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Serbian Food: 24 Popular Dishes + 3 Secret Recipe Tips

At the heart of the Balkans lies a breathtaking country whose food will never leave you hungry. Explore the flavors of Serbian cuisine and discover how to dine, drink, and live like a local in this ultimate guide to Serbian food. We’ll cover everything from snacks to soups and secret tips.

They say that one of the best ways to get to know a place is through its food. Serbia is a nation with a rich history, beautiful landscape, colorful culture, and diverse citizens – all this is definitely reflected in its local cuisine.

Serbia is located at the crossroads of the East and West, and its food is a melting pot of delicious cuisines from both sides of the globe. Serbian staples include meaty stews, vegetable rolls, and doughy desserts. In this guide, we’ll sample the best food that Serbia has to offer.

Traditional Serbian Cuisine – More Than Sarma and Rakija

Traditional Serbian Cuisine – More Than Sarma and Rakija

There’s more to discover in traditional Serbian cuisine than your typical sarma and Rakija. With influences from Greece, Turkey, the Mediterranean, and its Balkan neighbors, your taste buds will never run out of diverse, bold, and interesting dishes to try in this food-loving country.

From sizzling street food and fresh salads to fruity beverages and plum-filled desserts, every Serbian dish is a national treasure with flavors like no other.

You may want to pace yourself as you go on this culinary adventure because Serbian dishes are known for being not just yummy but also hearty and filling.

Most Popular Street Food in Serbia

Most Popular Street Food in Serbia

It’s impossible to stroll the streets of Serbia without getting tempted by the mouthwatering sights and appetizing smells of the country’s flavorful street food. With food stands and neon signs everywhere, it can be confusing which treat to taste first.

Here are some popular Serbian street foods that won’t disappoint your taste buds:

  • Pljeskavica (Serbian Burger): This iconic Serbian dish consists of tasty minced meat patties served in a hot bun with garlic sauce, pepper flakes, and cheese. You can find it at any food stand. Just follow the inviting scent of sizzling beef or pork patties.
  • Palačinke (Crepes): Serbian-style crepes are light, delicate, and incredibly delicious. They’re made with a batter of flour, butter, eggs, and milk and can be drizzled with Nutella and sprinkled with nuts. If you’re looking for dessert while on the go, this is it.

Palačinke (Crepes)

  • Mekika (Deep-Fried Dough): A simple yet irresistible fried-bread dough snack with a variety of spreads like jam, sour cream, or Eurocrem, a fantastic hazelnut and cocoa spread. You can also sprinkle powdered sugar or grated cheese for more yumminess.
  • Ferdinand Knedle (Serbian Dumplings): Whether you like sweet or savory fillings, the streets of Serbia have them both, enclosed in delicious little potato balls called “knedle.” There are fruits, chocolate, and all kinds of fillings, with plums being the most popular.

Serbian Food in the World

Serbian Food in the World

Because of their exquisite taste and exceptional quality, Serbian food and beverages have been recognized worldwide. Traditional cuisine has made its way to Asia, Australia, Canada, and the United States through restaurants serving authentic Serbian dishes like Goulash and Roštilj.

The famous “Slatko,” which is a decadent fruit preserve, is a sought-after commodity in Western countries, along with other Serbian jams and jellies. These products are often made from the country’s finest selection of plums, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Serbia’s pickled foods are also a hit abroad. These include Turšija, fermented vegetables that are sour, plump, and bursting with juicy goodness. They’re typically served with roasted meat and are rich in Vitamin C.

Meat sausages are another one of Serbia’s top exports, including ćevapi and sremska Salama. Meanwhile, the country’s most famous white wine, Trijumf, has won international awards for the best Balkan wine and is one of Serbia’s biggest wine exports.

How Healthy Serbian Food Is

How Healthy Serbian Food Is

Serbian cuisine is undoubtedly unique, flavorful, and satisfying – but is it also healthy? The answer is it depends. Serbian food can be green, fresh, and nutritious, but there are also popular dishes like sarma, čvarci, and burek that are high in sugar, salt, fat, and oil.

Health-conscious people in Serbia regularly shop in green markets. These places sell low-priced fruit and vegetables that are in season and are great spots to get good food.

With natural ingredients from green markets, it’s easy to whip up Serbian veggie dishes like prebranac (baked beans), slatki kupus (sweet cabbage), and djuvec (vegetable casserole).

Serbia’s love for salads is another piece of proof that this nation enjoys eating healthy. There’s Srpska salata (Serbian salad), zimnica (pickled vegetable salad), urnebes (cheese and pepper salad), and more.

If you’re craving a sweet treat, don’t worry. Serbia is world-famous for its tasty and nutrient-rich raspberries, plums, cherries, and apples. Drinkable yogurt, or “jogurt,” is a popular and beloved beverage in Serbia and is packed with protein, calcium, Vitamin B, and riboflavin.

Famous and Popular Serbian Dishes You Have to Try

Famous and Popular Serbian Dishes You Have to Try

These national dishes are well-known in Serbia for a reason. You’ll be missing out on an explosion of spices, ground meats, and cheese, as well as creative cooking methods if you don’t try them out. They taste so good you’ll want to learn their recipes after one bite.

Ćevapi (Grilled Sausage)

Ćevapi (Grilled Sausage)

Whether you’re food venturing the streets of Belgrade or sitting down to eat in one of Serbia’s traditional restaurants, you’ll surely come across a plate of ćevapi or ćevapčići. It’s a skinless sausage dish made of minced pork, beef, or lamb, heavily seasoned, hand-shaped, and grilled.

The best way to enjoy a ćevapi is in a sandwich with chopped onions, red pepper, sour cream, cottage cheese, and a special type of Balkan flatbread called lepinja. Both locals and tourists can’t get enough of this dish’s smoky flavor, finger-shaped portions, and show-stopping taste.

Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

If the Serbians had a signature dish, it would surely be sarma. It’s the most commonly consumed dish across the country, and each region has its own unique version.

It features tender leaves of cabbage stuffed with seasoned rice, sauerkraut, tomato sauce, and a meaty or veggie filling. You can also make sarma with fish or substitute cabbage with vine leaves.

As you’ve probably guessed, the name sarma means “to wrap in.” Serbians’ love for sarma runs deep, and women who can whip up this dish are considered wife material.

Gibanica (Cheese Pie)

Gibanica (Cheese Pie)

Serbian gibanica is a one-way ticket to food heaven. Imagine a sweet, savory, and creamy blend of cottage cheese, feta cheese, and cream cheese in between layers of phyllo dough. No trip to Serbia would be complete without indulging in this addicting and popular cheesy pie.

Plenty of delightful variations of gibanica exist. Some are filled with poppy seeds, apples, and walnuts. You can enjoy it hot or cold for breakfast, snack time, or dessert. No matter what the occasion, gibanica never lasts too long in a Serbian household, as everyone eats it in a flash.

Ajvar (Vegetable Relish)

Ajvar (Vegetable Relish)

What do you get when you combine roasted sweet bell peppers and eggplants? A mouth-wateringly delicious side dish called ajvar, of course.

This sweet and tangy relish has made its way to the tables of not just Serbia but also other Balkan countries like Bulgaria and Croatia.

Ajvar enhances the taste of any meat dish you serve it with, but it’s also phenomenal as a dip for fresh bread, a spread for crackers, or even a sauce for pasta or baked potatoes. Many Serbians refer to it as “vegetable caviar” because of its rich and decadent flavor.

Soups & Salads

Soups & Salads

Even a simple soup or a humble salad can be the star of the dining table if it’s prepared the Serbian way. These hearty dishes may surprise you, as Serbia is known for mixing different types of meat in a single stew or using a mixture of cheese in one salad. Extraordinary, right?

Srpska Salata (Serbian Salad)

Srpska Salata (Serbian Salad)

Srpska salata is a light and refreshing Serbian salad that combines fresh produce and creamy feta cheese. It contains tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and peppers, while the cheese is optional. It’s usually served in the summertime and best paired with roast meat or a savory stew.

To level up the flavor, this special salad uses simple seasonings like salt and pepper, as well as a drizzle of sunflower oil and white wine vinegar. Locals like to eat Srpska salata on its own alongside a cool glass of Rakija. When in Serbia, healthy eating still feels like a feast.

Goulash (Meat and Vegetable Stew)

Goulash (Meat and Vegetable Stew)

Goulash is a traditional Serbian soup or stew that’s loaded with root vegetables, meat, and spices like paprika. It can be hard to pronounce, but it sure is easy to make. You can add other ingredients including mushrooms, chili pepper, cinnamon, and garlic, to match your taste.

This staple dish has Hungarian influences and has spread across Eastern Europe because of its simple preparation and sumptuous taste. Goulash comes from the Hungarian word “gulya,” which refers to a herd of cattle, as the original recipe for this dish came from shepherds.

Urnebes (Cheese and Pepper Salad)

Urnebes (Cheese and Pepper Salad)

Another extraordinary combination of ingredients brought to us by the Serbians comes in the form of urnebes, a spicy salad made of creamy cheese and hot chili peppers. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, no worries, because urnebes also come in a mild and slightly salty variation.

It’s light orange in color and can include spices like garlic, salt, and pepper powder. You can eat it as a side dish or a spread on a piece of bread. The word urnebes translates to “chaos” or “mess,” but surely, this cheesy and fiery salad is the type of mess that you won’t mind.

Fiš Paprikaš (Fish Stew)

Fiš Paprikaš (Fish Stew)

Every nation has a traditional fish dish, and fiš paprikaš is Serbia’s. As its name implies, fiš paprikaš is a hot and spicy paprika-based fish soup cooked in a large cauldron on top of an open fire. It’s usually served with homemade noodles and extra powdered paprika if you wish.

Unlike goulash, which is a thick stew, fiš paprikaš is more of a light soup with chunks of catfish, carp, or pike. If you’re at a Serbian seafood restaurant, this dish is a definite must-try. Even people who don’t usually like fish have a history of enjoying this superb-tasting stew.

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

Starters, Sandwiches, Sides

With this mouthwatering selection of starters, every Serbian meal is off to a delicious beginning. Whether you like meaty, veggie, or dairy dishes, there’s something for everyone on this list. We’ve also included Serbian-style sides and sandwiches that’ll surely impress your taste buds.

Čvarci (Deep-Fried Cracklings)

Čvarci (Deep-Fried Cracklings)

If you’re looking for something to whet your appetite before a meal, have a bite of čvarci, a Serbian snack made of tasty deep-fried pork cracklings. This homemade dish is usually prepared in the Serbian countryside, towards the end of summer up until autumn.

Čvarci is considered a delicacy in Serbia, as this appetizer can take some time and effort to prepare. Every family usually has their own special čvarci recipe that’s passed down through the generations. You can also enjoy it as a snack, a salad topping, or even a pastry filling.

Burek (Phyllo Dough Pastry)

Burek (Phyllo Dough Pastry)

Many people like to start the day with a hearty sandwich for breakfast. The Serbians are no different, as their most famous breakfast food is burek, a baked pastry with a variety of fillings. It uses flaky phyllo dough and has cheese, ground meat, spinach, potatoes, and other veggies.

The Serbians love burek so much that there are specialized bakeries dedicated to just this one pastry. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it, too, as some tourists even describe delicious burek as “life-changing.” A slice of burek is the perfect starter for any meal – or for your day.

Punjene Paprike (Baked Stuffed Peppers)

Punjene Paprike (Baked Stuffed Peppers)

Punjene paprike is a classic Serbian dish consisting of healthy baked peppers stuffed with tasty ground beef and rice, with a savory sauce of tomato paste, eggs, olive oil, onions, and seasoning. It’s a wonderful side dish to any meaty meal or alongside some boiled potatoes.

The translation for punjene paprike is “stuffed pepper,” and its two main ingredients are bell peppers and paprika powder. You’ll surely want to stuff yourself with this side dish because of how fantastic it tastes.

Kajmak (Serbian Dairy Product)

Kajmak (Serbian Dairy Product)

Serbian cuisine never runs out of interesting and unique ways to serve dairy. The traditional kajmak is a fresh dairy product made of new or unripened cheese from goat, cow, or sheep’s milk. Its light and fresh flavor makes it the perfect side-kick to grilled meat.

Kajmak’s thick and creamy texture also makes it delightful to spread on thick slices of bread. You can also spread it on barbecue meats, potatoes, burgers, and almost anything, as kajmak enriches everything you pair it with. You can even grab a spoonful and have it as dessert.

Mains

Mains

Serbian main dishes are as versatile as they are delicious. From heartwarming comfort food to show-stopping grilled meats and even healthy vegetarian options – Serbia has them all. These famous dishes have their own distinctive taste, making each meal a memorable experience.

Karađorđeva Šnicla (Breaded Cutlet)

Karađorđeva Šnicla (Breaded Cutlet)

Karađorđeva Šnicla features a rolled veal or pork steak that’s stuffed with kajmak, breaded, and fried. When cooked, the kajmak in the middle of this tasty meat roll turns into a creamy filling. But that’s not all. This dish usually comes with roasted potatoes and flavorful tartar sauce, too.

The preparation of karađorđeva šnicla is quite time-consuming and complex, but its magnificent taste is well worth it. The name of this dish comes from the Serbian Prince Karadorde. Truly, karađorđeva šnicla is worthy of royalty and deserves a spot at your lunch or dinner table.

Prebranac (Bean Stew)

Prebranac (Bean Stew)

Who would have thought that a simple baked bean stew could taste so satisfying? Prebranac is a classic Serbian dish that’s traditionally served in long and cold winters. The warm blend of beans, onions, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper makes it one of Serbia’s favorite comfort foods.

As a main course, prebranac can be prepared with or without meat, as the beans alone are sufficient to make it a hearty meal. It’s also incredibly simple and easy to cook in a Dutch oven or casserole dish. Without a doubt, prebranac is one of the tastiest veggie dishes in Serbia.

Roštilj (Barbecue)

Roštilj (Barbecue)

A Serbian barbecue or roštilj is one of the best and most popular meat dishes because it offers so much variety. When you try a mixed meat roštilj, you’ll get a taste of everything on your plate, from skewered meat, kebabs, sausages, ribs, and more—all cooked over an open grill.

If you get the chance, try and watch the barbecue masters as they prepare your roštilj. The sight of juicy meat on a grill over some glowing coals, the smell of fragrant onions, and the smoky aroma are part of the full roštilj experience. This is the ideal Serbian dish for all meat lovers.

Mućkalica (Serbian Meat Dish)

Mućkalica (Serbian Meat Dish)

Did you know that mućkalica comes from the word mućkati, which means to shake, stir, or combine? It likely refers to the shaking sensation when this delicious dish is cooked in a clay pot or the fact that it’s a combination of assorted vegetables and leftover barbecue meats.

Typical ingredients include tomatoes, onions, paprika, salt, pepper, and beef or bacon. The intense flavor of mućkalica is a great match for lepinja (homemade flatbread), ajvar (veggie relish), or a refreshing bowl of Serbian salad. It’s another Serbian dish that’s loved by many.

Bread, Pastries, Dessert

Bread, Pastries, Dessert

In Serbia, no meal is ever complete without a tempting dessert. Whether you’re in the mood for cookies, dumplings, doughnuts, or pies, this country has a sweet treat for every occasion. These desserts feature local flavors, are simple to prepare, and will surely satisfy your cravings.

Vanilice (Vanilla Cookie)

Vanilice (Vanilla Cookie)

The holidays in Serbia are made extra special by a jar of vanilice or vanilla cookies on the kitchen table. The name means “little vanillas.” Despite their small size, vanilice is extremely tasty. They consist of two cookies made of ground walnuts with yummy jam in the middle.

Homemade vanilice often uses apricot or raspberry jam, but other flavors can be used too. Before serving, vanilice cookies are usually dusted with vanilla sugar to further indulge your sweet tooth. Inhale the heavenly scent of vanilla before taking a bite of this awesome treat.

Knedle Sa Sljivama (Plum Dumplings)

Knedle Sa Sljivama (Plum Dumplings)

Nothing tastes more tempting than a bowl of knedle sa sljivama after a flavorful and filling Serbian meal. But what is it? Well, knedle sa sljivama is a simple yet yummy dessert made of boiled potato-dough dumplings that overflow with sweet and tasty plum filling.

If you want to try knedle with a twist, special shops in Belgrade offer popular variations with Oreo, Nutella, and raspberry filling instead of the classic plum. When they’re coated with breadcrumbs and assembled on a plate, knedle doesn’t just taste good, it looks great, too.

Uštipci (Fried Doughnut Balls)

Uštipci (Fried Doughnut Balls)

Uštipci is the Serbian equivalent of a doughnut – only they’re fluffier, fried to a crisp, and are topped with a delightfully sweet fruit jam or icing sugar. Uštipci is beloved by Serbians, and rightfully so, as they’re absolutely delicious. It’s impossible for you to have just one.

If you’re wondering what they’re made of, you’ll be surprised by the simplicity of uštipci’s ingredients. All you need is flour, eggs, milk, oil, yeast, and some frying to be able to create this indulgent dessert. You can also fill them with pumpkin, cheese, meat, or chocolate if you desire.

Baklava (Layered Pastry)

Baklava (Layered Pastry)

If crunchy nuts, lemony syrup, and luscious honey sound good to you, you’ll surely enjoy baklava, another one of Serbia’s special holiday desserts. This treat comes in the form of a layered phyllo dough pastry, with a surprise filling like walnuts, and topped with sweet syrup.

In addition to the common walnut baklava, rare variations like pistachio baklava, fruit baklava, and chocolate baklava are available, too, so remember to try them all. You’ll have no trouble finding this pastry in most Serbian sweet shops, but homemade ones taste just as yummy.

Secret Recipe Tips

Secret Recipe Tips

Cooking is an art form that the Serbians have truly mastered. Do you want to know the tips, tools, and techniques behind the most appetizing Serbian dishes? Well, look no further. Here are the best-kept secrets that locals use in their mouthwatering recipes and delectable drinks.

Paprika Is the Key

Paprika Is the Key

Serbia has a long culinary tradition of using only the finest quality ingredients to infuse flavor into every meal. Aside from the usual salt and pepper, the country’s most commonly used seasoning is paprika, and it’s often dubbed as the “paprika capital of the world.”

In fact, many Serbian dishes are paprika-based, such as goulash-paprikash, fiš paprikaš, and punjene paprike. This powerful ingredient adds a slight earthiness and a sweet and peppery taste to every dish. It also boasts a wide range of nutrients and health benefits.

Grilling Brings Out the Best of Flavors

Grilling Brings Out the Best of Flavors

What’s the first thing you smell every time you step out onto the streets of Serbia? You guessed it – the smokey aroma of fresh meat on a grill. The Serbians know that grilling or spit-roasting is an authentic cooking method that brings out the full flavor, aroma, and tenderness of any meat.

Whether it’s beef, lamb, chicken, pork, or goat’s meat, there’s a Serbian recipe out there that calls for grilling it. Grilled meats are also the primary main course in most Serbian restaurants.

Everything Is Better with Bread

Everything Is Better with Bread

The average Serbian eats bread with almost everything – with hearty soups, creamy salads, flavorful mains, and even vegetable relishes like ajvar and dairy products like kajmak.

Knowing what type of bread to pair with each dish is a Serbian skill that’s easy to master. Lepinja is a popular spongy flatbread that’s perfect for ćevapi and meaty dishes. A much softer and more aromatic variation of lepinja is called somun, a Serbian bread that almost melts in your mouth.

Proja is a Serbian cornbread good for cheese, yogurt, and other dairy-based dishes. Česnica is a round-shaped ceremonial bread best for holidays and special occasions.

Beverages

Beverages

Every great dish deserves a delicious drink to pair it with. Fortunately, Serbia has some of the best-selling and most refreshing beverages, not just locally but worldwide. Just a few sips of these Serbian favorites will have you hooked and craving another glass or cup.

Rakija (Fruit Brandy)

Rakija (Fruit Brandy)

Many will agree that Rakija rightfully deserves the title of the national drink of Serbia. This double-distilled fruit brandy is made in almost all regions in the Balkans and is sought after in all corners of the globe for its smooth, sophisticated, and highly addictive fruity flavor.

It can be made with apricots, raspberries, quince, pears, plums, apples, cherries, and many other fruits. It’s commonly served in shot glasses or special Serbian glasses, and it’s meant to be sipped and enjoyed slowly. Prepare yourself, as Rakija’s alcohol level is usually 40 to 50 percent.

Šumadija Tea

Šumadija Tea

Šumadija Čaj is a Serbian winter specialty and is much stronger than your average cup of tea. It’s actually a fine plum brandy that’s heated with caramelized sugar and served while it’s piping hot. Surprisingly, this extraordinary tea has an alcohol content of around 25 percent.

A sweet and palatable cup of Šumadija tea is perfect for cold evenings spent with family and friends as you laugh and reminisce about good times. Next to Rakija, it’s one of the national drinks of Serbia, and of course, every family has their own recipe that they claim is the best.

Domaca Kafa (Domestic Coffee)

Domaca Kafa (Domestic Coffee)

Coffee is a vital, day-to-day element of Serbian culture. They even have a word, “kafenisanje,” which refers to a “coffee conversation.” Traditional Serbian coffee, or domaca kafa, is strong, black, delicious, and has a homemade quality to it.

Every Serbian household has at least one džezva, a special pot made of aluminum, brass, or copper, that’s used to prepare domaca kafa. All you have to do is boil water, mix coffee, let it rise, and serve.

This great-tasting beverage has its roots in Turkey, but through subtle differences in flavor, the Serbians have made it uniquely their own.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Every Serbian stocks their kitchen with a few essential ingredients for spectacularly savory dishes. If you want to cook like a local and keep the blandness away, have these top items always ready in your pantry, as most Serbian recipes will likely require them:

Cheese and Dairy Products

Cheese and Dairy Products

Milk, cheese, and dairy products are Serbian specialties that always make their way into every dish. Meal starters, such as gibanica and zeljanica, are savory pies that have one thing in common: They’re both filled with the yummy goodness of Serbian cheese, cream, and eggs.

Even meaty main courses are accompanied by a bowl of kajmak or fresh, unaged cheese. If that’s not enough, mixed salads are often served with grated cheese on top. For dessert, there are a variety of cheese pies and cakes – finish them off with a cold glass of Serbian yogurt.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic and Onion

If you browse through any Serbian recipe for a main dish, there’s a high chance you’ll find a garlic and onion combination there. These two ingredients are a flavorful staple in Serbian cooking, and they’re present in nearly every national dish to add a sweet and subtle taste.

Locals commonly joke that eating an onion whole, the same way as an apple is a show of dominance in Serbia. The joint aroma of sautéd onion and garlic is also something that a lot of Serbians seem to enjoy.

Seasonal Fruit

Seasonal Fruit

Serbia’s agreeable climate allows it to have over 270 sunny days on average, so the country is able to produce plenty of apples, plums, peaches, pears, grapes, and other fresh fruit. Serbia is also a top producer of tasty berries, like raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.

As such, don’t be surprised to find these seasonal fruits in many Serbian breakfast pastries, appetizers, side dishes, desserts, and even beverages like the famous fruit brandies.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Did you know Serbia cultivates thousands of hectares yearly to grow its aromatic, medicinal, and spice plants? Herbs and spices are the flavorful foundation of the nation’s delicious food, so much so that there’s even a decades-long tradition called “herb collecting.”

Paprika, thyme, mint, chamomile, fennel, oregano, and anise are some of the most commonly cultivated and frequently used herbs and spices in Serbia. The following are also popular:

Peppers

Peppers

Whether it’s chili peppers, black peppers, red bell peppers, or even breaded peppers, they all have a place in Serbian cuisine. Urnebes, ajvar, and sarma are some of the Serbian national dishes that use types of pepper to bring out the flavor of food, adding depth and earthiness.

Pepper is one of the most popular spices in Serbia and abroad because it’s versatile enough to be paired with sweet and savory food. In some Serbian villages, most houses turn red as the people hang their harvested red peppers to dry on the walls of their houses.

Basil

Basil

Basil is another traditional herb that’s used in abundance, not just in Serbian cooking but also in Serbian culture. A bunch of basil is often present in religious ceremonies, on people’s Slava cakes as a symbol of health, and during gift-giving celebrations as a sign of good luck.

Sweet and fragrant basil adds a distinctively fresh flavor as a garnish in Serbian yogurt drinks, as part of salad dressings like Srpska salata, and when infused into pasta sauces and tomato-based dishes. It’s also in marinades for grilled meats and in dessert toppings.

Parsley

Parsley

Serbian cuisine relies on fresh parsley to balance out its tremendously meaty, hearty, and savory dishes. Although parsley has a mild taste, this little addition can make any dish taste better and brighter, including ćevapi, mućkalica, Serbian goulash, and other stews.

Some recipes involve mixing parsley with meat along with the onions and other seasonings, while other dishes only require a sprinkle of parsley before serving. Because it’s rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and other antioxidants, parsley brings health benefits in addition to its flavor.

Serbian Food Culture

Serbian Food Culture

Now that we know what delicious dishes and decadent desserts the Serbians eat, it’s time to ask an equally important question: How do they eat? Let’s dive into Serbia’s culinary culture, customs, and etiquette – which are as rich, vibrant, and diverse as their food.

Eating Habits

Eating Habits

It’s common for the Serbian population to start their day with a light breakfast. On their way to work or school, people usually stop by a local bakery to grab a pastry. The most famous breakfast food in Serbia is Burek, a pastry made of thin, flaky dough and meat or cheese filling.

Lunchtime can extend to the late afternoon or early evening. It’s the main meal of the day and often has a hearty meat and vegetable dish. Because of the vibrant nightlife in most cities, dinner can be served as late as midnight. It’s usually a light meal like pie, salad, or a sandwich.

Fresh bread and dairy products are a staple in any Serbian household. Although meat dishes are common, Serbia has many farmlands and a long farming history, so there are many vegetarian dishes, too. Serbians aren’t big on fish, and they mostly prefer freshwater fish.

One good eating habit that we should learn from Serbia is that they favor fresh fruits and veggies and adjust their cuisine depending on the season. This not only keeps them healthy but also saves money and lowers their carbon footprint as they rely much less on imported produce.

Meal Structure

Meal Structure

Serbian meals are more than just a time for eating. They are moments for meaningful conversation and social interaction. As a result, mealtimes can last as long as two hours. On average, a Serbian eats three meals daily: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“Meza” is the Serbian term for pre-meal, consisting of appetizers like cured meats, cheese, sausages, olives, and fresh vegetables. Soups serve as an entrée and usually include beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and sometimes noodles.

The main course is usually a meat dish prepared by roasting, stewing, or braising. Salads are a popular side dish choice. They use lettuce, tomato, cucumber, or carrot with oil and spices. Bread often makes an appearance, especially during breakfast time.

Serbians have a sweet tooth, so they always end a meal with some dessert. Sweet and savory pastries, cakes, and pies with sweet fruit fillings are national favorites. As for beverages, Serbians love beer, fruit brandies, and wine.

Etiquette

Etiquette

When it comes to Serbian dining etiquette, one phrase to remember is “never say no.” At gatherings and celebrations, it’s customary for the host to keep filling your plate up with food. Sounds too good to be true, right? Since it’s rude to refuse, you just have to keep on eating.

If you’re invited to a friend or relative’s home for a meal, it’s polite to bring a gift like a bottle of wine, a tasty side dish, or a bouquet of flowers. Upon arrival, try to greet everyone and wait for the host to assign you a seat.

Serbians serve freshly baked bread with almost anything. It has its own place at the table. Always put your bread beside your plate, and never on it. You can place your silverware together and leave it on the plate to indicate that you’ve finished eating.

When toasting, raise your glass, and don’t forget to make polite eye contact with everyone. Leave your drink unfinished if you don’t want more alcohol. When dining out, you can offer to contribute to the bill, but it’s common for the host to pay for everything, so avoid asking to split.

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