Dinner/ European/ Recipes

Cevapi – Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

27/01/2023

Cevapi are the perfect addition to your next home cooked BBQ. They’re so easy to mix by hand with simple ingredients – no fancy sausage maker required. Grill them over charcoal for that classic smoky flavour!

A plate of cooked cevapi sausages in the foreground, in front of a bowl of ajvar spread and a bread loaf.

Why We Love This

Cevapi are not just an example of delicious European street food, they’re an amazing addition to family BBQs!

You can easily make these caseless sausages by hand with simple ingredients – no fancy sausage maker required. Then grill them over charcoal for that classic smoky flavour!

Why not make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later?

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Related: Aussie Beef Rissoles / Japanese Style Burgers

Top down view of a plate of sausages next to ajvar dipping sauce and fresh bread.

What are Cevapi? 

Cevapi (written as ćevapi, pronounced che-vah-pee) are small, finger-sized, caseless sausages said to have originated during the Ottoman Empire. They’re quite similar to Turkish kofta kebabs, but are cooked and served without skewers. 

Cevapi are traditionally made from ground beef and/or veal, seasoned with salt and pepper and mixed by hand with baking soda and cold water or shaved ice to emulsify the mixture. This process is what gives cevapi their smooth, springy texture once cooked (similar to how Indonesian bakso meatballs are made!).

While cevapi are considered the national dish of Bosnia and Serbia, they can also be found across many Balkan countries such as Slovenia, Macedonia and Albania (to name just a few). Each region tends to have slight variations to the ingredients and seasonings. 

What You’ll Need

  • Mince Meat: We use 100% beef mince, though some versions can be made with a mix of beef, lamb and very occasionally pork. Make sure the mince isn’t too lean, you need some fat in the mixture for the cevapi to hold their shape.
  • Baking Soda – You might be tempted to skip on this simple ingredient, but don’t! It is essential to help emulsify the mixture and give your cevapi the proper texture. 
  • Herbs & Spices – Traditionally, cevapi are seasoned with just salt and pepper. We first discovered cevapi wandering through Bosnia and Macedonia, so love the additions of sweet paprika, garlic and finely chopped parsley.
A stack of cooked cevapi sausages on a plate alongside a bowl of ajvar spread and a bread loaf.

How to Make Cevapi

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Place the beef mince in a large mixing bowl along with the garlic, parsley, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Mix by hand until roughly combined.
  2. Next grab a small dish and mix the cold water and baking soda together until it dissolves a little bit (it won’t dissolve entirely, this is fine).
  3. Add the baking soda mixture into the meat mix and massage together for a good 5 minutes until it’s all combined. Tip: This process is essential to help emulsify the mixture and give it the smooth, springy texture we love in cevapi!
  4. Take a small handful of the mixture and first roll it into a ball, then into a small sausage shape. Pat each end to flatten and pop it on the plate. The length should be around the width of your hand.
  5. Fire up your charcoal grill OR heat the vegetable oil a large cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Cook the cevapi for a few minutes per side until browned. Tip: Slice one in half to test if they’re cooked in the middle. A slight pink is okay for beef sausages.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Mixing – Take your time to really ‘massage’ the meat, spices and baking soda together to tenderise the mixture. This is essential for the proper cevapi texture and the end result is totally worth the effort! To make it even more smooth you can add finely shaved ice while mixing.
  • Cooking – Make sure the heat isn’t too high, otherwise it will burn the outside and the middle will be raw.

FAQs

What should I serve with cevapi?

Traditional Pairings: Cevapi are traditionally grilled over charcoal and served in groups of 5-10 with lepinja or somun flatbread and chopped raw onions. Some vendors will serve them with a salad of freshly sliced tomato and cucumber (similar to shopska salad), or with salt and chilli flakes for people to season to taste. 

Non Traditional Ideas: We love serving cevapi as part of a BBQ feast with family and friends paired with sides like potato bake or wafu salad!

What’s the difference between cevapi vs cevapcici?

They’re essentially the same thing. Cevapi comes from the Turkish word kebap. Ćevapčići / cevapcici means small kebap. 

Variations

Non-traditional ideas to make them your own!

  • Protein – Swap the beef for lamb or mutton, or a mix of lamb, pork and beef. Feel free to experiment with the ratios and mixture, for example 50 / 50 lamb and beef, or 50 / 25 / 25 beef, lamb and pork.
  • Seasonings – Add your own seasoning blends to make something completely unique, such as savoury baharat.
  • Forming the Shape – We’ve heard that you can press the mixture through a funnel to form the sausage shape, but haven’t tested this. If you try it, let us know how you go!
  • Extra Flavour – Add grated or finely chopped onion into the mix, or season with your favourite savoury spice blends. Serve the cooked sausages with chopped raw onion or finely grated onion for an intense flavour burst.
  • Condiment Ideas – Try serving them with natural yoghurt, garlic sauce or sour cream or Serbian kajmak cheese.
  • Leftover Cevapi? – Make curried sausages or chop them up and serve in a batch of creamy sausage pasta.
A plate of sausages next to ajvar dipping sauce and fresh bread.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

A stack of grilled cevapi on a white plate with parsley garnish.

Cevapi – Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

Cevapi are the perfect addition to your next home cooked BBQ. They’re so easy to mix by hand with simple ingredients – no fancy sausage maker required. Grill them over charcoal for that classic smoky flavour!
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Bosnian
Servings: 18 sausages
Calories: 150kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the beef mince in a large mixing bowl along with the garlic, parsley, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Mix by hand until roughly combined.
    1 kg beef mince, 4 cloves garlic, ½ bunch parsley, 1 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper
  • Next grab a small dish and mix the cold water and baking soda together until it dissolves a little bit (it won't dissolve entirely, this is fine).
    50 ml cold water, 1 tsp baking soda
  • Add the baking soda mixture into the meat mix and massage together for a good 5 minutes until it's all combined. Tip: This process is essential to help emulsify the mixture and give it the smooth, springy texture we love in cevapi!
  • Take a small handful of the mixture and first roll it into a ball, then into a small sausage shape. Pat each end to flatten and pop it on the plate. The length should be around the width of your hand.
  • Fire up your charcoal grill OR heat the vegetable oil a large cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat. Cook the cevapi for a few minutes per side until browned. Tip: Slice one in half to test if they're cooked in the middle. A slight pink is okay for beef sausages.
    1 tbsp olive oil
  • Once cooked, we recommend serving with hot with fresh lapinja bread, chopped raw onion and ajvar spread.

Recipe Notes

  • Mince Meat: We use 100% beef mince, though some versions can be made with a mix of beef, lamb and very occasionally pork. Make sure the mince isn’t too lean, you need some fat in the mixture for the cevapi to hold their shape.
  • Baking Soda – You might be tempted to skip on this simple ingredient, but don’t! It is essential to help emulsify the mixture and give your cevapi the proper texture. 
  • Herbs & Spices – Traditionally, cevapi are seasoned with just salt and pepper. We first discovered cevapi wandering through Bosnia and Macedonia, so love the additions of sweet paprika, garlic and finely chopped parsley.
  • Mixing – Take your time to really ‘massage’ the meat, spices and baking soda together to tenderise the mixture. This is essential for the proper cevapi texture and the end result is totally worth the effort! To make it even more smooth you can add finely shaved ice while mixing.
  • Cooking – Make sure the heat isn’t too high, otherwise it will burn the outside and the middle will be raw.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Cevapi – Easy Balkan Beef Sausages
Amount per Serving
Calories
150
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.4
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
39
mg
13
%
Sodium
 
228
mg
10
%
Potassium
 
165
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
0.5
g
0
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
0.03
g
0
%
Protein
 
10
g
20
%
Vitamin A
 
189
IU
4
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
14
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Cevapi - Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Leilah
    18/01/2024 at 1:35 am

    5 stars
    Love this recipe my husband is Albanian and loves it thank you!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      18/01/2024 at 1:10 pm

      That is so lovely to hear Leilah! Thanks so much for letting us know. 😀

  • Reply
    Jenny
    18/02/2023 at 2:49 am

    How many is a serving?

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      21/02/2023 at 10:26 am

      Hey Jenny, one sausage = 1 serving. 🙂 You’ll get around 18 sausages per batch.

  • Reply
    stefani
    21/10/2019 at 2:55 pm

    Hi,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe.
    Great post, amazing pictures.
    Thank you.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks so much Stefani. Thanks for the note about the lepinja too. 😉 Hope you enjoy!

      • Reply
        Vlatko Zuvic
        12/06/2021 at 8:09 am

        When did Serbia become a mediterranean country?

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          15/06/2021 at 2:48 pm

          Hey Vlatko, Serbia isn’t, but the other Balkan countries where we first came across this recipe are Mediterranean, for example Croatia and Montenegro.

    • Reply
      Alex
      18/05/2022 at 6:06 pm

      Excellent recipe thank you very easy to follow, I world probably add an extra half a teaspoon or 1 teaspoon of salt. My Macedonian hubby said it was a bit plain but still good!

      • Reply
        Wandercooks
        19/05/2022 at 3:11 pm

        Awesome Alex! You can infuse more flavour cooking these over charcoal for a more traditional result. Otherwise, we love adding flavour by pairing it with ajvar etc.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    20/10/2019 at 7:26 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, these look so tasty! I love that you can make a huge batch and freeze them for later!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:36 pm

      Sammmmme. Makes things so much easier for meal planning.

  • Reply
    Dannii
    20/10/2019 at 6:05 pm

    5 stars
    I would love to try making my on sausages. These look really simple

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:35 pm

      They are! You can even pop them on a stick and grill them on the bbq as another way to cook them. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jamie
    20/10/2019 at 2:46 pm

    5 stars
    I love all the herbs and spices you added to this, especially the sweet paprika! My family would love to have this for dinner!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:35 pm

      Awesome Jamie, thanks for letting us know and stopping by! 😀

  • Reply
    Irina
    20/10/2019 at 2:19 pm

    5 stars
    WOW! I would really like to learn how to make sausages at home. The recipe sounds delicious! Pinning for later. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:34 pm

      You’re welcome Irina. These sausages are super easy – especially as you don’t need to put them in cases. 🙂

      • Reply
        Sandy
        18/02/2023 at 11:54 pm

        Hello. There are many different lean to fat ratios for ground beef. Which do you recommend for this recipe for the best result? I’m thinking high fat would mean a lot of shrinkage but maybe it’s required for moisture. Please advise. Have you tried smoked paprika rather than sweet?

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          21/02/2023 at 10:28 am

          Hey Sandy, the fat will mean a little more shrinkage, but the fat also helps them to hold their shape. So you could try a medium fat mince, and see how you go. Just avoid the super lean ground beef!

          We haven’t tried smoked paprika, but that would definitely add a nice flavour if you wanted to try that instead.

  • Reply
    Anita
    20/10/2019 at 9:48 am

    5 stars
    I’ve never heard of cevapi before, but I am a big fan or anything meatballs, so this is right up my alley. And would you believe it that I have everything to make this? I even have some frozen naan bread in my freezer! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/10/2019 at 12:34 pm

      Oh bonus! We did end up eating half in bread, then turned the leftovers into meatballs for a pasta dinner with our friends. 😀 So handy!

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