Turkey is home to a rich and diverse cuisine that has evolved over centuries, influenced by its history and cultural heritage. The country’s unique location, bridging Europe and Asia, has made it a melting pot of flavors and cooking techniques. Traditional Turkish recipes encompass a wide variety of dishes, from succulent kebabs and savory mezes to mouthwatering desserts and beverages.
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One of the key features of Turkish cuisine is the use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, which give the dishes their distinctive, authentic taste. Spices, herbs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are expertly combined, creating a tapestry of flavors that delights the senses. Cooking techniques and tips are frequently passed down through generations, ensuring that the essence of Turkish cuisine remains alive in every kitchen.
Moreover, Turkish food is not only about the traditional dishes served in restaurants but also about the vibrant street food culture and the vegetarian and healthy recipes that are increasingly gaining popularity. No culinary journey to Turkey would be complete without indulging in the sweet treats that are synonymous with its desserts and beverages. From the tantalizing aroma of freshly grilled kebabs to the comforting, sweet indulgence of baklava, Turkish recipes offer a delightful gastronomic experience that is steeped in history and culture.
- Turkish cuisine boasts a wide variety of dishes influenced by its unique location, history, and cultural heritage
- Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and expert cooking techniques are the foundations of authentic Turkish recipes
- Street food, healthy options, and tantalizing desserts form a diverse and rich culinary experience for all food lovers
Traditional Turkish Cuisine
Influence of Middle East and Ottoman Cuisine
Turkish cuisine is heavily influenced by its unique location, straddling both the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This rich history and a diverse blend of culinary traditions resulted in a cuisine that is both familiar and exotic to your taste buds. Ottoman cuisine has left its mark on Turkish dishes, incorporating spices, cooking techniques, and ingredients from the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Middle East. As you savor the flavors of Turkish dishes, you’ll notice that many recipes showcase a fusion of these various influences, creating a unique and flavorful experience.
Turkey is a melting pot of cultures, and its cuisine is equally diverse. Different regions within Turkey have their own unique flavors and ingredients, resulting in a wide range of dishes. In the Mediterranean region, you’ll find lighter dishes featuring seafood, fresh vegetables, and olive oil, which is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. The Middle Eastern influence becomes more prominent as you move eastwards into Anatolia, with a focus on rich and fragrant spices, grilled meats, and an array of sweet and savory pastries.
Each region adds its distinct touch to the dishes prepared, exploring Turkish cuisine is a culinary adventure that will take you across the country and leave you eager to try more.
Here are 25 tempting Turkish recipes that are so easy to make and will inspire you to expand your culinary skills in the kitchen. We’ve included appetizers, dips, mains, desserts, and even a traditional Turkish coffee recipe that will truly energize your motivation and love for cooking again.
Pide is a traditional Turkish flatbread that’s packed with ground meat and vegetables that’s normally cooked slowly in a stone oven. It’s sometimes described as a kind of Turkish pizza, however, what the Turks consider to be their own pizza is the lahmacun which we will get into later on.
Sometimes near the end of cooking, two eggs are cracked and placed on top of the meat. There are ingredients that you’ll find are authentic to this recipe, but you can add in any of your favorite veggies or toppings to make it your own.
If you’re running out of ideas of how to use up your eggplants at the end of the week, then you need to try this eggplant casserole recipe. It’s healthy and full of flavor and will be a nice change to the classic casserole dish that you normally make.
Once you fry up some of the ingredients in a skillet, you can arrange it all in the baking dish, put it in the oven and forget about it for 25 minutes until it’s done, and then tuck in.
Turkish coffee is rich and packed full of caffeine and is enjoyed all over the world and not just in Turkey. It’s traditionally brewed in a copper coffee pot and served in tiny-sized coffee cups and you’re not supposed to stir it after it’s been poured into your cup.
If an iced latte is as strong as you go with your coffee then this recipe will probably blow your mind with the intense flavor and coffee rush, so take it easy if you’re a newbie.
Turkish coffee is said to lower cholesterol and also aids with the digestive system, so not only will you be getting your morning caffeine kick but you’ll also be gaining some health benefits.
The Italians aren’t the only ones who make good meatballs, but the Turkish also have their rendition of the popular ground beef and lamb recipe. These can be served as a mezze (small dish) or served as a larger position with some pilaf rice and a cooling cucumber dip.
It’s a gluten-free recipe and it’s also a lot healthier than regular meatballs as they’re baked and not fried. The key is to make this recipe slowly to keep the meat as succulent as possible so cook at a lower heat for a longer time.
If you were to find yourself in an authentic Turkish restaurant in the heart of Istanbul, you would’ve probably been served Cacik (a traditional yogurt and cucumber dip) as a side dip with at least one meal.
It’s traditionally served as meze and is perfect for dipping baked Turkish flatbread in at the start of a meal.
Super easy and quick to whip up, you can create this cacik recipe in under 10 minutes to pair with appetizers or any side dish that you want.
Mercimek corbasi is a traditional Turkish red lentil soup that is an ideal meal-prep recipe that you can make on a Sunday evening ready to eat throughout the week as and when you wish.
It’s gluten-free and suitable for vegans so can be served up to almost anyone you have around at dinner parties you host.
Depending on how filling you want the soup to be, you can add potatoes to thicken it up or choose to keep them out for a lighter lunch option. It’s best served for a squeeze of lemon and also some herby Turkish flatbread to scoop up the remnants at the bottom of your bowl.
Here’s another eggplant recipe for you if you’re a big fan of them. The karniyarik is a classic stuffed eggplant recipe that you’ll often find on the table in Turkish family homes and also offered at traditional restaurants.
This rich classic dish will satisfy all your Turkish food cravings and become a new addition to your weekly dinner menu.
You may have tried scrambled eggs, poached eggs, and fried eggs, but have you ever tried Turkish eggs before? Cilbir is an authentic Turkish breakfast that was being served as far back as the Ottoman era.
Yogurt isn’t the first ingredient we’d thought would match with poached eggs, but surprisingly we thoroughly enjoy this recipe.
You can serve it on its own or alongside some brown toast with creamy avocado to ease some of the spices used in the dish.
Borek is a Turkish savory pastry that you’ll find in nearly every cafe or pastry shop on the streets of Turkey. They can be filled with a variety of fillings like meat, vegetables, cheeses, and a handful of herbs, but our favorite type of borek is a feta and parmesan cheese matched with dill and parsley.
You can make the phyllo sheets or you can buy them at your local grocery store or Turkish market near you to save you some time.
We touched upon Turkish pide at the start of the article, which is sometimes considered to be a type of Turkish pizza, but in reality, lahmacun is what the locals would consider a Turkish pizza.
The toppings are similar to those you’d find on an Italian pizza but normally have some Turkish spices added on to give it some heat.
It’s a great recipe to make as a family to get everyone involved with making their lahmacun bread bases.
Manti is a type of dumpling that you’ll find in Turkish cuisine, it’s normally made with ground beef or lamb and topped with plain yogurt and drizzled with oil.
The meat is normally mixed with numerous spices and garlic then wrapped in a thin dough wrapped and boiled or steamed. The spicy mixture contrasts perfectly with the cool yogurt and is the perfect meal to serve up to any dinner guests who’ve never tried authentic Turkish food before.
Coban salatasi or known to us as Turkish shepherd’s salad is the perfect side dish to pair with some succulent meat on a hot summer’s day. It’s one of Turkey’s most popular salads as it’s so inexpensive to make and doesn’t require much time to prepare.
Simply cut and dice all your ingredients up and place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and mix well with your salad utensils.
This spicy recipe is a great way of switching up your regular baked potato recipe and is the perfect base for a meat traybake that can all be cooked at once in the oven.
If you’re making a Turkish spread then you can also serve this up as a mezze with some crusty bread and traditional Turkish hummus or cucumber dip to cool down the heat from the cumin and the chili flakes.
If you have tried Turkish food before, we’re placing bets on the fact that it was probably a Turkish kebab or commonly referred to as a kofta. You’ll find them served in Turkish restaurants across the world and as street food in markets.
This kofta recipe is made with minced lamb, onion, garlic, mixed with herbs and spices then served with a generous helping of a homemade yogurt sauce.
It would be a good option to serve as finger food on a buffet for dinner guests, or if you pair it with some flatbread stuffed with lettuce for a lunch option during the week.
If you love intense and aromatic flavors, then you’ll need to try this muhammara dip that has a sweet and slightly smoky flavor that’s perfect for dipping pita bread and some crunchy carrot sticks into.
The roasted red pepper dip does have a slight kick of heat to it but you can adjust it to be as spicy or as mild as you like to suit your tastes.
You’ll need to cook off some of your ingredients first before blending so ensure you leave enough time if you’re planning to serve it to guests.
If the Turkish shepherd’s salad wasn’t to your taste buds then maybe this spicy ezme salad may be more up your alley. Ezme means crushed and that’s exactly what this dish is, a blend of crushed rich ingredients that creates a spicy tomato salad.
The dish is traditionally served as a salsa dip or mezze at restaurants and is great for dipping fried herby flatbread into.
You won’t get the texture of this recipe by chopping all your ingredients by hand instead of pouring them all into the food processor so try to be patient.
Don’t worry, Turkish cuisine is not short of some tasty desserts that can be served up after a hot meal. Kazan dibi is a popular Turkish dessert that is made up of milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla powder. The top is caramelized to give it an earthy flavor which contrasts with the sweetness of the milky structure.
It’s the ideal recipe to make the night before a dinner party as it’s best served cold so you can keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy it with your guests.
Pair it with some sour cherry jam and white chocolate shavings to make it look super professional.
This easy tahini hummus recipe can be made up in just 5 minutes and is the perfect dipping companion for pitta bread, carrot sticks, celery, and any other dipping ingredients you’d like to use.
You can easily combine all your ingredients at once in a food processor to create this creamy and flavorsome Turkish hummus that should be drizzled with oil and finished off with a sprinkling of ground chili pepper and chopped fresh parsley.
You’ll be able to keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days to help yourself when you’re feeling like a snack and don’t want to reach for the potato chips.
It can be difficult to make a hot breakfast for the whole family without it taking a century and requiring a ton of dishes to do afterward. This hearty Turkish scrambled egg recipe can be made in just one pan and will only take 25 minutes to make a generous position that’s amazing paired with some crusty white bread.
It’s important to cook the eggs slowly on medium-low heat so you don’t overcook them and make them dry.
If you’ve been inspired by some of the recipes that we’ve recommended and want to merge some hints of Turkish spices and herbs into your non-Turkish meals, then follow this spice mix recipe that you’ll be able to keep in a large pot and dip into whenever you want.
This spice mix can be rubbed on meats, added into your shakshuka eggs, or even mixed in with your olive oil to use as a drizzle on a yogurt dip.
The recipe will make around 15 tablespoon servings but if you’re looking to extend using this mix for longer than six months then we’d recommend doubling the measurements of the ingredients.
Seafood, lamb, and beef are commonly the meats used in Turkish cuisine, although they do have many chicken dishes that are served as well. These chicken shish kebabs will give you a true taste of Turkish life and will bring tons of flavor to your palate.
Time is the main ingredient when it comes to the recipe, so make sure you leave the full 8 hours when marinating your chicken in all the herbs and spices to achieve an intense flavor.
Shakshuka is a very popular dish that has found its way in non-Turkish restaurants in the US due to its bold flavors that shake up the usual breakfast routine. Shakshuka is poached in eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce garnished with fresh chopped parsley and cilantro.
The spices used in shakshuka will usually vary depending on where you’re eating, but the most common ones you’ll find are cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
It’ll take a little bit longer to cook compared to your usual poached eggs but they’re worth the wait.
If you’re that picky eater that all your friends roll your eyes at then you’ll be best to start your journey with trying Turkish cuisine by trying these Zucchini fritters or referred to traditionally as mucver.
The zucchini is mixed in with feta cheese, dill, mint with salt and pepper then fried in oil in a pan to make a fritter style dish. It’s traditionally paired with a cucumber yogurt dip but you can serve them with whatever you fancy.
This Turkish pilaf rice with orzo is the ideal side dish that can be served with some spicy grilled chicken or just some chargrilled vegetables if you’re vegetarian. You can make this dish your own by adding extra vegetables, seasoning, or meat ingredients to become a larger main dish.
It’ll only take you 30 minutes to recreate this recipe so if you’re after a new weeknight recipe that still tastes amazing then this orzo rice pilaf dish you’ll have to try.
Salads are great if you want a lighter lunch option if you’re trying to stay super healthy, however, sometimes you just want something that’s a little more filling to keep you fueled for a busy day.
This heart kisir (bulgur salad) can be enjoyed on its own or paired with some marinated shish kebabs for a more formal dinner option. You can enjoy it warm straight after it’s been cooked or eat your leftovers straight out of the refrigerator.
25+ Tempting Turkish Recipes (+Turkish Coffee)
- 5 oz. cold water
- 2 Tbsp. Turkish coffee
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar or another sweetener
- Pour water into a Turkish cezve.
- Add to the cezve the sugar and coffee.
- Mix together well so that the sugar and coffee dissolve.
- Heat on medium heat on a stovetop until it foams.
- Remove and skim the foam from the coffee.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.