Shish Kebab vs. Doner Kebab: Differences Explained

shish kebab vs doner kebab
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Kebabs are one of the best fast-food meals there are, hands up! They both have their roots in Turkish cuisine and specific taste. Their taste is not even similar, although they have almost the same ingredients, which means that everything comes down to prep-process. So, how are shish kebab and döner kebab made and what are their differences? 

To prepare döner and shish kebab you need lamb meat traditionally, but shish requires veggies, too. They are both cooked on the skewers, but shish kebab is served like that, while döner is trimmed to thin slices. Moreover, doner’s perfect pair are garlic and chili sauces, but tzatziki and haydari are made for shish.

I love fast food, but burgers and fries get too boring sometimes. Every time I want a bite of succulent and flavorful meat, I go for shish or döner kebab. I compared them below, so you don’t have to! Choose your favorite one (or both!) and enjoy!


Both shish and döner kebab are pretty eye-catching. Shish kebab comes on a skewer, it is technically meat pieces with colorful veggies in between. 

When it comes to döner kebab, it’s an experience as much as the meal. The meat comes on a huge pole, then you trim it to get paper-thin leaves of meat. 

ingredients and appearance

Ingredients and Taste

These meals require high-quality meat, as everything revolves around it. Traditional shish and döner kebab recipes ask for lamb, but nowadays, veal, chicken, beef, and even turkey meats are equally popular. Lean cuts of meat are top-notch choices for shish, but fatty cuts are supreme for döner kebab, as they will moisten the meat while it slow-cooks. 

Speaking of the second most important thing – seasoning, both blends are pretty similar. Salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, garlic and onion powder, cumin, and coriander are statement additions to both. But, here’s what makes the difference. 

Turmeric and cinnamon give that sweet but bitter taste to shish kebab, while thyme, oregano, summer savory, and marjoram are herbs responsible for the authentic relish of döner kebab. When it comes to the overall taste and texture of doner meat, it is more a taste rhapsody than anything else.

You can describe it as spicy, aromatic, pretty greasy, and tender but crispy. Meat prepared this way is full-flavored, as you would expect from any Middle Eastern-influenced meal. Also, it is trés juicy because of fatty meat cuts, marinating, and slow cooking.

Shish kebab meat is spicy, as well, but a bit more subtle, though. It has a smoky flavor as a first note because of the cooking ways and a piquant aftertaste because of the spice blend. It’s undoubtedly juicy, but a bit chewy, too, because of the lean cuts of meat and its thickness.

When preparing shish kebab, you’ll need loads of vegetables, too. The most common to use are multicolored bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes. They give an even more succulent texture to the meat and the fresh relish that was missing!


Döner vs. Gyros: Differences & Which Is Better?


The prime thing to do when preparing both kebab varieties is marinating. This step will take meat from ordinary to delicacy real quick. All the flavor you love comes from long marinating in spices and condiments to create a delish and tender texture.

When preparing meat for shish kebab, you only need to chop it into bite-size pieces. The same principle works for veggies, as well. Just cube them to the same size and thread them on the skewer. 

You can roast them on the grill, grill pan, or even in an oven. But, you’ll get the most special relish if you grill it over a fire, as that’s the traditional way of cooking them. They are done quickly, depending on how big you cubed the ingredients. The trick is to marinate them long but cook them rapidly.

To put it mildly, the döner meat preparation process is trickier, if we speak of that popular street food, of course. Those are large cuts of fatty meat threaded on a big vertical pole and roasted slowly by the constant rotation in the rotisserie grill. The outer layer of meat will be caramelized to perfection, but the inside will have a melt-in-mouth texture.

cooking methods

If you decide to cook it at home, the process is much easier, but the principle stays the same. Thread the meat on a skewer and rotate it often until it’s crispy outside.

Serving Style and Varieties

Shish kebab is a full meal already, but it’s not the same without luscious sauces and sides. Rice is a staple here, especially lemon rice, as the touch of sourness goes wonderfully with the meat. Also, pita bread and (surprisingly) French fries are also amazing things to serve along. 

Moreover, sauces and dips are a must-serve with doner! Tzatziki, hummus, or haydari (yogurt sauce) are amazing options. Garlic and chili sauces are inevitable here, as well as a fresh salad: tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, onion, and so on. Döner kebab and pita bread are a match made in heaven, but tortilla wrap (durum variety), and French fries or rice (döner box variety) will work as well.