Discover Our 16 favorite Turkish culinary specialties

For some, the desire to travel lies in the temptation to discover new landscapes, populations with unknown customs, architecture dating back several centuries and to accumulate as many photos of the world as possible…

For others, a good reason to travel would be to learn a new musical culture, to hunt down local artists and to perfect their playlists. Finally, for food lovers, traveling is above all an opportunity to awaken their taste buds! Taste new combinations of products, discover the typical dishes of each country…

Travel today to Turkey, where the gastronomic culture, rich in its influences, is particularly diverse. A mix of Mediterranean, Oriental and Asian flavors will be honored in this top of our 16 favorite Turkish culinary specialties!

Street Food

1. Pide & Lahmacun


Photo credit: Shutterstock – By Mehmet Cetin

If we begin our selection of Turkish culinary specialties by evoking street food, it is because it is particularly delicious there! Pide & Lahmacun is a Turkish version of pizza, which is divided into two large families.

First up is Pide , which is a version of pizza that tops mostly with cheese, meat (ranging from beef to chorizo), and egg. Quite rich, it is generally eaten as a main dish.

Then, the Lahmacun which is much lighter. It is then a thin pancake filled with lamb meat, several vegetables and condiments such as onion, garlic, pepper and tomato. By adding a few spices to this, the whole thing quickly becomes delicious.

2. Pastry

Börek, one of the best Turkish specialties

Photo credit: Shutterstock – koraybozkus

Börek is a specialty from the Ottoman Empire, which has been passed down ever since. A kind of savory pastry, the Börek comes in many ways. Vegetables, cheeses, meats, you will find all kinds.

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Above all, you can simply ask for a simple piece in case of a little hunger, but you will also have the possibility of consuming it whole (if you have the courage!).

3. Version


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Bernd Juergens

Dürüm , a word of Turkish origin, literally means “rolling up” In fact, it can refer to all kinds of preparation rolled up in a Turkish pancake. There are several varieties: Sucuk Dürüm (with cheese and Turkish sucuk sausage ), Salata Dürüm (vegetarian version made with green salad, tomatoes, onions and olives), but above all the best known: the “kebab” version.

This is often referred to as Döner , which illustrates how to cook lamb meat by turning it on a spit.

4. Doner Kebab


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Shanti Hesse

If the origins of the Kebab remain unclear, no one can deny that Turkey is intimately linked to its history. You can also find the history of the Kebab here .

It was obviously impossible for us to talk about Turkish street-food without mentioning Döner Kebab , and its particular way of cooking on a rotating spit, which makes the meat so tender.

5. Fish Bread

Turkish specialty: Balik Ekmek

Photo credit: Shutterstock – AS Food studio

If it is unknown to many people, it is because the Balik Ekmek has long been the victim of a general “boycott”, especially by the Turks themselves. Indeed, this sandwich was called into question for the freshness of its main food: fish.

Obviously today, this is no longer the case, and if you walk on the widths of the Bosphorus, or particularly after the Galata Bridge, you will find delicious ones!

Typical dishes

6. Meatballs

Turkish specialty: Köfte

Crédit photo : Shutterstock – Sinan Niyazi HOLY

Köfte are a real staple of Turkish cuisine. If they only appear as simple meatballs, they are actually much more than that. Here, the base is a mixture of beef and lamb, onions, spices and a multitude of gestures that are passed down between generations.

If many countries claim the “best meatballs”, it must be admitted that those from Turkey are particularly succulent.

7. Ravioli

Turkish specialty: Mantı

Photo credit: Shutterstock – mertbayrakci

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Even if they are known in other countries of the region, the Manti still originate from Turkey! Indeed, these ravioli generally stuffed with meat, but also diverted in potato version, are regularly prepared by hand by Turkish women, and put forward in the windows.

Served with a yogurt sauce and with garlic or mint, it’s a real treat!

8. Stuffed


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Esin Deniz

Dolma are perhaps THE Turkish specialty to remember in this whole list! Peppers stuffed with rice and/or minced meat, they are a legacy of Ottoman cuisine, and what a legacy!

There are many variations, eggplant, zucchini or bulgur.

9. Menemen

Turkish specialty: Menemen

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mehmet Cetin

Composed of eggs, tomatoes, onions, peppers as well as Turkish sausages ( sucuk ), Menemen is a traditional Turkish breakfast dish! Indeed, because of its multiple nutritional contributions, this typical dish is a delight for families.

Consumed directly in a frying pan, it is a symbol of union and sharing.

10. Imam Fainted

Imam Fainted

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Eldred Lim

Imam Bayıldı is a dish of eggplant and minced meat served cold. Served hot, it then changes its name to Karniyarik .

These are simply aubergines stuffed with minced meat and seasoned with multiple spices, which are then baked in the oven: a delight not to be missed!

Turkish desserts and cakes

11. Kunefe


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mehmet Cetin

Since a good meal always ends with a dessert, we are continuing our top Turkish culinary specialties with Künefe ! It is a pure Turkish pastry that can be found all over the country.

Composed of kadayıf (angel’s hair) paste and a cheese made in the south of the country (in Hatay ), this dessert is a pure delight when accompanied by a scoop of ice cream or kaymak (a cream milk typical of Turkey).

12. Loukoums


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Nella

How can we talk about Turkish desserts without mentioning the famous Loukoums ? This Turkish confectionery is now exported all over the world and particularly in all countries linked to the Ottoman Empire.

Having a consistency similar to that of sweets, Loukoums are made from a mixture of starch and sugar. They are then flavored with lemon, rose water and sometimes enriched with pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts… simply delicious!

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13. Güllaç

Turkish specialty: Güllaç

Photo credit: Shutterstock – nilgunnida

Güllaç is a Turkish dessert made from milk, pomegranate, a special paste and drops of rose water. This sweetness has become THE traditional dessert eaten during Ramadan periods in Turkey, thanks to its low-calorie composition.

According to legend, the Güllaç was created in the 15th century, during the reign of Murad II . It would be the precursor of Baklava , the next dessert in our top Turkish culinary specialties!

14. Baklavas


Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tarasovastock

The Ottoman influence is particularly felt when talking about gastronomy in Turkey. And for good reason, Baklava is a traditional dessert common to the peoples of the ancient Ottoman and Persian empires.

Despite the many variations that exist, the editor’s favorite is still the walnut one! A pure delight that we advise you to taste at tea time in Turkey!

Traditional drinks

15. Raki

Rakı, the traditional Turkish appetizer

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ilteramca

To complete our selection of the best Turkish specialties, it is impossible not to mention THE emblematic drink of the country! Promoted to the rank of art of living, Raki is similar to our national pastis by its aniseed taste.

Lengthened with ice water in transparent glasses, it is a staple of all Turkish appetizers, although it can also be consumed during meals to accompany mezes .

Please note: Raki is always drunk while eating, we do not drink it as a shot!

16. Buttermilk

Turkish specialty: Ayran

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Nadir Keklik

To end on a high note, make way for one of the most consumed drinks in Turkey! Very refreshing, the salty taste of Ayran is a little surprising at first, but quickly becomes addictive!

It is certainly its simplicity that makes its success! Indeed, all you need is a little salted water and fresh yoghurt (usually made from sheep’s milk but also works with cow’s or goat’s milk) to concoct it…!

After having tested these specialties, do not hesitate to tell us in the comments what is your favorite Turkish specialty!

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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