There is nothing more special than Balkans meats, slowly cooked in stews, stuffed into vegetables, or served with homemade bread!
The Balkans have such a rich culture and culinary history that it’s difficult to describe it in one word. It is a region of countless flavors, with each country offering a unique culinary heritage!
When traveling to the Balkans, you’ll find meat to be a popular component of the Balkan diet, particularly pork and lamb. Beef consumption has been increasing over the years, as well.
Meat is prepared in many ways. You’ll discover a variety of dishes and stews in each country, all signature to a specific region, but very popular throughout the whole peninsula!
You probably wouldn’t know where to start with so many fantastic meat dishes! So, let me introduce you to some of the best and must-try Balkan Meats!
Our Balkan Meats guide will bring the flavors of all the Balkan countries right to your own kitchen!
Let’s dive in!
8 Best Balkan Meats You Must Try
You can’t visit the Balkans without trying Ćevapi!
Of all the meat dishes of the Balkans, Ćevapcici are probably the most popular. They are a staple Balkan sausage and popular street food. You’ll no doubt come across this dish on your travels!
This popular dish is a local favorite, and restaurants are serving Ćevapi at every corner of the region.
They are traditionally made with ground meat using pork, lamb and beef, and they’re typically molded by hand and do not have any sausage casing. They are later grilled, and there are many variations of Ćevapi across the Balkan peninsula!
Ćevapi are usually served as a sandwich, stuffed into a lepinja flatbread and smeared with delicious ajvar sauce! You will see Ćevapi in the middle of every table on large platters with fresh cilantro and onions.
They can be served as a main meal, side dish, appetizer or dinner. And the best part about this meat dish—is you can easily make them at home by following our Ćevapi recipe!
So, break out your grill and fire up the coals because nothing beats the taste of homemade Ćevapi sausages!
Pljeskavica, the Balkan burger, is a staple for fast food cravings! This dish is a Serbian classic and has been around for centuries.
Pljeskavica is a large flat meat patty usually served inside lepinja flatbread, sliced onions, shaved cabbage, and slathered with ajvar or kajmak!
This delicious meat patty is made with ground meat. However, pork and beef are the most popular choices for this Balkan burger, where you will find differences in the proportions of both types of meat used based on region.
Paprika, onions and various seasonings also come together with the meat to create this juicy goodness and bring a rich taste!
Additionally, there are several different variations of this dish throughout the Balkans, including Leskovačka pljeskavica, popular in Leskovac, a town in southern Serbia, where it was first cooked, Gurmanska pljeskavica, Hajdučka pljeskavica.
If you love burgers and are interested in trying something new—give this one a try. You won’t regret it!
Want to make it at home? Here’s the simplest Pljeskavica recipe for any occasion (or breakfast)
Kyufte or Qofte is a small-sized type of meatball you can find in many Balkan countries!
These delicious bites are popular Turkish street food and one of the most popular foods on every Balkan lunch table!
Kyufte is made from a mix of ground meat, eggs, onion and spices. This mixture is later shaped into little balls about the size of an egg. The meatballs are then grilled over an open flame until browned on all sides.
These savory meatballs are typically made with beef or lamb but can also be stuffed with cheese. They’re perfect as a main dish served with rice and potatoes or as an appetizer on their own.
All you need is some warm pita bread and a generous helping of tzatziki sauce for dipping, and then you’re good to go!
Explore the delicious cuisine of Serbia with a bite from the Serbian Uštipci!
Tender smoked bacon and delicious cheddar cheese are blended with organic ground beef and accented by homemade spices for a tasty treat that can be served as an appetizer or main dish.
You might think: these meatballs look like any other meatballs I see on the market! But believe us, these are entirely different! There’s nothing ordinary about them.
They are one-of-a-kind Serbian meatballs full of delicious melted cheese and a smoky flavor that will make your mouth water instantly!
Traditional Serbian restaurants often serve this dish, but it is also popular in some other Balkan countries as part of a mixed grilled meats dish.
You will love their heavenly aroma, soft texture and fantastic taste! They will rock up your kitchen with a unique flavor!
The Njeguši region in Montenegro is renowned for its delicious pršuta! Njeguši pršut is a dry-cured ham served uncooked and similar to Italian Prosciutto.
The specific flavor and aroma come from the use of sea salt, as well as mountain and sea air and beechwood smoke. Legs from adult pigs are carved in a specific way to allow the penetration of the salt and drying process.
The pork legs are only salted with marine salt, which is massaged firmly into the meat. Garlic can sometimes also be added at this point. Then, for 2–3 weeks, the salted legs are piled in vats.
The legs are then piled and pushed for another week to drain entirely. Finally, they are then hung above a smoldering beechwood fire to make prosciutto!
This process is considered to be one of the oldest pieces of culinary art in Montenegro!
Smoked using all-natural ingredients, our Njeguški Pršut Prosciutto has an unforgettable taste and aroma. With a smooth texture, it is excellent with cheese and crackers or as part of an appetizer platter!
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, why not try Sujuk?
Sujuk is a Turkish dry-cured sausage or salami made with beef, garlic and red pepper. This delicious meat treat has been made for centuries and is still enjoyed today as part of Balkan cuisine!
Sheep or goat intestines have historically been the casing of choice, though nowadays, artificial casings are used as well.
There’s no other sausage like it. Sujuk is a unique twist on the classic dry-cured sausages we all know and love. Its spicy flavor adds a kick to any dish, whether you are using it as an ingredient or serving it as a standalone appetizer!
If you are a fan of meat, prepare to meet a snag you will never forget.
Lamb Cooked Under The Bell
There’s nothing like the taste of lamb or veal slow-cooked under a bell! Thanks to this traditional Slavic cooking method, you get succulent, fall-off-the-bone meat with all the flavor and aromas locked in!
This traditional way of cooking meat dishes dates back centuries with roots in Ottoman cuisine. It is one of the oldest cooking methods but probably one of the most unusual. Today it is common in Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and other Balkan countries.
The meat is first marinated for several hours in a blend of paprika, garlic and rosemary, which give it its unique flavor! The pieces of meat are later placed inside a bell-shaped metal pot (called a sač), buried in hot embers and left to cook for hours in their own juices.
Besides the meat, potatoes can also be cooked in this way and later served as a side infused with delicious meat juices!
The cooking process takes several hours, but it’s worth waiting for! This hearty meal is one you’ll want to try if you have the chance!
A delicious stew, Goulash is a hearty, comforting dish made with meat, onions and finely cut carrots, slowly simmered with paprika in a rich sauce. This is the quintessential comfort food for the cold, dreary winter days and nights!
It is traditionally made with tender pieces of beef, veal or pork and is incredibly full of flavor! It also includes Balkan spices like paprika, cumin, marjoram, and bay leaf.
Originating in Hungary, Goulash quickly spread throughout the area, becoming a popular dish throughout the Balkans!
The two most common types are “Serbian” Goulash which has a tomato base, and “Hungarian” Goulash, made without tomato. There is also the Croatian “Lovački gulaš,” which uses wild boar meat and adds a unique flavor!
This stew-like dish is excellent as a main dish or side, with pasta, potatoes or a fresh salad!
Check out our Goulash Recipe.
Looking for more recipes? Check these Balkan food guides:
- Burek recipe
- Palacinke recipe
- Punjene paprike
- Balkan pita
- Ajvar recipe
- Dolma recipe
- Pljeskavica recipe
- Piftija Recipe
- Shopska salad recipe
- Krempita recipe
- Tavce gravce
- Struklji recipe
- Kifle recipe
- Moussaka recipe
- Tarator recipe
- Trilece recipe
- Qifqi recipe
- Kajmak recipe
- Banitsa recipe
- Sach recipe
- Sarma recipe
- rafioli recipe
- gyro recipe
- Krofne recipe
- Goulash Recipe
- Lokum Recipe
And our massive country guides:
Jadranka Y. and Pero K. Foodies, lovers. Jadranka is the queen of pastries and sweets, whereas Pero is the prince of meat and potatoes.
They met at 15, while working in the kitchen of a famous chef here in the Balkans, and have been together ever since.
But they still love each other and are faithful till death or until one messes up their dish. Which happens quite often if you ask anyone of them.
Love is a battlefield and Jadranka and Pero decide who wins, in the kitchen.