From Sarma to Uštipci: The Ultimate Guide to Serbian Cuisine

Do you consider yourself a foodie? If so, then this article is for you.

Salty and sweet, nourishing and tasty. The many kitchens of Eastern Europe offer a wide selection of dishes that can satisfy any craving. Every region has its own specialties, yet today, we’re going to focus on the hodgepodge that is Serbian cuisine — a culinary feast you shouldn’t be missing out on.

This Balkan country is world-renowned for its food and hospitality. Shaped by its complicated history, which through time has been closely linked to the Greeks, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, and other neighboring lands, the traditional menus of Serbia offer a little bit of everything, creating thus a truly unique gastronomic experience. Here are ten of the dishes we simply can’t get enough of.


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Imagine a cabbage leaf wrapped around ground beef and rice filling, slowly baked for a couple of hours until the entire kitchen smells divine. This is exactly what you get with sarma, a typical winter meal for Serbians. Seasoned with garlic, onion, and spices, over the centuries it proved to be true comfort food.


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Pljeskavica and ćevapi

What the rest of the world might describe as a kind of burger is in Serbia the most beloved type of fast food. Whether you’re in the mood for pljeskavica, grilled pork, beef, or lamb patty, or you’d rather try ćevapi, the same type of meat served in groups of five to ten pieces, all you have to do once it’s done is pick your choice of veggies and condiments to go with it. Stuffed into a soft and delicious bun, it’s the type of food that won’t have you feeling hungry afterward.


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For true cheese connoisseurs, kajmak is a dream come true. Thanks to its creamy, dairy-based texture, this type of clotted cream made from milk will simply delight your taste buds.


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If you love pies and pastries, then the traditional Serbian burek will be something you won’t be able to get enough of. Baked in a large pan, this flaky dough usually filled with meat or cheese is the perfect breakfast when paired with a glass of yogurt.


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While not a meal per se, ajvar is the most popular condiment you’ll find in the Balkan region. Made from roasted and blended peppers, with or without eggplants, it’s a relish that serves as a perfect bread spread or side dish. With variations going from sweet to piquant to extremely spicy, it adds a unique flavor and caters to every taste.


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Karađorđe’s Schnitzel

Created in 1959 by chef Mića Stojanović, Karađorđe’s schnitzel became a staple of Serbian cuisine. Named after the famous 19th-century revolutionary, this breaded cutlet is made of rolled veal or pork steak, stuffed with kajmak ready to be fried. In order to resemble the medal of the Order of the Star of Karađorđe, it’s typically served with tartar sauce, a slice of lemon, and a piece of tomato.


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Serbian Pancakes

Pancakes come in all shapes and sizes and in Serbia, you’ll be able to find them on almost every corner. While some people like them salty, filled with ham, cheese, or other stuffing, the sweet pancakes of the Balkans are a perfect solution for your sugar cravings, with toppings such as jam, chocolate, cookies, or fruit.


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Stefan foto video/

Vanilice Cookies

Vanilice are a type of small cookies usually made of flour, fat, and sugar. Also known as poljupci (kisses), they are a staple on almost every Serbian feast, especially the traditional Slava.


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Orasnice Cookies

Another dessert popular during the Serbian Slava holidays are orasnice. These half-moon or horseshoe-shaped cookies are made of chopped walnuts and prove to be a perfect snack to pair with tea or coffee.


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Everyone likes doughnuts, but Serbians love their uštipci. These fried balls of dough sprinkled on top with powdered sugar are a beloved dessert in this Balkan country. Pair them together with Nutella, Eurocrem, or marmalade and you’ll find yourself asking the chef for the recipe.


Nowadays, the famous Balkan cuisine is making its rounds all around the globe. Chances are you’ll be able to find at least some of these delicacies in your own neighborhood, so a delicious plate of sarma or a jar of ajvar won’t be hard to get your hands on. And if you plan on visiting Serbia in the near future, just know that you won’t end up leaving the country on an empty stomach.

Photo: Vladimir Nenezic/


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