Serbian cuisine

Serbian cuisine (Serbian: српска кухиња/srpska kuhinja) is the traditional cuisine of Serbia, sharing characteristics with the rest of the Balkan nations (especially former Yugoslavia).

Historically, Serbian food is characterized by influences of ByzantineGreek, Mediterranean, but also by Turkish and to a lesser extent of Central Europe[1][2] Serbian law bans production and import of genetically modified food (GMO), which has caused a long-running dispute with the World Trade Organization, preventing the country from becoming a member of the organization.[3][4]


Typical Serbian Christmas table.
Rolled pie

The national dishes include gibanica (egg and cheese pie made with filo dough), pljeskavica (a ground beef/pork patty), ćevapi (grilled ground meat), and Karađorđeva šnicla (Karađorđe's schnitzel). The national drink is the rakia .

With Serbia being located on the crossroads between East and West, its cuisine has gathered elements from different cooking styles across the Middle East and Europe to develop its own hearty gastronomy with an intricate balance of rich meats, vegetables, breads, cheese, fresh pastries and desserts. It has much in common with the cuisines of neighboring Balkan countries. Its flavours are mild, fresh and natural. Seasonings are usually salt, black pepper and paprika, while ingredients are fresh and of good quality. Eating seasonal food is very important, and many dishes are strongly associated with a specific time of the year.

Most people in Serbia will have three meals a day[citation needed], breakfast, lunch and dinner, lunch being the largest. However, traditionally, only lunch and dinner existed, with breakfast being introduced in the second half of the 19th century.[5][6]

A number of foods which are usually bought in the West are often made at home in Serbia. These include rakija (fruit brandy), slatko, jam, jelly, various pickled foods, notably sauerkraut, ajvar or sausages. The reasons for this range from economical to cultural. Food preparation is a strong part of the Serbian family tradition.


William, archbishop of Tyre, who visited Constantinople in 1179, described the Serbs: "They are rich in herds and flocks and unusually well supplied with milk, cheese, butter, meat, honey and wax".[7]

The first published cookbook in Serbia is The Big Serbian Cookbook (Велики српски кувар), written by Katarina Popović-Midzina in 1877.[8]

The best known Serbian cookbook is Pata's Cookbook (Патин кувар), written by Spasenija Pata Marković in 1907; the book remains in publication even today.[9]

An old Serbian legend says that during the time of the 14th-century Serbian Empire, under the rule of Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, meals in the Serbian palace were eaten with golden spoons and forks. Historians say that mediaeval Serbian cuisine mainly consisted of milk, dairy produce and vegetables. Not a lot of bread was eaten, but when it was, the rich ate bread made from wheat and the poor ate bread made from oats and rye. The only meat consumed was game, with cattle kept for agricultural use.[10]



Breakfast in Serbia is an early but hearty meal, rich in calories and carbohydrates, meant to provide one with enough energy to start the day well. Bread is frequently eaten, served with butter, jam, yogurt, sour cream or cheese, accompanied by bacon, sausages, salami, eggs or kajmak. Many people would stop by a bakery in the morning to enjoy fresh pastries, such as pogačice, paštete, kifle (which in Serbian usage may or may not be crescent-shaped and may be sweet, but may also be sprinkled with salt crystals), kiflice, perece, buhtle, pletenice, štapići, zemičke, djevreci, mekike and uštipci. Other common breakfast dishes include burek, kačamak and cicvara (types of polenta), popara, proja (cornbread) and čalabrca. Before breakfast most people usually have a cup of coffee, or perhaps espresso. With the breakfast itself either a tea, milk, milk coffee, or chocolate milk is served.


Meze is an assortment of small dishes and appetizers, though, unlike the Middle Eastern meze, it does not usually include cooked dishes, and is therefore more similar to Italian antipasto. A Serbian meze typically includes slices of cured meats and sausages, cheeses, olives, fresh vegetables and zimnica. Meze is served either to accompany alcoholic drinks or as a starter before a soup on bigger meals.


Soups are eaten as an entrée at almost every lunch. They are considered to be very important for good health. There are two types of soups in Serbian cuisine: thin soups called supa, and thicker soups with roux or eggs called čorba. The most common ones are simple pottages made of beef or poultry with added noodles. Lamb, veal and fish soups are considered delicacies.

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Notes
Consommé   Домаћа супа Domaća supa A simple chicken or beef soup with noodles or dumplings. The most common entrée in home cooking.
Veal soup Телећа чорба Teleća čorba
Lamb soup   Јагњећа чорба Jagnjeća čorba
Fisherman's soup   Рибља чорба Riblja čorba A paprika-spiced fish soup, common in the Panonian region.
Green soup Чорба од зеља Čorba od zelja
Tomato soup   Парадајз чорба Paradajz čorba
Cauliflower soup Чорба од карфиола Čorba od karfiola
Egg drop soup   Супа с јајима (супа с дроњцима) Supa s jajima (supa s dronjcima

Main courseEdit

The main course is most commonly a meat dish. Besides roštilj (barbecue) which is very popular, braising, stewing and roasting in an oven are the most common cooking methods.

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Notes
Rotisserie   Печење Pečenje A whole pig or lamb roasted on a skewer over a fire.
Gyro Гирос,гира (giros, gira)
Đuveč   Ђувеч Đuveč A vegetable dish similar to ratatouille. Either stewed or baked as a casserole.
Karađorđeva šnicla   Карађорђева шницла Karađorđeva šnicla A breaded rolled steak stuffed with kajmak, sliced ham and cheese.
Kavurma Кавурма Kavurma Pig intestines, not to be confused with Turkish kavurma.
Moussaka   Мусака Musaka A mince and potato, zucchini or eggplant casserole, common through the Balkans.
Mućkalica   Мућкалица Mućkalica A spicy stew of pork, tomatoes and peppers. Typical of southern Serbia.
Goulash   Гулаш Gulaš A paprika-spiced meat stew originating in Hungary that is popular throughout Central Europe and the Balkans.
Rinflajš Ринфлајш Rinflajš A beef dish from Vojvodina. Similar to Tafelspitz.
Podvarak   Подварак Podvarak A fresh cabbage with grape vinegar casserole, usually with meat and other vegetables (tomatoes, aubergines,mushrooms,olives and legumes. Can be made with sauerkraut, but that is not authentic. Black vinegar can be used.
Prebranac   Пребранац Prebranac A bean casserole. Called "tavce gravce" in Macedonia
Sarma   Сарма Sarma Cabbage, chard or vine leaves, stuffed with rice and minced meat. In northern Serbia, cabbage leaves are also used.
Škembići Шкембићи Škembići A tripe stew.
Beans   Пасуљ Pasulj A bean stew.
Stuffed peppers   Пуњене паприке Punjene paprike Peppers stuffed with rice and minced meat.
Stuffed zucchini   Пуњене тиквице Punjene tikvice Zucchini stuffed with rice and minced meat.
Peas   Грашак Grašak A pea stew.
Green beans   Боранија Boranija A green bean stew.
Noodles with rice Флекице с рижом Flekice s rizom
Vrsnjik   Вршњик Vrsnjik Meat and vegetables cooked under a sač.

Roštilj (barbecue)Edit

Grilling is very popular in Serbia. Grilled meats are the primary main course dishes offered in restaurants. They are commonly served as mixed grill on large oval plates. They are often also eaten as fast food. The cities of Leskovac and Novi Pazar are especially famous for their barbecue.

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Notes
Pljeskavica   Пљескавица Pljeskavica A ground pork or beef patty; National Dish
Ćevapi (ćevapi)   Ћевапи (ћевапи) Ćevapčići (ćevapi) Ground pork or beef meat sticks; National Dish
Pork loin Вешалица Vešalica Grilled strips of pork loin.
Skewers Ражњићи Ražnjići Chunks of meat and vegetables grilled on skewers.
Sausages Кобасице Kobasice Various sausages, usually with spices


Bread is the staple of Serbian meals and it is often treated almost ritually. A traditional Serbian welcoming is to offer the guest with bread and salt; bread also plays an important role in religious rituals. Many people believe that it is sinful to throw away bread regardless of how old it is. Although pasta, rice, potato and similar side dishes did enter the everyday cuisine over time, many Serbs still eat bread with meals.

In most bakeries and shops, white wheat bread loafs (typically 0.5 kg) are sold. In modern times, black bread and various graham bread variations regain popularity. In many rural households, bread is still baked in ovens, usually in bigger loafs.


In Serbia, salads are eaten as a side dish with the main course. The simplest of salads are made of sliced lettuce, cabbage, tomato, cucumber or carrot, olives with oil, vinegar salt and spices.

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Description
Serbian salad Српска салата Srpska salata Diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with a simple dressing of oil and vinegar.
Shopska salad   Шопска салата Šopska salata Similar to the above Serbian salad, but topped with white cheese.
Greek salad   Грчка салата Grčka salata Diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, topped with olives and feta cheese, and dressed with olive oil. Originally from Greece, but quite popular in Serbia.
Cabbage salad   Купус салата Kupus salata Shredded cabbage with a vinegar dressing.
Zimnica   Зимница Zimnica Pickled vegetables.
Russian salad   Руска салата Ruska salata Diced boiled potatoes, carrots, pickles, green peas, eggs and ham, dressed with mayonnaise.
Tarator   Тартар Tartar Yogurt with cucumber.


Tomato sauce   Урнебес Urnebes Made of minced tomatoes and spices.
Ajvar   Ајвар Ajvar A pepper-based condiment made from red bell peppers. It can be mild or spicy.
Ljutenica   Љутеница Ljutenica A spicy relish. Ingredients include peppers, carrots, eggplant, onion, garlic and tomatoes. It can be smooth or with chunks. Spicier than ajvar. However, different regions and countries have substantially different interpretations of these relishes.
Pinđur   Пинђур Pinđur Similar to ajvar but generally made with eggplant. In some regions the words are used interchangeably.

Dairy and meat productsEdit

Dairy products are an important part of the Serbian diet. Fermented products such as sour milk, kajmak, yogurt and pavlaka are common breakfast foods, consumed daily. White cheese, called sir are much more common in Serbia than yellow cheeses. There are numerous varieties, some of which have been awarded for their quality, such as the white cheese with walnuts from Babine, which won the 2012 "best autochtonic cheese" award.[11] Serbian Pule cheese, made from donkey milk, is the most expensive cheese in the world.[12] Although less common, several yellow cheese are locally produced.

Every autumn or early winter, on an event called svinjokolj pigs are slaughtered and meat is dried in the cold air, cured and preserved for winter. Cured meats, bacon, salo, čvarci, Sausages such as krvavica and kulen are produced. Offal and cheaper cutts of meat are utilized as well, made into processed products such as švargla.


In Serbia, pies are very popular. They are eaten either for breakfast, dinner, or as a snack. Most commonly they are made with thin layers of phyllo dough. There are several preparation methods and numerous types of fillings, both sweet and savory. Usually, pies are named after either the preparation method, or the filling.

One pie variety that is not made with phyllo is the štrudla, which, in turn, isn't similar to strudel, but rather to a nut roll.

Filling Form Ruffled phyllo Rolled phyllo Layered phyllo Rolled dough
Serbian name Бурек Савијача Штрудла
white cheese Пита са сиром/Сирница  Y  Y
white cheese and eggs Гибаница  Y Gibanica  Y
meat Пита с месом  Y  Y
potatoes Пита с кромпиром/Кромпируша  Y  Y
spinach, greens Пита са зељем/Зељаница  Y  Y
mushrooms Пита с печуркама  Y  Y
sour cherries Пита са вишњама  Y  Y  Y
apples Пита с јабукама  Y  Y  Y
pumpkin Пита с бундевом/Бундевара  Y  Y
poppy seeds Штрудла с маком/Маковњача  Y
walnuts Штрудла са орасима/Орасница  Y Česnica (in Vojvodina)  Y
no filling  Y

Sweets and dessertsEdit

Sweets are served at the end of meals. Sweets and desserts enjoyed in Serbia include both typically Middle Eastern and typically European ones, as well as some authentically Serbian ones. Besides the ones mentioned here, pies with sweet fruit fillings are also commonly eaten as desserts.

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Description
Plazma cake   Плазма торта Plazma torta A cake made with ground Plazma biscuits as the primary ingredient.
Vasa's cake   Васина торта Vasina torta A walnut and chocolate cake. Amongst the more popular Serbian desserts.
Dobos cake   Добош торта Doboš torta A five-layer sponge cake, layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with thin caramel slices.
Reforma cake   Реформа торта Reforma torta A layered cake with chocolate butter-cream filling.
Slatko   Слатко Slatko A fruit preserve.
Ratluk   Ратлук Ratluk Turkish delight.
Halva   Алва Alva Dense flour or nut-based sweet confections.
Baklava   Баклава Baklava Sweet pastry made from layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
Tulumbe   Тулумбе Tulumbe A fried batter soaked in syrup.
Tufahije   Туфахије Tufahije A dessert made of walnut-stuffed apples stewed in water with sugar.
Kompot   Компот Kompot Kompot is a non-alcoholic sweet beverage, that may be served hot or cold. It is obtained by cooking fruit in a large volume of water, together with sugar or raisins as additional sweeteners.
Quince cheese   Сир од дуња Sir od dunja A sweet, thick jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit.
Knedle   Кнедле са шљивама Knedle sa šljivama Boiled potato-dough dumplings filled with plums. Called gomboce in Vojvodina.
Krofne   Крофне Krofne Airy doughnuts filled with chocolate or jam.
Krempita   Кремпита Krempita A chantilly and custard cream cake dessert.
Orasnice   Ораснице Orasnice Walnut cookies.
Palačinke   Палачинке Palačinke Crêpes.
Šampita   Шампита Šampita A whipped marshmallow-type dessert with fillo dough crust.
Ruske kape   Руске капе Ruske kape
Vanilla cookies   Ванилице Vanilice
Uštipci   Уштипци Uštipci Doughnut-like fried dough balls.

Ritual foodEdit

Type Image Serbian Cyrillic Serbian Latin Occasion Description
Česnica   Чесница Česnica Christmas Plays a central role in a ritual. A coin is put inside it, and it's then rotated, broken into pieces and each family member takes one. The one who gets the coin will have a lucky and blessed following year.
Koljivo   Кољиво Koljivo Slava Boiled wheat, almonds/walnuts and tahini - ritual food during slava.
Slava's kolač   Славски колач Slavski kolač Slava



Domestic coffee (or Serbian coffee) is the most commonly consumed non-alcoholic beverage in Serbia. It is mostly prepared at home, rather than bought in coffee shops, and preferably consumed in the company of friends or family. Slatko, ratluk and raki may be served alongside coffee. The majority of the Serbian population starts a day with a cup of coffee in the morning. Herbal teas are consumed as a medication, rather than a beverage. Yogurt and kefir are commonly consumed dairy beverages. They frequently accompany savory pastries. A beverage made from maize, called boza or kvas, used to be popular in the past. Today it is rarely consumed.

A number of fruit juice and mineral water brands are produced locally. The Knjaz Milos mineral water is considered a national brand.



Raki in special bottle, as the national drink of Serbia

Rakija/Raki is a general term for distilled beverages made from fruits. There are numerous varieties, which are usually named after the type of fruit they are made from. Comparatively many people brew their own rakija. Loza, made from grapes, is considered the national drink.


Beer has become recently popular and is enjoyed in Serbia, event outpacing the traditional raki and wine. The largest brewery in the country is Apatinska pivara.


There are nearly 110,000 hectares of vineyards in Serbia, producing about 645,000 tons of grapes annually, with South Serbia producing the most. Because of that, Serbia has great international recognition as a wine producer.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tamara Sheward (October 2014). "Europe's Foodie Secret". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  2. ^ "The beginning of Serbian cuisine binds with the dynasty of Nemanjic". Balkan Food Recipes. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Serbia Agriculture". Sputnik News. 20 February 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  4. ^ "GMO Free Europe". 26 February 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  5. ^ Antonić, Dragomir (2006-07-23). Царство за гибаницу. Politika 33300 (in Serbian). Politika. p. 11.
  6. ^ Nikola Vrzić (December 28, 2000). "Sve srpske kašike" (Windows-1250). NIN (in Serbian). Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  7. ^ William of Tyre, Historia Transmarina 20.4.
  8. ^ Poglaviti majstori svakog krkanluka
  9. ^ Istorija pisanja kuvara u Srbiji
  10. ^ "Food «  National Tourism Organisation of Serbia". Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  11. ^ Press Online :: Društvo :: Srpski sir pobedio švajcarski
  12. ^ [1]

External linksEdit