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Classic Turkish Foods to Try: Top 10 in Türkiye

February 24
6 min read
Explore the diverse landscapes and cultural heritage of Turkey in this captivating image showcasing iconic landmarks and natural beauty; Classic Turkish Foods to Try
Table of Contents

    To be completely honest, I did not know much about Turkish food prior to my visit to Türkiye. Since then, Turkish food has become one of my favorite cuisines! I had the opportunity during my visit to attend a local cooking class at a family-owned restaurant near Selcuk, where I learned how to make popular Turkish dishes at home. Türkiye’s history influences its dishes and spice palette, combining influences from Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Balkan cuisines. There are so many dishes to try that you will be planning your next visit just for food. After trying many different dishes, I managed to narrow my list down to my recommended top 10 classic Turkish foods to try during your visit to Türkiye. Prepare to eat your way around the country!


    If you’re unsure of where to start, kickstart your food journey with meze, which contains a variety of dishes so you can try a little bit of everything. Meze can be part of breakfast, an appetizer or starter paired with bread, or a main meal to share with several people. A few of the most popular dishes are hummus, ezme, tarama salata, dolma, beans, and different dips/spreads. Two of the most consistent inclusions are bread and olives. The best way to enjoy Turkish meze is by trying a little bit of everything and taking your time, especially if this is a starter for your main meal.


    What may appear to look like pizza at first glance is actually a thin cheese-less flatbread. It is commonly topped with minced meat (usually lamb or beef), vegetables, pickles, herbs, onions, tomatoes, and different spices. This dish usually comes in one size and can be for one person or a shared dish. A few cities and restaurants offer their own unique topping combinations and have a unique preparation method.

    Ezogelin Çorbası

    One of the most popular dishes that is great for vegetarians and is on almost every menu. The soup is made from red lentils and bulgur served as a starter and a main. The recipe for the soup is historically from a woman named Ezo Gelin who lived in the village of Uruş in Gaziantep. The same recipe is used today, with minimal modifications in some restaurants. The soup is a must-try regardless if it’s a hot or cold day.

    Imam Bayildi

    Also known as Moussaka, this is one of my most all-time favorite dishes from my visit to Turkey and a dish that I now make at home. Another vegetarian-friendly dish, a whole eggplant is stuffed with onion, garlic, and tomato and cooked in olive oil. It is then served with sometimes rice or bread. When it becomes known as karniyarik.

    Explore the diverse landscapes and cultural heritage of Turkey in this captivating image showcasing iconic landmarks and natural beauty; Classic Turkish Foods to Try

    Testi Kebab

    A very unique dish that is popular amongst visitors to Cappadocia. This is not your typical kebab. It is a stew combination of meat, vegetables, potatoes, and garlic that are cooked in a clay pot in a tandoor or clay oven. It is then served in a pottery container at your table where you must use a small mallet to carefully break the pottery, so as not to get any in your stew. It is truly a unique and memorable experience.


    The Turkish version of meatballs. The meatballs are made with minced or ground meat (typically beef, lamb, or chicken) and mixed with onions, herbs, and spices. The dish is often served paired with vegetables, rice, and bread. There are around 300 varieties of kofte, so I hope you’re hungry.


    A dish that varies between the different regions of Türkiye. Generally, Gozleme is a pastry-like dish that is filled with different meats, vegetables, and cheeses before being pressed thinly and cooked on a griddle. It is often served with a mini salad or a dip/spread. Note that the name of the dish may appear differently depending on where you’re located and the different stuffings.


    Essentially Turkish ravioli/dumplings. This traditional Turkish dish is usually stuffed with lamb or beef and different spice combinations. They’re often served drizzled with a garlic-tomato sauce or a spiced yogurt sauce that serves as a dip that perfectly complements the meat and spice combination. It is most commonly a starter dish to the main meal.

    Explore the diverse landscapes and cultural heritage of Turkey in this captivating image showcasing iconic landmarks and natural beauty; Classic Turkish Foods to Try

    Ice Cream

    Made famous for its delicious taste and unique way of serving, Turkish ice cream is a must-try even for non-ice cream fans. The process of choosing and receiving your ice cream is a spectacle where the vendor does everything possible to not let you get the ice cream before you become defeated. One of Turkey’s ice cream specialties is Dondurma which is made with mastic, a resin from the mastic tree. It gives the ice cream its famous soft, chewy texture.


    If you didn’t try baklava once, you did not visit Turkey properly. It’s hard to find a place that doesn’t sell baklava, giving you no excuse to not try it. The famous sweet Turkish pastry is made of Phyllo pastry, syrup, and butter. It is then stuffed with hazelnuts, cottage cream, or pistachios before being drizzled in honey. They’re then cut into squares, diamonds, or triangles. Many stores sell packages for carry-on luggage making it easy for you to bring home as a souvenir to share with family and friends.

    Exploring the rich tapestry of Turkish cuisine is not just a journey for your taste buds; it’s an immersion into the cultural legacy and diverse influences that have shaped these classic dishes. From the communal joy of sharing meze to the unique experience of breaking open a Testi Kebap pot, each culinary adventure in Türkiye unveils a story. So, on your gastronomic expedition, savor the symphony of flavors in Lahmacun, delight in the heartiness of Ezogelin Çorbası, and indulge in the sweet layers of Baklava. These classic Turkish foods are not just meals; they are gateways to the soul of a nation, inviting you to relish the essence of Turkish hospitality and tradition. Prepare your palate for an unforgettable journey through the streets and markets, where every bite is a celebration of the timeless allure of Turkish cuisine—truly, a collection of Classic Turkish Foods to Try.

    Considering visiting Türkiye? Check out this complete travel guide!

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