Recipe: Turkish Flatbread “Pizza” with Spiced Lamb | Lahmacun

Lahmacun is Turkey’s answer to pizza. The flavors are rich and deep, like an old love story.

And, like any good love story, each bite makes my knees sink a little closer to the floor.

Why? Because of the layers of flavor.

This is no “jarred sauce” affair. This is no mess of waxy cheese.

Lahmacun is pure, unadulterated ingredients – as fresh and intense as mother nature grew them.

The version we made today includes lamb, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, mint and parsley. There’s even a gated onion to provide a sweet background note.

The flavors come together to create an unbelievable explosion of flavor.

Republic Day Celebrations on the Bosporus (Istanbul, Turkey). Photo by Nightstallion03.

Republic Day Celebrations on the Bosporus (Istanbul, Turkey). Photo by Nightstallion03.

Once baked, Lahmacun is a DIY dream. Diners choose their own toppings and pile them on.  In Turkey, you can find everything from pickles and lettuce, to onions and lemon juice. It’s an awesome way to get kids involved and to work through dinner party doldrums.

Ava had great fun adding onion, parsley and lemon juice to hers… plus a few sprinklings of sumac (a spice with a lemony flavor popular throughout the Middle East).

I actually find pizza rather boring, unless it’s homemade or from a really great artisan. But Turkish pizza blows me away.

It’s full of spice and everything nice.

And then some.


I made Lahmacun once. I made it twice.

Now, I crave Lahmacun at dinnertime.

I crave it at midnight.

Heck, I even crave it at breakfast time… with a cracked egg baked right on top.

Adapted from Saveur

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This recipe makes a lot of topping (it’s too good not to). Double the flatbread recipe if you’d like to use it all up, otherwise save the leftover topping. We fried ours and added it to some couscous for a quick weeknight dinner.


For the flatbread:

2 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour, or as needed
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the topping:

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Tbsp tomato paste
handful fresh parsley, minced
handful fresh mint, minced
1 tsp hot paprika (or to taste)
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 small onion, grated & squeezed dry
1 lb ground lamb

Garnish ideas:

torn parsley
ground sumac
sliced red onion
lemon wedges
sliced pepper


Set up your kitchen. Beware of dust storms.

Kurdish children in dust storm locally called "Ecac" at Quzêrîb. Photo by Dûrzan.

Kurdish children in dust storm locally called “Ecac” at Quzêrîb. Photo by Dûrzan.

Make the dough:

For one batch of dough: mix together the sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let sit about five minutes until frothy.

So pretty…

Next, add the remaining dough ingredients to a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and knead until a soft, smooth ball forms. Add more flour, if necessary to keep from sticking.

Let rise for an hour, then punch down and divide into four pieces. Shape into balls.

Let rise another hour, or refrigerate until needed. I refrigerated mine in individual zip lock baggies, for 2 days and the dough turned into gorgeous pillows. They tasted awesome! This is because a long, cool rise gives time for the yeast to fully develop.

(If you can make the dough a day or two ahead it also takes the stress off of a dinner party).

While the dough is rising, take a tour of a Turkish palace.

Ishak Paşa Palace. Photo by Myararat83.

Ishak Paşa Palace. Photo by Myararat83.

Gateway to the courtyard. Photo by Myararat83.

Gateway to the courtyard. Photo by Myararat83.


Next, make the Topping:

When you’re ready to eat (or up to a day ahead), mix together the topping ingredients.

Tip: Be sure to seed the tomatoes before chopping. Also, place the grated onion into a double layer of paper towels or a dish cloth, then squeeze dry. This will help keep the topping from getting too soggy.

Bake the Lahmacun:

Now for some baking fun!

Preheat the oven to 450F. If you have a baking stone, use it!

Roll out the dough fairly thin. Spoon on some of the topping and spread around with the back of a spoon.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is lightly browned and the meat is cooked through.

The olive oil and paprika in the topping will drip down over the crust, making it a little reddish orange in places.



So beautiful.

But we’re not done yet!

Add a bunch of your favorite Turkish toppings.  Mr Picky liked red onion, parsley, lemon juice, sumac, and a bit of mint.

I mean, seriously.

This is the life.

Turkish pizza is traditionally folded or rolled, which makes for a fun, picnic-style dinner.

It also makes it easier to keep those loose toppings in place.


Enjoy with light and love in your heart. you in?


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  1. I am definitely (pinning and) making this. I imagine the lamd is ground, right?

  2. Making “pizza” in a princess costume. thats definitely a picture for the memory books! oh, to be a kid again. Anyway this looks delicious! I make pizza semi-regularly, this might be a fun way to switch it up a little!

  3. An adorable picture of Ava and Daddy…

    Guess you get the froth in the poolish because you hold the salt?….yes?

    PS Clever use of the cow-head buttons…

  4. My daughter just spent the last year in Bursa, Turkey as an exchange student. She had a wonderful experience and couldn’t wait for my husband and I to visit and eat some great food. We were there for 2 weeks in June and everything we ate was so delicious! Lamacun is one of my husband’s favorites. Thanks for sharing the recipe. We’ll be making this at home now that my daughter is back.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Perfect, Julie. Your daughter and husband will be so happy to relive those delicious memories :)

  5. I love lahmacun, I’m definitely going to make this.
    Adding salt a little later give the yeast cells a good start, because salt slows their growth rate.

  6. Janet Goodell says:

    It is hot in our house by late afternoon. I want to bake my pizzas in the propane grill. I saw that is how you baked pitas for your Iraqi meal. How do you think this will work with topping added?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Oh yes – this would be delicious on the grill! I’d suggest preheating the grill to 450, then pop on the pizza, shut the lid, and immediately turn the heat down to lowish. This will keep the crust from scorching, but the heat should stay in enough to cook it in ten minutes. Let us know how it goes! :)

  7. Crystal says:

    I am very excited to make this! I have tried but never found a good crust recipe from scratch that would match what I’ve had when I’ve bought the frozen packages! Cannot wait to try it out!!

  8. Do you cook the lamb before mixing or does it cook in the oven?

  9. Mary Beth says:

    I was inspired to make recipe by an item in the New York Times Metropolitan Diary about an Armenian man who happened to be picked up by an Armenian taxi driver who later brought him Lahmajoon on Christmas eve. I remembered making this with refrigerator biscuits many many years ago. I chose your recipe because it sounded like what I remembered minus the biscuits, however for ease of preparation I used frozen pizza dough.

    This was wonderful. We ate it with yogurt as an additional topping, which is what I remembered from the long ago recipe. My husband could not stop exclaiming over how good it was.

    One additional thing of which I am sure: the Armenians would not call it Turkish pizza!


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