Want to learn more about Turkish food? Here’s a list of 25 traditional dishes from Turkey and more information about Turkish cuisine.
While there are lots of beautiful places to visit in Turkey, one of the main highlights of traveling around the country is definitely the Turkish food, which has ancient origins where recipes have been cooked for hundreds of years until perfection.
It’s one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, and there is an abundance of traditional dishes to eat in Turkey. Moreover, each region has its own specialties and regional recipes for classics.
Köfte or kofta are traditional Turkish meatballs that are usually made from ground lamb or beef. It’s often served as a mezze, but can be part of the main dish as well. There are various versions of Köfte, such as Adana kofte and içli köfte.
Another version is Çiğ köfte, which is a raw meatball. There are 291 different kinds of kofta in the country, which is one of many interesting facts about Turkey.
when it comes to Turkish food, Pide is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a type of flatbread, which is baked in a stone- or brick oven. They are widely available across the whole country, although toppings can vary a lot.
Some common fillings and toppings include cheese, onions, peppers, ground beef, eggs, pastrami, sausage, tomatoes, etc. They are usually shaped in the form of a “pizza boat”, and they are really delicious.
Börek is one of the most famous foods from Turkey, which has been spread across all Eastern Europe, where it’s just as popular. It’s a type of savory pastry that is made of thin flaky dough, usually phyllo.
The börek is baked in a large pan and can have various fillings, depending on the region.
Dolma is a quintessential dish that can be found in many Turkic countries, and the name comes from the Turkish word dolmak, which means “to fill”.
It has been a staple for centuries and is basically a family of stuffed dishes where wrapped and stuffed vine leaves are considered to be the queen of Dolmas.
Hünkârbeğendi is a royal dish dating back to the Ottoman Empire. It consists of grilled and pureed eggplant which has been smoked and spiced as well. It is then stirred with milk, butter, and roasted flour. This results in a flavorful mix that is topped with sauteed lamb.
Şiş Kebap, or Shish Kebab is a type of kebab with grilled meat cubes on a skewer. It’s typically served on a plate with vegetables on the side.
Meze is the typical dining experience in Turkey with various small dishes served and shared together with friends and family. If you’re familiar with tapas, it’s somewhat similar, but Turkish Meze typically consists of a larger collection of smaller dishes.
Some typical mezze includes stuffed vine leaves, grilled eggplant salad, fava bean puree, pickled sardine salad, pastirma, fried liver and onions, marinated sweet red peppers, meatballs, and many more.
Mantı is basically the Turkish version of dumplings, filled with spiced meat such as lamb or ground beef. Yogurt and garlic are also used to make the dish, which was originally created by Turkic folk groups.
In Anatolia, Mantı is usually boiled or baked instead of being steamed. The oldest known recipe dates back to the 15th century and the Ottoman empire, and according to that recipe, Mantı should be filled with pounded lamb and crushed chickpeas before they are steamed and served with yogurt on top mixed with crushed garlic and sumac.
Menemen is a savory breakfast dish that is made of eggs, tomato, green peppers, and spices. To add more flavors and make it more filling, white cheese or pastirma can be added as well.
It can also be eaten as a main dish, but then it typically includes onions as well. Menemen is somewhat similar to Huevos rancheros, which is a classic Mexican dish.
While much of Turkish food include some type of meat or fish, Mercimek Köftesi is one of the vegetarian dishes from Turkey, and it’s delicious. The dish consists of vegetarian balls or patties made from lentils, bulgur, and chopped vegetables. It’s commonly served as an appetizer or for mezze.
İskender Kebab originated in northwestern Turkey and dates back to the Ottoman Empire. This type of kebab was created by Iskender Efendi, who also gave rise to its name.
To make a traditional İskender Kebab, you’ll need thinly cut grilled lamb and a hot tomato sauce which is put on top pieces of pita bread. Melted sheep butter and yogurt are poured in generous amounts over the dish.
The same family who invented this dish still have their restaurant open for business in Bursa. Due to its wide popularity across Turkey, it’s also served in other places under the name of Iskender Kebab or Bursa Kebab.
Dürüm is a popular street food in Turkey as well as Europe, widely available in kebab shops and pizzerias. It’s a wrap made from lavash or yufka flatbread, which is then filled with small pieces or slices of kebab and vegetables.
Hot sauce and some kind of yogurt sauce is typically added as well. It’s an inexpensive Turkish food that is great if you want a quick bite or something on the go.
Adana Kebab is a type of kebab named after Adana, which is one of the largest cities in Turkey. It’s a long hand-minced kebab which is grilled on an open mangal with burning charcoal, giving the iconic charcoal flavor to the Adana kebab.
İmam Bayıldı is another traditional dish from Ottoman cuisine. It consists of a whole eggplant that has been opened and stuffed with onion, garlic, and tomatoes before being simmered in olive oil.
This Turkish dish is very appetizing and looks beautiful on the plate. It’s quite easy to make at home, which makes it a great dish to make when you want to serve some traditional Turkish food to friends and family.
Ezogelin soup is one of the most popular Turkish soups, originally from the city of Gaziantep. The primary ingredients to make Ezogelin soup are red lentils and bulgur. garlic, tomato, paprika, hot pepper, dried mint, butter, and onions are typically added as well.
Lahmacun is the Turkish version of pizza, and it’s a popular street food in Turkey. It consists of a crispy flatbread topped with minced lamb meat, lemon juice and spices. Lahmacun is widely available across the whole country, and it’s both cheap and delicious.
Su Böreği is a unique type of borek, also known as Water Borek. It’s very difficult to prepare and there is even a saying that those who can make a good water borek is a good candidate to become someone’s bride and impress her mother in law.
Balık Ekmek is a popular street food in Turkey, and it’s basically a sandwich with grilled fish. Mackerel is widely used but other oily fishes are common as well. The sandwich is filled with various vegetables and it’s a flavorful quick-bite that is best served on the Eminonu square.
Turşu is the name of various mixed pickles. There are hundreds of different types of Turşu across the country, with various regional varieties of pickles. It’s a common side dish for most families eating dinner in Turkey.
Kuru fasulye is a traditional stewed bean dish which is sometimes considered as one of the national dishes of Turkey. It’s simple to make and the main ingredients are white beans, olive oil, onions, and tomato paste/sauce.
Meat and vegetables can be added as well for a more delicate version. Pastirma is the most common meat that is added to Kuru fasulye. Pickles and rice are usually served on the side as well.
Gözleme is a simple fast-food which is similar to a crepe. It’s a tasty flatbread that can be filled with cheese, meat, vegetables or potatoes. One of my favorite versions of Gözleme is with cheese and spinach.
A typical breakfast in Turkey is rich and typically consists of cheese, butter, kaymak, tomatoes, eggs, olives, sucuk (Turkish sausage), pastirma, börek, and many other food items. Additionally, Menemen is also popular to eat for breakfast in Turkey.
A big difference from a traditional breakfast in Europe is the fact that Turks typically drink tea for breakfast instead of drinking coffee.
Kahvaltı literally means “before coffee” and it’s the Turkish word for breakfast.
Turkish Cuisine in short
Turkey is a large country with various regions and a long heritage of cooking. For centuries, it has been the crossroad between West and East and there are lots of influences in Turkish cuisine from neighboring countries, and equally, Turkish cuisine and cooking traditions have spread across Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well.
Turkish food is diverse and beloved all over the world, and due to the country’s large size and various ethnic groups, there is also a wide range of regional dishes in Turkey.
Some of the key ingredients in Turkish food include lamb, beef, rice, fish, eggplants, onions, garlic, lentils, zucchinis, nuts, green peppers, and tomatoes. Olive oil and yogurt are both important ingredients in Turkish cuisine as well.
Turkish Coffee is prepared using very finely ground coffee, unfiltered. It is then brewed using a special method where the ground coffee and water are put to boil in a traditional pot called cezve, also known as ibrik. Sugar is also added during the brewing process.
When it starts to froth, the cezve is removed from the heat before the coffee boils over. Turks typically drink their coffee along with something sweet on the side, for example, Turkish delight.
Turkish Tea, locally known as çay is one of the most popular beverages in Turkey. More than 120,000 tons of tea are consumed yearly by Turks. Turkish tea is traditionally prepared in a çaydanlık, which is a two stacked kettle specifically designed for making tea.
Most of the country’s tea is produced in the Rize Province, and the tea is called Rize tea, which is processed as black tea. Turkish tea is known for its red color and is usually served in small glasses.
- Künefe – Baked cheese with shredded pastry dough, topped with pistachio.
- Simit – Sesame-encrusted bread rings.
- Baklava – A sweet and traditional Turkish dessert.
- Kestane şekeri – Sugared chestnuts.
- Lokum – A popular nougaty dessert with a variety of fillings and flavors.
- Tavuk göğsü – Chicken breast pudding.
- Kayısı Tatlısı – Tasty morsels of apricot stuffed with cream and nuts.
- Baklalı Enginar – Peeled artichokes dressed in oil and lemon juice and served cold with beans and fresh parsley.
What is your favorite food from Turkey? Leave a comment below!