Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

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I recently made a delicious vegan lahmacun, or Turkish pizza as it is also sometimes called, so I decided to share the recipe with you. I made it with spelt dough and spiced tofu topping, and it was just perfect.

I love how flavours and smells often bring back memories of certain situations or feelings… They feel like pieces of some stories from ages ago. The same happened to me with this simple Turkish dish, lahmacun.

vegan lahmacun

I first tried it more than ten years ago in a Turkish place in Amsterdam. So convinced of my love for spicy food, I gladly said “yes” to a generous pinch of chilli, despite my friend’s warning not to have it extra spicy. I think I barely managed to eat half of it before my brain started to melt through all the holes in my face. I felt a bit sorry to have made that mistake because the meal was otherwise really tasty.

A few years later, on a hitchhiking journey through northern Turkey to the Caucasus, I caught a second chance for a homemade lahmacun.

F. was a truck driver in whose company we spent a whole day, riding from Bolu to Samsun. He didn’t speak any English, and we only knew a few Turkish words.

We managed to communicate with our hands and feet. He invited us for some tea at a truck drivers’ resting point and also took us to a dining place with homemade Turkish food.

We experienced the hospitality of Turkish truck drivers on several occasions. Besides giving us a lift, they would always treat us with lunch and some tea on the way. F. was no exception; he ordered a stew for himself, and for each of us a lahmacun.

Although we were still quite full from the luxurious Turkish breakfast that our previous hosts (brothers that we had met the evening before, who welcomed us to their house like old friends) so kindly made for us, we managed to conquer this tasty lahmacun as well. It seemed as if you could die from overeating rather than starvation while hitchhiking through Turkey.

I remember being a bit thrilled to have finally tried lahmacun again. Not some crazy exotic thing, okay, but it is still a nice memory for me.

I’m glad that I did all that hitchhiking and camping on the side of the road while I was still pretty much a kid, and that I can’t really say that I was ever bored. It is also nice to have an occasional lahmacun, borscht or kinkali as a reminder of some older times.

vegan lahmacun

My eating and travelling habits have certainly changed since then, but I recently recalled the famous lahmacun and decided I would try to recreate it in my way – plant-based and wheatless. I replaced the traditional thin dough with a flat spelt sourdough and minced meat with tofu. The taste was real, and I’m sure that an occasional Turk would also approve of this unconventional lahmacun.

Vegan Lahmacun Ingredients

To make this easy vegan lahmacun (Turkish pizza), you will need the following ingredients:

I’m a big fan of spelt flour for leavened dough and sourdough. It creates a stretchy, elastic dough that’s also a healthier choice compared to all-purpose flour. Of course, you can stick with the traditional approach and use bread flour or a combination of bread flour and semolina flour for this recipe.

Cold-pressed olive oil is often added to lahmacun dough, making it more elastic and less fluffy. But it’s entirely optional! I sometimes skip it altogether for an oil-free version. I’ll share more details about this option later in the text.

Sumac and cinnamon will give the topping extra flavour. I know that these spices are not everyone’s taste when it comes to this kind of dish, so feel free to leave them out if you want. Some traditional recipes use it, some not, so feel free to adapt the recipe to your taste.

How to make vegan lahmacun

This delicious vegan version of lahmacun is topped with spiced vegan “meat” in tomato paste, baked, and served with fresh vegetables. This recipe also offers three options for making the perfect vegan lahmacun dough, from the classic thin crust to a slightly thicker and airier version similar to pizza.

Making the lahmacun dough

Even though the traditional lahmacun dough is thinner and denser than pizza dough, I sometimes like to make it a bit more fluffy. I will write my three favourite ways to make lahmacun dough, so you can choose which one is the best or easiest for you:

1. Traditional lahmacun dough

To make the traditional lahmacun dough, just follow the recipe below. For 4 portions, I use approximately 250 g spelt flour (2 cups), 140 ml soy milk (sub with normal milk for a non-vegan version if you want), 50 ml olive oil, some salt and a bit less than two teaspoons of dried yeast.

These measurements will give you a thicker dough that will not rise too much in the oven, keeping the lahmacun relatively flat, compact and bendable – just like the traditional one.

Traditional lahmacun dough recipes also use eggs – if you want to make it like that, use 250 g flour, 100-110 ml milk, 1 large egg, 50 ml olive oil, salt and yeast as previously mentioned.

2. Soft and fluffy lahmacun dough

If you want to make lahmacun dough that is more like a pizza or focaccia – soft, a bit thicker and not that bendable but rather meant to be served and eaten flat, check out this fluffy focaccia dough recipe.

You can use a bit more flour if you can’t handle the soft dough easily.

3. Sourdough lahmacun

This is my favourite! It might be a bit extra work, but if you are already making sourdough regularly, this can be a great way to use it and make something creative.

Check out my spelt sourdough recipe to learn a simple and intuitive way of making sourdough – without measuring all the parameters. It works great in this case. For the lahmacun, make the dough slightly denser (with more flour) to be able to roll it out more easily.

Vegan lahmacun topping

My favourite vegan lahmacun topping is the one with tofu and spices. Other cool meat substitutes would be brown lentils and soy protein flakes, but the tofu texture and taste you get when combined with spices is just the best in my opinion.

If you prefer to make a lentil topping, I recommend this easy sprouted lentil bolognese sauce recipe. It can be cooked as shown in the recipe and spread on top of lahmacun dough to make a vegan lahmacun. Cool idea for using leftover bolognese sauce too.

When making my vegan lahmacun topping, I like to use a homemade tomato paste. It is easy to make with dried tomatoes and water. Chop the dried tomatoes and soak them in lukewarm water for a couple of hours. Then, blend until you get a tomato paste. Easy as that!

Crumble the tofu and cook it in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil or on a dry non-stick pan if you prefer it without oil. Add minced onions and garlic, cook until they soften and add the spices.

Add the tomato paste, stir well to combine and remove from the heat.

vegan lahmacun

Baking the lahmacun

Preheat the oven to 220 °C. Roll out the dough very thin (a few millimetres for the traditional dough, or a bit thicker for the fluffy dough and sourdough). Add the topping and distribute it evenly on top.

Bake the lahmacun for 10-15 minutes. The key to perfectly done lahmacun is golden brown, slightly crispy dough edges. The exact baking time might vary based on your oven temperature and the thickness of your dough. So, keep an eye on it and adjust the time as needed.

Serving the vegan lahmacun

I love to serve lahmacun with fresh greens on top, drizzled with some lemon juice and local cold-pressed olive oil. Another popular way of serving includes topping it with fresh salad with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.

In Turkey, lahmacun is traditionally enjoyed with ayran, a refreshing thin yoghurt drink. Here’s a quick recipe for a delicious vegan version:

  • Combine naturally fermented soy yoghurt with an equal amount of plant-based milk. You can use unsweetened almond, oat or pea milk; the more neutral flavour, the better. Original ayran is not sweet but rather slightly salty.
  • Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a small pinch of salt for the perfect tangy and flavorful combination with your vegan lahmacun.

This plant-based ayran is a great way to complement the savoury flavours of your lahmacun and offers a cool, tasty refreshment.

Now, finally, the recipe. Enjoy it, bon appetit!

Yield: 2 portions

Vegan Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

Vegan Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

Easy vegan lahmacun with tofu and spelt sourdough base.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  1. Prepare two sourdough balls, or follow the next steps to make a lahmacun dough similar to the traditional one.
  2. Mix 125 grams of spelt flour with a teaspoon of dry yeast and a big pinch of sea salt.
  3. Add warm (not hot) soy milk and mix well. Add the olive oil and knead the dough for five to ten minutes.
  4. Leave the kneaded dough in a bowl covered with a tea towel for an hour or two - until it doubles in size.
  5. Chop the dried tomatoes and blend them with water or broth to get a tomato paste.
  6. Crumble the tofu with your hands and fry it in a little bit of olive oil, or on a dry non-stick pan, for one to two minutes over medium heat.
  7. Add minced onion, garlic, spices, soy sauce and two tablespoons of water if you didn't use any oil. Sauté it for a few minutes over low heat.
  8. Add the tomato paste, stir well to combine and turn off the heat.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool down a bit.
  10. Roll out two pieces of dough (up to your taste - if you want it to be more like real lahmacun, roll it out really thin, to around 2 mm) and spread the prepared topping over its surface.
  11. This time I left the edges a bit thicker and empty, but if you roll out and cover the whole dough evenly, you will be able to fold or roll the baked lahmacun just like the traditional one.
  12. Bake at 220 °C for around 10 minutes, until the dough gets a bit golden on the edges. Serve the lahmacun with fresh vegetables such as lettuce, paprika, arugula, parsley, tomatoes... Bon appétit!


Sourdough balls should be soft but compact enough to be kneaded with hands and rolled out - the size is up to your taste; my measure for a portion is a piece that can fit in my hand.

You can use this easy sourdough recipe to make them. Alternatively, you can just make a leaven spelt flour dough as written in the recipe steps above. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight to make the fermentation longer.

The third option for the dough includes this softer and fluffier spelt focaccia dough - feel free to use that one instead if you prefer it!

Instead of tofu filling, you can make this lentil bolognese as a topping. Perfect way to use up bolognese leftovers from the fridge.

Serve the lahmacun with homemade plant-based ayran alternative - read the text in the post above to learn how.

[croatian/hrvatski : nešto kao lahmacun]

Prvi put sam ga probala prije nekih desetak godina kod Turčina u Amsterdamu. Uvjerena da obožavam ljuto, rado sam pristala na dodatni prstohvat čilija iako mi je prijatelj bio rekao da niti slučajno ne uzimam ljuti. Mislim da sam pojela možda pola prije nego što mi se mozak skoro iscijedio kroz sve šupljine na licu. Malo mi je bilo žao jer je jelo inače bilo skroz ukusno.

Nekoliko godina kasnije, dok smo stopirali kroz sjevernu Tursku na putu do Kavkaza, uletjela je nova prilika, druga šansa za domaći lahmacun. F. je bio vozač kamiona s kojim smo proveli čitav dan na putu od Bolua do Samsuna.

On nije znao engleski, mi smo znali tek nekoliko riječi turskog, sporazumijevali smo se rukama i nogama. Popili smo čaj na odmorištu za vozače kamiona i sjeli u gostionicu za vozače. Više smo puta iskusili gostoljubivost turskih kamiondžija, koji su nas redovito častili hranom i pićem na svakoj pauzi od vožnje. F. nije bio izuzetak. Sebi je naručio neko varivo, a nama svakome po jedan lahmacun.

Iako smo se već ujutro bili najeli raskošnog turskog doručka koji su pripremili naši prošli domaćini, braća koju smo upoznali tu večer kada smo neplanirano završili u Boluu i koji su nas primili u svoju kuću kao stare prijatelje, uspjeli smo riješiti i taj (vrlo ukusan) lahmacun. Kada stopiraš po Turskoj očito ćeš prije umrijeti od sitosti nego ostati gladan.

Sjećam se da sam bila lagano oduševljena što sam napokon opet probala lahmacun. Sigurno nije neka egzotika, ali eto, neke takve sitnice kasnije budu razlog zašto te miris lahmacuna podsjeti na stop po sjevernoj Turskoj.

Drago mi je i da sam ispucala sav taj autostop i kampiranje uz cestu dok sam još bila dovoljno mlada, i da ne mogu reći da mi je ikad bilo dosadno. A i da me tu i tamo neki lahmacun, boršč ili kinkali može podsjetiti na neku staru zgodu.

Danas i jedem i putujem dosta drugačije nego tada, ali sam se nedavno sjetila tog slavnog lahmacuna i odlučila napraviti nešto slično. Tradicionalno tanko tijesto sam zamijenila tankom pogačom od pirovog kiselog tijesta, a mljeveno meso tofuom. Okus je bio pravi, vjerujem da bi i poneki Turčin odobrio.


[za 2 porcije]
100 g polutvrdog tofua
1/2 male glavice luka
8 polovica slanih sušenih rajčica (ako koristite rajčice koje nisu soljene, dodajte prstohvat-dva himalajske soli za vrijeme kujanja)
1 dl vode ili povrtnog temeljca
1 režanj češnjaka
1/3 čajne žličice mljevenog crnog papra
1/3 čajne žličice mljevenog kumina
1/3 čajne žličice kajenskog papra
1 čajna žličica mljevene slatke paprike
1 jušna žlica soja sosa
1 (manja) šaka svježeg peršina
2 kuglice kiselog tijesta (radila sam ga prema ovom receptu); mekanog ali dovoljno gustog da se može mijesiti rukama i valjati – veličina prema ukusu, meni je mjera za porciju da mi stane u otvorenu šaku


Izblendajte suhe rajčice s vodom ili temeljcem kako biste dobili pastu od rajčica. Razmrvite tofu i pecite ga na malo maslinovog ulja ili na suhoj tavi minutu-dvije na srednjoj vatri. Dodajte sitno narezani luk, češnjak, začine, soja sos i dvije žlice vode ako niste koristili ulje. Prodinstajte nekoliko minuta, dodajte pastu od rajčice i sitno narezani peršin, te nastavite kuhati još nekoliko minuta dok se sve ne sjedini. Maknite smjesu s vatre i ostavite da se malo ohladi. Razvaljajte dva tanka komada tijesta (prema ukusu – ako želite da bude što sličnije pravom lahmacunu, izvaljajte čitavo tijesto potpuno tanko, na debljinu oko 2 mm) i rasporedite smjesu od tofua i rajčice po cijeloj površini tijesta. Ja sam ovaj put ostavila deblje i prazne rubove, ali ako sve ravnomjerno izvaljate i prekrijete, moći ćete kasnije srolati vaš lahmacun k’o pravi. Pecite na 200 °C oko 10 minuta, odnosno dok tijesto lagano malo ne porumeni. Poslužite u kombinaciji sa svježim povrćem – rikulom, peršinom, paprikom, rajčicom ili već po želji.

Dobar tek!

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