Pljeskavica, the Balkan Burger. Here is how to make your own


Pljeskavica The Great Serbian Burger

This recipe will show you how to make a burger mix just like the world famous leskovacki pljeskavica.
Pljeskavica, or variations thereof, is enjoyed all over the Balkan. There is nothing complicated about making this type of burger, the only hard part is to master the right ratio of meat versus fat. The secret is; use the best ingredients and keep it simple.
The word pljeskavica comes from the word 'pljeskati' which means 'to clap (your hands)' because when the patties are patted that is the sound produced.
The best cuts of meat for any beef burger is generally from the front of the animal and so it is with Pljeskavica. Although in some parts of the Balkan they may mix different types of meat such as lamb, beef, pork the only mix I use is beef neck 70% and beef skirt steak (from the belly) 30%. This mixture will get you the right texture with plenty of meat flavour yet enough fat content to make the burger juicy.
I suggest to ask your butcher to pass the meat just once through the mincer. This will give you a burger with more texture and which is possibly juicer than if the meat was ground twice.
Should you wish a leaner burger then use only meat from the neck.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Balkan
Keyword: Beef, Burger, pljeskavica
Servings: 4


  • Use a skillet (cast iron) if cooked indoors or on the barbecue (charcoal fired) if cooked outdoors


  • 500 gram Beef.
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil for oiling hands maybe some extra if you're using a frying pan


  • Grate the onion by hand or, if you own one, chuck it in a food processor. The onion should be cut very fine or better still to a pulp.
  • Mix the cut onion, together with the salt and paprika, with the minced beef. Knead thoroughly till the meat has absorbed all the onion juices and has become firm.
  • It’s best to rest the mixture for a few hours in the fridge.
    Rub your hands with the vegetable oil, and use your oily hands to form patties which should be between 12-15 cm in diameter and no more than 1 cm thick.
    The oil rubbed on the patties should be enough for cooking also.


Serve with lepinje (a large fluffy bun with a crispy crust) and either sour cream or clotted cream, chopped onions and some finely shaved cabbage prepared with an oil and vinegar dressing.
FYI. An interesting anecdote.
Pljeskavica, simply with onions and cabbage
During the era of the Republic of Yugoslavia Milovan Mića Stojanović, the personal chef of Marshall Tito, the de facto leader of the republic, produced the recipe and method described below. It is this recipe that formed the basis for all other Pljeskavica recipes that followed.
"I only use beef, from the front parts, i.e. the neck, the shoulders, the short ribs and belly. We then add a maximum of 20% of fat but not any fat, only the hard fat from around the kidney, the suet.
The percentage of salt is 2% of the total amount of meat being prepared. The meat is at first ground through a washer with large holes, #10-12, after which the ground meat is rested for between 12 to 24 hours at a temperature of zero to four degrees.
This is followed by another grinding on a smaller washer. Once it is ground and mixed, it rests again for an hour before finally ready to use.
The burger meat is weighed between 200-300 grams, then formed into a patty with a little oil. We cover the patty with cut onions, fold the edges inwards and form, again, a patty to be grilled".
That's it.

Here are some of my other recipes

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