Hot Donair Dip (aka HaliDip)

It’s not the first time I have blogged about Donairs.  If you are from Halifax, and you like beer, you probably love ’em.

I feel like this post should be an informercial.  You know how they go… during the set up, they show the clumsiest, most uncoordinated goof trying to do a simple task without success. In this case, there would be a girl in her ‘Downtown Finest’ sitting at a booth at KOD with donair sauce running down her elbows and no-doubt in her hair.  She’d look to the camera and exclaim helplessly, “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Now there is… HaliDip! (in my best Billy Mays inspired voiceover)

HaliDip was inspired by a hunger-laden discussion with hubs on the way home from work last Thursday, when he told me of his God-awful (sorry hun) Donair Soup idea.  Here is where I reference TV again… if you watched House, you know that moment when someone was talking to House about a totally unrelated matter and House’s eyes would glaze over and he would all of the sudden run out of the room with the diagnosis?  That was me, except it was a related matter, I was buckled in and couldn’t run and the diagnosis was actually a recipe.

Well today I made the dream into reality and I think I have put together the next big Halifax potluck and house party sensation…  I used my inlaws as willing guinea pigs and everyone loved it!

Hot Donair Dip (aka HaliDip)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 8oz container regular cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup donair sauce (from your favourite pizzeria, or better yet, your own)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced

Pita chips or tortilla scoops for dipping.

In a bowl (truth be told, I did this in a non-stick frying pan before putting it on the heat), mix together the ground beef and spices and blend well, really, really, really knead it together well. Then fry up the meat mixture, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks, you don’t want any chunks of meat too big… it has to remain scoopable. While the meat is browning, make your donair sauce and then in your cooking dish (a 9″ glass pie plate or small casserole dish) mix together the cream cheese, donair sauce and shredded mozzarella. Once the meat is cooked and well-browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat (but not the grease) to the cooking dish and fold it in to the cream cheese mixture. If you won’t be eating it until later, you can cover and put in the fridge at this point. When it’s go-time, just pop the dip into a preheated 350 degree oven and cook it for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the diced tomatoes (and some minced onions if you like) over the top of the hot dip and serve!

Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on any pita today to make pita chips, so I served the HaliDip with tortilla scoops. Since the dip is heavy, it’s best spooned on.

We all had the best of donair, but no one needed a shower afterward! I’ve done it! The wild Donair has been domesticated!

For only 3 easy payments of $19.95…

LOL Enjoy!

Edited Jan 7/14: I’m so excited that this post has finally taken off! I also wanted to let you know that I’ve also spread the unbaked dip on thick sliced french bread and broiled them in the oven – DELISH!


  1. says

    That looks awesome! Nothing beats a Halifax donair – and you’ve just allowed everyone to make this special sauce no matter where they live. Bet is would be great for making a pizza donair too!

  2. Anonymous says

    Sounds good! For the cream cheese, should it be one regular brick of cream cheese or one container of the regular cheam cheese spread? Thanks!

    • says

      I used a tub of spreadable because that’s what I could get my hands on on a holiday, but regular would be fine… just have to work it a bit more to blend it with the donair sauce :)

      • Renee says

        I was wondering where can I get spreadable cream cheese? Is it the round containers you would put on toast? And when you say fold the ground beef into the cream cheese.. what do you mean by that? I’m totally trying this on my day off whilewatching mmovies!!!

    • Anonymous says

      Tried the brick and you were right, it was fine but was harder to mix in and came out thicker than it should’ve I think. TASTY! Great spicing of the meat to make it donair-y. :) Everyone who can’t come east for donairs needs to try this!!

      • Sally says

        Whipping the hard block after setting it out on the counter for 20 mins will give you a similar consistency to the tubs! Just cream it in a mixer!

  3. Anonymous says

    OMG, I am in love with your recipe. I’ve been in Victoria BC for almost two years and my family and I really miss donairs. This will help us when we are craving donairs but I don’t have the time or energy to make up your recipe for donairs. :)

  4. Victoria Ess says

    I’ve always wanted to try donairs!! Until I get myself to Halifax, I’m going to indulge in this recipe!

  5. says

    Even though I live on the East Coast nowadays, I haven’t gotten into donairs; I find the sauce sweet and am not crazy about the meat. But I would definitely consider making this dip for a party!

  6. Joanne M says

    Heather, Sue told me about this dip one day during a discussion about our love for donairs! I made it for a large annual gathering in Harbourville on the holiday weekend that I myself attend for this first time. I usually do not like to bring dishes that I have not preared before but thought that with “donairs” how could you go wrong! I’m glad I went with my gut. This is an amazing dish and certainly a crowd pleaser. Everyone asked for the recipe and I directed them to your site. I have made a few of your recipes and have loved them. Thank you for this recipe and I am sure for more to come!

  7. Sue says

    Halidip is on the road…..taking the recipe and all the spices, etc. to Berlin
    to make for snacking!! Can’t wait for everyone to try it!

  8. Kirsten says

    one of my friends posted this on facebook and i had to try it:) making it tonight for a treat instead of cooking a huge supper. Considering i have lived here in hfx all my life and my hubby is originally from the glasgow area it looks really great and yummy:) though we are going to add cooked and crumbled bacon and sauted mushrooms with the tomatoes…will let you guys know how it turns out:)

  9. Jenn says

    Tip for making the meat: if you own a meat grinder ( I have one that attaches to my kitchenaid mixer) you mix the spices with the ground beef and feed it through the grinder about 3 times, it will make your meat more like the consistency of donair meat. We have made homemade donairs and it worked like a charm. I think a food processor would work too.

  10. Me says

    I live in northern BC and can’t get Donair sauce. Doyou have a recipe for sweet sauce??? I would love to have it if you do :)

  11. says

    Noms! I totally wouldn’t go to the trouble of making the meat though I would just go to the grocery store and buy the already made stuff and chop it up! haha I bet this is great though! Especially is the pita chips were garlic-y Mmmmm haha

  12. Kim says

    Thanks so much for posting – looks delicious. I grew up in New Brunswick & now live in South-Western BC & I so miss a really yummy donair! Every-time I go back East I have to go to Pizza Delight for a donair (love their donair sauce). Do you have a recipe tor the sweet donair sauce – I’d love to make this. Thanks :)

      • Keith Freeman says

        The sauce should be equal parts sugar and condensed milk, vinegar to thicken and garlic powder if you want it. I love how tzaztiki was too healthy for the refined NS/Scottish palate;) Surprized it wasn’t deep fried. The only thing I hate is about donairs is consistency – the amount of meat you get varies. The recipe looks good. Donair Girl was being a bit harsh and foolish, but partly agree the cream cheese might be a bit odd. Good for you for the recognition on the recipe:)

  13. says

    Oh Em Gee!!! This excites my displaced maritime heart!! I have been making the meat and sauce myself for years because no one in Alberta knows what it is really supposed to taste like but DIP??? Genius!!!

  14. Louise says

    This sounds amazing!!!

    Just one question though – why ground beef? Why wouldn’t you use donair meat chopped thinly? Just wondering!

    I will definitely try this though!

    • says

      (Most) donair meat is made from ground beef :) I’ve always made my own because I really don’t like the supermarket variety. This dip really benefits from having the crumbles… it’s all in the texture. The link is above if you would like my donair meat recipe as well. That being said, if you make it and have leftovers… by all means, make some Halidip 😉

  15. Janet says

    Holy free holy! My friend posted this (then another 20 did :)) and I had to try it. I left Halifax almost 20 years ago…and I’ve tried SO many different recipes for donairs; some great, others not so much. But the sticky fingers turned a lot of folks off; that I’ve been kind enough to share my precious with. *eyes rolling* This is AH-MAY-ZING. Barely any mess and tastes like heaven. No fail donair sauce? Could it be? Oh YES it is! After reading all the comments, I didn’t even do a test batch. Made a double with just a few changes…I used turkey…cause that’s what I had handy…and I used chipotle chili powder. Nom nom nom.

  16. says

    So my boyfriend and I saw this recipe all over Facebook and we are making it this weekend! I’m vegan so I found an alternate sauce recipe and we’re going to use meatless ground and Tofutti cream cheese. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. We are both originally from Nova Scotia and have lived in Halifax so we understand the donair scene (many late nights at Pizza Corner ;)… hehe) Thanks for creating this masterpiece!

    • says

      Ohhhh that would work! I was vegetarian for 7 years, up to 2010 and always had donairs on my ‘to convert’ list but it never came to be. I’m familiar with the Yves veggie ground and that would work in this! For sauce, off the top of my head, I’m thinking unsweetened soy or almond milk, about 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup vinegar and the garlic powder… but it might be too thin, so if it was heated and then thickened with cornstarch, it might good pretty good :)

      • says

        I made it on Friday! It was everything I dreamed it would be! I used Yves, Tofutti and Daiya mozzarella and for the donair sauce I found a recipe on another blog that used Belsoy, vinegar and sugar. All of my non-vegan guests went crazy for it as well :)

        It’s definitely going to be a party staple!

  17. Kareena says

    I made this on Friday night for my family and it was a huge hit. So much like a donair. I posted a pic of the one I made and everyone wants the recipe so I. Shared the link. I. Have a lot of East coast friends living out west who are going to love this version. Next time I am going to spread it on tortillas or pita bread and make wraps for a lunch or supper.

  18. Armdale Chick says

    Had a girls card game this past Friday night and one gal brought this donair dip … tastes exactly like a donair just in a dish and a little less messy! Needless to say its delish and it disappeared very quickly, we used spoons to load up our oven heated pitas cut into wedges. Consumed with beer and it was awesome!

  19. says

    I put the cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds as it was pretty hard. It was much easier to mix with the donair sauce and cheese.

    I think next time I will use a 2:1 ratio for the spices as I like my donairs extra spicy and maybe a bit more cheese on top. :)

  20. Lauren says

    I made this for a party and everyone loved it. They even ate it cold after it had cooled down. One thing I found about mine was that it did not look appetizing. It sort of looked like wet cat food. I had to assure people it tasted fine – after that they loved it.

  21. Iris says

    Wow! I am living in Australia and haven’t had a donair for about 9 years, {I am a New Brunswicker}. Anyhow, my niece sent me this recipe and OMG! I finally had the great taste of donair again!! Thanks so much for sharing this!\

  22. Tara says

    I made this for a potluck at work tomorrow but there is no oven to heat it at work, only a microwave. Can I cook it in the microwave instead of in the oven? I have it to the point where it needs to be cooked and out it in the fridge for now. I’m not sure what to do or if it will work if I microwave it instead??

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  24. Vanessa says

    I have tears of excitement in my eyes…as a displaced Halligonian I dream of Donairs/sauce/garlic fingers and simply can not get anything even close to satisfy the craving! You are heaven-sent, Heather!

  25. Barry C. says

    The above sauce recipe for actual Donairs (not the dip) is missing sugar. King of Donairs recipe is:

    – 2/3 cup canned evaporated milk
    – 2/3 cup sugar
    – 1/4 cup white vinegar
    – 1/2 tsp garlic powder

    • says

      Hi Barry, I don’t actually use evaporated milk in my donair sauce, I used sweetened condensed milk which already contains sugar. It blends easier and gives you a thicker end result which doesn’t separate. Thanks for reading :)

  26. Sue says

    As another person from Halifax(Waverley ) I think you should be more discerning about who or what you allow to advertise on your blog. For example, this Derma Juvenate is one of those notorious scams where people get locked into buying a product through a ” free trial”. I wasn’t one of them. I did my research. I think it hurts your credibility as a ” mommy blogger”

  27. Penny says

    To be true Donair, you should add finely chopped fresh parsley (to counteract the garlic). You don’t see it on donairs much anymore, but on the original Halifax donairs from the 1970s, they had parsley on them and were made with spiced lamb rather than beef. There was a little donair shop on Barrington, next to where Zellars was before it became something else. They had the best donairs and were so spicy that you had to drink milk with them. I had chocolate milk and the sweet of the chocolate countered the spices of the lamb. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. They don’t make donairs like that any more.

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  33. Lori says

    I came to Ont 18 years ago, and anxiously awaited my trip home to the valley to indulge in donairs. I love this recipe! I keep a recipe of sauce in my fridge at all times for pizza night! Instead or serving this recipe as a dip I make it all in the frying pan, topping bit size pieces of pita with the meat/cream cheese/ sauce mixture, then top with diced onion, tomato and cheese. My kids love it, almost as much as I do!!

  34. Trudy says

    Have the spices all mixed up and ready to go…gonna make this camping the weekend!…Can’t wait to try it!

  35. says

    Hi everyone, I couldn’t help but read all the comments about moms and their families loving their Donairs. I am the owner of Lori’s Donair and I have created family friendly Donair products. They are simple and economical to use and can be stored in the your spice cabinet for 3 separate meals. Check them out at I know that you and your family will truly love them, thank and enjoy!! Lori :)

  36. Angela says

    I heard about this recipe about a year ago and finally got around to making it this past weekend.
    It was a hit! Everyone loved it and wanted the recipe on the spot! One person joked they were making it for lunch the next day.
    I like the idea of spreading it on French bread and broiling it – might have to try that next time.

  37. Random Dude says

    Thanks so much for this!

    As a Canadian living in Boston this recipe is a dream come true! We tried it already and it tasted EXACTLY like a donair.

    We even used pita bread to scoop it!

  38. Michael says

    A friend made this and brought it to our church group for a snack. It was a divine encounter! Incredible! Best dip ever, and I love me some dip. My displaced Nova Scotian heart was thoroughly warmed and my taste buds sanctified by this throwback to home. Thank you for your enlightened recipe!

  39. Ginny says

    have you ever made this ahead and froze it…I am trying to get some dips and dishes made ahead of time and I just wonder if this would freeze well…Thank you

  40. Kevin says

    It looks like the HaliDip recipe may be going viral in Upper Canada – I’ve received it from two people in the past two days. This weekend IT WILL BE MINE!

  41. sheb says

    Made this, it’s the BOMB….i also used the mini pita, some cut in half you could stuff and whole to put on top and called them DONAIR SLIDERS lol

  42. Shannon says

    Saw this on Facebook and decided to try it. We actually ate this for supper… with tortillas chips and a side salad to make me feel less guilty. My kids were so excited to see chips for supper and loved the dip. My two sisters have been living in Ontario for years and our tradition is to have donairs everytime they visit. I know what I’m making them next visit.

  43. Cheryl says

    Hello! My sister-in-law made this for a family gathering on Boxing Day. There was tons of food, but all anyone could talk about was the donair dip :) I actually got kind of sick of donairs because of the texture of the meat, but made with ground beef made me fall in love again! My honey and I are making some this evening :) Thank you for sharing.

  44. Kathy says

    I had this for the first time this summer while home (Halifax) visiting. Holy YUM!!! Thank you soooo much for coming up with this and sharing it with the world! I’m living in Florida now so clearly can only dream about a proper donair (unless home visiting) and while there are lots of home recipes, it’s just not the same. Your dip is PERFECT as it has the donair taste without trying to be one :) Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


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