated meat, like lamb or beef, served as a wrap or plate.
The doner kebab stand was popular for its juicy meat slices.


A blend of marinated meat, traditionally lamb or chicken, cooked on a rotating skewer.
The aroma of cooking shawarma filled the street market.


A common street food in Turkey and Europe, known for its savory flavor.
On their trip to Istanbul, they tried the famous doner kebab.


A popular fast food item in many Middle Eastern and international cities.
They grabbed a quick shawarma for lunch while touring the city.


A dish characterized by its simplicity and focus on meat and bread.
The simplicity of the doner made it a comforting meal.


A dish known for its unique blend of spices and cooking technique.
The chef's secret to perfect shawarma was his special spice mix.


Often served with a range of condiments, including spicy and yogurt-based sauces.
He topped his doner with hot sauce for extra flavor.


Meat, especially beef, chicken, or lamb, that is marinated, roasted slowly on a spit, and cut in thin slices, often wrapped in pita bread and served with various vegetables and tahini sauce.


Doner kebab


A Middle Eastern sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or a mixture of these.


Goner; someone who is done for.


Is the meat always marinated in both dishes?

Yes, but shawarma meat is usually marinated longer than doner meat.

What is the main difference in the spice mix of shawarma and doner?

Shawarma often uses a complex blend including cardamom, while doner typically features simpler spices like oregano.

Can you find both shawarma and doner worldwide?

Yes, both dishes are popular and available in many countries globally.

Are the breads used in shawarma and doner different?

Yes, shawarma is often served in thin flatbread, while doner uses a thicker pita.

Do shawarma and doner have different serving styles?

Yes, shawarma is typically a wrap, while doner can be a wrap or a plated meal.

Are there vegetarian versions of shawarma and doner?

Yes, many places offer vegetarian options using ingredients like falafel or vegetables.

Do shawarma and doner originate from the same country?

No, shawarma is Middle Eastern, while doner is Turkish.

Is shawarma considered a fast food?

Yes, it's often regarded as fast food, especially in the Middle East.

What kind of meat is used in shawarma and doner?

Both can use lamb, beef, or chicken, but the preparation might differ.

Are there any common side dishes served with shawarma and doner?

Common sides include salads, pickled vegetables, and fries.

Is the cooking technique the same for shawarma and doner?

Both use a rotating spit, but the spits may differ in size and shape.

Can doner be considered a healthier option?

It depends on the ingredients and preparation; both can be made healthier with the right choices.

Is lamb the most popular meat for both shawarma and doner?

Lamb is traditional, but chicken and beef are also popular.

Do shawarma and doner have any cultural significance?

Yes, both dishes are deeply embedded in their respective cultures and cuisines.

How important are the sauces in shawarma and doner?

Sauces are crucial, as they add significant flavor to both dishes.

Can shawarma and doner be made at home?

Yes, though replicating the rotating spit cooking might be challenging.

Are there any common misconceptions about shawarma and doner?

A common misconception is that they are the same dish, but they have distinct differences.

Are the sauces different in shawarma and doner?

Yes, shawarma often uses tahini or garlic sauce, while doner may use yogurt-based or spicy sauces.

Is shawarma or doner more popular in Europe?

Doner is generally more popular in Europe, especially in countries like Germany.

Can both dishes be found in traditional restaurants?

Yes, both are served in street food settings and traditional restaurants.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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