Homemade ćevapčići, quick and easy recipe

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Fast food in the Balkans, that’s how you could describe this recipe. Where in the Netherlands you might grab a fries, over there you choose a sandwich with ćevapi (short for ćevapčići). A delicious piece of bread (lepinja) filled with lamb meat sausages, with onions and ajvar or kajmak. The sauce depends on the country you’re in. In Croatia, for instance, ajvar is used, while in Bosnia it’s kajmak. This recipe, like sarma, also comes from the Ottoman Empire when the Balkans were still a part of it. In Turkey, the name ‘kebab’ is used, but in the Balkans it’s called ćevapčići. If you get ćevapi as fast food, they are often served in portions of five. In restaurants, this dish is also on the menu, where you can order portions of ten. It’s often served with fries. Ćevapi is also a standard part of a larger meat meal, like a mixed grill.

The best ćevapi are those prepared on a barbecue, but if that’s not possible, you can also use a grill pan. In some parts of the Balkans where pork is not consumed, lamb meat is used. In the countries where this is not an issue, a mixture of beef and pork is commonly used. On the internet, you will find many variations on the original recipe. Below, I will guide you through the recipe as I know it from Croatia.


*300 grams mixed ground meat (beef and pork)

*2 cloves of garlic

*Salt, pepper, paprika powder

*A small splash of sparkling water (Spa Rood)

*Turkish bread

*Ajvar (available in various supermarkets)

*1 onion


  • Mix the ingredients: Put the ground meat in a bowl. Add the finely chopped garlic, paprika powder, salt, black pepper, and onion. Mix everything well. Add a small splash of sparkling water and mix again. This ensures that the sausages remain light during grilling.
  • Form the sausages: Roll the meat mixture between your hands into about ten sausages, each approximately 10 cm long and 2 cm in diameter.
  • Grill: Preheat the barbecue or grill pan to medium heat. Grill the sausages for about 10-12 minutes until done, turning them regularly so they cook evenly and get nice grill marks.
  • Prepare the bread: Cut the Turkish bread open so you can place the sausages inside.
  • Grill the bread: Place the bread on the grill for a few minutes so it becomes crispy. This is best done during the last few minutes of grilling the sausages. Then spread one side of each bread with a tablespoon of ajvar.
  • Serve: Place the grilled sausages in the smeared Turkish bread. Sprinkle some finely chopped onion on top for extra flavor and texture. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Read here about the best places to eat cevapi in Sarajevo.