Skip To Content
  • win badge

21 Tantalizing Turkish Foods You'll Want Immediately

Get ready for some sweet, some spicy, and a lot of meat.

1. Baklava

Flickr: garrettziegler

What is it: Layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped walnuts or pistachios, cinnamon and sugar covered in honey syrup.

Why you'll love it: Baklava oozes deliciousness in every bite. It is the ultimate sweet food for any sugar lover.
Recipe here.

2. Patlıcan Kebabı

What is it: Grilled ground beef, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and eggplant.

Why you'll love it: Since all the ingredients are grilled on the same skewer, the flavors mingle to create a mouth wateringly delicious smoky combination.

Recipe here.

3. Mercimek Köftesi

What is it: Vegetarian meatballs made from lentils, green onions and tomato paste.

Why you'll love it: Perfect for vegetarians, they are also light and make amazing appetizers or side courses.

Recipe here.

4. Hünkar Beğendi

What is it: Lamb stew served on top of a creamy eggplant puree.

Why you'll love it: The acidic tomatoey flavor of the lamb stew combined with the creamy eggplant creates something truly out of this world.

Recipe here.

5. İçli Köfte

Flickr: mmm-yoso

What is it: Ground meat, spices, bulgur, and onions stuffed inside balls of dough that are then fried.

Why you'll love it: These balls are like the chicken tenders of the meat universe - lightly fried, tender, and the perfect amount of greasy.

Recipe here.

6. Cacık

Flickr: testastretta

What is it: A yogurt based soup with cucumbers, mint, and hot pepper.

Why you'll love it: The mix of yogurt, mint, and spice makes cacık smooth and extremely fresh tasting. It's a perfect side-course to the general heaviness of Turkish main dishes.

Recipe here.

7. Kadayıf

What is it: Shredded phyllo pastry covered with syrup and a hint of lemon juice.

Why you'll love it: A 'light' Turkish dessert, kadayıf blends the sour of lemon with the sweet of syrup perfectly.

Recipe here.

8. Döner

Flickr: kefraya

What is it: Slow cooked meat or chicken stuffed inside bread, along with your choice of vegetables.

Why you'll love it: You may never find meat as tender and juicy as this. The combination of hot peppers, onions, and veggies take it all to another level.

Recipe here.

9. Sarma

Flickr: julianiii

What is it: The Turkish version of stuffed grape leaves.

Why you'll it: Sarma are a meal all in one, combining bulgur grains, ground meat, and spices into one bite sized serving of awesomeness.
Recipe here.

10. Çiğ Köfte

Flickr: mmm-yoso

What is it: Raw beef that is kneaded with lemon, tomato paste, bulgur and garlic until tender and shaped into a ball.

Why you'll love it: When done right, çiğ köfte is reminiscent of the type of freshness sushi brings - light, delectable, but still filling.

Recipe here.

11. İskender Kebab

What is it: Layers of tender shaved meat served over roasted bits of pita and beneath tomato sauce with a side of yogurt.

Why you'll love it: The combination of yogurt, tomato and meat is unreal. Plus, this was apparently Alexander the Great's favorite food, so it has that going for it too.

Recipe here.

12. Hamsi Tava

Flickr: zz77

What is it: Fried anchovies.

Why you'll love it: When served with arugula and lemon, anchovies lose their distinct fishy taste and instead taste more similar to fresh fish and chips.

Recipe here.

13. Aslan Sütü

Flickr: mroach

What is it: Rakı, a Turkish spirit, mixed with water and ice.

Why you'll love it: It'll get you drunk! Rakı is upwards of 50% alcohol, pairs perfectly with fish and melon, and tastes like aniseed.

Serving instructions here.

14. Mercimek Çorbası

What is it: Red lentil soup with onions, carrots, and paprika.

Why you'll love it: This is the ultimate hardy soup, with the parika and lemon adding a little kick to an otherwise creamy and filling bowl of happiness.

Recipe here.

15. Kaşarlı Pide

What is it: Fresh baked pita bread with melted cheese.

Why you'll love it: Super fluffy, yet crunchy, bread combined with olive oil and cheese equals heaven.

Recipe here.

16. Lahmacun

What is it: Pita like bread covered in a tomato, pepper, and lamb sauce along with fresh vegetables and lemons.

Why you'll love it: Lahmacun is often referred to as Turkish pizza, and it can substitute as an awesome non-dairy, and slightly spicy, version of the classic pizza.

Recipe here.

17. Mantı

Flickr: dmboyer

What is it: Miniature lamb or beef dumplings, served in a spicy yogurt sauce.

Why you'll love it: Just imagine ravioli with a flavorful Anatolian kick.

Recipe here.

18. Adana Kebab

Flickr: lwy

What is it: A grilled skewer of sublime ground lamb goodness.

Why you'll love it: The meat is tender and slightly spicy, with an additional savory kick from the use of lamb instead of beef.
Recipe here.

19. Künefe

Flickr: slolee

What is it: Shredded phyllo dough encasing a sweet cheese, topped with pistachios and honey.

Why you'll love it: The blending of savory cheese and sweet pastry is just perfect.

Recipe here.

And no Turkish meal is complete without these drinks:

20. Türk Kahvesi

Flickr: roboppy

What is it: Turkish coffee.

Why you'll love it: It's strong, dark, and as sweet as you'd like. Think espresso, but with extra coffee grounds.

Preparation instructions here.

21. Çay

What is it: Turkish tea.

Why you'll love it: Turkish tea is brewed to the perfect reddish color from only the finest tea leaves. It is generally drunk with plenty of sugar.

Preparation instructions here.