20 Most Popular Traditional Balkan Dishes

By xp5u9
November 16, 2022

These popular traditional Balkan dishes are rich and varied, drawing on influences from Turkey, Greece, Italy, and other surrounding countries. These dishe are often made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and are full of flavor. If you’re looking for a taste of the Balkans, be sure to try one of these traditional dishes.

Some of the most popular dishes include a flaky pastry filled with meat or cheese, grilled ground meat, and stuffed cabbage leaves.

The Balkans region is rich in history and culture, with each country having its own unique customs and traditions. One of the most important aspects of Balkan culture is the cuisine, which is a reflection of the diverse influences that have shaped the region. From hearty stews to delicious pastries, there are many delicious traditional dishes to be found in the Balkans. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most popular traditional dishes from the Balkans.

1. Sarma (Sarmale)

sarma traditional Balkan food cabbage leaf stuffing rice meat

Balkan cuisine is an umbrella term for the traditional foods of the Balkans. While each of the countries has its own traditional food, there are certain dishes that are popular in most of the Balkans. Sarma is one such dish and it is one of the most popular traditional dish from the Balkans.

Sarma is prepared with a meat and rice mixture, stuffed into a cabbage leaf, and cooked with tomato paste and spices. Sarma is often considered a comfort food and enjoyed in the winter months.

Sarma has been around for centuries and is a popular dish served during holidays, as well as regular meals throughout the year. It has become so popular that it can now be found in many other parts of the world too.

2. Polneti Piperki (Stuffed Peppers)

Polneti Piperki Stuffed Peppers balkan food

Polneti Piperki (Stuffed Peppers) is an iconic dish in the Balkan region of Eastern Europe. This traditional and tasty meal has been around for centuries and is still enjoyed by many today. It consists of bell peppers filled with a mix of ingredients such as rice, mincemeat, onion, garlic and spices. The various flavors combine to make an incredibly satisfying dish, perfect for lunch or dinner.

3. Ćevapi (Mici)

delicious Ćevapi recipe

If you’re looking for a delicious Balkan dish, Cevapi (Mici) is the perfect choice. This traditional Serbian street food consists of ground beef or pork, onions and spices stuffed into cylindrical casings and then grilled over charcoal. It has become increasingly popular in recent years and can be found in restaurants around the world. Evapi (Mici) is not only tasty but also very easy to make and it goes great with a variety of side dishes.

4. Ajvar (Ljutenica, Pindjur)

ajvar Balkan food

Ajvar or Ljutenica is a traditional condiment originating from the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. It is made from tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, and eggplant and can be used as a spread on bread, as an accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables, or as an ingredient in various dishes. Ajvar Ljutenica has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its unique taste and versatility.

5. Baklava

Baklava traditional flavors

Baklava is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert that has become popular worldwide. It is made using layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Baklava is an incredibly delicious treat that is full of flavor, texture and sweetness. The origins of this dessert are somewhat unknown, but it can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.

6. Tavče Gravče

traditional Tavce Gravce recipe

Tavce Gravce is a traditional Macedonian meal that is known for its delicious baked beans. It’s a simple dish that has been passed down through generations, and it’s the perfect comfort food. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch or an easy dinner, this traditional tavce gravce recipe is sure to hit the spot. It’s packed full of flavor and requires minimal ingredients and preparation time, making it ideal for busy households.

7. Shopska Salata

traditional Bulgarian Shopska Salata

Shopska Salata is a traditional Bulgarian salad consists of diced tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, and cheese all mixed with a garlic vinaigrette. Today, Shopska Salata is served in many countries around the world as a refreshing accompaniment to a variety of dishes or as an appetizer with bread. It’s a great way to add flavor and nutrition to any meal.

8. Burek (Byrek, Börek)

Burek sigara boregi

Burek is a delicious traditional pastry that has been enjoyed by people in the Balkans and parts of Europe for centuries. This flaky, savory pastry is filled with cheese, meat, vegetables or fruit, and spices that give it its unique flavor. Burek can be found in many restaurants, bakeries and even on street corners throughout the region. Each country in the area has their own version of burek they call their own and each one has a unique flavor.

9. Pleskavica (Leskovac Patty)

Pleskavica recipe

Pleskavica is a traditional dish from the Balkans, known for its flavor and simplicity. It is a type of hamburger-like patty made from beef, pork, or lamb mixed with spices and herbs. The dish is beloved throughout much of Eastern Europe and Turkey, where it has been enjoyed for centuries. Pleskavica can be served as part of a meal or enjoyed on its own as a snack or appetizer.

10. Rakija

make Bulgarian Rakia Drink

Rakija is a traditional alcoholic beverage originating from the Balkans, which has become popular in many parts of the world. It is made by distilling fruit or herbs to create a strong spirit that often has a unique flavor. The drink has been enjoyed for centuries, with different variations being produced in different countries and regions. The production of rakija is a time-honored tradition, with recipes and methods passed down from generation to generation.

11. Banitsa (Gibanica)

Banitsa recipe

Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is an incredibly popular savory pastry made of filo dough, egg and cheese. Banitsa can be served as breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is found in nearly every Bulgarian household. It is so popular that the word “banitsa” has entered everyday language to describe something desirable or delicious.

12. Pršut

Pršut balkan food

Pršut is a popular and delicious type of cured ham that has been enjoyed by fans of Balkan food for centuries. Originating in the Balkans, Pršut is made from pork shoulder that has been salted, smoked, and air-dried for several months. This traditional method creates a unique flavor that sets it apart from other cured meats, making it an essential ingredient in many Balkan delicacies.

13. Mekitsa

Mekitsa traditional Bulgarian breakfast

Mekitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pastry that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a type of deep fried doughnut, usually eaten as a morning or afternoon snack. Originating in the country’s capital, Sofia, Mekitsa has become a staple food throughout Bulgaria and can be found at almost any bakery or market. The crispy outside and soft inside make it an irresistible treat that appeals to all ages.

14. Kifle

Kifle, a traditional Balkan food, has been enjoyed by generations in countries like Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia. This delicious pastry is made with dough that is rolled into thin pieces, filled with a variety of fillings and then lightly fried or baked. Kifle can be found in most restaurants and bakeries in the Balkan region and is loved for its unique flavor and versatility.

15. Gyros

Gyros classic Balkan dish

Gyros are a delicious and classic sandwich that have been around for centuries. Originating in the Middle East, they have become a beloved staple food around the world. These tasty sandwiches are made with pita bread, meat, and various toppings. Gyros are incredibly versatile as they can be made with many different meats, such as lamb, beef, pork or chicken. They can also be made with vegetarian-friendly options like falafel.

16. Tarator (Cucumber soup)

Bulgarian tarator with Bulgarian yogurt

Tarator is a beloved Balkan dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is widely recognised as a traditional food of the region, and its popularity continues to spread. The dish is composed of simple yet flavourful ingredients, making it a popular choice amongst culinary enthusiasts. Tarator can be found in many different variations throughout the Balkans, each with its own unique blend of spices and herbs.

17. Moussaka

Moussaka recipe

Moussaka is a traditional dish originating in the Balkans that has been enjoyed for centuries. This hearty and flavorful meal can be found all around the Balkans, from Bulgaria to Greece. It is an iconic dish of the region and many families have their own recipes for it. It consists of layers of eggplant, potatoes, minced meat, and a creamy béchamel sauce that comes together to create a savory and satisfying meal.

18. Qofte (Köfte, Polpeti)

qofte Balkan cuisine

Qofte, or Balkan meatballs, is a traditional food from the Balkans region. It has been enjoyed by generations of families and is an important part of Balkan culture. Qofte is a delicious dish that combines ground beef or lamb with herbs and spices such as garlic, parsley and paprika to create unique flavors. The recipe is simple yet versatile, allowing each family to put their own twist on the classic dish.

19. Doner Kebab (Shawarma)


Doner Kebab is an iconic dish that has become a staple in many countries around the world. Originating from Turkey, Doner Kebab is a combination of marinated meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served with various toppings. It has become popular due to its fast preparation and delicious flavor. As it continues to gain popularity, Doner Kebab can be found in restaurants, food carts, and street-side vendors worldwide.

20. Kajmak

Kajmak food

Kajmak is a creamy dairy product that has been enjoyed in the Balkans for centuries. It is made from cow or sheep’s milk, and is similar to clotted cream or ricotta cheese. Kajmak is widely used as an ingredient in traditional Balkan dishes, from savory pies and pastries to sweet desserts. This article will explore the history of kajmak, its uses in Balkan cuisine, and how you can make it at home.

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