A plate of Bosnian fried dough balls served with a bowl of sour cream called kaymak in Sarajevo in Bosnia

The Best Vegetarian Food in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Planning a trip to Bosnia‘s beautiful capital but want to avoid eating meat? It’s not difficult! Whilst this city may specialise in various types of kebabs, meatballs and burgers, there’s also plenty of unusual and interesting meat-free options for you to try during your stay too.  Discover my vegetarian highlights below:

Man drinking a glass of salep at the teahouse Čajdžinica Džirlo in Sarajevo in Bosnia
Drinking salep at Čajdžinica Džirlo

Uštipci

Fried dough balls with a light and fluffy texture, usually served with creamy kajmak. They can be sweet (with jam) or savoury (with kajmak or cheese) and make a delicious meal by themselves.

A plate of Bosnian fried dough balls served with a bowl of sour cream called kaymak in Sarajevo in Bosnia
Uštipci – fried dough balls with kaymak (sour cream)

Künefe / Kadaif

Künefe is a classic Turkish dessert (one of the many easily located in Sarajevo). It is made with shredded pastry or semolina dough, soaked in syrup, layered with cheese and sometimes served with clotted cream and nuts. It’s definitely an unusual combo to have cheese and syrup together but it sort of works.

You can also find the Bosnian version of this dish in Sarajevo, kadaif. This variant has a completely different texture and often includes nuts inside the pastry.

Baked cheese and shredded pastry in syrup with cream on top in a small silver dish
Turkish künefe (cheese and shredded pastry baked in syrup). For a Bosnian version, try kadaif

Pita Zeljanica – Spinach Pie

Bosnia is famed across the former Yugoslavia for its pies. This traditional type of pastry arrived with the Ottomans and is still found across the region today. It’s known as börek in Turkish, boureki in Greece and byrek in Albania and Kosovo, however in Bosnia, only the meat version is called a burek whilst the non-meat versions are known as pita.

Pita zeljanica is the most common vegetarian option (filled with spinach and cheese) and it’s surprisingly delicious. There’s also pita sirnica (filled with cheese only), pita krompiruša (potato) and if you’re really lucky you can find versions made with nettles and other herbs too.

A slice of Bosnian spinach pie on a metal plate in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Pita zeljanica (spinach burek)

Ramazani somun – Ramadan flatbread

A somun is a traditional Bosnian circular flatbread. They’re gently browned with a light aerated texture. For some reason, it seems like butter and olive oil were created to go with this bread, it makes such a delicious combo.

During Ramadan, bakers in Sarajevo make a special version of this bread called ramazani somun which includes a scattering of black nigella seeds for added flavour!

Bosnian flat bread sprinkled with nigella seeds on a white plate
Ramazani somun

The longest cheese pide ever

On the edge of the Sarajevo bazaar, overlooking the river, you can find Konyalı Ahmet Usta, a restaurant that specialises in Turkish cuisine. It’s not the best place to go if you’re trying to avoid meat, the menu is literally around 97% animal products. However, for a spectacular lunch, why not share the longest cheese pide you’ve ever seen in your life!

Pide are boat-shaped Turkish flatbreads covered with various toppings, also known as ‘the Turkish pizza’. At Konyalı you can tuck into several meters of wood-fired cheese pide for a very reasonable price too!

A long cheese pie called a pide in Sarajevo in Bosnia
The longest cheese pide ever!

Sütlaç / Sutlija

Another Turkish classic readily available in Sarajevo is sütlaç, a cold rice pudding (nicer than it sounds) which has been browned under a grill and garnished with ground cinnamon. I’m not usually one for cold stodgy desserts like this however I have to admit that this one was actually weirdly addictive.

Sutlija is the local Bosnian variant however I did not come across this during my time in Sarajevo.

A white bowl filled with Turkish rice pudding called sütlaç
Sütlaç – Turkish rice pudding

Kazandibi

Literally named ‘bottom of the cauldron’, this Ottoman Turkish dessert is like an eastern version of a crème caramel.  This milky pudding is traditionally cooked in a big metal cauldron (hence the name) and allowed to caramelise on one side. Also served cold, this dessert is a really refreshing way to end a meal.

A Turkish caramelized milk pudding called kazandibi at Konyali restaurant in Sarajevo, Bosnia
Kazandibi – Turkish caramelised milk pudding

Cakes at Slastičarna Ramis

Slastičarna Ramis (i.e. Confectioner Ramis) is a Sarajevo institution having been run by the same family for over 100 years. They make an incredible variety of European cakes, crafted to the very highest standards. Always worth a trip, you’ll never tire of sampling Ramis’ delights. They have two locations in the city but the café in the bazaar area is especially delightful, although it can be difficult to get a seat at times.

Two cakes on white plates on a wooden table at Cafe Ramis in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amazing cakes at Slastičarna Ramis

Beverages – salep, boza and many more

Bosnia is home to an amazing variety of unusual beverages, well worth an investigation if you’re visiting the country. From hot, milky salep (made from orchid root powder) to cool, sharp boza (made from fermented millet) or sweet, delicious sok od ruže (rose juice) you’re bound to find something you’ve never tried before.

There’s also a huge array of traditional herbal teas, though many are not commercially available. Šipak čaj (rosehip tea) is fairly common, as is čaj od kamilice (chamomile tea) and zova čaj (elderflower tea). There are also varieties including nettle, lime tree flower and horsetail. Head to Čajdžinica Džirlo, a quaint wooden teahouse near the main square, to learn from the masters.

Or read more about my encounters with Bosnian beverages here

A glass of the Bosnian drink Salep made from ground orchid root.
Salep – made from ground orchid root

So as you can see, for a meat-free trip to Sarajevo, there’s no shortage of interesting things to sample. There’s plenty more I haven’t even mentioned, so let me know what else you can discover in this amazing city!

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