Ultimate guide to Turkish cuisine

Ultimate guide to Turkish cuisine

Diverse culture and long history of Turkey has made its cuisine very rich. The most popular dishes at traditional Turkish restaurants are mostly based on beef. However restaurants serving homemade food with dishes based on vegetables and fish are also easy to spot. Here you can find the most popular foods that you have to try when you visit Turkey.

Lahmacun: It is ‘Turkish pizza’ with ground meat, tomato, paprika and spices. It is always served with greens and lemon. Put the greens on it, then roll it and eat. Two pieces of this delicious dish is usually enough to become satisfied. At a cost of 6 lira Lahmacun is one of the cheapest options.


Pide: Pide is a kind of pastry filled with meat, potatoes, cheese, mushrooms etc. There are two kinds of pide: açık (open) and kapalı (closed). Kapalı pide is as bread and the ingredients are inside – as at image below. Açık pide is like lahmacun – the ingredients are on a thin pastry.

Kapalı pide

Döner: Döner is actually what is called ‘kebap’ in Europe without additional sauces like garlic. It is made either with beef (mostly) or chicken meat and it can be served with potatoes and tomatoes inside bread (döner ekmek), inside tortilla (dürüm döner) or on plate with rice (porsiyon döner).

İskender: İskender kebap is another form of döner. It is actually döner, but it is served with pita breads (under meat), yoghurt and tomato sauce. I definitely recommend it!

İskender kebap

Kebap: It is made with beef or a mixture of beef and lamb. There are two kinds of kebap: Adana and Urfa. Both of them are city names in Turkey. The difference is that Adana kebap is very spicy, while Urfa kebap has only main flavorings like onion, garlic, cumin and sweet paprika. They are both served with bulghur, vegetables and a thin bread (lavash).

Urfa kebap

Köfte: Köfte is literally Turkish meatball. It is made from ground beef mixed with onion, parsley, cumin, black pepper. There are many kinds of
köfte. All of them are delicious, however, the best are homemade meatballs which is favorite meal for children and adults, especially when it is served with potatoes!

Ezogelin çorbası (soup): This is the most popular Turkish soup made from red lentils, rice, bulghur and spices. It is popular to add lemon drops on it. Ezogelin soup is really good on cold winter days!

Until here it was about the most famous foods which means it is easy to find them everywhere. Below I will tell you about the others that are same delicous but a bit harder to find.

Kumpir:  Imagine a big and baked potato with a bit of melted butter and cheese. And then with different ingredients like olives, corns, sausages, pickles, peas, mushrooms, bulghur, red cabbage, carrots, russian salad and ketchup, mayonaisse added according to your wish! The most famous place for kumpir is Ortaköy in İstanbul. It is a place that is surrounded by many kumpir restaurants.

Menemen (Egg dish):  Turkish breakfast is the richest breakfast in the world. Therefore, it is easy to find a place to have a good breakfast with many kinds of cheese, olives, hams, jams, honey and tomato, cucumber, paprika. In addition to these, there is menemen! It is made with eggs, tomato, green pepper and spices. It is usually considered as breakfast, but Turkish people eat it whenever they want. It contains proteins, iron and vitamin C. It is a very healthy dish!

There is a cuisine that is called ‘Anadolu Mutfağı’ which means ‘Anatolian Kitchen‘. In this kind of places they serve the traditional foods of Anatolian cities in Turkey. Let me introduce you the most important ones:

Mantı (Turkish dumplings): Mantı is Turkish type ravioli. The dumplings filled with ground beef and they are served with garlic flavored yoghurt and tomato sauce. The smaller the dumplings are, the better they are.

Cacık: This is a kind of side dish/salad. It is made with Turkish yoghurt, cold water, garlic, cucumber, olive oil, salt and dried mint. It is certainly delicous and refreshing on hot summer days or with hot dishes.

İçli Köfte (Stuffed Meatballs): İçli köfte is a side dish or starter. Dumplings made from fine bulgur and semolina filled with a mixture of ground beef, onion, walnuts and spices. It can be either fried (the most common) or boiled. It is not an easy one to make, but its taste is definitely amazing!

Börek: Börek is a very important pastry dish in Turkey. It is made from very thin Turkish pastry called yufka -made from flour, salt and water. It is usually filled with cheese, potatoes, mince or spinach. They are usually sprinkled with egg yolk and seasame or nigella seeds. There are lots of different forms of börek. They can be either in a shape as square, triangle or rectungular. They can either be baked or fried. In every way, they are very very tasty!


Gözleme: Gözleme is similar to börek as it is made from a pastry and filled with same ingredients. The difference is that gözleme is thinner, bigger, and it is only made on a pan. It tastes even better when you eat it with ayran -Turkish yoghurt drink!

Dolma (Stuffed Vegetables): Grape leaves or peppers are filled with either ground beef and rice, or just rice. Of course, there are spices in both of them! If it is made from ground beef with rice, then it is popular to eat it as main dish with yoghurt. If it is made from only rice, then it is eaten cold and it is considered as side dish -this kind is classified as ‘zeytinyağlı’ which means ‘with olive oil’. Although dolma is time consuming to make, it is very easy to eat all of it at once! It is definitely recommended.



Baklava: Baklava is made from a thin pastry that is special for this dessert. Between the pastries it includes pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts. It is sweeten with a sugar syrup or hydromel. It can be found in many shapes.

Different types of Baklava

Kadayıf: Kadayıf is a name of a shredded pastry – very thin and long pastry parts. It is fried after putting walnuts or pistachios between pastries. And it is then sweeten with sherbet. There are many different types of kadayıf dessert according to its shape.

Künefe: Künefe is made from kadayıf. Between two layers of kadayıf, salt-free cheese is placed. It is also fried and sweeten with sherbet. It is usually served with kaymak – Turkish cream. It is my favorite dessert! <3

Sütlaç: Sütlaç is a milk pudding. It is the most popular one between other milk puddings. It is made from rice, milk and sugar. Sütlaç is usually served with cinnamon on top of it. Milk puddings are lighter desserts in Turkey, as they are not fried.

Tavuk göğsü: This is another milk pudding. It is made from chicken breast, milk, rice flour and sugar. It is also served with cinnamon on top of it.

Kazandibi: Kazandibi is made by slightly burning the bottom of tavuk göğsü. This small difference gives it a delicious taste.

Turkish delights: There are many many kinds of delights in Turkey. Varieties consist chopped almonds, walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts, and they are flavored with chocolate, mastic, rosewater, coconut, pomegranate, lemon, orange or apricot.

Fresh Turkish delights
Packed Turkish delights

There are many more Turkish desserts. They mostly consists of different kinds of pastries with nuts and sugar. There are also a few kinds of milk pudding.

Different kinds of Turkish desserts