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Authentic Donair Sauce

Fresh Made Donair Sauce 1 Hour.
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This Food For Thought article on Authentic Donair Sauce addresses the debate on whether to use Evaporated Milk or Sweetened Condensed Milk. Many online recipes state to use Sweetened Condensed Milk for Donair Sauce, and this isn’t it. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and remember the first Donairs being offered when I was a kid and the Sauce is not made from Sweetened Condensed Milk.

In fact, the first time I had Sweetened Condensed Milk in the Donair Sauce was from an Ontario outlet claiming to sell the original Halifax Donair. How was it? OMG, I could not get over the Sauce. Just a Vinegary Sauce, Gluey in texture, that ruined everything. I ditched the Donair Sauce and made my own. Good thing I asked for it on the side because that was most definitely not Donair Sauce.

See growing up in Halifax the sweetened condensed version was never used. At least at any place I got Donairs from, and I ate them quite frequently. I never had a Donair Sauce made with sweetened condensed milk until that Ontario outlet, and nope, I didn’t like that at all.

Will the Real Halifax Donair Sauce please stand up!

That’s the thing, Real Halifax Donair Sauce is thick and stands up. It is mixed to break it down into a sauce.

Here is a picture of just scooping up the Donair Sauce straight from resting. See how thick it is. This is after only 1 hour of resting, too. It goes thicker as it sits.

Thick Donair Sauce after 1 hour
Thick Donair Sauce after 1 hour

Evaporated Milk vs Sweetened Condensed milk

I get it, and I understand the reasoning behind using sweetened condensed milk. I mean the authentic version is 1 can of Evaporated milk with 1 can of sugar or thereabouts, that is in effect sweetened condensed milk. You would however be ignoring one crucial key ingredient, why the Vinegar?

The Vinegar gives a clue on what type of milk should be used.

Not only that, but how the Donair Sauce cooks is another clue on what milk is to be used. Real Authentic Donair Sauce will break down when cooked, leaving behind nodules. For me, I really love this. But I grew up in Halifax eating Donairs, Donair Platters and Pizzas like this. Where Donair Sauce was ladled over and cooked, topped with more fresh Donair Sauce.

What does Vinegar do in Donair Sauce

People who use sweetened condensed milk as the milk component in Donair Sauce will say to add some tang to the sauce. However, the authentic Donair Sauce doesn’t have tang in it at all. Order out a Halifax Donair, the Sauce is not tangy, order from KOD (King of Donair), it’s not tangy, order Mr Donair Sauce or Bonte, it’s not tangy. So why is the vinegar added?

The Vinegar acts to thicken the milk into a Donair Sauce. It does not do this very well at all with sweetened condensed milk, as it is already thick. So the purpose of adding Vinegar is to thicken the milk. When it does, the tang gets eliminated, not so with sweetened condensed milk. This is a crucial difference.

Donair Sauce with Sweetened Condensed Milk

The Sweetened Condensed Milk version is not the Authentic Donair Sauce. This sauce maintains its consistency, but is often vinegary and doesn’t break down the same way as the Authentic version. It doesn’t have the same mouthfeel. It more resembles a glue like consistency which is very unappealing.

Donair Sauce should be Sweet, Light and an oomph of Garlic in it. It should not be a dense sauce or taste tangy. Which Sweetened Condensed Milk will do. When Donair Sauce is cooked, it breaks down and creates little nodules of Milk Protein. Sweetened Condensed Milk does not do this.

So does it really make a difference? Absolutely, and Haligonians know this despite the numerous recipes online for a Donair Sauce using Sweetened Condensed Milk. We always make it with Evaporated Milk.

Halifax Magazine Donair Sauce Ingredients

The first-hand source comes from Leo Gamoulakos who is Peter Gamoulakos Brother and involved with the original Donairs & Sauce, states the original Donair Sauce had 5 ingredients which are Evaporated Milk, Sugar, Garlic, Parsley, and Vinegar. This was an interview done by the Halifax Magazine interviewing Leo Gamoulakos.

Chronicle Herald Donair Sauce ingredients

The second hand source comes from a 1978 article by the Chronicle Herald, which incorrectly states Sweetened Condensed Milk. Where they source this from, I don’t know. This is perhaps where the use of Sweetened Condensed Milk originates from.

Commercial Donair Sauce

A further look at commercial Donair Sauce which adds extra things to get more yield but nonetheless shows what is actually used. Evaporated Milk or Whey Powder in the case of Bonte. In commercial blends water with cornstarch is added to increase volume and stability.



King of Donair Ingredients

Who created Donair Sauce

The Halifax Donair Sauce was created by Peter Gamoulakos in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as a substitute for Tzatziki Sauce and originally had 5 ingredients. Evaporated Milk, Sugar, Garlic, Parsley, and Vinegar.

What is Donair Sauce made of

Authentic Donair Sauce is made from Evaporated Milk & Sugar, not sweetened condensed milk. With vinegar to thicken it into a sauce. Garlic Powder is added for flavor and the original Donair Sauce had added parsley. This was later removed.

Donair Sauce Ingredients
Donair Sauce Ingredients

What Does Donair Sauce Taste Like

Donair Sauce is a white, very sweet garlicky sauce that compliments the Spicy Donair Meat Flavors. Together this is known as the Halifax Donair.

Some people who are not from the East Coast are sometime put off by the Donair Sauce. More specifically, the sweetness of it. However, this is the Sweet Heat combination that Halifax Donairs offer and what the Haligonians have come to love and propelled the Halifax Donair to what it is today.

How Long does Donair Sauce last in the fridge

As long as the Donair Sauce is covered, it can remain refrigerated for over a month. It will go to a slight yellow color and smell off as it starts to go bad.

How long to refrigerate Donair Sauce

When first mixed and refrigerated the Donair Sauce can be used in as little as an hour. However, an overnight refrigeration is better for thickening. Before using drain out the liquid that have settled at the bottom to eliminate any excess liquids that would otherwise thin out the Donair Sauce. After this you can bottle the Donair Sauce or keep it in a Tupperware container and store in the fridge.

When to add Vinegar to Donair Sauce

White Vinegar is added last as this is the main ingredients that thickens the sauce.

Combine all the ingredients except the vinegar and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk well to incorporate air into the mixture and turn it to a whiter color. Then pour the Vinegar in while whisking for about 12 rotations.

Authentic Donair Sauce

This is the Authentic Halifax Donair Sauce. Making this at home the same way as the original Donair outlets made is better than any other commercial grade bottled Donair Sauce.

To date, nothing beats the original authentic recipe. Including both the flavors and how the Donair Sauce cooks up. It’s the real deal.

Fresh Made Donair Sauce 1 Hour.

Authentic Donair Sauce

Here is the Authentic version of a Halifax Donair Sauce. Don’t use Sweetened Condensed Milk, it’s just not the same.

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