A sweet, tangy, garlicky dipping sauce that’s fit for a king! With three very simple ingredients, Newfoundland Donair Sauce is able to transform your favourite dippers into a glorious, tantalizing, taste adventure!
NEWFOUNDLAND DONAIR SAUCE
Growing up in Newfoundland, a donair hasn’t always been a part of my life. In fact, the first time I tried an Atlantic donair was in 2003. While shopping in Grand Falls, and decided to have lunch at Donnini’s. Donairs were on the menu and my love of them was born.
In addition to the most delicious donair, loaded with seasoned beef, fresh diced tomatoes, and of course, donair sauce, we had a few sides.
A popular Newfoundland dish is Mess. It’s called a mess, not because it’s messy, but because “mess” can also be used to describe an abundance or a lot. For example, I might say, “Oh my God, I ate such a mess of food. I’m stuffed!” It means I ate too much.
The dish has a copious amount of French fries that have been topped with a savoury dressing, and loaded up with gravy. Sometimes, the dish has deep fried hot dog wieners on it too. It’s so good! Anyway, I digress. We’re supposed to be talking about Donair Sauce.
WHAT ARE DONAIRS?
In trying to explain what it is to you, Dear Reader, a guick internet search found that a donair is a wrap-like dish that consists of a pita with shredded spiced beef cooked on a spit than covered in sweet sauce. The pita is then topped with tomatoes and onions.
There are people out there who are extremely serious about what a donair actually is and where it originated, but I’m not here to debate that. You call it what you want – a donair, a donar, a gyro, etc.
Whatever you choose to call it or however you decide to eat it, is up to you. However, I strongly suggest you add this Newfoundland Donair Sauce to yours – really, you won’t regret it!
I don’t make donairs at home, but McKenna and I are pizza crust dippers. We love to dip the crust of a thick-crust pizza into a dipping sauce, and this particular sauce is our favourite.
A LITTLE DONAIR SAUCE HISTORY
I must make mention that King of Donair, a restaurant chain founded in the early 1970s in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which serves a wide range of food, including the popular donair, claims to have invented the Maritime donair — a variation on the traditional Middle Eastern doner kebab in 1973.
Maritime donairs are characterized by their distinctive sauce, a sweeter version of a traditional garlic sauce, made from condensed milk, sugar, garlic or garlic powder, and white vinegar. Traditional garlic sauce is usually made with yogurt or mayonnaise instead of condensed milk and vinegar; it also has lemon juice rather than sugar.
Donair sauce is a popular dipping sauce for garlic fingers (another regional dish). I have a similar version here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen called Cheesy Garlicky Breadsticks. You will note that I used Donair Sauce in that recipe too.
I’m calling my recipe Newfoundland Donair Sauce, because that was where I first tasted it. The version I ate back then, and even now, is always homemade. So, there you have it! A little history lesson and an introduction to the beginnings of this humble sauce.
Now, trust me on this, Dear Reader, Newfoundland Donair Sauce is not at all limited to donairs, or pizza crust. You should try it lightly drizzled onto grilled chicken or beef. You’ll most certainly not regret it!
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Condensed Milk – Use sweetened condensed milk. You’re going to use the entire can, and be sure to use a spatula to get every bit out of the can. You’re going to love this stuff!
- Garlic Powder – Do no use fresh garlic or dried minced garlic. Garlic powder works best for this recipe. Dried minced garlic is crunchy and this sauce is meant to be smooth. Fresh garlic adds moisture and will take too long to permeate.
- Vinegar – Plain white vinegar please. Do not use other vinegars. It will throw off the flavour.
HOW TO MAKE DONAIR SAUCE:
I’m not even sure why I’m typing this out. It really is the easiest thing you’re going to do today! Here’s how I do it. Transfer the sweetened condensed milk into a bowl. Add the garlic powder and use a small rubber spatula to stir the garlic powder through the condensed milk.
Next, add the vinegar. Whisking or stirring will cause the sauce to be more runny. To get the perfect consistency, you’ll want to use a small rubber spatula to fold the vinegar into the mixture.
Folding is not mixing or whisking and does require a bit of technique. By folding in the vinegar, you will less likely break down the gelatinous, thick texture of the sauce. When the vinegar mixes with the condensed milk, the milk begins to coagulate. That just means it gets thick.
If you know what folding is, great! If not, please check out this video. I know it’s for cake batter, but the same technique applies.
A FEW FLAVOUR OPTIONS
Depending on how I feel, I like to make other versions of this sauce as well. Sometimes, when I’m stirring through the garlic powder, I like to add some dried parsley from my spice rack. Since you can see the dried parsley bits in the sauce, it’s a great way to know if you’ve stirred the condensed milk long enough to evenly distribute the garlic powder. It’s just a little trick I’ve learned.
Sometimes, I like to add equal parts garlic powder and onion powder. I love the oniony flavour along with the strong garlic flavour. Both of them can stand up quite well to the acidity of the vinegar and the sweetness of the condensed milk.
Try your own variations at home. For example, a little bit of cayenne pepper is so good if you’re looking for a spicy/sweet sauce. Smoked paprika can add smokiness too. Keep in mind, these types of spices will change the colour of your sauce! Just enjoy it. Have fun and play around with flavour combinations!
Newfoundland Donair Sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 14 ounces canned sweetened condensed milk
- Pour the condensed milk from the can into a bowl. Add the garlic powder and mix well to fully incorporate.
- Next, add the vinegar and fold it into the mixture. Don’t mix or stir aggressively and don't over mix.
- Transfer the sauce to a mason jar and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour before serving.