10 Ultimate Dishes To Try in Serbia

A person taking a photo of their restaurant food with a phone camera
If you wish to explore Europe and its people to the core, the best way to go is by tasting their traditional food. As Serbian people are known to be big foodies and take great pride in each meal prep, we assure you their cuisine won’t leave you disappointed. On the contrary, their dishes are as big as they’re tasty. So, if you’ve already booked a flight to the country that’s a crossroad between east and west, you’re at the right place. This article will share some of the best unique dishes to try in Serbia. These dishes delight everyone, especially those with a carnivorous tooth.

The list of dishes to try in Serbia

When thinking of the ultimate foodie destination, Serbia might not immediately spring to one’s mind. However, Balkans’s savory classics have a unique taste and make many come back for more.

Additionally, if you happen to be staying at a Serbian home, you will surely experience being offered treat after treat. Mind we remind you, the portions are in size large. 🙂

So, while traveling, try local dishes in one-of-a-kind Serbian kafanas. Furthermore, if you’re in the capital city, you can experience traditional food options with a modern twist in restaurants in the Belgrade Waterfront district.

With all of the previously said, it’s time to learn the bread and butter of Serbian cuisine. That is, which dishes to try in Serbia are an absolute must.

Sarma

Sarma is possibly one of the favorite dishes in each Serbian household. Even though variations to this dish exist, the original sarma is made of three main ingredients:

  • pickled cabbage, 
  • minced meat, and
  • rice. 

Sarma is an extremely popular dish that’s usually eaten during colder periods and served at celebratory events, such as weddings, baptisms, and Serbian orthodox slavas.

Roštilj

In a nutshell, roštilj is practically grilled meat. Also, this type of meat is usual for all Balkan countries. However, roštilj represents a dish that consists of different kinds of meat grilled over an open flame.

Typical meats you can find on the roštilj plate are:

  • ćevapčići
  • pljeskavica
  • kobasice
  • ražnjići
  • vešalice
  • grilled chicken breasts, etc.

 

A plate of ćevapćići as one of the dishes to try in Serbia.
Some types of meat can be served and ordered separately from roštilj.

However, two types of meat deserve a more honored mention, as they are a big thing for Serbian take-out and eat-out food. Those are ćevapčići and pljeskavica.

Ćevapčići are grilled finger-shaped minced meat, usually offered in portions of 5 or 10 pieces. They go amazingly well with chopped onions, kajmak spread, and lepinja flatbread.

On the other hand, pljeskavica is a version of a Serbian burger made of ground beef, pork, or lamb.

Karađorđeva šnicla is on the list of must dishes to try in Serbia

Karađrođeva šnicla is a relatively new Serbian dish. A Serbian chef invented it in 1956, as he had to make chicken kiev for a distinguished guest from the Soviet Union. As he was out of chicken, he used veal and created this dish named after Karađorđe, the famous Serbian revolutionary.

This meal consists of breaded and rolled meat, such as veal or pork cutlet stuffed with kajmak. It might sound not very easy but indeed tastes divine.

Prebranac

It would be best to think of this meal as a type of Serbian bean stew. This meal consists of the following:

  • baked beans cooked with onions,
  • sweet Hungarian paprika as a crucial ingredient,
  • bay leaves, and
  • sunflower oil.

 

Prebranac is a staple of Serbian cuisine. It’s both cheap and filling. This dish was originally made by farmers who needed something to last through long winters when there was no much food.

Gibanica

Gibanica is the ultimate meal when moms are tired or working late. You can have it for dinner or breakfast or as a yummy snack. This is a type of cheese pie made with phyllo dough, eggs, and white cheese.

However, this type of meal is common in the Balkans, and there are many variations ranging from savory to sweet. But, no matter when you eat it, it’s usually gone in a flash due to its deliciousness.

Ajvar

We can consider ajvar to be a Serbian version of hummus. It’s a relish made of blended rep peppers, olive oil, and salt.It’s usually served in a small dish as a condiment.

Also, it goes wonderfully with Serbian pršuta (prosciutto) and cheese. However, when everyone’s in a rush, they spread ajvar on a slice of bread, and they’re good to go.

Kajmak

Another traditional Serbian food is a popular side dish made from milk. Kajmak is a clotted cream usually made from unpasteurized cow, goat, or sheep milk.

You can have kajmak with anything. People usually enjoy it over breakfast as a bread spread or as an accompaniment to popular ćevapčići or pljeskavica. It’s a versatile side dish which you can eat as you like.

Kajmak topped with Hungarian paprika and pepper, surrounded by tomatoes and another bowl of kajmak spread.
Kajmak resembles cream cheese. However, it's way better and definitely one of the best dishes to try in Serbia.

 

Čvarci

If you enjoy the crispy food that wonderfully cracks and melts in your mouth, čvarci are the perfect food. Čvarci are deep-fried pork cracklings similar to pork rinds.

This type of food is usually prepared during colder days and eaten over winter. The best news is that čvarci are primarily homemade and typically organic.

Uštipci is another must on the list of dishes to try in Serbia

As you could’ve realized so far, savory food is predominant in Serbian cuisine. Luckily, there are some traditional treats everyone loves.

Uštipci look like little fried doughnut balls. Their recipe is quite simple. The ingredients needed for this tasty treat are:

  • flour, 
  • eggs,
  • milk,
  • yeast, and
  • oil.

Give all the ingredients a good fry, and they’re ready to be enjoyed! Serbian people usually eat them on their own, sprinkled with icing sugar or with some of their delicious fruit jams. Raspberry, strawberry, or plum jams are primarily made and used.

Fresh fruits, especially raspberries, are grown all over Serbia and made into delicious jams.

Vanilice

Ultimately, a Serbian staple cookie called vanilice will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. The prominent flavor of these cookies is, of course, vanilla. Vanilice are vanilla walnut cookies made with:

  • lard,
  • flour,
  • sugar,
  • eggs, 
  • lemon, and
  • walnuts.

When everything gets smushed together, you cut it with round cookie cutters and bake it. Then, to finish it off, they’re stuffed with raspberry or apricot jam and topped with sugar.

These delicious bite-sized treats are usually eaten during winter holidays but can be found in stores anytime.

Final thoughts on the best dishes to try in Serbia

Finally, Serbian food is a unique mixture of Eastern and Western flavors. Even though some of these dishes are not so common in the Western world, they are definitely worth trying due to their distinctive preparation and fantastic taste.

And there you have it. These are the top ten dishes to try in Serbia that you mustn’t miss. Finally, make sure you have a glass of rakija with your meal to have your senses altered. Enjoy!

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