There is no bigger foodie on this planet (and known universe) than a director. And even direktors have a difficult time deciding which country in the Balkans has the best cuisine because – they all are insanely delicious! But, when it comes to Macedonian food, that’s the perfect blend of healthy organic ingredients and long tradition, generally prepared in a simple, but creative way.
In this article, you will find more than 40 recipes of the most popular Macedonian dishes, all authentic and prepared with easy to get ingredients while on your travels across Macedonia.
If you ever find yourself in a hurry (which rarely happens to a direktor), jump over to the nearest Kafana (local for Restaurant) and just order the dish.
Take a note not to fully rely on Trip Advisor’s top-rated places, rather ask your local friends or hosts to point out the place for “must try’s.
Let’s start with appetizers, shall we?
Shkembe Chorba (Tripe’s Stew)
Shkembe chorba is a delectable stew created from cow intestines (yummy), but it’s far tastier than it sounds.
Although the preparation time (up to 5-6 hours) is lengthy, this stew is well worth the wait. It was traditionally one of Macedonia’s most popular breakfasts.
Today, not so much, but shkembe chorba is still referred to as the “national hangover food.”
Expect a fat, hearty, excellent stew everywhere the word “chorba” appears.
Teleshka chorba is a veal stew that is cooked for 3 to 4 hours until the meat is tender and chewy. It is traditionally served for breakfast, although it is also served as an appetizer.
It’s normally served with fresh bread with a side of garlic sauce and vinegar. A must try Macedonian food!
People didn’t have any veggies back in the day during the cold winters, so they devised a method to preserve and store them during this cold period.
Turshija was born as a result of this. Turshija is a name that refers to the fermented form of almost any vegetable you can think of.
Cucumbers (pickles), carrots, tomatoes, cabbage (sauerkraut), cauliflower, peppers, and other vegetables are fermented in Macedonia.
Although the sour moderately acidic flavor may appear unappealing and even nasty, it does wonders for your hunger.
It goes very well with rakija (tried and tested numerous times!).
Piftija or pacha is best described as “the Macedonian variant of aspic.”
The majority of locals either love it or despise it, so there is no third ground, but if you’re willing to try new Macedonian foods while traveling, piftija is a must-try.
The legs, feet, and head of a pig or cow are cooked in their own fat. (strashno brate!)
Because the end result must be a gelatine-like dish, the preparation can take up to 8 hours.
Piftija was once considered a poor man’s food because it consisted of animal parts that no one else would eat, but it has now evolved into one of the most popular Macedonian food, often served at holidays and festivals.
Tavce Gravce (Baked Beans)
This is arguably one of the most traditional Macedonian dishes.
Families all around the country enjoy tavce gravce because it has such a delicious flavor.
Beans and a roux seasoned with dry red pepper all combined in a pan or skillet, then baked.
Macedonians enjoy it with sausages or ribs, as well as fresh paprika. It’s usually served with bread.
Tavce gravce is traditionally served as a Friday lunch, according to tradition. It is a Macedonian food that you must try.
Musaka is a great potato-based dish with a humorous pronunciation.
A bed of eggplant, onion, ground pork and a variety of vegetables lay between each tender and ooey-gooey layer. A gorgeous egg-yolk glaze is frequently applied to the top layer, giving it a sweet golden color and crisp texture. This Macedonian food tastes exactly as it is described!
Polneti Piperki (Stuffed Peppers)
Peppers are packed with fried rice and cooked in the oven to make this delicacy.
Non-vegetarians can make this dish by combining fried rice with ground beef before stuffing the peppers.
If it sounds tasty, check out this Punjene Paprike recipe
Selsko Meso is one of the options if you want to bypass the vegetables and get right to the meat.
This Macedonian food is made up of a variety of pork chops that are cooked slowly, sometimes for hours.
The tastes complement each other well, resulting in one of the country’s most delicious Macedonian recipes.
It is the peak of Macedonian cuisine when served with Nafora.
Turlitava is a vibrant, flavorful, full, and soothing Macedonian food. It’s made up of a variety of organic veggies and pig or beef cuts.
Potato pieces and slices, paprika, eggplants, peppers, okra, tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and courgette make up the dish.
These ingredients are combined in a frying pan and then baked in the oven.
Simply leave out the beef for a vegetarian version. In either case, you’ll end up with a tasty and nutrient-dense turlitava.
Okay, so cabbage rolls aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (neither can all people be direktors), but we can personally attest to the deliciousness of this recipe.
Sarma does not have to utilize cabbage to make the “rolls.”
Grape leaves are a popular replacement for this dish and are just as wonderful.
The filling for this meal is made up of minced pork, onion, paprika, and chopped vegetables.
Sarma is usually accompanied by a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt.
The straight translation is “potato stew.”
The house smells like heaven whenever Baba (local name for CIA) makes kompir mandza, and we shed a tear anytime we think of that stew.
The longer you cook this stew, the better.
Chunky potatoes, beef, parsley, tomato, onion, garlic, and carrots make up the majority of this hearty macedonian food.
What kind of list of the best Macedonian food would this be if skara wasn’t included?
Skara is a barbecue mix that comprises kebabs, sausages, beef burger pads, pork chops, pig ribs, raznici (meat on a stick), uvijaci (pork or chicken wrapped in bacon and packed with melting cheese), ustipci, and other items.
The Holy Grail of Food Platters. Wars were fought because of one (source to be confirmed).
Skara is the highlight of Macedonian food for most tourists, and no vacation to Macedonia is complete without experiencing local barbeque at least once.
Skara is served with nafora most of the time. And a lot of beer.
Kebapi (Grilled Minced Meat Sausages)
Soldiers would skewer whatever meat they had hunted on their swords and roast it over an open fire under the Ottoman Empire.
Kebaps, or grilled skewered beef cubes, is one of the most popular dishes throughout the Balkans and the Middle East.
The dish is traditionally made with lamb, though it can also be prepared with chicken or pork.
Pastrmajlija is a dish that almost every Macedonian enjoys (except two people). Essentially, this Macedonian food delicacy is a cooked dough pie.
It has an oval form and a crust that isn’t too thick or too thin.
Pastrmajlija is garnished with small chunks of salted diced pork or chicken meat, as well as, believe it or not, pork grease.
The use of swine fat in pastrmajlija is popular among Macedonians since it softens and tenderizes the dough while also imparting a wonderful scent.
It’s also topped with eggs in various regions of the country. Pastrmajlija is frequently served with feferonki, which are green fermented spicy peppers. A must-try Macedonian food!
Another wonderful traditional Macedonian food – the chomlek.
It’s made with veal, red wine-cooked onion bulbs and garlic, dried red peppers, tomatoes, parsley, and (optionally) mushrooms.
Kukurek is a Macedonian food – lamb dish cooked in a traditional ceramic pot that elevates meat preparation to new heights.
Forget Michelin stars. Kukurek stars are the next big thing.
The dish itself (made of lamb intestines) sounds a little nasty in terms of ingredients. But a true direktor would never judge a dish before trying it!
It’s not as simple to prepare as other Macedonian recipes, and the intestines must be well cleaned before cooking, which can take a long time, but the wait is well worth it.
It goes very well with white wine. Alot of white wine.
Do your taste buds tingle at the prospect of a pie loaded with chopped fried leeks that’s semi-crisp on the exterior yet soft and tender on the inside?
Ok, maybe not so much.
Instead of leeks, some Macedonians pack it with minced pork, spinach, cabbage, or cheese, and even add a scrambled egg between the layers of dough for added flavor.
It’s generally accompanied by sour cream. You will not be disappointed with any of the zelnik varieties you order.
It’s incredibly simple to make, and while it’s not as well-known as burek, you should definitely try it if you’re in Macedonia.
Burek is one of Macedonia’s most popular breakfast dishes. It is an Ottoman-era relic that dates back several centuries.
The customary filling for this crispy thin and layered pastry is either cheese or meat.
However, you can now purchase pizza burek, which has the same toppings as a traditional pizza, such as mozzarella and tomatoes.
It’s frequently served with yogurt and is a great grab-and-go lunch option for commuters and those looking for a fast bite to eat.
If it sounds tasty, try making it with this Burek recipe at home!
Cheese In Oven
Melted cheese, often known as “cheese in the oven,” is a delectable Macedonian cuisine specialty served with perfectly toasted crispy bread topped with sesame seeds in pizzerias and restaurants.
Cheese in the oven is a mixture of two or three distinct cheeses.
Mushrooms, bacon, or other dry meat can be added for a fuller flavor if desired.
Because Macedonia is a landlocked country, it lacks direct access to the sea.
However, Ohrid lake and other smaller lakes, as well as many of the country’s rivers, provide a plethora of fish, the most popular of which are healthy trout and carp, which are typically grilled or stuffed.
The Ohrid trout is an endemic fish that can only be found in the lake itself (picky little f$ckers).
However, much of the fish you’ll find in restaurants isn’t wild because overfishing has nearly wiped out the species.
It is great to eat the trout whole, grilled, or packed with spinach and cheese and baked in the oven.
If you haven’t tried Shirden you are not a happy person.
This recipe is a traditional Macedonian Oriental cuisine recipe that will not disappoint.
Shirden is the lining of a lamb’s stomach for those who don’t know.
You’ll need a bit extra time to prepare this specialty, but believe us when we say it’s well worth it.
Makalo is sometimes referred to as the “cheap” version of Ajvar.
Instead of luscious red peppers, yellow potatoes are used as the major ingredient. The mash is topped with heated oil with red peppers, usually the embroidered variety.
Then, as it gently inflates, both substances blend to create a single flavor. Whatever else may be said, this is a fantastic side dish for a first meal.
Despite the efforts of some other countries to claim it as their own, ajvar is 100% traditional Macedonian food.
Macedonia’s favorite winter snack is a delightful blend of ground and then double-fried peppers (with a few tomatoes and eggplants thrown in for good measure).
Many people prepare hundreds of jars at once, similar to turshija, and store them for the winter.
As a result, the month of September/early October is colloquially referred to as “Ajvar season.”
When served with fresh bread and some local sirene, ajvar is at its best.
Pindjur, like Ajvar, is a roasted vegetable spread popular in Macedonian cuisine.
It’s typically cooked with roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, and aubergines, and it’s delicious when served with feta or halloumi cheese and bread.
Yes, you read that correctly. Literal translation – Acid Milk – but hear us out ok?
Fermented milk is popular not just in Central Asia and Turkey, but also in the Balkans, particularly in mountainous locations.
Macedonian fermented milk is rich and has a structure comparable to whipped cream, and it makes an excellent appetizer when seasoned with salt, oregano, and local aromatic plants.
Try fermented sheep milk from a local farmer if you ever get the chance. It’s all-natural, organic, and cruelty-free, as well as being quite healthful!
Pogacha is a sort of bread that is traditionally fashioned like a circular loaf.
As you might expect, the preparation process is time-consuming, which is why it is only cooked for exceptional occasions.
Pogacha is typically served plain, but it can also be filled. Flour, yogurt, and eggs are the fundamental ingredients for this fundamentally crucial dish. A classic macedonian food.
Kifla is a flaky, croissant-shaped pastry with sesame sweets sprinkled on top.
Kifli is available in three flavors: plain, packed with sirene, and sweet jam or chocolate.
The first is normally served as a side dish for main courses, the second is frequently offered for breakfast, and the sweet variety is frequently served as a dessert or snack.
If it sounds tasty try making them at home with this Kifle recipe!
Mekica is a type of fried bread that resembles a doughnut.
The texture is similar, but unlike its sweet counterparts, mekici are frequently served with cheese, bacon, or other salty appetizers.
Mekici are traditionally baked by grandparents and served by fathers after a baby is born in Macedonia, though they can also be found in most local bakeries. (If the baby is not born in Macedonia, but the father and mother are from the country, then the rule of 4 third applies here and mekici need to be delivered by mail).
If you’ve ever visited Macedonia, you’ve probably seen at least a few houses with long strings of dry red peppers strung across the walls as a form of decoration.
Did you know, though, that these ‘decorations’ are also edible? Vezenka is a popularly growing pepper in the area that comes in two flavors: sweet and hot.
During the summer, the peppers are dried and served as a side dish with a variety of main meals, the most common of which is tavce gravce.
These vanilla cookies, which are similar to Argentinian alfajores in that they crumble and are sometimes eaten in pairs with jam in the middle and caster sugar on top, are eaten both for breakfast and with tea.
Gjomleze is a classic Macedonian food made in the cities of Ohrid and Struga.
This white, crispy pie is traditionally baked for up to 7-8 hours on a huge metal or ceramic covering called a sach, which allows for even, convection baking.
Gjomleze can also be baked, but if you ever visit Ohrid or Struga, make sure to eat gjomleze served on sach, the traditional technique.
Ravanija is the Macedonian food recipe counterpart of Basbousa, a popular Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish dessert.
This dessert is made with a semolina flour dough that has been soaked in sherbet (liquid sugar).
It’s one of the most delicious sweets, it’s simple to make, and it’s sweet that everyone should try.
Kozinjak is a Macedonian traditional homemade sweet bread with raisins, usually made in the form of a braid.
It’s a common treatment for holidays, especially for Christmas and Easter.
Macedonian ekler is similar to French éclair but is lighter, flakier, and filled with a denser cream, allowing it to stay edible for much longer (we like our food to be able to survive a winter or two).
Eklers are ubiquitous in Macedonia, appearing in everything from confectionery stores and bakeries to street food booths and supermarkets.
Ubiquitous means found everywhere.
Tikvarnik is a traditional Macedonian food – a pumpkin dessert that is served during the winter months.
It’s one of the healthiest desserts you’ll discover, and it’s usually made without sugar because Macedonia has some of the tastiest pumpkins on the planet.
Bombici, which means “miniature bombs,” are sweet truffles made with a date, almond, fig, and cocoa powder blend.
These cookies are rolled in coconut flakes and topped in a thick and luscious chocolate ganache.
Palacinki is a type of crepe that is filled with chocolate sauce, honey, and jam and rolled before being sprinkled with sugar.
Crepes are served for breakfast as well as dessert. They usually have a sweet filling, although they can also be savory and have an egg or spinach filling.
Try this simple Palacinke recipe at home!
Tulumbi is a dessert that is similar to a number of Indian and Bangladeshi desserts.
These small elongated pieces of fried dough, which resemble churros but are much shorter, are then soaked in syrup and become extremely sweet.
They are served dry, rather than in syrup, as in the Indian version.
Sutlijash is a well-known Turkish dessert recipe that originated in Turkey. It is now prepared in every Balkan country, including Macedonia.
Sutlijash is a popular family dessert that is simple to make and feeds a lot of people.
This essential Turkish sweet, which can be found in the streets of any country that fell under the Ottoman Empire’s influence, is both soft and delicate.
Lokum comes in vibrant pink, yellow, and green colors, and is occasionally wrapped around nuts and sprinkled with an opaque fine sugar that looks like powder.
The jelly is manufactured from flour, sugar, and water, and it has a mild flavor.
If one isn’t enough, have two with a strong cup of tea at the end of the meal.
The sweet was invented in Istanbul at the end of the 18th century, and the inventor’s descendants still own and run the first confectionery establishment that sold it.
As the name suggests, this is a Turkish coffee that is widely accessible throughout the Middle East, the Balkans, and even North Africa (Egypt, Sudan).
Its roots aren’t entirely understood, and there are several varieties, as with most foods and drinks.
What we do know is that it grew in popularity as a result of the Ottoman Empire and its commercial routes, and it can now be found in a variety of locations ranging from Iran to Sicily. However, because it is unfiltered, this is a considerably stronger kind of espresso.
Because the coffee is manufactured with very finely ground coffee beans and is not filtered, the powder is simply blended with water, and sediment will form at the bottom of the glass or cup.
The sediment is later used to foretell the future of the person next to you.
Coffee is typically brewed in little petal pots with a long handle, which is occasionally made of brass and decorated with complex motifs.
After that, the coffee is poured into small glasses or cups, and you must wait for it to settle.
A cup of homemade rakija is a panacea for all ills!
Rakija, or Macedonian brandy, is a natural medication that, along with olive oil, garlic, honey, and other local items, is a secretly popular weapon against many diseases.
It definitely cures sobriety!
They think rakija is the best remedy for stomach aches, colds, flu, and other diseases.
It’s also good for muscle aches and pains, as well as wound disinfectant.
Typically served as an aperitif, with cheese and prosciutto, before and after lunch, it aids sleep, forgetting, and cheering.
Every region in Macedonia produces wine, but Skopje, Lake Ohrid, and the Vardar River are the three primary wine-growing regions.
Some of the wineries, including Kamnik, are located in Skopje’s wine district.
The majority of the other important wineries are located in the Vardar River area, some 45 minutes to an hour’s drive southeast of the capital, in the Tikves and Veles areas. Within half an hour, you can travel from one winery to the next.
Macedonian wines are prepared with indigenous grape varietals and some international imports, similar to Montenegrin wines.
The production of red wines predominates, and Vranac is popular, as it is in Montenegro and Albania. Temjanika is the most prevalent among whites.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are among the international grape varieties employed.
Because of the same manner of production, some people mistake mastika for rakija, though most Macedonians are aware that the two are distinct.
Mastika has a sweet/hot flavor and is traditionally created with grapes, anise, and sugar.
If you’re looking for the best mastika in Macedonia, look no further than Strumica in the southeast.
Whether you’re a hungry traveler or a typical direktor, you’ll find rich flavors in Macedonian cuisine.
Traditional Macedonian food offer full flavor and simple preparation that makes them a breeze to enjoy every day for lunch or dinner.
Our pick: Burek, Ajvar, and a Sharska Burger (It’s not added to the list because we can’t find a good place to eat it and review it. Yet.)
Looking for more food?
Looking to spend all those calories?
Our hiking and nature guides are the best course of action for that:
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.