5 Traditional Lebanese Foods You Need to Try

Fusing spicy Arabic flavors with the colors and textures of Mediterranean cuisine, Lebanese food opens your palette to a world of fascinating flavors that get better with every bite.

Lining the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon’s climate, geography, and surrounding influences have all contributed to a cuisine rife with fresh vegetables, succulent meat, and powerful spices and juices. Below, we’ve narrowed down some of our favorite Lebanese dishes and drinks.

1. Baba Ghanoush
If you like hummus, baba ghanoush is a must-try. It’s a dip that’s served with pita bread and drizzled with olive oil. It tastes very similar to hummus because it’s made with tahini. The main difference is that Baba Ghanoush is made from eggplant instead of chickpeas, and sometimes it’s topped with pomegranate. The variance of flavors is delicious.

2. Kibbe Nayeh
Kibbe Nayeh is made from raw beef or lamb blended with bulgur, pureed onion, and spices. It is recommended that if you are going to make this you grind the meat yourself in a food processor to avoid disease. Like most Lebanese dishes, it’s served with pita bread and fresh vegetables.

3. Falafel
If you haven’t tried falafel yet, you’re living under a rock. Falafel is made from crushed chickpeas that are deep-fried. It’s served in a pita sandwich with vegetables and tahini sauce (tahini is the same stuff they put in hummus and baba ghanoush).

4. Shawarma
Shawarma is traditionally made on a rotating spit and the meat is shaved off. It is served (as you would expect) on pita bread with vegetables. Shawarma is also served with tahini sauce. It is typically paired with tabbouleh or fattoush. Basically, it’s a Lebanese gyro.

5. Kofta
Kofta is the beef on the left in this image. Kofta is balls of minced meat mixed with parsley, spices, and onions. It can be served on its own, or with potatoes in a tomato sauce. Kofta (otherwise spelled Köfte) has made its way to as far as Turkey, where they eat it with a yogurt dip.