Easy Bosnian Ćevapi Recipe: Authentic Balkan Food to Make at Home

food culture of sarajevo

Ćevapi, also known as Ćevapičići, is an old-fashioned dish originating from the Balkans, particularly Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is believed that ćevapi were introduced to Bosnian cuisine during the Ottoman Empire’s almost 500-year presence in the area. Some believe that the inspiration for ćevapi comes from oriental koftas, but the Bosnians have adapted the dish to meet their preferences for flavor and texture. Regardless of its origins, these skinless sausages are a delicious part of authentic Balkan food.

Ćevapi can be found all over Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the most famous versions are said to come from Sarajevo, Travnik, and Banja Luka. You can also find them throughout Croatia, Serbia, and other parts of Eastern Europe. However, the way they are baked and served can differ depending on the region. Some contain more or less fat, some have dressing, and all come in different sizes.

The Traditional Way to Serve Ćevapi

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, raw onions are an essential part of serving Ćevapi. While some people may not like them, they are always served without special seasonings. Some may serve ćevapi with cheese, veggies, or even mushrooms, but this is not a traditional way of serving them and may even be seen as blasphemous to most Bosnians.

How to Make Authentic Ćevapi at Home

To make good cevapi, you need quality meat (ask your butcher to mince it for you if you can’t do it yourself) and more than one kind of meat. Authentic recipes call for a mixture of beef and lamb meat, but you can even add pork to the mix. If you are grinding your meat, make sure to grind it twice for the best texture.

In addition to meat, the only spices required are salt and pepper. While some may add parsley or garlic, these are optional additions. The best Ćevapi recipe only requires simple ingredients for a delicious outcome.

Easy Bosnian Ćevapi Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 600 g finely minced beef (1.3 pounds)
  • 300g finely minced lamb (or pork mince if you prefer) (10 oz)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

To Serve With:

  • Turkish-style Flatbread
  • Chopped raw onions
  • Ajvar (see the notes for the recipe)


  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, lamb, and salt (plus other spices if you so desire).
  2. Knead the mixture with clean hands for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Uncover the meat and stir in minced garlic and black pepper.
  5. Shape the mixture into small logs no longer or wider than an index finger – it is best to do this with wet hands so the meat does not stick to you. Keep wetting your hands after each few that you roll.
  6. Preheat your grill. Ideally, you should use a charcoal grill.
  7. Brush the grill with some olive oil.
  8. Grill the minced fingers on medium heat until evenly grilled and browned on all sides.
  9. Serve warm with Turkish flatbread and freshly chopped onion (and ajvar if you have it!)

Finding Great Ćevapi in Sarajevo

If you’re ever in Sarajevo, there are several Ćevapi places you can try, including:

  1. Zeljo 1 and 2: These cevapdzinicas are named after the local professional soccer team and are said to have the most devoted fan base for ćevapi in Sarajevo. The long tables are always filled with locals enjoying this traditional food and drinking the beloved kefir-like yogurt drink.
  2. Hodzic 2: Located in Baščaršija Square, Hodzic 2 is a great spot for people-watching while enjoying Ćevapi. The somun bread is dipped in broth and grilled, resulting in a savory pocket to tuck your meat into.
  3. Mrkva: With four outlets in Sarajevo, Mrkva has the most diverse menu of healthier options such as grilled chicken and salad, but their Ćevapi is still a standout.
  4. Kastel: If you’re looking for spicier Ćevapi, head to Kastel. They serve Banja Luka-style Ćevapi, which are cooked in bricks of four together, preserving the meat’s juiciness.

In conclusion, Ćevapi is a delicious part of authentic Balkan food that you can easily make at home with quality meat and simple spices. Whether you’re in Bosnia-Herzegovina or not, you can enjoy this traditional dish by following this easy Bosnian Ćevapi recipe.

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