8 Most Popular Desserts in Turkey

By Kamola I. | 11, May, 2022
8 Most Popular Desserts in Turkey

Turkey is renowned for its exquisite cuisine, popular desserts, and lavish breakfasts. Ask any amateur of Mediterranean cuisine about Turkish food. They will have nothing but the most lovely opinions on the beautiful Eurasian country’s delicacies. Among its most popular foods are, undoubtedly, its famous sweets, loved by all who taste them. 

Turkish desserts are referred to as “tatli” in the Turkish language: these sweets are the go-to to be served with traditional Turkish coffee or tea after a nice dinner. Ranging from sweet and colorful delights to portions of pudding that will melt in your mouth, here are some of the most popular Turkish desserts that you do NOT want to miss out on during your trip!


1. Tahini Halva
Halva with pistachios

This one is unique, and if you are from around the Middle East, you have probably heard about them. Halva is a popular dessert in the Middle East, particularly in Turkey. Tahini halva's main ingredient is tahini, a sesame-based paste, hence the name of the sweet fudge. 

It is similar to the chocolate fudge most of us know! But with a beautiful Mediterranean twist, sesame flavored and garnished with a variety of nuts. It is a healthy dessert, eaten guilt-free, and sliced in pieces. There is no need to keep halva refrigerated! Thus, it is easy to make and easy to keep. They are sold in every little corner in Istanbul, though you should absolutely get them in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul for the most memorable experience. 


2. Tavuk Gogsu

The Turkish words “tavuk gogsu” directly translate to chicken breast. You read that right! Is it a dessert? Yes. And it is named chicken breast? I can explain! First of all, it is delicious. Secondly, it is a milk-based pudding with the most unctuous and sleek consistency. Thirdly, it is delicious.

Admittedly, chicken breast is used in the recipe, but it is shredded in fine, subtle pieces. It gives it a unique taste that you will not be able to find anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, most locals make it without chicken at home. The classic version with the poultry addition can be found in most cafes around Turkey, which somehow increases its specialty. No, seriously, you have to try it. A trip to Turkey is incomplete without getting some of that pudding! 


3. Kunefe
Fresh Kunefe in a pan

Although it is ambiguous as to whether Kunefe is originally a Turkish or Arabic dish in origin, it is, nevertheless, a big thing in Turkey. Served hot on warm, round plates, Kunefe’s main ingredient is Kataifi pastry, which is a pastry shaped into a myriad of fine strands of dough. 

Kunefe is eaten sliced, and each bite will warm up your heart and make you feel the epitome of comfort. Its filling is usually cheese or cream. Like most Turkish desserts, Kunefe is not Kunefe if it is not drenched in sweet syrup! Visit this family-friendly cafe for the ultimate experience!


4. Lokum (a.k.a. Turkish Delight)

If you have watched Narnia, you know what these precious things are. If you haven’t, let me break it down for you. They look like colorful, frosty ice cubes, and biting into one feels like biting into a piece of a fruity, soft crystal. It is that good. 

Prepared with starch and sugar, you’ll find it has an addictive gummy consistency. Turkish delights are coated with a soft layer of coconut powder or powdered sugar. That topping will feel like snow in your mouth, melting and bursting with flavor from within. No wonder we call them “Turkish delights”. It is more than worth a trip. Here is an excellent spot to get them! 


5. Sutlaç
Sutlac Rice Pudding

We know about rice pudding, but baked rice pudding? That is what makes this Turkish dessert so popular and unique, along with its symbolic presentation in baked clay dishes. This one is served cold by locals, although it can be eaten straight out of the oven. Just not too soon, so as not to burn oneself! 

As your spoon breaks through that beautiful caramelized blanket at the top, it will uncover the softest, milkiest, and most delicious flavors underneath. One bite and you are bound to forget your worries, mark my words. Wondering where to go? How about a beautiful place in the heart of Istanbul, with the best ambiance, and close proximity to every Masjid? I got you covered


6. Dondurma

Ever heard of ice cream that doesn’t melt? You guessed it, Turkey has that too! You will find streets in Istanbul flooded with these ice cream stands, distinguished by the vibrant way they serve ice cream.

Dondurma is Turkish ice cream, but the use of an ingredient named “salep” is what gives it its famous stretchy texture. It is, respectfully, a hundred times more delicious than conventional ice cream. If you like trying new things, this is something you do NOT want to miss out on! They may not melt, but they’re still the coolest (pun intended).


7. ┼×ekerpare
Sekerpare biscuits cookies

Literally “part of sugar” in Turkish, these cookies are more than just a sweet treat. They are drenched in delicious lemon syrup and are sure to be the ultimate comfort to the sweet teeth amongst us. 

The dough is made from semolina wheat. Shaped, baked, topped with an almond, and drowned in syrup, it is a common dessert in Turkish households. Other toppings are also used, like pistachios. They can, of course, be made at home. Although, in this cafe, nothing can beat the experience of tasting them under the Galata tower itself, gazing on with a cup of Turkish tea!


8. Baklava

You knew it had to be on here! The star of the entire region, none can resist the famous baklavas. Need I say more? One certainly has to appreciate the amount of hard work that goes into making the pastry. Consisting of many, many layers of filo dough, it is carefully put together and filled with pistachio crumbs. 

Baklavas are a widely loved treat, both by locals and tourists. You might want to check these places out for the best baklavas in Turkey! If you’re visiting the city of Ankara, this is the best spot for a delicious meal and the tastiest baklava in the region. They serve no alcohol and all the food is Halal, as most eating places in Turkey are. 

Your mouth is probably watering by now, I would like you to know that it is completely natural. Turkish desserts tend to have that effect on people, and that is precisely why they are so popular! From intricate layers of sweet pastry to soft creamy delights, there is a huge variety of desserts to choose from in Turkish cuisine. You will not be bored, rather, quite the opposite! You probably will not have time to try them all. 

If you could only go to one place in Turkey to try those sweets out, I personally recommend Hafiz Mustafa, a dessert store amidst the busy streets of Istanbul. They practically have every single dessert there, and the in-store ambiance is simply delightful if you want to dine in! 

Don’t wait any further to enhance your stay in Turkey. Read this article for some more places to see there after COVID-19.

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