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The Best Bulgarian Food Guide – What To Eat In Bulgaria


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Olivia Smitherman



Welcome to the diverse and vibrant world of Bulgarian cuisine! Nestled in the heart of the Balkans, Bulgaria is a country that prides itself on its rich culinary traditions and unique food culture. With influences from neighboring countries like Greece, Turkey, and Serbia, Bulgarian cuisine offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.


Bulgarian food is a reflection of the country’s history, geography, and agricultural resources. From hearty breakfast dishes to comforting soups, from succulent main courses to refreshing salads, and from decadent desserts to traditional beverages, Bulgarian cuisine has something to satisfy every palate. Whether you are a fan of savory or sweet delights, there is no shortage of culinary treasures to explore in Bulgaria.


Bulgarian cuisine is known for its use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The country’s fertile soil, abundant rivers, and thriving agriculture industry contribute to the creation of dishes that are bursting with flavor and nutrition. From farm-fresh vegetables and fruits to high-quality dairy products and succulent meats, Bulgarian cuisine celebrates the natural bounty of the region.


Exploring Bulgarian food goes beyond satisfying your hunger; it is a journey through the country’s cultural heritage and traditions. The recipes have been passed down through generations, and each dish carries a story that is intertwined with the history and customs of the Bulgarian people.


In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the world of Bulgarian cuisine, highlighting the must-try dishes, regional specialties, and the unique flavors that make Bulgarian food truly exceptional. Whether you are planning a trip to Bulgaria or simply want to experience the flavors of this enchanting country from the comfort of your own kitchen, this guide will be your passport to a delectable culinary adventure.


Traditional Bulgarian Breakfast Dishes

Start your day in Bulgaria with a hearty and delicious breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Traditional Bulgarian breakfast dishes are designed to provide nourishment and energy, setting you up for a day of exploration and adventure. Let’s explore some of the popular breakfast options in Bulgarian cuisine:

  1. Banitsa: A beloved Bulgarian pastry, banitsa is made from layers of filo pastry filled with a mixture of eggs, cheese, and sometimes spinach or other vegetables. It is baked until golden and crispy, creating a delicious combination of flavors and textures. Banitsa is often enjoyed with a cup of Bulgarian yogurt or a glass of ayran, a traditional yogurt-based drink.
  2. Mekitsa: Mekitsa is a traditional Bulgarian fried dough, similar to a pancake or a fritter. It is made from a dough mixture of flour, water, yeast, and sometimes yogurt or milk. Mekitsa is typically served with a variety of toppings, such as jam, honey, powdered sugar, or sirene (Bulgarian white cheese).
  3. Tarator: Tarator is a refreshing Bulgarian cold soup, perfect for hot summer mornings. It is made from a base of yogurt, water, cucumbers, garlic, and fresh herbs like dill or mint. Tarator is typically served chilled and garnished with walnuts or a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Shopska Salad: Although it is often enjoyed as a side dish during lunch or dinner, Shopska salad is also a popular choice for a healthy and light breakfast. It is made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and grated sirene cheese. The salad is dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  5. Gyuvech: Gyuvech is a traditional Bulgarian stew made with a combination of vegetables, herbs, and meat (typically pork or chicken). It is a hearty and filling dish that is perfect for a substantial breakfast. Gyuvech is typically slow-cooked to develop rich flavors and is served with a slice of crusty bread.

These are just a few examples of the delicious breakfast options that Bulgarian cuisine has to offer. Whether you prefer savory or sweet dishes, Bulgarian breakfasts are sure to satisfy your cravings and fuel you for the day ahead.


Classic Bulgarian Soups

Bulgarian cuisine is renowned for its flavorful and comforting soups, which play a central role in the culinary landscape. Filled with fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and tender meats, Bulgarian soups are a true delight for the senses. Let’s explore some of the classic Bulgarian soups you should try:

  1. Shkembe chorba: Shkembe chorba is a traditional Bulgarian tripe soup that is beloved by locals. Made from the stomach lining of cattle, this soup is simmered slowly with garlic, vinegar, and spices to create a rich and savory broth. It is often enjoyed with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a side of fresh bread.
  2. Bob chorba: Bob chorba, or bean soup, is a hearty and flavorful soup made from white beans, meat (usually pork or beef), and a medley of vegetables like carrots, onions, and peppers. It is simmered for hours until the beans are tender and the flavors meld together. Bob chorba is often garnished with fresh parsley and served with a dollop of yogurt.
  3. Tarator: Tarator, mentioned earlier as a breakfast dish, is also a popular cold soup that can be enjoyed as a refreshing appetizer or light lunch. Made with yogurt, water, cucumbers, garlic, and fresh herbs, tarator is a tangy and creamy soup that is perfect for hot summer days.
  4. Supa topcheta: Supa topcheta, or meatball soup, is a comforting and filling soup made with tender meatballs, vegetables, and herbs. The meatballs are typically made from a mixture of ground meat (beef or pork) mixed with rice or bread crumbs, and seasoned with herbs and spices. This soup is often served with a generous sprinkle of fresh dill on top.
  5. Kapama: Kapama is more than just a soup; it is a traditional Bulgarian stew that is often enjoyed during special occasions or holidays. It is made with a combination of meats (such as pork, chicken, or beef), sauerkraut, cabbage, and a medley of spices. Slow-cooked to perfection, kapama is a flavorful and hearty dish that is perfect for colder days.

These classic Bulgarian soups are not only delicious but also a testament to the country’s culinary heritage. They showcase the use of fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques that have been passed down through generations. So, make sure to indulge in these soul-warming soups when you visit Bulgaria and experience the warmth and hospitality of its food culture.


Main Course Delights of Bulgarian Cuisine

Bulgarian cuisine boasts a wide array of main course dishes that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate. From succulent grilled meats to hearty stews, Bulgarian main courses are a celebration of flavors and textures. Let’s explore some of the delightful main course options you should try:

  1. Kebapche: Kebapche is a popular Bulgarian dish made from seasoned ground meat, typically a mixture of beef and pork. The meat is formed into elongated and cylindrical shapes, similar to sausage, and then grilled until cooked through. Kebapche is often served with a side of fries and a simple salad of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.
  2. Musaka: Musaka is a classic Bulgarian dish that can be described as a variation of moussaka. It is made with layers of sautéed ground meat (usually pork or beef), potatoes, and eggplant, topped with a creamy mixture of eggs and yogurt. It is then baked until the top is golden and bubbling. Musaka is a comforting and flavorsome dish that is often enjoyed with a side of yogurt.
  3. Shopska kebap: Shopska kebap is a grilled meat dish that combines kebapche (mentioned earlier) with slices of grilled pork or chicken. The meat is marinated in aromatic herbs and spices, then grilled to perfection. It is typically served with a salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onions, topped with crumbled sirene cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Kavarma: Kavarma is a delicious Bulgarian stew that showcases the country’s love for slow-cooked dishes. It is made with tender pieces of meat (such as pork or chicken), sautéed with onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and flavored with herbs and spices. The stew is simmered slowly to allow the flavors to meld together, resulting in a rich and hearty dish.
  5. Patatnik: Patatnik is a unique Bulgarian dish that combines grated potatoes, onions, and spices, formed into a pancake-like shape and then baked until crispy. It’s a perfect vegetarian option filled with flavors and textures. Patatnik is often enjoyed with a side of yogurt and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

These main course delights of Bulgarian cuisine showcase the country’s culinary creativity and dedication to using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Whether you are a meat lover or prefer vegetarian options, Bulgarian cuisine offers a wide range of delicious choices that are sure to leave you satisfied and craving for more.


Bulgarian Salads and Appetizers

Bulgarian cuisine is known for its vibrant and refreshing salads and appetizers, which are an essential part of any meal. From fresh salads to flavorful dips and spreads, Bulgarian appetizers are designed to awaken your taste buds and prepare your palate for the main course. Let’s explore some of the popular Bulgarian salads and appetizers:

  1. Shopska Salad: Shopska salad is arguably the most famous Bulgarian salad and a staple in Bulgarian cuisine. It is made with a colorful combination of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers, all finely chopped and mixed together. The salad is then topped with crumbled sirene cheese, a type of white cheese, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Shopska salad is refreshing, vibrant, and bursting with flavors.
  2. Lutenitsa: Lutenitsa is a delicious and versatile Bulgarian spread that is made from roasted peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant, blended until smooth. It is often flavored with garlic, salt, and spices. Lutenitsa can be enjoyed as a dip with bread or used as a condiment for grilled meats. It adds a burst of flavor to any dish and is a favorite among Bulgarians.
  3. Snezhanka: Snezhanka is a Bulgarian yogurt-based dip that is creamy, tangy, and refreshing. It is made from thick yogurt, crushed garlic, and finely chopped cucumbers or dill. Snezhanka is perfect for dipping bread or vegetables and is often served as an appetizer or a side dish.
  4. Tarator: Tarator, mentioned earlier as a cold soup, can also be enjoyed as a refreshing appetizer. This traditional Bulgarian dish is made from a base of yogurt, water, cucumbers, garlic, and fresh herbs like dill or mint. Tarator is typically served chilled and garnished with walnuts or a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Koprivshtitsa Salad: Koprivshtitsa salad is a unique Bulgarian salad made from boiled stinging nettle leaves, providing a distinctive earthy flavor. The nettle leaves are then mixed with boiled eggs, grated carrots, and a touch of olive oil. Koprivshtitsa salad is not only delicious but also rich in nutrients.

These Bulgarian salads and appetizers showcase the use of fresh and wholesome ingredients, with flavors that are both light and satisfying. Whether you are enjoying them as a starter or as part of a meze-style meal, these dishes are sure to awaken your taste buds and leave you wanting more.


Authentic Bulgarian Desserts

No meal is complete without a delectable dessert, and Bulgarian cuisine offers a variety of authentic sweet treats that will satisfy your cravings. From rich pastries to creamy delights, Bulgarian desserts are a true celebration of indulgence. Let’s explore some of the authentic Bulgarian desserts:

  1. Baklava: Baklava is a beloved dessert in Bulgarian cuisine, made from layers of flaky filo pastry, generously filled with a mixture of chopped nuts (such as walnuts or pistachios), sugar, and spices. The pastry is then baked to a golden perfection and soaked in a sweet syrup made from honey or sugar. Baklava is rich, sweet, and wonderfully crunchy.
  2. Kadaif: Kadaif, also known as kadayif, is a traditional Bulgarian dessert made from shredded dough or pastry soaked in syrup. It is often layered with a sweet cheese filling and baked until golden and crispy. Kadaif is typically served warm, topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream or a drizzle of honey.
  3. Tikvenik: Tikvenik is a delightful Bulgarian pastry made with layers of filo dough filled with a sweet pumpkin filling. The filling is made from grated pumpkin, sugar, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The pastry is baked until golden and fragrant, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
  4. Garash Cake: Garash cake is a popular Bulgarian chocolate cake that is rich, moist, and utterly decadent. It is made from layers of chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched together with a rich chocolate cream filling, and covered with a glossy chocolate glaze. Garash cake is a chocolate lover’s dream come true.
  5. Mekitsi: Mekitsi, mentioned earlier as a breakfast dish, can also be enjoyed as a delightful dessert. These fried dough fritters are often served piping hot, dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with honey. Mekitsi are wonderfully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them a perfect treat for any time of the day.

These authentic Bulgarian desserts are a testament to the country’s love affair with sweets. Whether you are a fan of flaky pastries, creamy cakes, or sugary delights, Bulgarian desserts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you with a lasting impression of the rich and diverse flavors of Bulgarian cuisine.


Popular Bulgarian Beverages

When it comes to beverages, Bulgarian cuisine offers a variety of traditional and refreshing options to complement your meal or to enjoy on their own. From traditional fermented drinks to beloved herbal teas, Bulgarian beverages are a delightful way to quench your thirst and experience the country’s unique flavors. Let’s explore some of the popular Bulgarian beverages:

  1. Boza: Boza is a traditional fermented drink that has been enjoyed in Bulgaria for centuries. It is made from fermented wheat or maize, resulting in a slightly sweet and tangy taste. Boza has a thick and creamy texture and is often enjoyed as a breakfast drink or a refreshing pick-me-up throughout the day.
  2. Ayran: Ayran is a popular and refreshing traditional yogurt-based drink in Bulgaria. It is made by blending yogurt with water and a pinch of salt, resulting in a light and frothy beverage. Ayran is often enjoyed as a thirst-quencher during hot summer days or as a complement to meat-based dishes like kebabs or grilled meats.
  3. Rakia: Rakia is a strong and potent fruit brandy that holds a special place in Bulgarian culture. It is made by distilling fermented fruits, most commonly grapes or plums. Rakia is typically enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive, and it is often accompanied by traditional Bulgarian appetizers or meze.
  4. Mastika: Mastika is a traditional Bulgarian liqueur that is often enjoyed as a digestif. It is made from the resin of the mastic tree and has a distinctive anise-like flavor. Mastika is typically served chilled and is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike.
  5. Herbal teas: Bulgaria is blessed with an abundance of herbs and medicinal plants, and herbal teas are a common and beloved beverage in the country. From chamomile and mint to rosehip and nettle, Bulgarian herbal teas offer a soothing and aromatic experience. These teas are often enjoyed for their therapeutic properties and are a comforting addition to any meal or as a standalone beverage.

These popular Bulgarian beverages provide a glimpse into the country’s rich culinary traditions and cultural heritage. Whether you are seeking a refreshing thirst-quencher, a traditional spirit, or a soothing herbal infusion, Bulgarian beverages are sure to delight your senses and enhance your dining experience.


Unique Regional Specialties

While Bulgarian cuisine as a whole offers a diverse range of dishes, each region within the country also has its own unique specialties and flavors. Exploring the regional specialties allows you to delve deeper into the culinary traditions and local ingredients of different areas in Bulgaria. Let’s take a look at some of the unique regional specialties:

  1. Banitsa from Sofia: Banitsa, a traditional Bulgarian pastry, holds a special place in the hearts of Sofia locals. The Sofia-style banitsa features layers of delicate filo pastry filled with a mixture of cheese and eggs. It is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack throughout the day.
  2. Chomlek from Rhodopes: Chomlek is a hearty stew that originated in the Rhodopes region of Bulgaria. It is made with a combination of meat (typically lamb or chicken), potatoes, vegetables, and aromatic herbs. Chomlek is slow-cooked in a clay pot to develop rich flavors and is a beloved dish among the locals.
  3. Kavarma from Dobrudzha: Kavarma is a flavorful dish that has its roots in the Dobrudzha region of Bulgaria. It includes slow-cooked chunks of meat (often pork or chicken) with onions, peppers, and tomatoes. The dish is infused with the distinct flavors of Dobrudzha and is often enjoyed with a glass of local wine.
  4. Kapama from the Balkan Mountains: Kapama is a traditional Bulgarian stew that is particularly popular in the Balkan Mountains region. It features a combination of meats (such as pork or chicken) slow-cooked with sauerkraut, cabbage, and a blend of spices. This hearty dish is often enjoyed during festive occasions and celebrations.
  5. Patatnik from the Rhodope Mountains: Patatnik, mentioned earlier as a Bulgarian potato dish, is a specialty of the Rhodope Mountains region. The dish is made from grated potatoes mixed with onions and herbs, and then baked until crispy. Patatnik is a favorite among locals and visitors to the Rhodope Mountains.

These unique regional specialties highlight the culinary diversity and rich cultural heritage of Bulgaria. Exploring these dishes allows you to embark on a flavorful journey through different parts of the country, discovering the distinct tastes and traditions that make each region special.



Embarking on a culinary journey through Bulgarian cuisine is an experience that will awaken your senses, ignite your taste buds, and leave you with a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich gastronomic heritage. From the hearty breakfast dishes to the indulgent desserts, Bulgarian food offers a delightful fusion of flavors, textures, and aromas that reflect the country’s history, geography, and cultural traditions.


Whether you’re exploring the traditional Bulgarian breakfast dishes like banitsa and mekitsa, savoring the comforting soups and hearty stews, indulging in the vibrant salads and appetizers, or treating yourself to the authentic desserts, each bite tells a story of centuries-old traditions and the importance of fresh, local ingredients.


To truly experience the essence of Bulgarian culture and traditions, don’t miss the opportunity to delve into regional specialties that showcase the unique flavors of different areas in Bulgaria.


Bulgarian cuisine is not just about satisfying hunger; it is about experiencing the warmth, hospitality, and pride of the Bulgarian people. From farm-to-table ingredients to the time-honored recipes passed down through generations, Bulgarian food is a celebration of simplicity, authenticity, and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones.


So, whether you find yourself in a cozy Bulgarian tavern (mehana), exploring the bustling street food scene, or trying your hand at recreating Bulgarian dishes in your own kitchen, let the flavors of Bulgaria transport you to a place where food nurtures the body, connects people, and creates lasting memories.