National Food of Turkey : Traditional Turkish Food (Kebab)

Planning your trip to Turkey and want to include the National Food of Turkey to try in your Itinerary for Turkey?

In this post I will talk in detail about the Traditional Turkish Food like Kebab, Dolma and Pilav and will also talk about all the things you should try when you are travelling to Turkey.

When it comes to Turkish cuisine, the variety of delectable dishes and culinary traditions are a true reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage and diverse influences. From savory kebabs to mouthwatering pastries,

Turkish food is celebrated for its irresistible flavors and unique cooking techniques. In this article, we will explore the distinctive features of Turkish cuisine, delve into the traditional Turkish foods, discover the typical Turkish dishes, uncover where to try traditional Turkish food, and understand why kebab is considered the national dish of Turkey.

Let us dive in!

What is Turkish Cuisine?

Kebab - National Food of Turkey
Kebab – National Food of Turkey

Overview of Turkish Cuisine

Turkish cuisine is a fusion of various culinary influences, including Ottoman, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan flavors. It is characterized by its use of fresh herbs, spices, and quality ingredients.

Distinctive Features of Turkish Cuisine

The distinctive features of Turkish cuisine include a focus on grilled meats, flavorful stews, and an array of mezes (appetizers) that tantalize the taste buds.

Regional Variations in Turkish Cuisine

Throughout Turkey, regional variations in dishes of Turkish cuisine showcase the diversity of flavors and cooking styles. Each region has its unique specialties, influenced by local produce and cultural traditions.

What are the Traditional Turkish Foods?

Kebab: A Staple of Turkish Cuisine

Kebab is one of the most popular and well-known dishes in Turkish cuisine. It is typically made with minced meat, often served with pilav (rice dish) and garnished with parsley.

Baklava: A Delectable Turkish Pastry

Baklava, a sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with crushed pistachios or walnuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey, is a beloved dessert in Turkish culture.

Pilav: The Turkish Rice Dish

Pilav is a staple side dish in Turkish cuisine, made with fragrant rice often flavored with spices and served alongside various meat and vegetable dishes.

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Doner Kebab

What are the Typical Turkish Dishes?

Dolma: Stuffed Vegetables in Turkish Cuisine

Dolma refers to a variety of stuffed vegetables such as grape leaves, peppers, and tomatoes, filled with a flavorful mixture of rice, minced meat, and aromatic herbs, a cherished dish in Turkish cuisine.

Pide: Turkish Flatbread with Toppings

Pide, often referred to as “Turkish pizza,” is a boat-shaped flatbread topped with various fillings such as minced meat, cheese, and vegetables, a popular dish in Turkey.

Meze: A Variety of Savory Turkish Appetizers

Meze encompasses a variety of savory appetizers that are often served as a prelude to a meal, showcasing the diverse flavors and textures of Turkish cuisine.

What are the different types of Kebab you can try in Turkey?

In Turkey, there are various types of kebabs that you can try. Some popular types include:

  • Adana Kebab: Originating from the city of Adana, this kebab is made with minced meat (usually lamb) mixed with spices, formed onto skewers, and grilled over charcoal.

  • Döner Kebab: This is a classic dish of Turkish cuisine made from layers of marinated meat (usually lamb or chicken) stacked on a vertical rotisserie, often served with pita bread. The meat is slowly roasted and thinly sliced off as it cooks.

  • Şiş Kebab: Also known as Shish Kebab, this kebab consists of chunks of marinated meat (such as lamb, beef, or chicken) skewered and grilled over charcoal.

  • İskender Kebab: Named after its inventor, İskender Efendi, this kebab consists of thinly sliced döner meat served over pieces of bread, topped with tomato sauce and melted butter.

  • Urfa Kebab: Hailing from the city of Urfa, this well-loved Turkish cuisine dish is made with minced meat (usually lamb), seasoned with spices and red pepper paste and shaped onto skewers. It is then grilled over charcoal.

  • Beyti Kebab: This delectable Turkish dish is made with ground meat (usually lamb), mixed with spices, wrapped in pita bread, and grilled until perfectly cooked. It is often served with yogurt and tomato sauce.

  • Tantuni: Originating from the Mersin region, Tantuni is a type of wrap made with thinly sliced beef or lamb stir-fried with onions, peppers, and spices. It is usually served in a flatbread.

These are just a few examples of the delicious kebabs you can find in Turkey. Each region may have its own variations and specialties in Turkish cuisine, so there are many more unique kebabs to discover in many Turkish restaurants throughout the country.

Where to Try Traditional Turkish Food?

Exploring Turkish Cuisine in Istanbul

Istanbul is a treasure trove for food enthusiasts, offering an array of traditional Turkish restaurants and street vendors where visitors can indulge in the authentic flavors of Turkish cuisine.

Exploring the vibrant and diverse Turkish cuisine in Istanbul is an adventure for the palate. Here are five highly recommended restaurants where you can savor some of the best Turkish dishes the city has to offer:

1. Buhara Fish Meat House Roof: This restaurant has been praised for its variety and quality, offering guests a chance to indulge in a range of Turkish specialties. Enjoy your meal with a view, as this establishment is known for its rooftop dining experience.

2. Gulhane Sark Sofrasi: Known for its authentic atmosphere, Gulhane Sark Sofrasi provides a traditional Turkish dining experience. The restaurant’s menu reflects the rich culinary heritage of Istanbul and is perfect for those looking to try classic Turkish dishes.

3. This number features prominently in the cooking cycles in many Turkish restaurants. Tarihi Bankalar Lokantası, also known as the Historical Banks Restaurant, serves up tasty Turkish dishes. If you’re interested in tasting the historical flavors of Turkey, this restaurant offers a journey through time with its traditional recipes that have been passed down through generations. It’s a must-visit for history and food enthusiasts alike to experience the best traditional dishes in Turkish cuisine.

4. Deraliye Ottoman Cuisine: For an Ottoman culinary experience, Deraliye offers dishes that once graced the tables of sultans. This restaurant provides a unique insight into the opulent flavors of Turkey’s imperial past.

5. Hamdi Restaurant: Another gem when it comes to traditional Turkish cuisine, Hamdi Restaurant is renowned for its kebabs and other meat dishes. The restaurant boasts a prime location with scenic views, contributing to a memorable dining experience.

Delicacies to Try in Turkey

From the bustling bazaars to the charming cafes, Turkey offers a culinary journey with delicacies such as Turkish delight, baklava, and refreshing Turkish tea that are not to be missed.

Traditional Turkish Drinks and Desserts

Traditional Turkish drinks such as raki and Turkish coffee, along with delectable desserts like kunefe (a pastry made of shredded filo dough filled with cheese and soaked in syrup), provide a delightful glimpse into the Turkish culinary tradition.

Turkish cuisine, known for its rich flavors and diverse range of dishes, is a staple at many Turkish restaurants. When it comes to drinks and desserts, Turkey offers a delightful selection of traditional options. Here are some popular Turkish drinks and desserts:


  1. Turkish Tea (Çay): Turkish tea is a staple beverage in Turkey. It is typically served in small, tulip-shaped glasses and is enjoyed throughout the day. Turkish tea is strong and black, often served with sugar cubes.

  2. Turkish Coffee: Turkish coffee is a strong and aromatic coffee prepared by boiling finely ground coffee beans in a pot called a cezve. It is served in small cups, and the grounds settle at the bottom. Turkish coffee, a staple in many Turkish restaurants, is often enjoyed with a glass of water and a piece of lokum, known as Turkish delight.

  3. Ayran: Ayran is a refreshing and popular yoghurt-based drink in Turkey. It is made by mixing yoghurt with water and a pinch of salt. Ayran is commonly consumed with meals to balance the flavors.

  4. Şalgam Suyu: Şalgam suyu is a unique and tangy drink made from fermented turnips and carrots. It is a traditional beverage from the southeastern region of Turkey and is often enjoyed alongside kebabs.


  1. Baklava: Baklava is a famous Turkish dessert made of layers of thin filo pastry filled with crushed nuts (usually pistachios or walnuts) and sweetened with syrup or honey. Baklava is known for its flaky texture, sweet taste and is a popular dessert also known as Turkish delight in many Turkish restaurants.

  2. Turkish Delight (Lokum): Turkish delight is a gel-like sweet treat made from starch, sugar, and various flavors such as rosewater, lemon, or pistachio. It comes in different colors and shapes and is often dusted with powdered sugar.

  3. Sütlaç: Sütlaç is a creamy rice pudding made with rice, milk, sugar, and sometimes flavored with vanilla or cinnamon. It is often served chilled and garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon or crushed nuts.

  4. Künefe: This is a well-known and tasty Turkish dessert made from cheese and shredded wheat soaked in sweet syrup, often served in many Turkish restaurants. Künefe is a warm and cheesy dessert made from shredded phyllo dough, melted cheese (usually unsalted cheese like mozzarella), and sweet syrup. It is baked until golden and crispy and served hot with a scoop of ice cream.

These are a few examples of the best traditional dishes of Turkish cuisine including delicious traditional Turkish drinks and desserts. Turkish cuisine offers a wide variety of culinary delights that are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth or craving for a refreshing beverage.

Why is Kebab Considered as the National Dish of Turkey?

History and Significance of Kebab in Turkish Cuisine

Kebab holds a significant place in Turkish cuisine, with its history dating back centuries. It is a representation of the rich culinary heritage of the Turks.

Variations of Kebab Across Different Turkish Regions

Throughout Turkey, various regions offer their unique interpretations of kebab, influenced by local ingredients and cooking methods, showcasing the regional diversity of Turkish cuisine.

Kebab as a Culinary Representation of Turkey

Kebab, with its succulent grilled meat and aromatic spices, embodies the essence of Turkish cuisine, making it a symbol of national pride and a culinary ambassador for the country.

Food Tour in Turkey to Try

One food tour which I could recommend you to try in Turkey is from Istanbul. So if Istanbul is one place which you are visiting in Turkey.

Okay, I know this should be on your Itinerary then you should try this food tour.

Conclusion: National Food of Turkey

Now that I have shared with you that Kebab is the National Dish of Turkey, I think you have some things to look forward to and try during your trip to Turkey.

If you are in the planning phase of a Turkey trip then you can check our post from Turkey.


Q: What are some traditional Turkish dishes?

A: Traditional dishes of Turkish cuisine include kebabs, baklava, börek, koftes, various mezes and lokum, also known as Turkish delight.

Q: What is the main ingredient used in Turkish kebabs?

A: Turkish kebabs are typically made with lamb or beef, seasoned with various spices and served with vegetables.

Q: What is a traditional Turkish breakfast like?

A: A traditional Turkish breakfast often consists of various cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, jams, honey, butter, and different types of bread.

Q: What is doner kebab and how is it prepared?

A: Doner kebab is a popular Turkish street food made by layering seasoned meat, usually lamb, on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is then sliced thinly and served in a pita wrap or on a plate.

Q: What is raki and how is it consumed in Turkey?

A: Raki is a traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage that is often consumed as an aperitif. It is typically served with water and ice, and enjoyed alongside mezes and seafood dishes.

Q: What is Turkish ice and what makes it different from regular ice cream?

A: Turkish ice, also known as Maraş ice cream, is a traditional Turkish ice cream that is denser and chewier than regular ice cream due to the use of salep, a flour made from the tubers of wild orchids.

Q: What are some traditional Turkish delicacies?

A: Traditional Turkish delicacies include Turkish delight, also known as lokum, and various types of Turkish sweets and pastries such as baklava and şekerpare.

Q: What are the key spices used in Turkish cuisine?

A: Turkish cuisine makes use of various spices such as red pepper, cumin, sumac, mint, oregano, and sesame seeds to add distinct flavors to dishes.

Q: What is the significance of kebabs in Turkish cuisine?

A: Kebabs are an integral part of Turkish cuisine, with a wide variety of kebab dishes prepared using different cooking techniques such as grilling, skewering, or roasting over an open fire.

Q: What are some must-try traditional foods in Turkey?

A: Some must-try traditional foods in Turkey include lahmacun, a thin piece of dough topped with minced meat and herbs; and menemen, a dish made with tomatoes, green peppers, and eggs.

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