A Turkish lahmacun recipe made with love? Very definitely yes! Add to that a generous sprinkling of patience, too!
I’m grateful to be writing this article because it means homemade lahmacun success has been achieved.
After previous experiments that didn’t result in the lahmacun we were looking for, this latest effort – and therefore now our Turkish lahmacun recipe that you see below – is the bingo moment!
A dough that is quick to make, easy to work with and that bakes well in the oven of your home kitchen.
‘Quick,’ ‘Easy’ – words all home cooks love to see when it comes to cooking Turkish food!
What Is Lahmacun?
If you’ve visited Turkey before, there’s a very strong chance you’ve tasted – and fallen in love with – lahmacun. Unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, of course!
Spicy, Meaty Flatbread
We’re talking about a slightly crisp, yet easy-to-roll, Turkish flatbread that is topped with spicy ground meat (the spicier the better for us) and baked in a hot oven.
As with (perhaps equally famous) pide, lahmacun attracts the nickname of ‘Turkish pizza,’ particularly in holiday resorts.
It’s not our favourite description. Lahmacun is standalone deliciousness. As is a good Italian pizza. Let’s love each for what they are.
Whilst both are a circular flatbread with a topping, traditional lahmacun is made without yeast. It’s a very thin flatbread.
A Popular Street Food
These days, after being a speciality of southeastern Turkey, it plays a central role in Turkish cuisine and is enjoyed countrywide.
A much loved, popular street food – easily rolled to make wraps and eat on the go.
And it’s also enjoyed in relaxed eatery settings like pide restaurants. Go to any pide salonu and you’ll be able to order a lahmacun (or two), too.
In Armenia and countries around the Middle East, it is also much-loved (and ‘Armenian pizza’ is also a description). As with other dishes, the Ottoman Empire facilitated the spread of foods like lahmacun.
And, like the discussion surrounding many famous foods around the world, arguments as to the true origins of lahmacun are passionate.
For us, we are grateful for its existence! And now, we can make it at home, too.
So, if you’ve been missing this famous flatbread after falling in love with it on your travels, here’s our quick and easy delicious lahmacun recipe.
How To Make Lahmacun At Home
Making your own lahmacun is actually a great way to use up smaller amounts of minced meat. I made ours after Barry had made Izmir Köfte the night before and had not used all the meat we’d bought.
Two Turkish classics from one tray of meat!
When you’re eating out in Turkey, pide and lahmacun is cooked in minutes in fiercely hot stone ovens.
Obviously, this is the best way to cook it but most houses – ours included – don’t have that facility. We’re relying on our own little kitchen oven.
The homemade dough recipe we use works really well for a conventional home kitchen oven.
Making Your Lahmacun Dough
Don’t shy away from making your own lahmacun dough. It is so quick and easy because there is no yeast!
I’ve experimented with different flatbread recipes over the last few months and this one works so well. It’s a recipe from UK chef, James Martin but we leave out the yeast.
Simply add your flour, water, yoghurt and salt to a large bowl.
Mix everything together with a spoon at first. Then get your hand in there to incorporate the stray bits in your mixing bowl.
If it feels dry at first, don’t worry. Keep gathering and pressing it all together until you get a moist dough ball.
Now you can knead your dough for 3-4 minutes on a flat, clean surface. You will be able to feel the elasticity increase as you knead.
When you’re done, bring your dough together into a ball and place back into your mixing bowl. Then cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. You can use this time to make your meat topping, if you haven’t already.
We’ve also made this dough the night before and only used it the following day.
That works really well, too, so make your dough in advance if you like. Make your dough ball and cover in cling film (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate.
For The Minced Meat Topping
If you really want to let the herbs and spices infuse into the meat, you can be organised and make your toppings in advance – the day before.
If you’re like us and not so organised, don’t worry. You can make your topping and use it immediately.
Unlike pizza and pide toppings, the topping on a lahmacun just teeters on that balancing point between being very finely chopped and being a paste.
No big chunks but not a complete paste, either.
So, we use a mini food processor to pulse our topping ingredients together.
- Use lamb mince (ground lamb) or beef mince (ground beef) or a mix of both. And for the best lahmacun, use meat with a fat content of around 20%. As well as a flavour boost, this allows the juices to ooze into your dough base as it cooks.
- Your onion and peppers just need to be roughly chopped. Peel your onion and deseed your peppers. We use long Turkish red peppers (kapya biber) and the long green pointed peppers (sivri biber) but a red and a green bell pepper will be fine.
- A fresh tomato moistens your meat mixture as well as adding flavour.
- We love a spicy lahmacun recipe so we add fresh chilli and some pul biber (hot red pepper flakes). You can leave these out if you like.
- Garlic, paprika and cumin all contribute to adding extra punch to the flavours.
- And the tomato paste adds an extra dimension to the flavour of the topping whilst also helping to make it more spreadable.
Time To Make Your Lahmacun
Now we’ve prepped the main ingredients of our lahmacun recipe, we can build it and cook it.
Before we do anything else, first things first: Turn your oven on to get to 230 degrees Clesius. You need a good hot oven!
Get a baking sheet (or a pizza stone, if you have one) and tear a piece of baking paper (parchment paper) to the same size as the sheet.
Now put the paper to one side and place the baking sheet in the oven to get as hot as possible.
Our dough makes four large lahmacun (approx 30 centimetres in diameter). So divide your dough into 4 equal parts. (You can make smaller ones if you like.)
Place one piece of your dough on a lightly floured surface and use your rolling pin to roll out a thin circle.
This is the most important thing: It must be a thin circle.
Then you can carefully transfer the thin dough circle to your baking paper. If you’re worried about it tearing, loosely roll it onto your rolling pin to transfer it and unroll it back onto the paper.
We spread a quarter of the meat mixture onto our dough, taking it as close to the edges as we can. And then we’re ready for the oven.
When your oven is nice and hot, remove the hot baking sheet. Quickly and carefully take the edges of each side of your baking paper containing the lahmacun and place it on the hot baking sheet.
Then put this on the very bottom shelf of the oven.
Heat rises from the bottom of the oven so this will help to cook your base faster, keeping it fresh and slightly crispy without it going heavy and doughy.
How To Enjoy Your Lahmacun
Clue for enjoying your lahmacun: A knife and fork isn’t necessary for eating it!
You can prepare this simple salad beforehand or make it up whilst your lahmacun is in the oven.
Unwritten rules for eating lahmacun: At the very least, a good squeeze of lemon juice. Fresh, lemon of course. And a few sprigs of fresh parsley.
Popular extras are thinly sliced onion sprinkled with sumac and some slices of tomato.
We love to drizzle our tomatoes with olive oil and nar ekşisi (pomegranate molasses). So lovely.
Lay a bit of the salad over the top of your cooked lahmacun. Then, either loosely roll it into a wrap, fold it in half, or cut it into small slices and eat it as finger food.
Turkish Lahmacun Recipe – FAQs
Lahmacun is absolutely packed with flavour. Minced meat flavoured with ground spices cooked on a flatbread.
And then you have the contrast of the fresh ingredients – zingy lemon juice, crisp parsley, crunchy sumac onion and tomato.
We love a bol acılı lahmacun – super spicy! Chillies are added to ours.
You will find it difficult to come across a Turkish person who doesn’t love lahmacun! You’ll love it, too.
As well as the essential salad accompaniments we have shown you in our lahmacun recipe, you can also make acılı ezme for the table and a bowl of cacık.
Lahmacun is great when washed down by a big glass of ice cold ayran, too.
You can make your dough and your lahmacun topping the day before, if you like.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap / cling film and refrigerate.
Likewise, store your meat topping in an airtight container and place in the fridge. Your meat topping will keep for up to three days in the fridge.
You can reheat previously cooked lahmacun by placing it in the centre of a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
Reheat from the fridge or from frozen until hot throughout – approximately 20 minutes.
Yes, you can. These days, you can buy frozen lahmacun in Turkish supermarkets.
If you are intending to freeze it uncooked, we recommend you make smaller lahmacun bases for the logistics of transferring it to the freezer.
Place a sheet of baking paper between each lahmacun and place in a freezer safe container.
Alternatively, cook your lahmacun first and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then repeat the process above and freeze it.
Our Delicious Turkish Lahmacun Recipe
Let’s make lahmacun…
Turkish Lahmacun Recipe
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 1 Kitchen scales
- 1 Mini food processor for your meat mixture
- 1 Large bowl for mixing & resting your dough
For The Dough
- 650 grams strong plain flour plus extra for dusting
- 120 millilitres thick natural yoghurt
- 250 millilitres water
- 1 teaspoon salt
For The Meat Topping
- 200 grams minced beef around 20% fat content
- 1 medium onion peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper deseeded & roughly chopped
- 1 medium tomato roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 green chilli pepper optional
- 2 teaspoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 teaspoons sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt & pepper to season
For The Lahmacun Accompaniments
- 15 cherry tomatoes sliced
- 1 medium onion peeled & sliced into half moons
- 1 large lemon quartered
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley or coriander
- ½ teaspoon sumac
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
For The Lahmacun Dough
- First of all, add your flour to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle your salt over it.
- Mix it around and then make a well in the middle before adding your water.
- Stir the flour round, into the water a couple of times just to start mixing it together and then add your yoghurt.
- Now you can start to mix everything together with a spoon until most of the mixture has started to come together.
- Now use one hand to start bringing everything together into a dough ball. It might feel dry at first but after a couple of minutes it will start to moisten and excess crumbly bits will become a part of the dough.
- When you have a dough ball, place it onto a flat, clean surface and start to knead it.
- Do this for a couple of minutes until it feels more moist and has a bit of elasticity.
- And now place it back into the bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest whilst you prepare your lahmacun meat topping.
For The Lahmacun Meat Topping
- Add all of your meat topping topping ingredients to your food processor.
- Give the mixture a few pulses until you have a consistency that is very finely chopped but not quite a paste.
For The Lahmacun Accompaniments
- Arrange your accompaniments on a plate. Sprinkle your sliced onion with the sumac and drizzle your tomatoes with olive oil and pomegranate molasses (nar ekşisi).
- Take your fresh lemon and slice it into quarters.
To Make Your Lahmacun
- Preheat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
- Divide your dough ball into 4 equal pieces.
- Take your oven tray or baking sheet and place now cut a piece of greaseproof paper (parchment paper) to roughly the same size as your tray.
- Place the tray in the oven to heat up and keep your paper to one side.
- Now lightly dust a clean, flat surface with flour and use your rolling pin to roll out your first dough ball.
- Keep rolling until you have a very thin circle, dusting with more flour when necessary then it doesn't stick to the surface or your rolling pin.
- When you have a very thin dough circle, carefully place it onto your greaseproof paper.
- Now take roughly one quarter of your lahmacun meat mixture and place it in the centre of your dough circle.
- Use your hands or the back of a spoon to spread the mixture all over the dough, getting as close to the edges as you can.
- When you have a very hot oven remove the hot tray and carefully lift the paper with your lahmacun onto the tray.
- Place the tray on the very bottom shelf of the oven for around 10-15 minutes to get the beginnings of a crisp base. The edges should be crisp.
- Depending on your oven size and style, this process can be shorter or longer in length by a few minutes.
- Whilst the lahmacun is in the oven, you can roll out the next dough ball and top it with the meat topping.
- When your lahmacun is cooked, remove from the oven and either serve immediately or keep to one side until you have cooked the rest.
- To eat your lahmacun, give the topping a good squeeze of lemon juice, place some of your salad over the top and loosely roll it to create a lahmacun wrap. Delicious!
- As with all of our recipes, the calorie content for lahmacun is meant as a general guide and will vary depending on the ingredients you use.
- This recipe makes 4 large lahmacun – approx 30 centimetres diameter. If you are using your lahmacun as party food, you can make smaller individual ones or slice up the larger ones for your guests to enjoy.
- Our recipe uses minced beef (ground beef). If you prefer, you can use lamb or a mixture of both. Whichever you use, the fat content is important for both the flavour and the texture of the lahmacun.
Monday 30th of January 2023
Thank you for this recipe! It is so clear and well-written and I can't wait to make this in the next few days (need to go shopping first). I have such nice memories of visiting Turkey and meeting you. The market in Fethiye was fabulous, and today I am going to try my hand on making the pancakes - gozleme - they serve at the market, only smaller ;)
Turkey's For Life
Tuesday 31st of January 2023
Hi Miss Footloose, lovely to hear from you and, likewise with the memories of meeting you, too. Hope the lahmacun recipe works out for you and glad you find the instructions clear and well written. Thanks! :) Getting the flatbread thin enough for the lahamacın recipe was challenging enough but we aim to try our hand at gözleme, too, soon. Good luck. :)