Instant Pot Gyros with Low Carb Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce

Our first “place” wasn’t a place at all: it was a rented bedroom in a house with 5 other adults who were also renting rooms. The San Diego housing market, let me assure you, is not for the faint of heart. The Mister was working nights and weekends, so we tried to respectfully tiptoe around the house at night when we were awake, and slept during daylight hours while the rest of the house seemed intent on making as much noise as possible:

   a retired gentleman inexplicably obsessed with daily TV marathons of ghost-hunting shows,

   a coworker of my husband’s who somehow made his daily macaroni and cheese loudly (??) usually wearing only boxer shorts,

   a nurse and her on-again-off-again boyfriend who rented separate rooms in the house and shouted most of their private consternations at one another from their neutral Switzerland, the hallway directly outside our bedroom door.

The self-appointed matriarch of the house, the fifth tenant, was the worst. She was somewhat of a legitimized squatter: her son owned the home from a different state, and she conveniently conned him into withdrawing his requests for rent by reminding him of how she once birthed him, regularly demanded that his father feed him (she did not cook) during his formative years, and actively tolerated his long-term girlfriend. She accused us with tears of spying on her and recording her conversations for the IRS, through our wireless router; she goaded her posse of Chihuahuas into yapping incessantly at us, and praised them for guarding the house thoroughly, as though we were intruders; she routinely stopped the dishwasher halfway through its cleaning cycle and put all of my dishes away half-cleaned and murky, saying that they’d “been in there long enough – water isn’t cheap!” Once, on my way to drop The Mister off at work in the wee hours, I saw her wandering down the street, wearing only a bathrobe, stark white and wafting ominously in her wake.

She knocked on the door on a regular morning and unceremoniously announced that her uncle needed a place to stay, and that we had twelve days to vacate the premises. She had not notified her son of this decision, but her word was final, and accordingly our days were spent scouring craigslist and visiting shifty apartment complexes and counting our pennies. I found out that after we left, men in white coats came to the house and took her away, for – among other things – misuse of prescription medication, and to this day I am tentatively waiting for her lawyer to show up, asking for the illegal surveillances of her I obtained from the antenna on my WiFi router.

Our second place was a darling apartment, perfect in every way, located in the parking lot with a strip mall, dotted with little restaurants and dollar stores and liquor stores in a sort of cozy semicircle. It was Sketchville, USA. The rooms were spacious and we made so, so many memories there—I still miss it!—but you don’t move into an apartment in a strip mall if you can afford to eat out, so although we were surrounded on every side by local mom-and-pop eateries, we made it through the doors of only very few.

One of the restaurants was called AVOs (no apostrophe), with a simple and tempting sign out front: “1 GYRO: $5, 2 GYROS $7.50.” I wandered in there one day and found that it was an order-at-the-counter format, with two outdoors plastic tables set up in the corner as a sort of ersatz waiting area. A large, scowling gentleman did not look up from his iPad, which was playing a loud, boisterous soap opera in what I assume was Greek, and a smiling, petite woman left his side to make my order, by herself. She worked slowly, and no one else came in during my visit – in fact, it did not seem as though anyone else was ever there, in the three years we stayed. The gyros were heavenly. The fries were hot and crispy, and I wanted to go back every day until I had gobbled my way through the entire menu, but I only went back three more times while we lived there, and each time I could not quite bring myself to order anything other than those wonderful gyros. Each of those times, the proprietor was sitting there watching the exact show—occasionally he hollered something at his wife, louder than even the raucous soap opera— and every time my meal was lovingly prepared by a silent and evidently hardworking woman who had only one order in her queue.

A month after we left our second place, AVOs closed down, and the last time I was over in our old neighborhood, I saw that a Pho place was opened in its stead. It made me sad, and it made me crave those gyros. I started a Pinterest search, to see if I could replicate the much-loved dish into something a bit healthier and more consistent with our goals to eat healthfully, and came up with this recipe for Low Carb “Gyros” which taste surprisingly like the “real thing,” and make me quite nostalgic. While making our Low Carb Ham and Cheese Hot Pockets with Hatch Chiles, I made a second batch of the dough at the same time, and simply divided up the dough between both projects, so I only had to mix up dough once, and only had to heat the oven once.

I used my favorite kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot, but you can easily adapt this recipe to simply cook the meat in a pan.

Gyros with Low Carb Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce

Serves 6

Turn on Instant Pot to saute, and add:

½ c. olive oil

1 ½ lbs beef round, sliced as thinly as you can (about 1/8” strips)

Brown meat for 3 minutes, then add 1/3 c. water or beef broth, and switch the Instant Pot to 30 minutes, on Manual. It will take about 10 minutes to pressurize, 30 minutes to cook, then unplug and allow a 10-minute Natural Pressure Release (NPR).

Concurrently, make the dough:

In the microwave (stirring every 90 seconds) or over double-boiler, melt:

1.5 c. low-moisture part-skim mozzarella, shredded

½ c. cheddar cheese, shredded

8 oz. cream cheese

Once melted thoroughly and stringy/soft, add:

1.5 c. almond flour

1 TBS coconut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. each: salt, pepper, and xantham gum (optional)

Spices as you wish (I used some nutmeg, and some “Everything But the Bagel” spice—you can use whatever you wish.)

When dough is thoroughly mixed, add in 1 egg, and “knead” with your hands. I find that hands work much better than a spoon for this job.

Cut dough into 6 pieces, then roll pieces into a ball with your hand. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper, into approximately 6” circles.

Arrange oven-save glasses (I used 12 oz) on a cookie sheet, and drape with parchment paper and dough. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 and cook another 9 minutes, until golden brown and sturdy, although still pliable.

Open the instant pot, and use a slotted spoon to put the beef into a pan without the cooking juices. Add 2 TBS no-salt greek seasoning and allow the meat to crisp up (about 3 minutes on high).

Chop up ½ c. each thinly sliced red onion and thinly sliced cucumber, and mix with ½ tsp of salt, and 1 TBS of dried dill weed (more or less is fine, depending on your taste) and 1 c. plain greek yogurt. This will be your Tzatziki Sauce. 

Serve meat in low carb “pita” bread, topped with tzatziki sauce.

Makes 6 gyros. Each gyro is 7.3 net carbs.

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 6

Per Serving

% Daily Value*

Calories 699


Total Fat 59.7g


Saturated Fat 14.6g


Trans Fat 0g


Cholesterol 86mg


Sodium 600mg


Potassium 251mg


Total Carb 10.1g


Dietary Fiber 2.3g


Sugars 2.8g


Protein 32.3g


Vitamin A 15% · Vitamin C 2%

Calcium 27% · Iron 8%

Recipe analyzed by VeryWell

And, just a little shower door art from our last day in out first place, hastily drawn and treasured.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks like a delicious meal 🙂


  2. Robin says:

    This looks absolutely delicious! Just wondering though, can I fry the pita dough on the stove like traditional pita bread is made?


  3. C.C.W. says:

    I’m definitely trying this but you should write a book. Your apartment stories had me TOTALLY engaged 🙂


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