A popular street food in Europe, traditional doner kebab is made by marinating cubes of meat overnight before slowly roasting them on a vertical skewer spit. Doner kebab's calories vary depending on the type of meat used — shrimp and chicken are great low-calorie, high-protein options.
Doner kebab's calories depend on the type of meat used to make the kebab. Chicken seekh kebab calories will be about 79 calories per 100-gram serving, while a lamb kebab will have 223 calories per 100 grams.
What is a Doner Kebab?
The authors of a May 2015 study published in the Italian Journal of Food Safety explain that while doner kebabs are famous throughout Europe, their roots can be traced back to Turkey. A traditional Turkish dish, doner kebabs are commonly consumed on a regular basis, and have influenced the gyros of Greece and the shawarmas of Lebanon.
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Kebabs are marinated with spices — sometimes yogurt is used to tenderize the meat — and slowly cooked on a rotating vertical spit, over a period of time. Lamb, fish, beef and chicken are meats that are commonly used to make doner kebabs; however, vegetarian versions that use mushrooms are also available.
Baked or grilled and served on skewers, kebabs make for a filling, high-protein meal. They can also be served alongside bulgur, a popular Middle Eastern whole grain that's rich in minerals and low in fat and calories.
Doner Kebab Calories
According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of Target's chicken kebabs contains 79 calories and 14.57 grams of protein. The calories in homemade chicken kebab will differ depending on the part of chicken being used. Chicken kebabs are low in fiber, fat and carbohydrates, with a 100-gram serving having just 0.99 grams of fat, 0.7 grams of fiber and 1.99 grams of carbs.
Chicken kebabs also contain minerals like iron and sodium. A diet rich in iron means more hemoglobin and myoglobin, two important proteins, are available to muscle and red blood cells. Sodium is an electrolyte, is an essential mineral required for proper transmission of nerve impulses and contraction of muscle cells.
Kebabs are a great source of trace vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A. A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A is required by the body in order to maintain a robust immune system, proper eyesight and bone growth.
The doner kebab calories in a lamb kebab total 223 per 100-gram serving. Lamb kebabs are higher in fat, contributing 14 percent of the recommended daily dose of fat and 36 percent of the recommended daily dose of cholesterol. Compared to chicken kebabs, lamb kebabs offer more protein — a 100-gram serving has 33.7 grams, or 67 percent of the daily dose, which is more than double the amount of protein in a chicken kebab.
In addition, lamb kebabs are a good source of zinc, a mineral required by the body for blood clotting and the synthesis of proteins. It is also high in vitamin B12, contributing over 114 percent of the recommended daily dose of this vitamin essential in making red blood cells and ensuring the proper working of the body's nervous system.
Vegetarian kebabs have the least calories, with a 100-gram serving made with mushrooms, onions, zucchini and bell peppers containing just 24 calories. Vegetable kebabs are also low in protein and fat content.
They are, however, good sources of minerals like potassium. According to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, potassium is essential for proper cellular function, and for muscle contraction.
Doner Kebab Recipes
According to an August 2012 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, a traditional doner kebab is made by marinating the meat of choice — beef, chicken, turkey and lamb are all acceptable choices — before mixing it with a fat such as beef tallow or olive oil. The resulting mixture is then refrigerated for a 24-hour period before being added to a vertical spit where the kebabs roast slowly until cooked.
Read more: How to Cook Shish Kabobs in the Oven
If you don't have a vertical spit or are short on time, putting the meat skewers on the grill is a quick and easy way to make doner kebabs. Grilled shrimp kebabs are a great low-calorie, high-protein option, with one skewer containing only 105 calories and 24 grams of protein.
Similarly, the calories in homemade chicken kebab can vary depending on the ingredients used. One chicken kebab with a tablespoon of creamy pesto sauce has 211 calories and 27.9 grams of protein.
But not all kebabs have to have meat base. For vegetarians, avocado kebabs with fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella are a keto-friendly option that's high in fat and low in carbs. According to Food Source Information at Colorado State University, avocados contain close to 20 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and vitamin C. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, with a medium-sized avocado offering 40 percent of the recommended daily dose of fiber.
- Italian Journal of Food Safety: "Nutritional Quality of Preparations Based on Döner Kebab Sold in Two Towns of Veneto Region, Italy: Preliminary Results”
- Princeton University: “Cultural Showcase Potluck"
- University of Washington The Whole U: "Grill This: 12 Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes"
- University of Alabama Global Foodways: "From Soup to Kebabs to Dolma”
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken Kabobs"
- MyFoodData.com: “Nutrition Facts for Lamb Domestic Cubed For Stew Or Kabob (Leg And Shoulder) Separable Lean Only Trimmed To 1/4 Inch Fat Cooked Braised"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Skewered Grilling Kabobs"
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center: “Potassium"
- Journal of Food Science and Technology: "Several Quality Attributes of Beef and Turkey Meat Doner Kebabs Produced by Traditional or Continuous Process"
- Mayo Clinic: “Shrimp Kebabs”
- The University of Texas System: “Super-Fast Summer Recipes"
- Colorado State University Food Source Information: “Avocados”