Lebanese Food – 37 traditional Lebanese dishes
Lebanese food is one of the highest-rated cuisines in the world. Traditional Lebanese dishes have influenced world cuisine for centuries. famous Lebanese dishes include hummus, tabbouleh, kibbe, shawarma, falafel and many more.
The food culture of Lebanon echoes its ancient history. Traditional Lebanese foods reflect a rich heritage that has been shaped by a legacy of thousands of years of inhabiting the Levant or Eastern Mediterranean area. In the past Lebanon has been ruled by Egyptians, Persians, Romans and French and only became an independent country in 1943. All these cultures have influenced traditional Lebanese cuisine in many ways.
Even if you have never visited Lebanon I can guarantee you are familiar with many Lebanese dishes such as Baklava or Baba Ganoush.
- Lebanese Food – 37 traditional Lebanese dishes
- 37 Best Lebanese foods to try
- Lebanese Dishes for lunch or dinner
- Lebanese Desserts
- What to drink in Lebanon
- Lebanese Food Summary
Lebanese Food Faqs
Where does Lebanese food come from? Like many Middle Eastern cuisines, Lebanese food is based on ancient Levant – a region that includes modern-day Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Israel.
Is Lebanese food the same as Turkish? Turkish cuisine includes chilli pepper and paprika while Lebanese cuisine uses thyme, allspice and cinnamon more often.
is Lebanese food the same as Greek? While there is a lot in common with Greek food often the names are different for example Shawarma = gyros.
Is Lebanese food Middle Eastern? Middle Eastern cuisine does include a broad area and can include both non-Arabian and Arabian cuisine. The countries in the region include Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Cypriot, Georgian, Israeli, Iranian, Turkish, and Kurdish cuisines.
Is Lebanese food Halal? Often the food is Halal but unlike most other countries or in the UK they don’t display the Halal sign.
What are the main ingredients of Lebanese recipes? The main ingredients of Lebanese dishes include lamb, chicken, fish, yoghurt, cheese, chickpeas, nuts, eggplant, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Secondary ingredients are sesame (seeds, paste, and oil), burghul (cracked wheat), parsley, mint, lemons, onions, and garlic.
What are some Lebanese spices and seasonings? Some of these distinguishable flavours are za’atar, pine nuts, black olives, sumac, pomegranate molasses and many others.
What is the national dish of Lebanon? Kibbeh is a sort of meatball made of minced lamb and bulgur wheat with parsley, lemon juice, mint, onion and garlic.
Are Lebanese recipes vegan or vegetarian? Many Lebanese food traditions involve meatless meals because people could not afford to buy meat. They used others ingredients to add flavour and protein to their recipes.
37 Best Lebanese foods to try
What to eat in Lebanon
Nothing beats this traditional Lebanese breakfast made up of thick, creamy labneh and olive oil, cheese, olives, zaatar, cucumbers, tomatoes from the “day3a”, fresh mint leaves, Lebanese bread, and tea.
In Lebanon, your “day3a is the village from which you came. This is the place where the Lebanese escape from a life in the city or from which they get their favourite ingredients for their recipes.
Manakish is the staple and most popular Lebanese breakfast and it is a simple dough in a circular shape which is then stuffed with cheese, za’atar, meat, keshek which is a fermented yoghurt with tomato paste and sesame seeds.
There are also sweet versions of Manakish that includes sesame, butter and sugar.
Saji or Saj
When the dough is rolled out thinly it is known as Saji or Saj which is a more delicate and crispier version
Arishe with Honey
This is like French crepe but it has a spread of cheese and honey and the flatbread is thinner than the Saj.
Is similar to cream cheese as it is a type of strained yoghurt used as a spread or a dip. It is usually drizzled with olive oil and served with tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. For a more savoury bite Labneh is combined with garlic, mint and salt
Knafeh or Knefe/Knafe
This is a sweet pastry often served at breakfast. It is a traditional dish layered with cheese, cream, pistachios or other nuts. The dish is made in a large tray with Akkawi cheese on the bottom and phyllo dough. It is soaked with rosewater syrup and served on Lebanese bread and then soaked some more.
These are traditional Lebanese pastries often seen as street food and are dough-based and stuffed with savoury fillings including cheese, spinach, ground beef or lamb and tomato paste like a mini pizza.
Foul mdammas and balila are considered the main Lebanese breakfast dishes. Foul uses fava beans mixed with cumin, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. It is traditionally eaten with pita bread and the condiments include mint, radish, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Similar to Foul but the main ingredient is chickpeas but the rest of the ingredients are the same.
Kaak with Picon
A great street food favourite for breakfast Kaak is a flatbread and picon is a small triangular shaped cheese not unlike Laughing Cow. It can also be filled with Akkawi Cheese and flavoured with Za’atar.
In Lebanon eggs are served sunny side up with a crispy edge from being fried in olive oil they are seasoned with salt, pepper, and sumac.
Egg dishes are also served with Kawarma which is lamb meat that is preserved in its fat. The eggs are fried after the meat has been warmed in the pan and the fat left to cook the eggs in.
This is a Lebanese dish that is sort of like a meat pie that dates back to the 15th century. Typically made like the Man’oush but it has ground beef, onions, tomatoes and spices. It may not sound like a light breakfast but usually the Lebanese eat two.
Lebanese Dishes for lunch or dinner
Fattouch or fattoush
Fattoush is a Lebanese salad made from toasted or fried pieces of a flatbread such as a pita that essentially serve as croutons. These are mixed with salad leaves, radishes, lots of tomatoes and cucumbers and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, parsley, sumac, mint and parsley.
Tabbouleh’s main ingredient is cracked wheat or bulgar which is mixed with loads of parsley and finely chopped tomatoes and onions and a lemon and olive oil dressing.
Mashewe is really a mixed grill that will consist of several types of meats. It is a traditional Lebanese dish for Sunday lunch. Usually, it includes chicken kebabs (shish taouk or Shish Tawook) which are chicken pieces marinated in yoghurt and lemon juice and garlic.
Served along with Kafta Kebab or kofta which is ground lamb or beef mixed with herbs and spices and formed around a skewer. There will be grilled vegetables and Lebanese Mezza consisting of finger foods, salads and dips served alongside the Mashewe.
The world’s most famous mezze or Mezza is of course hummus. In Lebanon, hummus is made with olive oil, roasted pine nuts lemon juice and tahini.
Baba ghanoush is a Levantine appetizer popular throughout the middle east and Lebanon. It consists of cooked eggplant mashed with olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings and occasionally tahini to create a fabulous and popular dish served often with a mezes spread.
Kebbe or kibbe
Kebbe’s ingredients are usually ground meat, onions and bulgur wheat and it can be made without the meat so it is vegetarian and vegan. Usually shaped into small meatball sized morsels kibbe can now be found around the world. In Mexico for example they take kibbe and stuff it with raw onions and it is favourite street food in the Yucatan.
Kibbeh nayye is sort of like regular kibbeh but it is not vegetarian by any stretch. This traditional Lebanese dish is made from raw minced lamb mixed with cracked wheat and served with mint, olive oil and green onions.
Nobody can resist falafel and the Lebanese make some of the best. It is a vegan meatball made from chickpeas and sometimes mixed with fava beans and ground with cumin, lots of parsley and mint. It is tender and perfect to eat on its own or stuffed into pita bread with tomatoes, cucumber and a yoghurt dressing.
Another dish most of us are familiar with Shawarma is a popular street food around the world. The base is generally a chicken, beef or lamb that is shaved from a vertical rotisserie. Served in pita bread with garlic spread and topped with lettuce, parsley, tomatoes and onions and sprinkled with sumac.
Sambousek is a small meat pie, served as an appetizer or snack. It is usually filled with ground beef or lamb but can be filled with feta and other cheeses.
A sort of Lebanese hash brown where the potatoes are cut into cubes and then fried with seasonings that include olive oil, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and chilli flakes.
This is another ancient Levantine dish eaten across the eastern Meditteranean. A simple dish of lentils and rice topped with crisply fried onions.
A perennial favourite in Lebanon Muhamarra originated in Syria but is popular across the Middle East. It is a spicy dip made of walnuts, red bell peppers, pomegranate molasses, and breadcrumbs.
Shanklish is a Lebanese blue cheese made from sheep or cow’s milk. Usually served with a mezze platter it is topped with olive oil, chopped onions, tomatoes and dried herbs. It is eaten with pita bread.
This dish is a zucchini that has been cored and then stuffed with ground meat, rice and spices and cooked in a tomato broth. Lebanese Seven spices, a dash of ground cinnamon, some white pepper and black pepper. Seven-spices is the most well-known and utilized spice blend in Lebanon. An aromatic combination of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, cumin, ground coriander, and white pepper.
These are stuffed vine leaves just like the Greek dolmades or Cypriot Koupepia. The vine leaves are filled with rice and meat and sometimes chickpeas for a vegan option. They are usually eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice and a side of Laban yoghurt.
Kaak – Lebanese Purse Bread
Kaak is a favrouite flatbread in Lebanon. It is baked at high heat over an open fire and it is lovely and crispy on the outside. Once baked it is sprinkled with sesame seeds. It also has a hole at the top where it is hung over the fire and thus it gets its nickname Lebanese purse bread. It’s rolled into oval pieces and baked at high heat over an open flame until crispy on the outside.
The most well known of all middle eastern desserts Halva has a base of sugar and tahini that is baked and creates an almost chewy meringue texture. It is often mixed with dried fruits, pistachios and walnuts.
Another famous middle eastern dessert baklava is a super sweet dish of phyllo pastry layered with nuts and absolutely drowned in sugar or honey-based syrup. When ready the baklava is cut into tiny servings in different shapes.
Meghle is a Lebanese dessert based on rice pudding and spiced with anise, caraway, and cinnamon. The dish is often garnished with dried coconut flakes and various nuts including almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and pistachios.
Sfouf is a Lebanese almond-semolina cake consumed on birthdays, family reunions, and religious holidays. It is made from semolina flour flavoured with turmeric, sugar, sesame paste, aniseed, and pine nuts, and raised with baking powder.
Namoura is a popular classic Middle Eastern dessert made with semolina flour and yoghurt and topped with a sweet sugar water syrup flavoured with rose water
What to drink in Lebanon
Sharab el Toor
Sharab el toor is a traditional Lebanese drink made from Mulberries cooked in sugar syrup and is a favourite of children and adults alike.
Jallab is also a syrup made from rose water, date and grape molasses and carob
Arak is a liqueur that comes mixed with water and is made from grape juice and anis, like the Greek ouzo when mixed with water the clear Arak turns a cloudy white.
Lebanese Food Summary
Lebanese food is growing in popularity and is among the healthiest food in the world because of its ingredients and the way they cook their food. Health Line puts Lebanese food in #10 for the world’s top healthiest cuisines because of their low-fat options such as hummus, tabbouleh and other dips and salads.
Lebanese cuisine explodes with flavour and a blend of Middle Eastern and Meditteranean influences.