Vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, gluten-free, nut-free, and so many other ways of eating have many travelers scouring online menus before visiting restaurants. Unfortunately, when traveling overseas, those convenient menus do not always wind up online.
Don't worry. We've put together a guide for how to eat based on your specific way of eating.
When I first wrote this guide, I wrote it simply to help others enjoy their travel experiences in Turkey. Just a few months later, I found out that I needed to follow a gluten-free and dairy-free way of eating. In this guide, I will get into the nitty-gritty of eating gluten-free and dairy-free while traveling through Turkey. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us! We would love to ensure that you have the best experience in Turkey.
Enjoy your vacay and enjoy delicious foods!!!
This guide includes:
Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Eating
The Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Guide to Eating in Turkey
Important words to learn
Learn the word "glutensız." This is how you say gluten-free.
To say dairy-free, say "süt ürünü içermez" or “Laktozsuz” for lactose free.
If you plan to spend any extended amount of time in Turkey, you absolutely must visit a neighborhood pazar. Think: farmer's market but oh so much better. Do not rob yourself of this experience and just visit the Grand Bazar (although do this while in Istanbul!). As you navigate the rows and streets full of heckling food vendors calling for people to look at their fresh fruits and vegetables, you'll fall in love with the assortment of produce. You can select your produce, pick up a barbecue rack from Carrefour, Şok, or Migros, head over to a park, and grill your vegetables at any outdoor barbecue parks abundantly placed throughout Turkey.
Gluten-free is not strictly followed in most places. If you are allergic to gluten, you may need to consider preparing your own meals.
Rice as a side dish is made with butter and chicken broth containing gluten, so you want to specifically ask them to make it without. You can often find a salad at many restaurants that will fit into the gluten-free and dairy-free category. Another option found in most Turkish restaurants is tavuk şiş, which is chicken on skewers. Ask for rice made with no butter or substitue a çorban salata, which is a simple Turkish side salad.
You can replace the tavuk şiş for other types of meats, just be sure to ask if they make the meat with butter. Turks and Turk cooks love to pour bowlfuls of butter over their meats, so just be aware of that habit in most restaurants. Often if you just explain that you need gluten-free and or dairy-free, the waiter will help you choose an option. Just be sure that they understand because the waiter could possibly offer something that may hurt your stomach.
Mudo carries dairy-free ice cream (sorbe) options! If you can find a Mudo, there is one in the MNG mall in Erzurum, then you can find sorbe for a sweet treat. Other ice cream options include the Turkish ice cream from Kahramanmaras. If you find the ice cream performers that play the ice cream game with you on the street, those are rumored to have no dairy in them. The same brand in the store, however, appears to have milk in the ingredients.
In Erzurum, we have Migros and no Carrefor, so these tips will come with the idea of shopping at Migros. Carrefor typically has even better options so do not be hesitant to check out Carrefor’s gluten free section.
You can find the brands Schar and Tada at Migros. Of course for each item, you do need to make sure that it only contains ingredients that you can have. You can find candy bars, pretzels, bread, noodles, biscotti, crackers, vegetable and fruit chips, oatmeal, cereals, and other items. The best gluten-free chicken stock is the Veg&Bone brand. The regular Knorr brand has gluten in it.
The MMM Migros in Erzuurm has started carrying sorbe gelato and Danon ice cream with no dairy in the ingredients. These are exciting finds!
Erzurum also has a gluten-free specialty store downtown, Liva Gida. You can ask them to make you specialty dairy-free items such as lavas, the Turkish version of a flatbread or tortilla. You can air fry these to make flour tortilla chips! Other things they carry in store includes treats, gluten-free breads, meats, and other types of gluten-free products. The shopkeepers are super kind and very willing to help you find whata you need. Their website is: https://www.livaglutensiz.com.tr/. At the time of this writing you could find them on Ismet Paşa Caddesi.
We do have dairy alternatives in Turkey! We have multiple options, so you can choose which taste you most prefer. Alpro and Fomilk are the most popular brands of alternative milks and you can occasionally find both options with sugars or without added sugar, written as “No Sugar” for Alpro and “şekersız” for Fomilk.
I love the Fomilk boxes because they typically have one side in Turkish and one side in English. You can read the words for gluten-free, no added sugar, and dairy free.
Common alternatives include:
Lactose free: Laktozsuz
Coconut: typically written as coconut
If you are staying in one place for an extended amount of time and can have packages delivered to you, you can order food to your hotel. Vegan Bakal and Vegan Dukkan are online websites that deliver gluten-free and dairy free options to your door. Vegan Dukkan also offers cleaning products that are “green.” You can find other types of vegan and gluten-free products that may be difficult to find in most stores. The Fomilk website has dairy-free cheeses and multiple options!
Vegan Bakal : https://www.veganbakkal.com.tr/
Vegan Dukkan: https://www.vegandukkan.com/
**Please always check and read the ingredients before consuming any food product. We are not doctors or nutritional experts. We live in Turkey and are simply sharing our experiences. Brands are free to change ingredients. Stores regularly change what items they carry on their shelves.**.