Dinner

Cevapi – Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

17/09/2020

Ready for a Balkan BBQ feast? It’s time to make your own super easy beef sausages. These Cevapi are stuffed full of garlic, parsley and paprika for a huge flavour kick. Pair with shopska salad for the ultimate Mediterranean lunch.

Plate of Balkan cevapi sausages.

Why We Love This

You only need simple ingredients that are easy to mix together so you’ll have tasty homemade sausages in no time.

We love that Cevapi can be made as a big batch – you can double or even triple the recipe and freeze them to cook when you need. This is perfect if you’re entertaining for a large crowd.

A plate of sausages next to ajvar dipping sauce and fresh bread.

What is Cevapi? 

Cevapi (pronounced Che-Vah-Pee) are small finger-sized Serbian / Balkan sausages that are usually made from ground beef (and sometimes ground pork or ground lamb… or a mix of all three!) before being grilled over charcoal for the ultimate melding of flavours. They often have spices such as paprika, salt and black pepper added and are similar to Kofta Kebabs found in other parts of Europe.

You’ll most likely find these simple Balkan sausages in Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia. We love that they’re so easy to replicate at home.

Where We Learnt This Recipe:

It was a massively hot day in Ohrid, Macedonia. We’d just watched a traditional Macedonian wedding parade in the street before heading into town for lunch. The huge red umbrellas caught our eye (hello street food!), with men standing around charcoal grills and the smell of spices and meats drifting along the road.

Lunch was served in less than 10 minutes – a huge bowl of shopska salad was plonked down first before two huge plates of cevapi were cast alongside it. The grilled meat plate was a simple pile of the little sausages, with some freshly sliced tomato, cucumber and raw chopped onions. To add an extra kick, it also came with salt and chilli flakes to up the ante.

What You’ll Need

The meat is the star of the dish in the recipe, then we vamp it up with a few seasonings and spices and you’re good to go.

The Meat: We used 100% minced / ground beef. It’s common to have combinations of beef, pork and lamb though, so feel free to experiment with the ratios and mixture.

Baking Soda: You might be tempted to skip on this simple ingredient, wondering why it’s even necessary, but you’d be surprised how important it is! Baking soda actually helps to tenderise the meat and give you good springy texture.

For Cooking: It’s best to cook your cevapi over a charcoal grill, however, we understand not everyone has one available, so a large frying pan on the stove is also fine. If you have no cooktop, you can cook Cevapi in the oven. Set to 180C / 360F and place the sausages on a lined baking tray. Turn them every 10-15 minutes until browned, and cut one in half to check if they’re cooked through. If they get a little dry, baste them with a touch of olive oil. They should take around 30-45 minutes.

To serve: Grab some fresh bread – lapinja is the most common, and spread with Ajvar, a popular Balkan hot red pepper spread. Then if you like you can also load it with raw chopped onion and sliced cucumber and tomato. To make it a little creamy, you can add sour cream.

Freshly cooked cevapi with sprigs of parsley on a white plate.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Take your time ‘massaging’ the meat together with the spices and baking soda mix to both tenderise the meat and make sure the flavour mixes through entirely.
  • Make sure your heat isn’t too high, otherwise it will burn the outside and the middle will be raw.

FAQs

What meat is in Cevapi?

We’ve used beef in our sausages, but it’s also very common to use pork or lamb. 

What is Cevapi served with?

Cevapi is traditionally served with chopped onion, fresh lepinja bread (you could substitute with focaccia or pita bread in a pinch) and ajvar spread. 

To add some freshness, you can also add some freshly sliced tomato and cucumber, or make a shopska salad.

Can you cook Cevapi in the oven?

You can cook Cevapi in the oven. Set to 180C / 360F and place the sausages on a lined baking tray. Turn them every 10-15 minutes until browned, and cut one in half to check if they’re cooked through. If they get a little dry, baste them with a touch of olive oil. They should take around 30-45 minutes.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Mix up the protein! If you don’t want pure beef sausages, try 50% beef and 50% pork, or 50% beef, 25% pork and 25% lamb.
  • Can’t find lepinja bread? Serve it with focaccia or pita bread instead.
  • Make meatballs! Instead of sausages, you can make them into meatballs and pop them in a pasta such as our Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta.
  • For extra texture, add a chopped onion to the mix.
Beef sausages on a plate with ajvar and lepinja bread in the background.

Got more mince meat to use up? Cook up these next:

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

Plate of cevapi beef sausages.

Cevapi – Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

Ready for a Balkan BBQ feast? It's time to make your own super easy beef sausages. These Cevapi are stuffed full of garlic, parsley and paprika for a huge flavour kick. Pair with shopska salad for the ultimate Mediterranean lunch.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Bosnian
Servings: 18 sausages
Calories: 143kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, pop in the minced beef, garlic, parsley, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. Mix by hand until roughly combined.
  • Next grab a small dish and mix the water and baking soda together until it dissolves a little bit (it won't mix entirely, this is fine).
  • Add the baking soda mixture into the meat mix and massage together for a good 5 minutes until it's all combined.
  • Get out a large plate – it's time to make the sausages! Get 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.
  • Set a large grill pan or frying pan on medium heat and drizzle in the olive oil. Once heated, cook the sausages in batches (don't overfill the pan). Let them cook a few minutes each side, until they're browned. Chop one in half to check if they're cooked in the middle. A slight pink is okay for beef sausages.
  • Once cooked, serve hot with fresh lapinja bread, chopped raw onion and ajvar spread.

Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • The Meat: We used 100% minced / ground beef. It’s common to have combinations of beef, pork and lamb though, so feel free to experiment with the ratios and mixture.
  • Baking Soda: You might be tempted to skip on this simple ingredient, wondering why it’s even necessary, but you’d be surprised how important it is! Baking soda actually helps to tenderise the meat and give you good springy texture.
  • For Cooking: It’s best to cook your cevapi over a charcoal grill, however, we understand not everyone has one available, so a large frying pan on the stove is also fine. If you have no cooktop, you can cook Cevapi in the oven. Set to 180C / 360F and place the sausages on a lined baking tray. Turn them every 10-15 minutes until browned, and cut one in half to check if they’re cooked through. If they get a little dry, baste them with a touch of olive oil. They should take around 30-45 minutes.
  • To serve: Grab some fresh bread – lapinja is the most common, and spread with Ajvar, a popular Balkan hot red pepper spread. Then if you like you can also load it with raw chopped onion and sliced cucumber and tomato. To make it a little creamy, you can add sour cream.
  • Mix up the protein! If you don’t want pure beef sausages, try 50% beef and 50% pork, or 50% beef, 25% pork and 25% lamb.
  • Can’t find lepinja bread? Serve it with focaccia or pita bread instead.
  • Make meatballs! Instead of sausages, you can make them into meatballs and pop them in a pasta such as our Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta.
  • For extra texture, add a chopped onion to the mix.
  • Take your time ‘massaging’ the meat together with the spices and baking soda mix to both tenderise the meat and make sure the flavour mixes through entirely.
  • Make sure your heat isn’t too high, otherwise it will burn the outside and the middle will be raw.

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 188IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Cevapi - Easy Balkan Beef Sausages

12 Comments

  • 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
    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
    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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