When we think of Turkish desserts, one that always springs to mind is Baklava. But Turkey has a rich and diverse cuisine, especially when it comes to desserts.
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Offering a myriad of milk-based, pastry-based and fruit and veg-based desserts, Turkey has a dessert for every occasion and a flavor to satisfy every taste.
It’s an obvious one to mention at the top of the list, but it’s also one of the best. Baklava is super sweet and rich and is a Turkish dessert that’s sold all around the world.
It’s made of layers of indulgent phyllo dough, finely ground pistachios, butter, and honey or syrup made from sugar, water and lemon juice.
The sticky drizzle and crunch of the nuts add the perfect finishing touches to this dessert, which is one of Turkey’s most popular sweet treats.
Baklava is also a common dessert in Iranian and Arab cuisines and is found in countries of the Levant and Maghreb, as well as those in the South Caucasus, Balkans, and Central Asia.
Simple, creamy, and oh-so-delicious, Turkish Rice Pudding, known as Sütlaç, is made with heavy cream, short-grain rice and milk, and is light, easy to eat, and not too sweet. Because this dish isn’t overly sweet and indulgent, it’s perfect to enjoy any time of day.
The pudding mixture is cooked on the stove and then transferred to oven-safe bowls for baking. It’s best served slightly burned, so it has a lightly crisped top like a creme brulee. Sütlaç has hints of caramel, and tastes especially divine sprinkled with ground cinnamon.
Turkish Delight is another world-famous Turkish dessert which is now enjoyed all over the globe. Turkish Delight is cubes of jelly traditionally flavored with bergamot orange, rosewater, and lemon, though today you can probably find an extensive range of flavors, with fruits or nuts also added for extra flavor.
This recipe is for making rose-flavored delights, which are probably the most traditional, but why not get creative and see what flavors you can infuse your Turkish Delight with?
A common street food in Turkey: Tulumba Tatlısı are mini oblong balls of fried dough that are soaked in syrup and served warm by street vendors. The dough is made from starch and semolina, which keeps the texture light and crispy.
This simple, affordable dessert is delicious when enjoyed fresh and warm, and it’s also served regularly in Turkish restaurants, as well as at big gatherings such as weddings and holiday celebrations.
Yes, you read that correctly - this Turkish dessert contains chicken! But don’t be put off, as you can’t detect even the slightest trace of chicken flavor!
This dish uses fine shreds of fresh chicken breast meat combined with a sweet, milky pudding to create a completely unique dessert that’s rich in protein.
An important step in this recipe is to wash the fully cooked meat over and over again in cold water to remove the odor of the chicken.
It sounds like a lot of effort, but we promise it’s worth it. It’s also perfect with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and, if you want a low-fat option, swap out the whole milk for skimmed milk.
If you’ve ever been to Turkey, or even just to a Turkish restaurant, you’ll know that coffee is a big part of Turkish culture. This isn’t any old coffee, either - Turkish coffee is a style of coffee prepared using very finely ground coffee beans without filtering.
The coffee is traditionally served in a small porcelain cup called a ‘kahve fincanı’ coffee cup and is often served with sugar.
In Turkey, when a host asks how you like your coffee, they’re referring to the amount of sugar. To answer the question, guests say “sade” for no sugar; “az seker” for very little sugar; “orta” for 1-2 teaspoons of sugar; or “sekerli” for 3-4 teaspoons of sugar.
Why not try making traditional Turkish coffee at home, to serve with an equally delicious Turkish dessert?
A Turkish twist on the classic chocolate brownie, what better combination is there than coffee and chocolate? These gooey, indulgent brownies also feature cardamom and a hint of warming cinnamon for a unique flavor and also have chopped walnuts in them for added texture.
Helva is a type of sweet found in Turkey as well as throughout the Balkans and the Middle East. You’ll find Helva in pretty much every market in Turkey.
In modern Turkish cuisine, there are two kinds of Helva, the first is made with a starch base, sugar, and butter as well as additional ingredients like nuts and flavorings. Turkish flour Helva and semolina Helva are served as desserts and on special occasions.
The second type of Helva is a sweet treat made with tahini (sesame nut butter) and sugar. It’s sold in blocks and is then sliced into cubes to serve. It has a soft, crumbly, texture and is often flavored with nuts, dried fruits, or cocoa.
This recipe is for tahini Helva and makes a sweet treat that’s perfect for special occasions.
Simple yet delicious, Turkish Almond Cookies are one of the most accessible Turkish recipes to make at home. They use just 4 ingredients: almond flour, egg whites, sugar, and lemon juice, and they take under an hour to bake!
Whether you enjoy these as an afternoon treat or bake them for a special occasion, they won’t disappoint. They have a wonderful texture that transforms from crispy to soft as you bite towards the center of the cookie.
Similar to almond cookies but using sugar, flour and butter instead, these Turkish shortbread cookies are crumbly, sugar-topped, and melt in your mouth.
They take just half an hour to bake, and in no time at all, you’ll have the perfect sweet treat that’s a breeze to make at home.
Kunefe is another popular Turkish dessert, and it has a unique flavor as it combines sweet sugary pastry with a delicious cheese filling. It’s made from shredded filo pastry and is soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, with rosewater, lemon juice, and nutmeg added to the mix to intensify the flavors.
Kunefe is often served at Turkish kebab restaurants, and it’s also the perfect middle ground if you find Turkish kadayif dessert or Turkish baklava too sweet for your liking.
This sweet and fruity dessert is a fail-safe crowd-pleaser, even for those who aren’t keen on Turkish Delight, as the Turkish Delights don’t overpower this recipe.
This ice cream cake is made from ice cream, chopped Turkish delights, and nuts, and is served with fresh berries and meringue. While it’s not a traditional Turkish dessert, this is a great way to add new flavors to traditional vanilla ice cream.
Just remember to prepare this creamy Turkish Delight ice-cream cake at least 1 day in advance to ensure the mixture has enough time to set.
Turkish yogurt cake is creamy yet surprisingly light thanks to the whipped egg yolks which make a fluffy textured batter. It’s also surprisingly nutritious thanks to the main ingredient being Greek yogurt.
It has a hit of lemon to it too, making it the perfect summer dessert. With a texture somewhere between a souffle and a cheesecake, this cake is a lighter alternative to some of the heavier, syrupy Turkish desserts.
In Turkey, bread, known as ‘ekmek’, is a staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it also features in a delicious and popular Turkish dessert - Ekmek Kadayifi, which is made from special dehydrated bread soaked in syrup. It is a dessert often served during religious festivals in Turkey, such as the end of Ramadan, known as Seker Bayrami.
Topped with walnuts or pistachios and served with kaymak - a thick Turkish clotted cream - this dessert is indulgent and heavenly. If you can’t get Kaymak, you could substitute it with clotted cream or mascarpone cheese, which have a similar texture.
You simply can’t visit Turkey without trying the wonderful Asure - also known as Noah’s Ark Pudding - but if you can’t visit the country, why not recreate it yourself at home?
This dessert is served throughout the year in Turkey, but it’s most popular during Muharram, the Islamic calendar’s first month. Anecdotal history has it that this dessert is inspired by a pudding made by Noah himself.
After the floodwaters receded, it’s said that Noah used everything left on the ark - including nuts, grains, and dried fruit - to make a pudding.
These ingredients remain in the recipe today, and it’s a healthy concoction of fruits, legumes, whole-grain wheat, sugar, and fruit juices cooked together in one pot. Traditionally Noah’s Ark Pudding also features apricots, pine nuts, figs, currants, raisins, hazelnuts, and chickpeas, to name just a few common ingredients.
It’s usually sweetened with rose water, but you can use orange or lemon water if you prefer.
Simple to make but delicious to eat, Revani or Turkish Semolina cake is a soft sponge cake soaked in lemon-infused sugar syrup. It takes just 35 minutes to bake, making it ideal for times when you need to whip up a sweet treat with limited notice.
It can be served in simple slivers or an impressive star pattern, and can also be flavored with orange or rose instead of lemon. The simplicity of this cake makes it perfect if you’re just getting to grips with baking!
Simple yet fun, adults and children alike will love pulling apart this sweet cotton candy. While it resembles the cotton candy we know in the U.S., this is Pismaniye - the Turkish version.
The origins of pismaniye aren’t 100% clear but it’s generally accepted that it was first made by an Armenian chef who moved to Izmit - a city near Istanbul. For this reason, pismaniye is very popular in Izmit even today and is commonly sold by street vendors.
It’s made by using a special method to blend flour roasted in butter into strings so that it sticks together like cotton. Pismaniye can be eaten plain or flavored with chocolate or vanilla for added sweetness.
A perfect dessert for Thanksgiving, this sweet pumpkin dessert is made from the country's huge, greenish-gray pumpkins that come out in the fall. This is a super simple dessert, but as with many of the other dishes on this page, you can spruce it up with added flavors if you wish.
This Turkish pumpkin dessert features a perfect balance of decadent sweetness from the sugar-coated pumpkin and a savory, nutty taste from the tahini. It’s perfect served with whipped cream and chopped walnuts.
Turkish ice cream - or “dondruma” is a little different from the ice cream we know.
It has a unique “elastic” texture as it’s made from salep - the powder of orchid bulbs. Due to its chewy texture and unique flavor, this ice cream doesn’t melt easily and can also be made without an ice cream maker. It requires whisking, heating, and freezing, but active cooking time is only an hour or less.
This ice cream is a perfect dessert in its own right, but it’s also the ideal accompaniment to Turkish desserts such as walnut baklava or pistachio kadaif.
You might associate churros with Mexico, but Turkey also has its own version called Halka Tatlisi which is a common street food in the country. Halka Tatlisi translates to ‘circular dessert’ - referring to the churros’ distinctive round shape.
Turkish churros have the same dough and cooking method as tulumba, which is why the two desserts look very similar. Featuring crunchy, golden dough coated and tossed in sweet syrup, this is a simple sweet treat that never fails to please tourists and locals alike.
Plus they’re surprisingly simple to make, taking just 30 minutes to cook. Feel free to add a sweet filling or dip your Turkish Churros into melted chocolate, too!
Like coffee, tea is also central to Turkish culture and cuisine. In fact, Turkey has a tea, or çay (‘chai') culture that's steeped in hundreds of years of tradition.
The country is among the world's top five tea-growing nations, and accounts for about six to 10 percent of the world's tea production - most of which is consumed domestically!
In Turkey, tea is consumed all day - from breakfast until bedtime, and offering and drinking tea together is considered a gesture of friendship. While there are no restrictions when it comes to enjoying Turkish tea, it’s especially popular between
three and five in the afternoon, when tea is served alongside sweet and savory biscuits and cakes.
In this recipe, dried lemon peels are boiled with water and honey, for a slightly sweet and citrusy take on Turkish tea. It’s easy to make and is a great boost of vitamins and nutrients.
Lokma are delicious balls of Turkish fried sweet dough that are covered in a simple syrup. They’re regularly served as a dessert or as a coffee accompaniment, and can also be paired with chocolate sauce, honey, cinnamon, sesame, or grated walnuts.
Lokma is especially popular in Western Turkey, and many Turkish natives will take large pots of Lokma to parties and special occasions such as weddings, funerals, or business events, or some will even take the ingredients with them and bake the Lokma on the premises.
Be wary of confusing Lokma with awamat, which are crisp doughnut balls from Lebanon. While similar, Awamat is fried until golden brown and crispy and then coated with simple syrup.
Sutlu Nuriye is similar to baklava but lighter, as its syrup is milk-based - which makes it a great option if you find that baklava is too sweet and heavy for you.
It still uses layers of phyllo pastry sheets, but the milky syrup gives it a pale, whitish glaze and the milk makes it slightly creamier than baklava.
Sutlu Nuriye uses crushed hazelnuts as the filling, which pair wonderfully with the milky syrup. The hazelnuts also make this a more budget-friendly dish, as they tend to be cheaper than expensive pistachios. This light yet creamy Turkish pastry is perfect paired with strong Turkish coffee or tea and is ideal for entertaining guests.
We thought we’d finish the article with a recipe that utilizes one of the most famous Turkish desserts - Turkish Delight - but bakes it into a cake instead!
This light sponge cake calls for the basic ingredients used to bake sponge cake — eggs, baking powder, flour, vanilla, and sugar, so you may have these ingredients knocking about in your pantry already. It’s also ideal for using up any leftover Turkish Delight!
This recipe adds a Turkish twist to a classic sponge cake by calling for Turkish Delight to be chopped and sprinkled into the mixture before baking for 40 minutes, then top the cake with powdered sugar.
Because the Turkish Delights add a delicious light perfumed flavor to the cake, you can easily change the flavor of the cake by choosing a different flavor of Turkish Delight!