Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread

Ajvar - Balkan Pepper Spread

Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread is a delicious spread made with roasted sweet peppers, eggplant, and a few other simple ingredients. It is easy and relatively quick to make, but it is packed with a ton of flavour!

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Ajvar - Balkan Pepper Spread

Hey folks! How are you doing?

Today I am excited to share my last summer recipe this season. Technically, I would say it perfectly qualifies as a dish for late summer and early fall due to the abundance of peppers and eggplant now. You may ask what’s going to be next. Apples? Pumpkin? Sweet Potatoes? Not quite yet. I have promised to share some memories (and essentially pictures) from our Croatian trip in May. I think it would be a logical way to wrap this summer up.

I must admit though I have not figured out yet the way I will share these memories. Two weeks and too many beautiful places (over 20 towns and villages) visited. So many pictures with local cats taken :) Should it be chronological narrative? Our personal top 10 of places? Local foods? Or again – only the photos with local cats? lol As you see, I will need some brainstorming. But hopefully I will share a post (or probably the first part) sometime next week.

Croatian Food

Talking about local foods, of course we tried a few regional specialties in local restaurants. Istrian Fuži (type/shape of pasta) with truffles, octopus salad, Croatian black risotto with cuttlefish, Dalmatian Pašticada, Šporki Mararuli from Dubrovnik, and Rozata from the Adriatic part and particularly Dubrovnik. But we only visited restaurants 5 times (endless bakeries and street snack not counted.)

Remaining meals? We intentionally rented all the places with small kitchens. Hence, every day we enjoy simple but utterly delicious meals that included local specialties. Simple veggie salads along with fresh breads, local cheeses and deli meats (like salami with truffles and prosciutto) and store-bought condiments. That was how we tried Ajvar, and we did love it right away.

Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread

Ajvar is a condiment made from sweet peppers, eggplant, and few staples like oil and vinegar. It might be mild (like this version), piquant, or hot (for versions with added hot peppers.) Can you imagine a slice of rustic bread with a generous layer of this sauce and topped with prosciutto? That’s one of my best memories from Croatia!

However, it will not be correct to say that this is a Croatian dish exclusively, and it is common (perhaps with some variations) throughout the Balkan region, including Serbia, Croatia, North Macedonia, and Bosnia. From my understanding (and I totally can be wrong), the spread originated in Serbia and then spread throughout the Balkan region after World War II among the territories of former Yugoslavia.

More Spread Ideas

Looking for more spreads and dips perfect for late summer?

Beetroot Pine Nut Dip

Beetroot Horseradish Dip

Eggplant Caviar

Zucchini Caviar

Wild Mushroom Caviar

I hope you like this Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread, and you will give it a try soon. If you make it, let me know in this post or send me an Instagram message or share you photos adding the hashtag #havocinthekitchen.


Ajvar - Balkan Pepper Spread
Ajvar - Balkan Pepper Spread

Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread

Recipe by Ben | HavocinthekitchenCourse: Appetizers, SidesCuisine: Balkan


Prep time


Cooking time


Grilling/roasting time


Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread is a delicious spread made with roasted sweet peppers, eggplant, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Great as a side dish, dip, or spread for bread.


  • 6 large sweet red peppers – ideally sweet pointed pepper, but if not available, bell peppers will work (about 850-900 gr.)

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 400 gr.)

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  • Heat a grill to medium heat (350-400°F) and lightly oil the grates.
  • Using a fork, poke holes into the eggplant skin in several areas and set it on the grill along with the red peppers.
  • Grill the eggplant and peppers about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the red pepper skins char and puff up and the eggplant softens.
  • Remove the vegetables. Place peppers in a bowl and cover them with a towel to let them steam. When cooled, peel off the charred skins and remove the seeds and stems. Cut off the stem from the eggplant, slice it lengthwise and scoop out the eggplant flesh. Discard the skin and stem.
  • Option 2 If you don’t have a grill, you can roast them in the oven 200 C (400 F) cooking for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are soft. When ready, repeat the step 4 for peppers.
  • Add the roasted peppers and eggplant to a food processor along with the garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Process it to a smooth texture.
  • Transfer the mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer for 30-40 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat, try, and add more seasonings if required. Let it cool to room temperature then enjoy right away or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to one week. Serve with grilled meats, bread, as a spread or dip, and many other ways.


    13 thoughts on “Ajvar – Balkan Pepper Spread

    1. Raymund says:

      Your Ajvar Balkan Pepper Spread recipe sounds absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try it, especially after reading about your culinary adventures in Croatia. Looking forward to your upcoming posts about your trip and more tasty recipes.

    2. Judee says:

      This spread looks really delicious and relatively simple to make. I live in an area with a large Russian and Ukrainian population(in the winter in Florida) and many of the stores carry jars of spreads that look like this one! Not sure though.

    3. David @ Spiced says:

      This sounds delicious, Ben! I’m not familiar with Ajvar, but clearly I need to become familiar. Any recipe that I can pile on top of a delicious piece of crusty bread is one that I know I’m going to love. Recreating meals that you discover while traveling is one of the best things – great job here, my friend!
      David @ Spiced recently posted…Pepper Jack Nacho Cheese SauceMy Profile

    4. Shannon says:

      This Ajvar Balkan pepper spread looks amazing Ben! I love spreads like this that can be made mild, medium, or spicy. Your trip to Croatia sounds absolutely perfect, I can’t wait to see photos! I completely agree, the best way to enjoy food when traveling is to learn about it and try out a few restaurants, but really focus on the bakeries, street food, and having a kitchen so you can experiment with local ingredients yourself. I can’t wait to try this pepper spread with some crusty bread!

    5. Frank | Memorie di Angelina says:

      Sounds delicious, Ben! I happen to have both peppers and eggplant in my fridge, and wondering what I’d do with them, so this post is very timely. Do keep the Croatian recipes coming…

      And yes, it’s been blazing hot around here so it most definitely still feels like summer!

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