In this delicious Middle Eastern dish, popular in Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria and other Middle Eastern regions, also known as Lahmacun, Lahmajo, Turkish Pizza, etc. is made out of juicy, spiced minced meat cooked over a thin flatbread and served with a fresh and bright salad on top. All those flavorful meat juices seap, sizzle and cook over the dough and pair so well with a fresh, vibrant, lemony salad.
A pizza oven will make your job of cooking this lahmacun a little easier. If you’re working with a traditional convection oven, you can still bring this recipe to life, just keep some of these tips in mind: turn your oven as hot as you can get it to, usually 450°F (235°C), set a pizza stone or cast iron base in the oven for some extra heat, and keep an eye on the lahmacun as it’s cooking in there.
The baking time will vary significantly compared to cooking this in a super hot pizza oven. Let yourself guided by visual cues: the dough should be crisp on the bottom, the meat on top should be glossy, fully cooked and sizzling hot and the edges of the lahmacun should be slightly darker than the rest of the dough.
The dough for this lahmacun comes together so easily. There’s no kneading involved in making this dough, just a little bit of patience when letting it proof overnight in the fridge. Proofing the dough overnight in the fridge will ensure a well-structured and flavor-packed lahmacun dough. Plus, it’s going to be one less thing to make on the day of serving the lahmacun. To make complex recipes like this lahmacun more approachable, breaking the process with small tasks on separate days will save you from lots of stress and mess in the kitchen. Some versions of this dish use yeast, some don’t. I prefer the yeasted ones, I find they have a better flavor but also texture.
In this lahmacun recipe, we’re using ground lamb for the meat, spiced with paprika, cumin, Aleppo pepper and black pepper. If you’re not a fan of lamb meat, 80/20 beef will also work in this lahmacun recipe. Just make sure you’re buying beef with the right amount of fat in it, otherwise the final result will lack moisture and flavor.
My take on this recipe comes with some not-very-traditional green olives on top. I love how that additional brininess and saltiness from the olives balance out the rich meat. Toss them with sweet cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, lots and lots of olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice for the ultimate lahmacun salad topping.
If you’re looking for ways to make this dish vegetarian or vegan, finely chopped cooked mushrooms or canned and drained lentils should make a decent substitute for the ground meat. Just make sure you’re incorporating more fat in the filling, such as olive oil, coconut oil or butter, to make up for the lack of fats in lentils or mushrooms.
Check out a short video of making this lahmacun recipe by clicking here.
Easy Lahmacun — The 1 Most Popular Street Food in Turkey
Servings: 6 to 8
Prep: 1 hour, plus 8 hours proofing
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 9 hours 20 minutes
- 300g (1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water
- 375g (3 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 7g (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 7g (2 teaspoons) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 2 cups or handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 handful coarsely chopped parsley
- 1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1 small bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 heaping tablespoons harissa
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 pound (450g) ground lamb
- 1 x 14 oz (400g) can whole tomatoes
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- Kosher salt and black pepper
Make the dough:
- In a medium bowl, combine the water, yeast and mix until the yeast has dissolved and the water looks cloudy. Add the flour, salt and using a Dutch whisk, wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix everything until combined. You will be left with a shaggy, sticky dough. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge to proof overnight, up to 3 days. You can also proof it at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours for a quicker alternative.
- When you’re ready to make this, remove the dough from the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface. Dump the dough on the work surface and divide into 8 pieces using a bench scraper to cut the dough. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and set aside on a floured tray. Cover the tray of dough balls while you make the salad and meat filling.
Make the salad:
- In a medium bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley and olives. Add the sumac, a pinch of salt and lots of olive oil. Juice the lemon right on top and toss everything to combine. Set aside.
Make the meat filling:
- Blend together the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic. Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the harissa, tomato paste, cumin, Aleppo pepper, paprika, and lamb. Place a mesh strainer over a small bowl. Dump the canned tomatoes in the strainer and drain for a few minutes. Scoop out 3 whole tomatoes from the strainer and add them to the bowl, over the lamb. Add the parsley, a hefty pinch of salt and black pepper and mix everything until combined.
- Add 1/4 cup of the leftover tomato juices to the lamb and mix until incorporated.
Make the lahmacun:
- Heat the oven to as high as it can go, 450° (235°), up to 900°F (480°C). If using a regular oven, preheat a pizza stone or cast iron tray in the oven for extra heat.
- Lightly flour your work surface. Place a ball of dough onto the work surface and flatten into an oval shape using your floured hands. Using a rolling pin, roll until thin enough to see the light poking through the dough. Add two dollops of the meat filling and evenly spread it all over the dough in a thin layer. Lift up the dough using a pizza peel.
- Place the dough in the oven and bake until crisp on the bottom and cooked on top, for about 10 to 12 minutes at 450°F, or 3 to 5 minutes at 900°F, rotating halfway through.
- Repeat with the remaining dough and meat filling.
- Serve the lahmacun hot with the fresh salad on top.