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Taking an Istanbul cooking class is a fun and delicious way to dive into Turkey’s (now known as Türkiye) rich culinary culture.
A diverse culinary culture with influences from Europe, Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Asia,
While exploring the local food specialties in Turkey, we signed up for an Istanbul cooking class to better understand the local food and culture.
If you’re considering taking a cooking class in Istanbul dig in and read further.
Learn more about our Istanbul cooking class experience as well as two other alternative cooking classes.
Top Cooking Classes in Istanbul
While looking for a cooking class in Istanbul, we looked at different options and settled on the Turkish and Ottoman Cuisine Workshop class.
We wanted a class that was easy to get to, and this cooking class was conveniently located in the Beyoğlu district. The class also promised a mix of cooking and culture, which were two other criteria we wanted.
In the end, the pricing was right and the time offered for the class met our schedule, so we booked this Istanbul cooking class.
While doing our research, we came across two other cooking classes that were great and with rave views.
While we didn’t have time to take other Istanbul cooking classes, we selected these as some of the best options available.
One of the classes, Cookistan Cooking Class, includes a neighborhood visit and food shopping experience. The class also takes place in a local’s home and is perfect for a comprehensive cooking experience.
The other cooking class in Istanbul is a private class that also takes place in a local’s home. You get personalized attention while learning to make a variety of traditional Turkish foods. This private class is a great option for families or groups.
Highlights of Our Turkish and Ottoman Cuisine Workshop in Istanbul
For more than 3-hours, we had a lot of fun in our Istanbul cooking class with Chef Kaan. Generally, the classes are for small groups, but in our case, we happen to be the only two participants.
Our cooking class menu featured a variety of dishes from the Ottoman Empire to Capadoccia, where Chef Kaan is from.
From learning to make starters to desserts, we had fun diving into Turkish food and local culture.
Starters Stuffed Grape Leaves or Yaprak Sarmasi
Stuffed grape leaves also known as Dolmas or Dolmades are popular in Turkish cuisine.
The ones we learned to make in our Istanbul cooking class were meat-free, with rice, raisins, sour cherry, and mint and cinnamon seasonings.
While cooking, we learned from Chef Kaan, that Yaprak Sarmasi is typically associated with Ottoman food.
The use of the ingredients like grapes, cherries, plums, and exotic spices were emblematic of refined tastes in the Ottoman Palace.
We were excited with how our Yaprak Sarmasi turned out, given how delicate it was to carefully fold them in the grape leaves without breaking them apart.
Main Meal – Turkish Ravioli Dumplings or Manti
From Cappadocia, chef Kaan’s hometown, we learned to make the region’s traditional Turkish dumplings.
Manti or small stuffed dumplings are a delicious food that we enjoyed in Turkey. The Cappadocia version we made in our Istanbul cooking class were stuffed with ground beef.
In this cooking workshop, we made everything from scratch. After making the dough, we used a traditional thin extra-long rolling pin known as Oklava to roll out the dough.
The manti dough needs to be very thin, and then cut into small squares for stuffing. Filling the manti with the cooked beef was a comedy of errors.
Trying not to let any beef escape from the super-thin dough and perfectly fold them in place is a practice for the patient.
After lots of trials and error, we successfully managed to make the manti, and it was one of our favorite dishes in the cooking class.
Main Meal Cappadocia-Style Bread Dish or Yağlama
Yaglama which Chef Kaan referred to as a Turkish lasagna dish, sounded complicated but was in fact very easy to make.
This traditional dish from Capadoccia was a layered dish of ground beef between very thin slices of a special bread known as lavash.
While learning about the dish and the traditional recipes of Cappadocia, we cooked the ground beef with tomato and sweet pepper paste.
The cooking class was quite interactive moving back and forth and preparing different dishes under the watchful eye of chef Kaan.
As the food was simmering on the stove top, we were introduced to Turkish wine from Cappadocia. It was a delicious light red wine, easy to drink.
There’s a technique to eating this dish once it’s layered up and topped with a garlicky yogurt sauce. As Chef Kaan demonstrated, you pierce your fork through the layers of soft bread and twist it together and then eat.
Similar to a layered tortilla or lasagna, Yağlama’s bright flavors surprised us. So simple and delicious, this is a recipe we promised we’d make again.
Dessert – Turkish Pastry Dessert with Cheese or Kunefe
One of the reasons we were excited about this Istanbul cooking class was the opportunity to learn to make Kunefe.
We had already fallen in love with Kunefe, which we had discovered earlier in our Turkey stay, and we wanted to learn the recipe secrets.
Made with kadayıf or shredded phyllo dough, stringy cheese, and butter, all secrets of a delicious Turkish dessert.
It was our first time working with kadayıf, crispy thin strands of dough. For Kunefe, we first made a sugar water syrup.
And, then combined kadayif shreds with melted butter in special individual Kunefe plates.
After baking the dish and then enjoying it topped with the sugar syrup was a delicious finish to our Istanbul cooking class.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Another delicious way to experience Turkish food culture is on an Istanbul food tour. See our recommendations for the 9 Best Istanbul Food Tours: Indulge In Authentic Turkish Cuisine
Turkish Cooking Experience
Local Culture Through Music – Turkish music accompanied our cooking class experience. Not just listening to Turkish music in the background but actual performances. While making the food, Chef Kaan and his assistants spontaneously broke out into songs and dances associated with cooking. A fun and unexpected element of the cooking class experience.
Friendly Competition While Cooking – Keeping the environment fun, the chef divided us into two groups where we were judged by our cooking skills. Each time we learned to prepare a dish, we got “points” for our knife skills, cooking techniques, and folding the manti. This friendly competition was fun and kept us on the edge.
Great Cooking Studio – Located near Galata Tower in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, the location was easy to get to. The cooking studio space is comfortable enough for a small group. And, in the back is a cozy room with traditional Turkish decor to enjoy your meal.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you are looking for an Istanbul cooking class we recommend our Turkish and Ottoman Cuisine workshop. Chef Kaan is a fun, the class is interactive, and you’ll learn to make amazing food.
What You Need to Know Before Booking Your Istanbul Cooking Class
Who Is This Istanbul Cooking Class For?
- This class is best for those who want to dive into Turkish culture through food
- Those looking for an entertaining and fun time will love Chef Kaan’s upbeat class
- Those who want to learn to make Turkish dishes that are easy and not complicated
Who Is It Not For
- Not for those who want in-depth and hands-on cooking experiences
- Not for those who want to eat a at locals private home. This cooking class takes place in a cooking studio
- Not for those who want to visit a market and shop for the produce and local ingredients. Chef Kaan has all the ingredients purchased in advance.
Overall Impressions of this Cooking Class in Istanbul
What We Loved
Taking Istanbul cooking classes is a great way to learn about Turkish food culture. Here are some of the reasons why we loved our cooking class experience.
- Interactive Class with Gaming – This is one of the best cooking classes for fun and entertainment. You’ll not only learn how to make the dishes, but you’ll also be entertained in the process. We enjoyed our friendly competition and in the end, I was the “Manti” chef for skillfully folding the ravioli, while Claire was the “Sarma” chef for her exceptional detail in rolling the grape leaves.
- Turkish Culinary Culture – Chef Kaan was a wonderful instructor who kept the perfect balance between cooking and teaching. In his very friendly and approachable, he shared about Turkish history and culinary tips and kept the energy high with music.
- Delicious Turkish Food – After your cooking class experience, you’ll enjoy tasty and flavorful delicious food. Sitting in a comfortable Turkish-style dining room, you’ll have plenty to eat from starters to dessert. And, you’ll also leave with a certificate of completion and the recipes to recreate at home.
- Great location near Galata Tower – The historic Galata Tower is one of the most visited monuments in Istanbul. And, the Istanbul cooking studio is only about a 10-minute walking distance away. It makes for a nice excursion to the area and then enjoy a cooking class experience. As you’ll eat the delicious food you’ll make, you’ll avoid the touristy restaurants around the tower.
What Could Be Improved on this Istanbul Cooking Workshop
While we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our Istanbul cooking class, there are a few things that could be improved.
- Delayed Start Time – On the morning of the cooking class, we unexpectedly received a message from Chef Kaan asking us to change our class time due to a schedule change with an earlier class. As a result, we started our cooking class much later than we planned. After you book your class, double-check and confirm your start time.
- More To Eat at The Start of Class – As a result of our late start of the cooking class, we arrived hungry. While we started with some appetizers, we could have had a little more to tide us over for the duration of the cooking class. This may have been an isolated case and not a problem with other classes.
- Cooking Aprons Could Have Been Clean – As we put on our aprons to start cooking, we immediately noticed that they were covered in cooking flour. While that might have been due to other travelers in the previous class, it would have been nice to have clean aprons for our class.
How To Book Your Cooking Class
This Istanbul cooking class is one of the tastiest ways to dive into Turkish cuisine and culture. It’s a small group class that lasts from 3 to 3.5 hours.
You’ll learn to make traditional Turkish dishes from different parts of the country. And, you’ll enjoy an interactive experience accompanied by music and dance.
Make some of Turkey’s most unique and delicious dishes when you book your cooking class.
Alternative Cooking Classes in Istanbul to Consider
If you are looking for Istanbul cooking classes where you’ll learn to make more dishes, eat at a local’s home and enjoy a local market shopping experience, here are two other cooking classes we recommend.
Cookistan Cooking Class
This Turkish cooking class located one metro stop away from Istanbul’s Taksim Square includes a unique authentic neighborhood visit. Before your cooking experience, you’ll tour a local neighborhood and learn about Turkish culture and food.
This Cookistan cooking class lasts for about 5.5 hours including the old neighborhood tour.
What To Expect From This Cookistan Cooking Class
Some of the key highlights from this class are:
- Visit the Kurtulus old neighborhood for culture and food shopping
- Make a minimum of 6 dishes, including two starters, three main dishes, and one dessert. Including our favorite stuffed eggplant dish
- Cook and share a meal at a local’s private home providing an even deeper cultural experience.
What People Say
Travelers love this class describing it as “a fun day making recipes in a beautiful home.”
Others say it is “ wonderful day learning about various aspects of Turkish ingredients and traditional cuisine, whilst making new friends and enjoying beautiful food.”
Private Cooking Class At Local’s Home
Spend about 4-hours in a private cooking class in the Ataköy neighborhood, not far from the Marmara Sea and Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Nuray and Ipek, your hosts and mother-and-daughter team will teach you how to make a variety of Turkish dishes in their modern apartment.
You’ll come as guests and leave as friends after this delicious Istanbul cooking experience.
What To Expect From This Private Istanbul Cooking Class
Some of the key highlights from this class are:
- Make a variety of dishes including 2 starters, 4 main dishes, and homemade baklava for dessert.
- You’ll cook and eat at a local’s private home
- Local market visit available only on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons
- Cooking class is near Ataturk Airport making it a convenient stop in or out of Istanbul
- Private cooking class tailored to your needs
What People Say
Travelers describe this cooking class as “a fantastic experience, the opportunity to visit a family home and experience their favorite dishes.”
Those traveling as a family described the “hosts as very welcoming and warm. We enjoyed cooking as a family which also includes our ten-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
Have you ever taken an Istanbul cooking class before? Or what about a cooking class in another country? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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