From world-famous baklava and Turkish delight to lesser-known treats like ayva tatlisi and revani, Turkish cuisine boasts some of the most delicious desserts.
During the 7 weeks I spent in Türkiye I tried many amazing treats…and saw many more that I can’t wait to try next time.
Whether you’re looking for new ways to satisfy your sweet tooth at home or are planning to visit Türkiye, this guide will introduce you to a wide variety of Turkish desserts.
Best Turkish Desserts & Sweets
Here is our list of the most delicious Turkish desserts!
The ever-popular baklava is one of the most famous Turkish desserts. And for good reason – it’s absolutely delicious.
Baklava is an important traditional dessert, dating all the way back to the Ottoman empire. This sweet treat is made with layers of phyllo dough and filled with chopped nuts, usually ground pistachios, pine nuts or walnuts.
The phyllo dough layers are brushed with butter, filled, stacked, and baked until golden and crispy. Once baked, it’s then coated in a honey-like sugar syrup infused with lemon juice to create its delicious sweet buttery texture.
Baklava is typically served in small diamond-shaped pieces and topped with ground nuts for that extra satisfying crunch. It’s widely available in many pastry shops, bakeries, and restaurants in Türkiye. But you can also easily find this popular dessert in the Western world with different variations and unique twists.
I saw chocolate baklava all over Istanbul. It’s a modern twist on the traditional Turkish dessert that’s just as delicious!
It’s made mostly the same way as regular baklava, using thin sheets of phyllo dough, but instead of the filling just being nuts, chocolate is added. The best way to do that is by using finely chopped high quality chocolate. The baklava is then drenched in the same sweet syrup for that classic baklava texture.
This variation is more typically found in the touristy areas of Türkiye but it’s it’s definitely worth trying. Being a fan of traditional baklava, I was surprised by how much I liked the chocolate version.
Halka tatlisi, also known as Turkish churros, are a popular street food option in Türkiye. I saw them everywhere!
They’re somewhat similar to the traditional Spanish churros but differ in shape. The Turkish version comes in a more ring-like, round shape while Spanish churros look more like sticks (but are sometimes in rings). The ingredients and method of preparation are pretty similar.
Turkish churros are made from a simple dough of water, eggs, butter, and semolina flour. It’s then piped through a star-shaped nozzle and deep fried in oil until golden brown and crispy.
They’re then tossed in a sweet syrup made from sugar, water, and lemon – similar to the one used for baklava. They’re a great dessert to buy from street vendors and enjoy while exploring Türkiye. They’re very sweet, though, so consider sharing if you want to try other Turkish desserts.
Künefe (Turkish Sweet Cheese Dessert)
Künefe is another one of the most well-known traditional Turkish desserts. It’s also popular throughout the Middle East, where it has its origins, as well as other countries like Greece, Türkiye, and the Balkans. In Türkiye, it originated from the southwestern region of Hatay and then spread throughout the country.
Künefe is made from thin, stretchy, shredded strings of crunchy semolina dough called “tel kadayıf.” It’s layered with a soft cheese, traditionally Hatay cheese which is similar to mozzarella.
It’s then cooked in a special copper pan, often over hot coals, and served piping hot with a sweet syrup and topped with pistachios or walnuts. I’ve read that it’s also sometimes made or served with and clotted cream, but that wasn’t the way it was served to me when I tried it in Istanbul.
The unique combination of flavors and textures makes it a beloved dessert for Turkish people. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered it after dinner one night but I loved the flavors and textures. Highly recommended!
Asure (Noah’s Pudding)
Turkish asure, which is also known as Noah’s pudding, is a unique sweet pudding dessert believed to have its origins in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It’s traditionally enjoyed in many different countries like Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Türkiye.
Asure is claimed to have originated from when Noah rested on Mount Ararat and celebrated by preparing the dish with what little ingredients they had. These ingredients were primarily grains, dried fruits, and nuts.
Nowadays, asure is traditionally made from a mix of wheat, rice, chickpeas, sugar, beans, nuts, and dried fruits like figs or apricot. Sometimes it’s also flavored with rose water or orange and lemon zest. But there are many different variations since you can add your own ingredients of choice.
Asure is typically served on a special day during the first month of the Islamic calendar known as Muharram and shared with neighbors and friends.
Pişmaniye (Turkish “Cotton Candy”)
Pişmaniye is often thought to be the Turkish version of cotton candy. But while it may look like cotton candy, it has a slightly different texture and a more unique flavor.
Pişmaniye used to be a very typical homemade sweet treat, but the tradition is rapidly becoming less common. It’s made by stretching and twisting a combination of roasted flour, sugar, and butter until it forms long, thin strands.
It can be eaten plain or flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, or cocoa powder. It’s also typically garnished with ground pistachios or walnuts. Turkish cotton candy can be bought prepackaged in markets, sweet shops and souvenir shops.
You’ll find all kinds of tasty cakes in Türkiye. There’s no way you could even try them all!
We stopped a couple times to try a slice of cake and it was always so hard to choose because everything looked absolutely delicious. You’ll find chocolate cakes, fruit filled cakes, creamy cakes, cakes with nuts, and many more. The cake pictured above was a chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse and raspberries, topped with another layer of chocolate and raspberry syrup. So good with a cup of Turkish tea!
Revina or Basbousa (Turkish Style Semolina Cake)
Revani is a typical dessert that is featured in many different cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, including Turkish cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine, Greek cuisine, Armenian cuisine, and more. It’s most commonly known by its Middle Eastern name, basbousa.
It’s a type of yellow sponge cake made with semolina, a main ingredient across many Turkish desserts. Aside from other basic ingredients like sugar and eggs, revani incorporates yogurt.
Once baked, the cake is then soaked in a delicious lemon-infused sweet syrup. Other variations on the syrup include rose water and orange blossom water. Whichever flavor is used, the syrup is absorbed by the cake, giving it a moist and flavorful texture. You’ll often find this cake topped with nuts.
Sütlaç (Turkish Rice Pudding)
Sütlaç is Turkish take on the classic rice pudding. It’s made by mixing short-grain rice with milk, and heavy cream until it reaches a rich, creamy consistency. The pudding mixture is typically cooked on the stove on low heat to prevent burning, making sure it’s frequently stirred so it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
It is then baked in the oven in order so that the top gets slightly burned and caramelized, similar to a creme brûlée. Sütlaç is usually not overly sweet but you can bring out some of the sweetness by sprinkling cinnamon on top. It’s typically served chilled or at room temperature.
Sutlu nuriye is a dessert that’s quite similar to baklava, but it contains milk, which is one of the key differences. In fact the “sutlu” means “with milk” in Turkish. Like baklava, it’s also made with thin layers of phyllo dough but instead of a filling of ground pistachios, it’s more commonly swapped for chopped hazelnuts. Instead of the sweet, sticky syrup, sutlu nuriye is instead drenched in a milk-based syrup. This gives it its white color and makes it lighter and creamier than the traditional baklava.
Tahini halva is a simple Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dessert that is also common in Türkiye. It’s made from a mixture of tahini (or also known as sesame paste) and sugar. Other flavorings are added in which are typically nuts, dried fruits, or cocoa powder.
The ingredients are cooked together over low heat until thick and smooth, then poured into a dish or mold to set. It results in a crumbly, nutty block that can be chopped into smaller pieces and garnished with more nuts. Tahini halva can be easily found in markets and stores in all sorts of different sizes.
Tavuk Gogsu (Turkish Chicken Breast Pudding)
Tavuk gogsu is one of the most unique Turkish desserts. It’s a milk pudding made with finely shredded chicken breast. But despite this key ingredient, it actually doesn’t taste at all like chicken! It’s used as a thickening agent that gives the pudding its rich, creamy texture. The taste is milky, creamy, and slightly sweet.
The shredded chicken is mixed with milk, sugar, and other flavorings like vanilla extract or cinnamon. The mixture is cooked until it thickens and forms a pudding-like consistency. The mixture is then poured into individual serving dishes and garnished with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Tulumba is another fried dough dessert that’s very similar to halka tatlisi or Turkish churros. The dough is pretty much the same, made from the basic ingredients of flour, eggs, water, and butter. It is piped through a pastry bag to be deep fried into oil the same way, but the pieces of dough are much shorter and not shaped into rings. It is also typically soaked in a sweet, lemony syrup. This is a great dessert to enjoy on the go.
Turkish coffee is known for its rich, strong taste. It has a very distinct method of preparation which gives it a unique flavor.
Turkish coffee is made with super finely ground coffee beans that are typically roasted to a medium or dark roast. The beans are then brewed with water and sometimes sugar, using special small brass or copper pots with a long handle called a cezve.
Turkish coffee is usually served in a very small cup with a glass of water. Traditionally, you drink the water before the coffee in order to cleanse your palate. Aside from water, a sweet treat, like a Turkish delight or a piece of candy, is usually served on the side.
Typically, Turkish coffee is unsweetened but some may add a small amount of sugar, sweetener or spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg.
Tea is a staple of Turkish society and culture. Turkish tea is made with an infusion of black tea leaves that’s brewed in a special stacked dual teapot called çaydanlık. The top pot is where the tea leaves are steeped while the lower pot is where the water is boiled. This continuous brewing and heating process is what makes for the tea’s unique flavor.
Turkish tea is typically served very hot in small tulip-shaped glasses placed on small saucers. It’s usually served with a bowl of sugar cubes on the side so you can decide how much sugar to put in it. It’s never served with milk.
Drinking tea is a significant social activity and a great way to experience Turkish food culture. If you’re a tea lover like I am, definitely give it a try.
Lokum (Turkish Delight)
Lokum, commonly known as Turkish delight, is one of the most popular Turkish desserts. They are little square-shaped sweet treats made with starch, sugar, and different types of flavorings. The mixture is cooked, poured into a pan, and allowed to set before being cut into bite-sized jelly-like cubes and dusted with powdered sugar or shredded coconut.
The most common flavors include rose water, bergamot, orange, or lemon. Other versions also have chopped dates, pistachios, and other ground nuts within the jelly mixture. This popular dessert is typically enjoyed with Turkish coffee. They can be easily found throughout the country and would also make for amazing souvenirs or gifts.
Türkiye produces several great, high-quality chocolate brands. One of the most famous Turkish chocolate brands is Ülker, which offers a range of chocolate bars, truffles, and pralines. Other good brands include Eti and Pelit. Turkish chocolate usually incorporates various types of nuts like almonds and pistachios, dried nuts, and other more traditional treats like Turkish delight. You can find delicious Turkish chocolate bars at any grocery store.
Turkish Yogurt with Honey
Turkish yogurt with honey can be enjoyed as a simple and healthy snack, dessert or even breakfast treat. The creamy and tart flavor of yogurt pairs well with the sweetness of the honey. We ate Turkish yogurt with honey for breakfast most mornings and also had a special regional variation once when we met up with a friend. So good!
Turkish Ice Cream
Turkish ice cream, known as dondurma, has a unique and chewy consistency unlike any other ice cream. That’s because it’s made with cream, sugar, salep, and mastic. Salep is a type of flour made from orchids that provides the ice cream with its thickness, while mastic is a plant resin that’s responsible for the chewiness.
It comes in a wide range of different flavors including classics like vanilla, chocolate, pistachio with more Mediterranean fruit-based flavors like raspberry and mulberry. You can order Turkish ice cream by the scoop or enjoy a creative sundae, like the fruit, pistachio, vanilla, and chocolate delight I enjoyed (see above photo).
Turkish ice cream is also known for the playful way that it’s served, as street vendors often entertain customers with tricks and jokes.
Salep, which is a type of flour made from the ground roots of wild orchids, is also used in drinks. This hot drink is made by mixing milk with salep and sugar. It’s heated until it becomes thick and creamy. It’s then typically served with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon on top.
You’ll find salep all over and can find salep mixes to make at home. I had a cup on a cold, windy day and it was the perfect warming sweet treat.
Ayva Tatlisi (Turkish Quince Dessert)
Ayva tatlisi is a traditional dessert made from quince. The fruit is first peeled, cored, and then simmered in sugar syrup and cloves until it becomes tender and caramelized. The fruit is then then served in half slices with more syrup poured over them. This treat is usually topped with cream and garnished with nuts. It can be enjoyed warm or cold, but it’s typically enjoyed during the winter season.
Kabak Tatlisi (Turkish Pumpkin Dessert)
Kabak tatlisi is similar to ayva tatlisi but this dessert instead features pumpkin. It’s made with chunks of pumpkin that are cooked in a sugar syrup until tender. Alternatively, milk can be used instead of the syrup. It’s then served with a dollop of cream, chopped nuts, and tahini.
Cevizli Sucuk (Turkish Walnut Sausage)
Cevizli sucuk, also known as walnut sausage, is a sweet treat made with walnuts and molasses. It’s made by stringing together walnuts and coating them with a mixture of molasses, flour, and water until it reaches a thick consistency. This results in a long log resembling a sausage. Once they cool and harden, it is sliced into thin pieces and can be served as a sweet snack or dessert.