Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Carne Diem
Origin: European, Balkan
Method: GrillJump to Recipe
These Balkan beef and lamb sausages have become a family favorite and grill up perfectly when you are looking to break away from the norm at your next BBQ. Stuffed into pitas with a roasted red pepper and eggplant sauce is a great way to enjoy the grilled cevapi.
I am so happy my friend Nena directed me to these fantastic Balkan beef and lamb sausages. These skinless Croatian sausages are always a hit with the family. While we love grabbing a few of these grilled Balkan sausages every year at the annual Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, the cevapi recipe is also incredibly easy to make at home.
Table of contents
What are Cevapi?
One of the things that I always find amazing is the "evolution" of food. So many foods in different regions, countries, and even continents can be traced back to a common dish, but as that dish was taken, adopted, and adapted by various cultures it transforms into something different, that takes on the qualities and attributes of that region.
One of those dishes is Cevapi or Cevapcici. These caseless sausages can be found throughout the Balkans and are the National dish of Bosnia and Herzergovina. They are also found throughout Croatia, Albania, Slovenia, Serbia, and most of the other countries in the region with each country having subtle differences in flavor, size, shape, and accompaniments. In appearance and taste they are quite similar to Turkish Kofta (food evolution baby!), and the roots of both are likely tied to Persian kebabs.
Ingredients for Cevapi
These Croatian cevapi are pretty simple to make with the use of fairly common ingredients. You just need your choice of meat (we use a mixture of beef, lamb and pork, but you can use all beef if you wish), garlic, black pepper, baking soda, sweet paprika, and salt.
After gathering the ingredients, combine the spices in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of water. Combining the spices with a bit of liquid before mixing with the meat greatly helps in evenly spreading the spice throughout the meat. It is a trick I learned from making Chef Tony Gemignani's Meatballs Gigante, that I frequently use anytime I am seasoning meat.
Next, mix the meat mixture with the spice liquid. Once well combined, dust with the baking soda and mix again to combine. The baking soda helps the skinless sausages keep their traditional dense texture and hold their shape while grilling.
Form into shape of choice. This is where regional differences take hold. Our preference is smaller cigar shaped patties as they cook quicker and fit perfectly into pitas with the Ajvar and other fillings We have also had good luck making them bigger and then slicing them up for serving in the same manner. Either way, be sure to let them rest overnight to develop the appropriate flavor and texture.
Time to grill the Serbian Sausages
Now that you have done the most difficult part, waiting, it is time for the best part. GRILLING! Fire up your smoker or grill to 400 degrees and let's cook these bad boys up. We cooked these grilled cevapi up on our Big Green Egg with GrillGrates, but these Balkan sausages turn up equally great on a Weber, Traeger, or what every BBQ grill you have.
After your grill is at temp cook the sausages over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to indirect heat until they reach an internal temp of 155 degrees. The carry over temp will carry the meat to the USDA safe temp of 160. Finally, cover the cevapi with foil and let the grilled sausages rest for about 5 minutes while you plate the rest of your meal.
Serving the Croatian Cevapi
Traditionally these are served up simply with some onion and Ajvar sauce. We have included the recipe below or find even more detail about this Balkan delight here: Ajvar Sauce.
Stuff it all together in a pita and you have a one of the most popular street foods in all of the Baltic.
For more great recipes using ground beef, pork, or lamb be sure to check out some of our favorites here:
- Korean Style Beef and Lamb Lettuce Wraps
- Spicy Cheese Stuffed Smoked Meatloaf
- Best Dutch Oven Taco Soup
- Spicy Double Smash Burger on Texas Toast
- Keshi Yena: Aruban Meat Stuffed Cheese
- Kiwi Mince and Cheese Pies: Beef and Cheddar Hand-Pies
- Smoked Beef and Lamb Gyros
- Moroccan Grilled Kefta Kebabs
Frequently Asked Questions
Also known as ćevapčići, cevapi are skinless sausages commonly found in Serbia, Croatia, and the other Baltic countries. These ground meat sausages are typically grilled and often served in pitas with Ajvar relish and other toppings.
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Grilled Cevapi: Balkan Skinless Sausages
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- ½ pound Ground Pork
- ½ pound Ground Lamb
- 4 Cloves Garlic minced
- 2 teaspoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
- 2 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper we love smoked pepper
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 Tablespoon Water
- In a large bowl, combine the spices with the water and mix well.
- Stir in the meats and mix well.
- Sprinkle with baking soda, mix and shape into small sausages
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Heat grill to 400 degrees.
- Cook the sausages over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to indirect heat until they reach an internal temp of 155 degrees (carry over temp will carry the meat to the USDA safe temp of 160).
- Cover with foil and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes while you plate the rest of your meal.