regional cuisine
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Travel topics > Food and drink > Balkan cuisines

The nations of the Balkans have had culinary exchanges with German cuisine, Central European cuisines, Italian cuisine, Greek cuisine, Russian cuisine and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Cuisines of Europe
BalkanBeneluxBritish & IrishCentral EuropeanFrenchGerman (BavarianFranconian)


The Balkans have been divided between different nation-states, languages and religions, but many dishes and ingredients are similar across the borders. The Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire have left their mark in the cuisines of the Balkans.

While Balkan cooking has not been internationalized in the same way as the Italian or Greek cuisines, the South Slavic and Albanian diaspora have brought their cuisine to other parts of Europe.


Bread, meat, potatoes and cheese are ubiquitous around the Balkans. Pork is the most common meat, except among Muslims and Jews, who substitute it with beef, lamb, and poultry.

Seafood is common in Croatia, Montenegro and Albania.

A full meal on the Balkans can consist of soup and bread, followed by a meat dish (grilled meat, meat pies, etc) and cakes or confectionaries as dessert.

A meze is a buffet of small savoury dishes, of Turkish origin. Many of the dishes have analogues in the Middle East.

Ajvar is a sauce made of bell peppers and oil, which can be mild or very spicy. It is usually eaten with bread.

Ćevapi or ćevapčići is grilled ground meat, and the national dish of Bosnia and Hercegovina.


The Balkans have a great range of beer, wine and distilled beverages. Muslim communities usually substitute alcohol with tea and fruit juices. Coffee is common, in Turkish and Italian styles.

Serbia and Bulgaria have particularly longstanding traditions of wine-making, dating to ancient times.

Rakı is a sweetened liquor, originally from Turkey, produced in most Balkan countries, usually consumed as an aperitif.

Yoghurt is eaten plain, and as a condiment. Ayran is a light drink made from yoghurt and salt.

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