25 Best Types Of Turkish Kebabs You Have To Try

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

I get it. You’ve visited Turkey once or twice, and you’ve tried a few different types of kebabs. You liked them, but you want to try more. However, when a menu is placed in front of you, you’re so confused by the sheer number of different types you find it hard to choose the best one.

It’s an eternal struggle; trust me, it has taken me more than a decade of living in Tükiye to figure it all out.

Or maybe it could be that you’re about to visit Turkey for the first time, and you want to try the most traditional kebabs. In that case, you need guidance.

Don’t worry. I consider myself an expert on finding the best Turkish kebabs, having tried many of them and having been confused about the whole thing, just like you. I did my research, and I’ll pass that on to you. Grab your pide bread, and let’s go.

25 Top Kebab Types You HAVE To Try

Turkish kebabs are not all the same. Yes, they’re meat-based, but that’s the only similarity between them. There are different spices involved, preparation techniques, and serving methods.

To help you work out your perfect Turkish kebab, let’s take a look at the top 25 different types of kebab you’ll find when you’re exploring this beautiful country, listed in no particular order.

1. Adana Kebab

Traditional Turkish Adana Kebab or Kebap

This is a spicy kebab made with minced lamb or beef (usually lamb), seasoned with red pepper flakes, and grilled on skewers. It’s usually served with rice grilled peppers, and tomato, but you can also get it in a wrap from street food vendors. Beware – this one is usually spicy.

2. Çökertme Kebabı

Originating from the Bodrum region in Turkey’s Aegean coast; this kebab is made by layering pita bread soaked in tomato sauce topped with chunks of lamb or beef cooked on skewers then garnished with melted butter and yogurt sauce.

It’s delicious and is often served over a bed of fries.

3. Kuzu Güveç

A slow-cooked lamb casserole is made with tender chunks of lamb, vegetables, and spices, cooked in a clay pot for a rich and flavorful dish.

This is a traditional meal that most families eat during the winter months and the meat simply melts in your mouth.

4. İnegöl Köfte

Originating from the town of İnegöl, these juicy meatballs are made from a mixture of ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, garlic, and spices before being grilled or fried.

There are many different types of köfte, but the main difference here is the spices used and the shape.

5. Iskender Kebab

Traditional Turkish Iskender kebab_Bursa Turkey_Depositphotos_244229222_S

Originating from Bursa, this kebab consists of thinly sliced lamb or beef (usually beef) served over a bed of pita bread, topped with tomato sauce and melted butter. When done well, this is a delicious kebab, and the sauce really adds to the flavor.

Look for restaurants that have Iskender in the name for the best ones.

6. Shish Kebab

This is a classic kebab made with marinated chunks of meat (usually lamb or chicken) threaded onto skewers and grilled to perfection. These are often served with rice and peppers and onions, but again, you can sometimes get them in wraps.

7. Külbastı

This specialty kebab originating from Gaziantep features marinated chunks of lamb or beef cooked on an open fire grill until tender and smoky. The meat is so tender that it literally melts in your mouth and there is a sauce created from the cooking process, which is delicious when mopped up with bread.

8. Hünkar Beğendi

This is a royal dish consisting of slow-cooked chunks of meat (usually lamb meat) served over a bed of creamy smoked eggplant puree known as “beğendi.” It looks a little like mashed potato but has a definite eggplant taste.

9. Kaşarlı Köfte (Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs)

Meatballs are stuffed with melted cheese before being grilled or baked. While other meatballs are often served in a wrap, this one is almost always served on a plate with rice and grilled peppers and tomatoes.

10. Doner Kebabs

Food in Greece - greek gyros with tzatziki sauce and fries on parchment

Also known as gyro in other countries, döner kebab is made by stacking layers of seasoned meat (typically lamb or chicken) on a vertical rotisserie, which is then slowly cooked and thinly sliced for serving. It’s then served in a wrap or pitta with salad.

When you’re looking for a good döner kebab, look at the meat on the rotisserie and see if it looks juicy or dry. If it’s dry, steer clear.

11. Beyti Kebab

Named after the famous Turkish chef Beyti Güler, this kebab features ground lamb or beef mixed with spices, wrapped in lavash bread, grilled until crispy, and served with yogurt and tomato sauce on top.

This is one of my favorites, and it’s usually served alongside bulgur and salad.

12. Urfa Kebab

Hailing from the city of Urfa in southeastern Turkey, this spicy kebab is made using minced meat mixed with garlic and red pepper flakes before being grilled to perfection. This is sometimes confused with Adana kebab, but they have a different taste.

When ordering a Urfa kebab, make sure you tell the server whether you want it spicy or not – Acili is spicy, acisiz is not spicy.

13. Ali Nazik Kebab

This is a special one, and it’s a delicious combination of smoked eggplant puree topped with tender pieces of marinated grilled meat (usually lamb), drizzled with garlic-infused yogurt sauce.

14. Tavuk Şiş Kebap (Chicken Skewers)

What To Eat In Turkey - Turkish Food - Tavuk Shish

You’ll see this one a lot, particularly in tourist resorts. It’s a simple yet delicious meal of chicken skewers marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and paprika powder before being grilled until juicy and tender.

Again, it’s served with rice and vegetables but in most tourist restaurants there will be chips too.

15. Patlıcanlı Kağıtta Köfte (Meatballs Wrapped In Eggplant)

This kebab consists of meatballs made from ground beef mixed with onions and spices, wrapped inside thin slices of eggplant before being baked to perfection.

16. Çöp Şiş (Lamb Intestine Skewers)

This is a unique kebab that might not be for everyone. It’s made with marinated lamb intestines threaded onto skewers and grilled until crispy.

I can’t say I’ve ever been brave enough to try this one, but it’s very popular locally, so perhaps you might want to give it a try?

17. Kuzu Tandır (Lamb Tandoori)

Slow-cooked lamb is marinated in a blend of yogurt and spices until tender and succulent.

This is one of the more expensive varieties of kebabs but it’s really delicious and usually comes served with rice, vegetables, and bread.

18. Ciğer Kebabı (Liver Kebab)

Thinly sliced pieces of liver are seasoned with spices such as cumin and paprika before being grilled and served either with rice or in pita bread.

19. Kokoreç

Istanbul street food - Turkish Street Food Kokorec made with sheep bowel

Again, you might not be up for this one, but it’s a very popular street food. It’s made from skewered lamb kebab or goat intestines wrapped around sweetbreads, seasoned with herbs and spices, then cooked on a charcoal grill.

You’ll see this in all major towns and cities.

20. Şiş Köfte (Meatball Skewers)

Grilled meatballs are made from ground beef mixed with onions, parsley, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, and various seasonings threaded onto skewers for easy grilling.

21. Karışık Izgara (Mixed Grill)

An assortment of different meats, such as chicken shish kebab, Adana kebab, and köfte, are served together on a platter, offering a variety of flavors in one meal.

This is a good option if you want to try different types of grilled meats and you’re not sure which to choose. However, they tend to be general, rather than being any of the more ‘speciality’ kebabs.

22. Tavuk Döner (Chicken Doner)

This one is similar to the traditional doner kebab but made using chicken instead of lamb or beef for a lighter alternative.

23. İskorpit Kebabı

This is a specialty kebab made from whole fish (usually red mullet) marinated in olive oil and lemon juice before being grilled until crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside.

It’s a great alternative type of kebab if you’re not the biggest meat lover.

24. Testi Kebab

Sultan palace cafe restaurant_ Testi Kebab_Pottery Kebab meal Mate 5

Testi means ‘jug’ in Turkish. Testi Kebab is an Anatolian specialty, prepared in a clay pot or jug-shaped cooking utensil, which helps preserve the freshness, aroma, and flavors of the kebab as the ingredients cook slowly in their own juices.

You’ll see this type of kebab in large tourist restaurants in particular, but it’s very traditional. It’s usually described as a meal for two and it will be served with rice, vegetables, and usually chips too.

25. Manisa Kebab

Manisa kebab is one of my favorites, and it originates from the city of Manisa in western Turkey.

It consists of pieces of marinated lamb or beef, served over pitta bread that has been soaked in a tomato sauce, with more sauce over the top and melted butter to finish off.

You’re feeling hungry now, right?

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The History Of The Turkish Kebab

First things first, let’s go back in time. Turkish kebabs have a long that dates back centuries. They are an integral part of Turkish cuisine and have gained immense popularity worldwide.

The origins of kebabs can be traced back to the nomadic Turkic tribes who roamed Central Asia. These tribes used to cook meat over open fires, skewering it on swords or wooden skewers for easy handling. As these tribes migrated westward, they brought their culinary traditions with them, eventually reaching Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).

In Anatolia, the Turks adapted their cooking techniques to suit the local ingredients and flavors. They began using vertical rotisseries called “ocakbaşı” to cook meat slowly over charcoal fires.

This method allowed for even cooking and resulted in tender and flavorful meat. You’ll see many ocakbaşı restaurants nowadays, which just means that they cook their meat this way.

One of the most famous types of Turkish kebab is the “döner kebab.” The döner kebab is made by stacking layers of marinated lamb or chicken on a vertical spit, which rotates slowly as it cooks. The outer layer gets crispy while the inner layers remain juicy and succulent.

But there are countless others which are made of different meats, cooked in different ways, and are served with other ingredients.

All delicious kebabs are typically served with various accompaniments such as rice pilaf, grilled vegetables like peppers and tomatoes, yogurt, and freshly baked bread. They are often enjoyed with traditional Turkish drinks like ayran (a yogurt-based beverage) or şalgam (fermented turnip juice).

Over time, Turkish kebabs have gained international recognition and have become a much-loved street food in many countries. But of course, trying them in Turkey is always the best thing to do.

Where To Find The Best Kebabs

A man is preparing a kebab in Istanbul at Karadeniz Doner Asim Usta, Besiktas

Kebabs are everywhere in Turkey, but they’re not all equal.

For instance, if you’re visiting Istanbul, you’ll probably be tempted to go into a fancy restaurant in Sultanahmet because the man at the door promises you the best food you’ve ever tasted. It’s probably not. Touristic restaurants do nice food, that’s for sure, but they’re not the best kebabs. For that, you need to go somewhere more traditional.

Ask locals you know, or the hotel staff, where they go for their food. They’ll probably tell you they go to a local ocakbaşı restaurant, and that’s usually where you’ll find the best choice and quality.

Also, if you see a restaurant that has a huge menu of many, many kebab types, steer clear. They can’t possibly cook that many kebabs that well. Sometimes a smaller menu is a better indicator of quality, in my experience.

Most kebabs in Turkey come from various regions. For instance, the Adana kebab comes from the city of Adana, Urfa Kebab is from Sanliurfa, and the list goes on. Yet, there are some more general ones that have their roots in specific areas but have expanded to the rest of the country, like the famous döner kebab, which originates from Bursa.

When you get a good kebab, you feel good about life. When you have a bad one, you wish you hadn’t bothered. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your time in choosing where you spend your money.

RECOMMENDED POST

FAQs ABout Turkish Kebabs

TURKISH KEBAB FAQS

What are Turkish kebabs?

Turkish kebabs are a popular and delicious dish made with various types of meat, such as lamb, beef, or chicken. The meat is typically marinated in a blend of spices and then grilled to perfection.

It is often served with bread or rice and accompanied by flavorful sauces and side dishes.

What are the different types of Turkish kebabs?

There are many different types of Turkish kebabs, each with their own unique flavors and preparation methods.

Some popular varieties include Adana kebab (spicy minced meat), lamb shish kebab (skewered chunks of meat), döner kebab (rotisserie-style cooked meat), iskender kebab (sliced doner served over bread with tomato sauce and creamy yogurt), and beyti kebab (ground lamb wrapped in lavash bread).

How are Turkish kebabs traditionally cooked?

Traditional Turkish kebabs are typically cooked on a charcoal grill called a mangal or on skewers over an open flame. This method imparts a smoky flavor to the meat while ensuring it remains tender and juicy.

What kind of spices are used in Turkish kebabs?

The spices used in Turkish kebabs vary depending on the type of dish being prepared. Commonly used spices include cumin, paprika, sumac, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

These spices add depth of flavor to the marinade that coats the meat.

Can I make Turkish-style kebabs at home without a grill?

Absolutely! While grilling is traditional for cooking authentic Turkish-style kebabs, you can still achieve delicious results using alternative methods such as broiling or pan-frying.

What are some popular side dishes that go well with Turkish kebabs?

There are a wide range of delectable side dishes that complement kebabs perfectly. Some favored options include rice pilaf, bulgur pilaf, grilled vegetables, cacik (yogurt and cucumber dip), hummus, tabbouleh salad, and fresh pita bread.

Are Turkish kebabs spicy?

Not all Turkish kebabs are spicy. While some varieties, like Adana kebab, can be quite spicy due to the addition of red pepper flakes or chili powder in the marinade, others have milder flavors.

Just mention to the server whether you want it spicy or not when you’re ordering.

And there you have it – a journey through the sizzling streets of Turkey, exploring the diverse and utterly mouthwatering world of kebabs. Whether it’s the tantalizing spices of Adana or the succulent layers of döner, each kind of kebab we’ve discussed brings its own unique flavor to the table, literally!

Next time you find yourself wandering in Turkey, remember to indulge in these culinary delights. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you.

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  1. This is an amazing travel blog! It easily takes readers to a variety of locations with engrossing stories, striking images, and useful ideas A priceless source of real experiences.

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