Bulgarian kebab with rice

Bulgarian cuisine is part of the cuisine of Southeast Europe, sharing characteristics with other Balkan cuisines. Bulgarian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruit. Aside from the variety of local Bulgarian dishes, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with its neighboring countries, in particular with the Turkish and Greek cuisine.[1]

Bulgarian cuisine includes a significant contribution from Ottoman cuisine,[2][3] and therefore shares a number of dishes with Middle Eastern cuisine, including moussaka,[4] gyuvetch, kyufte, baklava, ayran, and shish kebab.[5][6] Bulgarian food often incorporates salads as appetizers and is also noted for the prominence of dairy products, wines, and other alcoholic drinks such as rakia. The cuisine also features a variety of soups, such as the cold soup tarator, and pastries, such as the filo dough-based banitsa, pita, and the various types of börek.

Main courses are very typically water-based stews, either vegetarian or with lamb, goat meat, veal, chicken, or pork. Deep-frying is not common, but grilling—especially of different kinds of sausages—is prominent. Pork is common, often mixed with veal or lamb, although fish and chicken are also widely used. While most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is popular for grilling meat appetizers (meze) and in some main courses. As a substantial exporter of lamb, Bulgaria's own consumption is notable, especially in the spring.[7]

Similar to other Balkan cultures, the per-capita consumption of yogurt (Bulgarian: кисело мляко, romanizedkiselo mlyako, lit.'sour milk') among Bulgarians is traditionally higher than the rest of Europe. The country is notable as the historical namesake for Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a microorganism chiefly responsible for the local variety of dairy products.[8] Sirene (сирене), a white brine cheese similar to feta, is also a popular ingredient used in salads and a variety of pastries.

Holidays are often observed in conjunction with certain meals. On Christmas Eve, for instance, tradition requires vegetarian stuffed peppers and cabbage leaves sarmi. New Year's Eve usually involves cabbage dishes, Nikulden (Day of St. Nicholas, December 6) involves fish (usually carp), while Gergyovden (Day of St. George, May 6) is typically celebrated with roast lamb.

Traditional Bulgarian foods

Sarmi, a traditional Bulgarian Christmas Eve dish

Bulgarian breakfast

Cold cuts

Lukanka, a traditional Bulgarian cold cut

Soups and stews


Green salad (left) and shopska salad (right)

Sauces, relishes, and appetizers

Lyutenica is a traditional Bulgarian sauce made from tomatoes and peppers

Skara (grill)

Shishcheta (left) and Cheverme grill from the Rhodopes (right)

Main dishes

Bulgarian kavarma (left) and yahniya (right)
Tatarsko kufte, a stuffed meatball, prepared by grilling (skara)
Stuffed peppers
Whole pigs, roasted on charcoal in Pernik

Breads and pastries

Traditional Bulgarian pogača (left) and a pile of mekitsi with jam (right)

Dairy products

Vacuum-packed kashkaval cheese in Bulgarian store

Bulgaria has a strong tradition of using milk and dairy products.[4] Bulgaria even has a namesake strain of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, used to make many of its cheeses and fermented foods which gives it a distinct flavor.


A tahini-based halva with pistachios

The name halva (халва) is used for several related varieties of the Middle Eastern dessert. Tahan / tahini halva (тахан / тахини халва) is the most popular version, available in two different types with sunflower and with sesame seed. Traditionally, the regions of Yablanitsa and Haskovo are famous manufacturers of halva.

Spices and herbs

Other staples

Traditional Bulgarian drinks


Perushtitsa Mavrud wine

Main article: Bulgarian wine


A bottle of Zagorka in a traditional mehana

Distilled liqueurs

Pelin wine is a bitter liqueur based on wormwood

Fermented beverages

Hot beverages

See also


  1. ^ Еconomic.bg (2017-09-12). "История на традиционната българска кухня". Еconomic.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2023-10-24.
  2. ^ Stefan Detchev, "From Istanbul to Sarajevo via Belgrade—A Bulgarian Cookbook of 1874", doi:10.1163/9789004367548_015 in Earthly Delights: Economies and Cultures of Food in Ottoman and Danubian Europe, c. 1500–1900, 2018, Balkan Studies Library 23, ISBN 978-90-04-36754-8, p. 396
  3. ^ Iskra Velinova, "The Pleasures of Being Global: Cultural Consumption of Pizza and Sushi in a Bulgarian City", Approaching Consumer Culture, doi:10.1007/978-3-030-00226-8_8, p. 190
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Deutsch, p. 87-88.
  5. ^ Culinary Cultures of Europe, ISBN 9789287157447, p. 98
  6. ^ A considerable number of dishes belonging to the "Bulgarian" cuisine are in fact borrowed from the Ottomans. Turkish cuisine forms the core of Balkan cuisine For more see: Evgenia Krăsteva-Blagoeva,Tasting the Balkans: Food and Identity in Region, Regional Identity and Regionalism in Southeastern Europe, Part 2, Ethnologia Balkanica, Editors Klaus Roth, Ulf Brunnbauer, Lit Verlag, 2009, ISBN 3643101074, p. 33.
  7. ^ (April 2006). "Bulgaria Poultry and Products Meat Market Update." Thepoultrysite.com. Accessed July 2011.
  8. ^ "Bulgarians celebrate the art of 'true' homemade yoghurt". Timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  9. ^ Deutsch, p. 87–88.
  10. ^ a b c Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  11. ^ Dublin, p. 138.
  12. ^ a b Bousfield & Richardson, p. 40.
  13. ^ Robert Sietsema, New York in a Dozen Dishes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), p. 112.
  14. ^ Jonathan Bousfield & Dan Richardson, A Rough Guide to Bulgaria (Rough Guides, 2002), p. 40.
  15. ^ Nichola Fletcher, Sausage: A Country-By-Country Photographic Guide With Recipes (DK: 2012), p. 217.
  16. ^ a b c d Ross, p. 67.
  17. ^ Kay, p. 57.
  18. ^ Kay, p. 57; Ross, p. 67; Kelsey Kinser, Vegan Beans from Around the World: 100 Adventurous Recipes for the Most Delicious, Nutritious, and Flavorful Bean Dishes Ever (Ulysses Press, 2014), p. 29.
  19. ^ DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Bulgaria, p. 233.
  20. ^ Sachsenroeder, p. 144; Deutsch, p. 88.
  21. ^ Kay, p. 57; Ross, p. 70.
  22. ^ a b Sachsenroeder, p. 143.
  23. ^ Deutsch, p. 88; Sachsenroeder, p. 143.
  24. ^ Sachsenroeder, p. 143; Kay, pp. 56-57; Richard Watkins & Christopher Deliso, Bulgaria (Lonely Planet, 2008), p. 55.
  25. ^ Ross, p. 63; Kay, p. 57.
  26. ^ Kay, p. 57, Sachsenroeder, p. 143; DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Bulgaria (DK: rev. ed. 2011), p. 233
  27. ^ Deutsch, p. 87; Bousfield & Willis, p. 232.
  28. ^ Lay, p. 57.
  29. ^ Tropcheva et al., Antifungal activity and identification of Lactobacilli, isolated from traditional dairy product "katak", Anaerobe (2014), doi: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2014.05.010.