12 Best foods to eat in Serbia

If you like delicious nutrient-dense foods we have a great news for you!
Serbia, your food heaven!
One of the best parts of the Serbian experience is savoring the local cuisine. With the arrival of the healthy food trends in recent years, most of us tend to take care of our health in the best possible way. That might include eating vegetable based non-greasy food and less sugar intake. Because of that, Serbian cuisine has been criticized for its abundant use of fat and the extensive amount of meat eating. But all of us need some time to relax and enjoy the life, without limitations! Serbia is the perfect place for that! Visiting the gourmand heaven, how it's usually referred, will bring you to another dimension of tasty foods! It is the best way to know Serbia. Here is our list of best national dishes and foods to try during your visit.

Rostilj (Serbian barbecue)

Traditionally grilled on a charcoal fire (most important part for the great unique taste), Serbian barbecue, once you tried it, will get deep into your senses and memory. "Rostilj" is everything grilled: Meet (steak, pork loin, special "rostilj" sausage), "pleskavica i cevapi" - Serbian burgers and kebabs (there are authentic places with secret recipes for the tastiest burgers and kebabs), chicken (marinated tides, rolled chicken breast with bacon) and many other local specialities like: bacon rolled liver, pork neck fillet steak, gourmand burger etc. It is usually accompanied with a Serbian salad (tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, green pepper) or shopska salad (the same like Serbian salad with the addition of fresh white cheese on the top). If you want to try great barbecue in Serbia, just investigate which restaurant is specialised for "rostilj" and has a charcoal grill. For budget travellers, there are many fast food places to taste it. Just follow the smell!

Pecenje (Roasted pig & lamb)

"Pecenje" how we like to call it, is a roasted pig or a lamb in a very unique way. It is roasted on a spit over the fire with beer being poured on it. It is a very long process. Although, there are motors for automatic spin, Serbian people enjoy to spin the meat manually! The roasted pig has become the symbol of patron-saint days and all other celebrations in the country. Depending on the district in Serbia, you may find better roasted pig or a lamb. For example, if you go to Shumadija region, you may taste the best roasted pig, but Eastern Serbia and Balkan mountains are the place to try tastiest roasted lamb. There are special restaurants that have only "pecenje" on their menu and have it very fresh every day. Because of its popularity, you can taste this specialities in Belgrade as well. It's usually served together with a cabbage salad and "spricer" (alcoholic drink: mix of white vine and soda water).

Gibanica (Cheese pie)

If there is a dish you can find in Serbia and in no other country, that would be gibanica (a kind of cheese pie). The name "gibanica" came from the verb "gibati" which means to move. It is usually made with mineral water and baking powder so it rises when it's cooked and it moves on the plate! There are many variations of gibanica and It's usually made from a traditional homemade cow's milk cheese, the kind you buy directly from farmers at the market place. The main ingredients besides cow cheese are: eggs, filo, mineral water and/or baking powder. It is traditionally served for breakfast with kefir or plain yogurt, but it's also popular as addition to any main dish. It can be found in many bakeries around Serbia, but in the restaurants as well.

Kajmak, sir, kiselo mleko (Dairy products)

The range of dairy products is very rich. Creams can be light and sour as "kiselo mleko" (sour milk) in comparison to the fattier and sweeter "pavlaka" (sour cream). "Jogurt" is irreplaceable drink that goes together with "gibanica" and "burek". A real Serbian speciality is "kajmak". This delicious dairy product is usually served as dairy spread. It is made of milk fat and it's a proud and joy of every respectable household. It has a unique taste and can supplement many dishes. Cheeses are much preferred fresh, from the mild "svapski" to the bit older and more salty "sjenicki". Of the aged cheeses the best known is "kackavalj". Specially from the south-east regions.

Karadjordjeva snicla (Karadjordje steak)

One of the most popular dishes you can find in Serbian restaurants is certainly "Karadjordje steak". It is a rolled veal or pork steak, stuffed with kajmak, breaded and fried). The dish is a modern invention, created by chef Mica Stojanovic in 1959 who, when he needed to prepare Chicken Kiev for a distinguished visitor from the Soviet Union, was faced with lack of poultry. He used veal instead of chicken. However, not fully satisfied with the result, he poured tartar sauce over it, and decorated it with a slice of lemon and pieces of tomato, which at the end resembled the medal of the Order of the Star of Karadjordje and thus the steak was named. It's usually served with roasted potatoes and tartar sauce, with couple of lemon slices on the top. The steak is sometimes colloquially referred to as "maidens dream" because of its oval shape.

Prsuta i meze (Dried, cured meats and sausages)

The very popular starters, unavoidable in Serbian restaurants. They may include dried meat, sausages, hams but cheese as well. Referred as "meze" and served with Serbian brandy "rakija", together they make the best Serbian appetizer! Dried meat is called "prsuta" and the most famous varieties are the ones from the region around Uzice and Zlatibor. There are many different type of sausages that you may have in front of you ordering "meze" in the restaurant. The most popular are: "kulen" from the northern Serbia (the meat is low-fat, rather brittle and dense, and the flavour is spicy with the hot red paprika bringing it aroma and colour, and garlic for additional spice), sremska kobasica (It is slightly smoked and It contains a mixture of beef and pork meat spiced with paprika, black pepper, salt and "secret spices") and Pirotska peglana kobasica - Pirot district (delicacy made from the non-greasy meats of goat, beef and lamb. It is prepared in unique way which includes mixture of drying and pressing (ironing) the sausage with the bottle).

Ajvar (Red peppers relish)

Delicious Serbian pepper-based condiment made principally from red peppers known as "leskovacka paprika - silja". It is accepted in many other Balkan countries as a part of their cuisine and it has many variations. Also referred as " Serbian caviar", this delicacy is a result of long preparation which starts with the first appearance of Leskovac's pepper (juicy, fragrant, bright red pepper) at the markets in late September. Peppers are roasted or grilled, than rested. The skin has to be peeled before final chopping and cooking. Other ingredients included: sunflower oil, salt, pepper, vinegar. Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish. Although ajvar is a seasonal product, because of its popularity in Serbia, it can be found in shops anytime.

Riblja corba (Fisherman's soup)

The dish connected to the river districts (specially Danube and Sava rivers). It is a hot, spicy paprika-based river fish soup, a bright-red hot soup prepared with generous amounts of hot paprika and carp or mixed river fish. There is a saying "no fisherman's soup is the same" which means that you can't find and try two soups with the exact same taste. The unique flavour comes from the mixture of fish, and the best ones are having at least four types of river fish. An important ingredient in "riblja corba" is in the court bouillon which is made from fresh carp heads, bones, skin and fins. These are boiled with water, salt and vegetables (red onions, green peppers and tomatoes) for two hours. When ready, the court bouillon is strained. That adds significant flavor, once mixed with filled fish. Logically, the best and tastiest "riblja corba" you may try close to the river, the one prepared in the small kettles on open fire at the river banks by fishermen.

Sarma (Sour cabbage rolls)

The variety of this dish can be found in many countries from Middle East, Balkans and central Europe. In Serbia, "sarma" are sour cabbage rolls, stuffed with minced meat (beef and pork, or just beef), rice and seasoning with smoked pork ribs between them. "Sarma rolls" are slowly simmered for a long time in large pots with lard and layers of smoked pork ribs, seasoned with vegetable seasoning, bay leaves and paprika. Some family recipes include finishing "sarma" by baking it in an oven which gives it distinctive flavor. It is very popular dish during cold winter days because it's considered as nutrient-dense food. The best sarma is cooked by our grandmas, because of their huge experience and soul they put into it. If someone in Serbia invites you to their home to try "sarma" cooked by grandma, you may consider that as a gift and a great opportunity to try something very delicious!


As "sarma rolls", "burek" is very popular in many cuisines such as Balkans, Levant, Mediterranean, and other countries in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is a savoury pie made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka. There are at least ten types of "burek", but in Serbia, the genuine one is "round burek". It is made from layers of dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and then topped with a last layer of dough. Traditionally it may be baked with no filling ("prazan"), with stewed minced meat and onions ("sa mesom"), or with cheese ("sa sirom"). Modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach, apple, sour cherries, potato, mushroom and pizza-burek, as well. If you order "one burek" in the bakery, you'll get 250 grams, or one quarter from the pan. For the breakfast, It is necessarily accompanied with a cup of yogurt. It's considered as the most popular breakfast among all people in Serbia.

Sitni kolaci (Small deserts)

This delicate one-bite deserts are very popular during patron-saint days ("slava") in Serbia, but people love them all year round. With different shapes and taste, they are considered as the perfect finish of the meal and are usually served together with the Serbian coffee. In every city, there are pastry shop with long tradition of making this tasty sweets. "Rozen torta, bajadere, padobranci, grilijas" are some among many of small deserts you can choose and try. They can be found in many pastry shops, but recently in supermarkets as well.

Zito sa slagom (Wheat pudding with cream)

is boiled wheat which is introduced to Serbian people by being used liturgically in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. A dish of "zito" or simply "wheat" is served at "slava" festivities and funerals. It represents a bond with and celebration of our deceased ancestors. Its unique, wonderful taste made this pudding very popular in Belgrade, specially after WWII when pastry shops started to sell "zito" not just for "slava", but regularly, with whipped cream on the top. Soon, it was clear that "zito" became one of the most popular deserts. To try "zito sa slagom" you must find a pastry shop with the long family tradition rather than modern pastry shop.
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