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Gluten Free Turkish Food: Your Guide to Delicious and Gluten-Free Turkish Delights

Great news, you can enjoy gluten free turkish food in Turkey! Turkish cuisine consists of a lot of vegetables, salad, meat and stews which is ideal for a gluten free diet. All the dishes I mention below are typically gluten free, however, food allergies or intolerances are not very well understood in Turkey. In addition, there is a tough language barrier, which means there is a risk of cross-contamination. Be careful – one major thing I didn’t realise was that they usually serve their rice with bulgur wheat or orzo, or bulgur wheat instead of rice, which can look the same. I didn’t eat rice unless it was all white!

Firstly, I highly recommend visiting a “lokantası“. These are small cafes where locals typically go for a quick, cheap and filling meal. The dishes are cooked in big baking trays and put in the window. You just walk in, get a tray, and point to the dishes you want. My favourite one was called Lezizane Lokantası in Istanbul.

The window of our favourite lokantasi in Istanbul. All the dishes are visible in the window.

On to what we ate…

Taze Fasulye (Green Bean Stew)

I tried this before many years ago, and at the time, all I was thinking was how delicious it was. When I tried it again it took me back to that moment. It is such a simple dish, simply runner beans in a tomato and olive oil sauce, but it is full of flavour. One of my favourite Turkish dishes which is naturally gluten free by ingredient. 

Kumpir (Baked and Stuffed Potato)

Think a jacket potato, stuffed with all the Turkish salads you can think of! This is a perfect meal for a gluten allergy! Move over classic beans and cheese, these potatoes can be stuffed with pickles, pickled cabbage, pickled peppers (aka all the pickled veg), chilli paste, olives, corn, yoghurt, and any other salad item you wish.

Gluten free Turkish Food - Kumpir
My loaded baked potato with all the trimmings!

Midye Dolma (Stuffed Mussels)

When I first tried these in Istanbul I was blown away by how tasty these were! All over Turkey, they have stands in the street with mussels and people huddle around them and eat. When I first saw these stands, I thought people were just eating fresh mussels in some kind of public fashion. What I didn’t realise was they were stuffed with rice and this is how they are served! I didn’t try any from the stands on the street as I was a bit sceptical about how fresh it was, but whenever I saw it in a restaurant I ordered them. They are delicious with a whole lot of lemon squeezed on top.

Gluten free Turkish Food - stuffed mussles
Midye Dolma, mussels stuffed with flavoured rice.

Sütlaç (Rice Pudding)

Sütlaç is one of the most popular desserts in Turkey and you can find it at most eateries. It is baked custard with rice mixed in and it is absolutely delicious. They are typically very cheap to buy because they are quite cheap to make. Sugar, milk and rice make the perfect inexpensive dessert. You can pick this up at a lokantası for 5TL (70p) or less.

Gluten free Turkish Food - sutlac
Turkish rice pudding overlooking Istanbul.

Karniyarik (Stuffed Aubergine)

This is the Turkish name for stuffed aubergines with mince. The aubergine is cut lengthways and the flesh slit down the middle, where a minced lamb and tomato mixture is stuffed inside and baked. It is usually served with Turkish pilav (rice) which contains bulgur wheat, so swap it for a salad if you follow a gluten-free diet.

Çoban Salatasi (Shepherd’s Salad)

This is a very simple salad but it was my absolute favourite. It translates to Shepherd’s salad and is very common in Turkey. Tomato, cucumber, sweet white onions, pepper and parsley make up the salad, and it is dressed in a whole lot of olive oil and lemon. I enjoyed eating it with the hearty chicken stew I mention next, as the acidity from the salad cuts through the rich sauce. Also, this salad is a very good option for a side dish for those who are gluten-free, as the rice isn’t always an option.

Gluten free Çoban Salatasi
The Çoban Salatasi is the plate in the middle. These salads came with our meal.

Köylu Kebab (Chicken Stew)

This is a slow roast Chicken and Vegetable stew baked in the oven. The one I tried had baked potatoes in it as well, that was almost like chunky chips. Turkish recipes call for a lot of olive oil which brings a lot of flavour. In any lokantası you should find this dish. It is all baked together and they plate it up for you from the big roasting tray.

Köylu Kebab spread
Köylu Kebab and Taze Fasulye on the plate on the left. The plate on the right shows what the rice looks like with orzo in it. Do not eat the rice that looks like this if you are gluten-free!

Gluten Free Turkish Food is Definitely Found at Farmers Markets!

When you think of gluten-free Turkish dishes, you may not think of fresh fruit. But there are a lot of local greengrocers and markets in every town I visited selling a lot of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Think huge peaches, trays of figs, fresh apples and pomegranates, all for very cheap. We bought a heap of fruits for breakfast every day! A very good option for a cheap eat. Who doesn’t love gorging on a whole bunch of fruit?!

Fresh figs
Fresh figs at the market. One of my favourite fruits. They were 10TL a kilo! (£1.40)
Gluten free Green mandarins
Green mandarins. Yes, they were ripe and yes they taste just like mandarins!
Gluten Free cabbage
The biggest cabbages I have ever seen!

Have you ever tried any of these dishes in Turkey? I’d love to hear which gluten-free Turkish dishes you love!

Want to see which other cuisines are gluten free?

Deliciously Authentic Gluten Free Italian Dishes
Gluten Free Albanian Dishes You Must Try
Gluten Free Greek Dishes Perfect For A Gluten Free Diet

Gluten Free Afternoon Tea in London

Gluten Free Bakery in London

Gluten Free Restaurants in Perth

Gluten Free Bakery in Perth

All photos are my own and not to be used anywhere other than Food Fondles.

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