Authentic Shopska Salad (Bulgarian)

Authentic Bulgarian Shopska Salad – a national Bulgarian dish. Fresh, delicious and easy to make, this colorful salad is a popular dish in Bulgaria during spring and summer months.

Today, we are preparing a favorite of mine – Shopska Salad. A true Bulgarian delicacy that we make almost every night in summer when produce is abundant and fresh. You can also find it in almost every restaurant across the country as one of the main center piece salads on the menu. It’s usually served unseasoned with an option for customers to add as much of anything they want.

FUN FACTS: Shopska Salad is considered a national dish in Bulgaria. Legend has it it was created by the chefs of a Local black Sea resort, called Druzhba, part of Balkantourist chain of resorts – the oldest existing post war tour operator in Bulgaria. Shopska Salad was created as a variation of the famous Greek Salad and as a compliment to the colors of the Bulgarian national flag (white, green, red).

The dish was initially served in Bulgaria only in the hotels of Balkantourist, like ”Chernomorets”. When it was published in state approved cook books, it became a nation-wide favorite. Up to this day, Shopska salad is recognized across the world as a Bulgarian national dish. As with any other recipe, however, there’s debate across neighboring countries (like Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia) about the true origin of the recipe – all due to historical reasons and territory divisions that happened in the past. Needless to say, Bulgarians will argue this is one of the most Bulgarian dishes you can make, alongside Banitsa (Bulgarian Cheese Pie) that is.

Ingredients and Substitutions (Shopska Salad)

  1. Pink tomatoes – if you haven’t tastes a pink tomato, they are naturally sweet, with thick meaty flesh, perfect for salads. Or any other salad tomato will do
  2. Cucumber – long, skinny cucumbers (called Gergana in Bulgaria), or sometimes known as English cucumbers.
  3. Roasted red peppers, skin off – known as Italian peppers (roasted in the oven or over fire/grill). Can be substituted with fresh peppers
  4. Onion – fresh, cut in half moons
  5. Parsley, always fresh
  6. Bulgarian white cheese – can be substituted with Feta cheese if difficult to source
  7. Sunflower oil – a popular oil choice in Bulgaria. Substitute with olive oil for modern version
  8. Vinegar – can be omitted, however some people like it as it strengthens the taste of tomatoes in the salad
  9. Salt – to taste, always

NOTE: Bulgarian white cheese in brine is similar to Greek Feta Cheese, with a milder taste due to the fact it’s made with cow’s milk (mainly). Although, to this day sheep and goat milk’s white cheese is a popular choice.

How to make Shopska Salad?

1st: Roast red peppers in oven/grill until cooked (optional). Peel skin off. Chop all other vegetables and mix with salt.

2nd: Add all remaining ingredients and season to taste. Next, grate the white cheese on top. Mix with the rest and enjoy.

What to serve with Shopska Salad?

Here are some of my favorites to serve with this salad:


Bulgarian Shopska Salad Recipe authentic

Bulgarian Shopska Salad (authentic)

The European Dish
Authentic Bulgarian Shopska Salad – a national Bulgarian dish. Fresh, delicious and easy to prepare, this colorful salad is a popular food choice in Bulgaria.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Bulgarian,, European
Servings 4 people


  • 100 g (1/3 cup) Bulgarian white cheese, shredded
  • 2 pink tomatoes, medium
  • 1 skinny cucumber, medium
  • 1 white/yellow onion, cut in half moons
  • 2 roasted red peppers, or fresh
  • 2-6 tbsp. sunflower oil, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp. wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
  • salt to taste


  • Optional: Roast red peppers in the oven (until skin comes off easily) or over fire/grill. Cut in small pieces. Alternatively, use fresh red pepper only.
  • Chop all vegetables and mix with salt in salad bowl. Add minced parsley.
  • Season with oil, vinegar and salt. Shred cheese on top of the salad and serve.


  1. Substitute tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers with that is available in your region.
  2. Substitute sunflower oil with olive oil and Bulgarian white cheese with Greek Feta cheese if needed. 
  3. Red pepper can be either fresh or roasted. 
  4. Skip vinegar if not a fan, or change with lemon juice. 
Keyword Balkan cuisine, easy and quick
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