Turkish Food: 35 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Turkey

Turkish Food: 35 Traditional Dishes to Look For in Turkey

We didn’t know much about Turkish food before our first trip to Turkey. Now, we’re convinced it’s one of the world’s best countries for food, its greatness measured by its diversity, longevity, and the legacy left behind by an imperial kitchen.

We ate our way through multiple regions in the country and everywhere we went we found amazing Turkish food. Interesting dishes like testi kebap, börek, cig kofte, and kunefe opened our eyes to the diversity of Turkish cuisine. It also made us realize that we were just beginning to scratch the surface of all the delicious things this country had to offer.

Food-wise, there is still so much more to explore in Turkey. Looking at a map, I almost don’t know where to begin. If it’s your first time visiting Turkey, then this list of 35 traditional Turkish dishes gives you a good place to start.

Traditional Turkish food is described as the continuation of Ottoman Empire cuisine. The Ottomans fused Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Balkan cuisines to create one of the world’s most diverse and influential cuisines.

Kebabs and dishes made with lamb figure prominently in Turkish food, but the cuisine varies by region. The western coast is noted for its many olive-oil-based dishes, Central Anatolia for its hearty pastries, and the cities and towns by the Black Sea for their abundance of fresh fish.

If you’re visiting Istanbul, then you need to have a meal at Ciya Sofrasi. It’s helmed by Chef Musa Dagdeviren who serves obscure but traditional Turkish dishes from different parts of the country. Eating at his restaurant is like taking a culinary journey through Turkey.

To help organize this Turkish food guide, I’ve divided it by section. Some dishes fall in multiple categories but I’ve tried to organize it as best I could. Click on a link to jump to a specific section.

  • Breakfast
  • Bread
  • Snacks / Appetizers / Pastries
  • Sandwiches / Wraps
  • Meat / Seafood
  • Vegetable Dishes / Vegetarian
  • Desserts
  • Drinks