Due to the fertile agricultural soils and climatic conditions, the Anatolian lands are rich in cereals, legumes, plants, olive oil, and seafood. The taste of traditional Turkish dishes made with fresh and healthy ingredients produced in this fertile land will remain on your palate and mind. Different foods stand out in regions of Turkey. For instance, in the South-Eastern part of the country, spicy, bitter meat dishes and soups are preferred. Light olive oil dishes, vegetables, and seafood are primarily preferred in the Aegean region. 

In the Central Anatolia region, legumes and cereals are the most preferred ingredients in dishes. Setting banquet tables for gatherings on holidays, celebrations, funerals, Ramadan, weddings, and special occasions has become a tradition spread throughout Turkey for many years. That is why food culture has a symbolic place in Turkey. In this article, we will share some of the dishes from traditional Turkish cuisine; and local tastes, which are included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. We will also refer to the street foods you should try on your trip to Istanbul.

Signature Dishes from Traditional Turkish Cuisine

Traditional Turkish cuisine is considered one of the richest cuisines in the world in terms of flavors and variety. Although there are different dishes in different regions, we have compiled some of the signature dishes that spring to mind in Turkey.


Ezogelin soup: Ezogelin soup, a unique dish of traditional Turkish cuisine, is a popular dish in Turkey. It is also an indispensable component of dishes in the winter for its nutritious and healthy ingredients. Its main ingredients are red lentils, rice, bulgur, onions, garlic, butter, and spices you can add to your delight.

Lentil Soup: The main ingredients of lentil soup, which have rich nutrients, are carrots, potatoes, red or yellow lentils, onions, and rice. Lentil soup is a recipe that you can easily make with the ingredients in your kitchen.

Main Courses

Kuru Fasulye: Kuru fasulye, one of the prominent dishes of traditional Turkish cuisine, is a cornerstone for tables in Turkey. Kuru fasulye is usually served with rice and pickles. Kuru fasulye can be eaten only by boiling the beans. If desired, you can add onions, bacon, and meat to add flavor to the dish.

Kayseri Mantısı: The famous Kayseri mantısı (ravioli), an indigenous dish of Kayseri, is a dish, which is prepared as scalding or baking minced doughs. The outer layer of mantı is obtained by cutting the hand-made dough into unique shapes, and the inner layer is minced meat with onion and seasoning. Kayseri mantı is served with garlic yogurt and tomato paste.

İskender Kebab: The famous iskender kebab, which belongs to the city of Bursa, is one of the local dishes that foreign tourists coming to Turkey should try. The main ingredient of iskender kebab is doner kebab. What distinguishes these two dishes are the butter and tomato sauce that is poured on it when serving and the yogurt and fatty pita pieces that are served next to it. İskender kebabs meat is also different from doner kebab. It is less fatty and is obtained from rams fed with Uludag thyme.


Baklava: Baklava, a sorbet dessert unique to Gaziantep, is one of the flavors inherited from Ottoman cuisine to Traditional Turkish cuisine. Baklava, a sorbet dessert within which has walnuts, pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts between thin decanters, is served flavored with sherbet. It was officially registered as a Turkish dessert by the EU Commission in 201

Turkish Delight: Turkish delight, a delicious dessert consumed by many people throughout the world, is one of the important desserts of traditional Turkish cuisine. Turkish delight, which is treated at holidays, celebrations, ceremonies, and special events, is also a gift for you to give your loved ones. Turkish delight, consumed as a palace delicacy in the Ottoman Empire, is now produced in the flavors of plain, hazelnut, pistachio, walnut, almond, coconut, orange, rose petal, strawberry, and lemon.

Künefe: Künefe, a unique flavor from Hatay, is one of the few desserts containing cheese in traditional Turkish cuisine. The main ingredients of künefe are shredded phyllo dough, authentic künefe cheese, butter, and sorbet. Künefe is a dessert, prepared with authentic künefe cheese, between two layers of shredded phyllo dough and cooking it on the stove with a special tray, then pouring sorbet according to your taste buds.


Turkish Coffee: Traditional Turkish coffee is distinguished from other coffees by its unique flavor, foam, and presentation style. Turkish coffee is included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Turkish coffee has a unique taste and presentation style and has become a cultural asset for Turkish people. Turkish coffee is served at asking for the girl’s hand in marriage, a traditional ceremony in Turkey, where the groom’s family asks permission for the young couple’s marriage, from brides’ family, special occasions, celebrations, and meetings.

Street Foods in Istanbul

We have compiled the famous street food you should add to your list of things to eat in Istanbul. There are no specific places for you to try these foods. You can come across peddlers selling these unique tastes on the streets of Istanbul.

  • Stuffed Mussels (Midye Dolma)

  • Rice with Chickpea (Nohutlu Pilav)

  • Baked Jacket Potato (Kumpir)

  • Bagel (Simit)

  • Grilled Fish Sandwich (Balık Ekmek)

  • Sweet Chestnut (Kestane)

  • Halka Dessert (Halka Tatlısı)

  • Kokoretsi (Kokoreç)

  • Boiled Corn (Haşlanmış mısır)

  • Meatball Sandwich (Köfte Ekmek)

  • Steak Tartar a La Turca (Çiğ köfte)

Frequently Asked Question

What is traditional Turkish cuisine?
Traditional Turkish cuisine refers to food and beverage that dates back to Ottoman times in Turkey.
What is special about Turkish cuisine?
Turkish cuisine is special because many dishes contain meat and rare spices.
What is a traditional Turkish dinner?
A traditional Turkish dinner can consist of Manti as main course, Ayran as beverage and Baklava for dessert.
What influenced Turkish cuisine?
Turkish cuisine is influenced by Arab and Greek cuisines in general.
What is the main dish of Turkish cuisine?
The main dish of Turkish cuisine is Kebab, as it can be seen as the mascot of Turkish cuisine.