Shopska Salad

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Although the ancient Greeks did a lot of impressive things, there’s a good chance they get a bit too much credit for salad. The fact that we call any mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, and feta “Greek Salad” is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, some version of this salad is a staple all the way along the Mediterranean, into Eastern Europe and the Balkans. In Bulgaria, it’s Shopska Salad.

Simple Bulgarian Recipe - Shopska Salad

Fact is, I love any salad made with peak season tomatoes and cukes. When I worked at a Greek restaurant as a teenager, that’s practically all I ate. I love the juicy tomatoes, the crunchy cucumbers and of course the Feta. The best part though? The juice that forms at the bottom of the plate. Give me a chunk of bread and THAT JUICE and I’m a very happy camper.

And don’t even get me started on the two Kalamata olives perched on top. I always save those for last. (You don’t often see olives on Shopska).

The importance of peak season produce

One thing that every region of all the best food countries can agree on is the importance of peak season produce. There are no two ways about it. When you want to make a top notch salad, you need to use the best ingredients you can get. And the best ingredients means the freshest and most in-season ingredients as humanly possible. 

Bulgarian cheese is the best!

Shopska salad, like Greek salad, is always covered in a nice blanket of brined white cheese. The Bulgarian version is called “sirene (сирене)” (pronounced ‘see-ren-eh’. It is similar to feta but tends to be softer and milkier. We are lucky our local Mediterranean deli stocks a very good Bulgarian cheese brand. But if you can’t find it, you can certainly use feta instead.

One of the many Shopska salads I ate in Bulgaria one summer. The lighting isn’t great but I promise it was delicious!

Time to bust out the best tomatoes

When you want to make Shopska salad, Greek salad, or any other tomato-forward salad, don’t mess around with off-season tomatoes. 

Seriously. Just don’t do it. Don’t make Shopska salad for a Christmas dinner.

In the cooler months, it’s better to stick to cool weather veggies for salads. Some good options: try my kohlrabi salad with apple and dill, or my sesame miso slaw.

If you don’t have any Bulgarian recipes in your repertoire yet, Shopska salad (or Shopska Salata) is a great one to start with. (These feta and egg stuffed peppers should be next on your list). The keys to a really good Shopska salad is to use the best tomatoes, the right amount of salt, top with lots of good creamy feta, and eat it right away. I’m not a fan of fridge-cold tomatoes and soggy cucumbers. I really think this salad is best when it’s super fresh. 

All you’ve got to do is toss everything together in a large bowl and dive in.

Looking for more Bulgarian/Balkan recipes? Here’s a few more!

Bulgarian Shopska Salad in a blue bowl with some red onion an cherry tomatoes on the side

Shopska Salad

Shopska salad is a traditional Bulgarian salad that is loaded with the juiciest tomatoes, the snappiest cucumbers, and briny soft cheese.
3.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Bulgarian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 300 kcal


  • 500 grams tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any colour but green optional
  • .5 medium red onion
  • 150 grams Bulgarian brined cheese (or feta)
  • 4 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch fresh Parsley (optional)


  • Chop up all the veggies into bite sized cubes. Toss with oil and salt, and top with feta and fresh parsley. Serve immedietely.


Calories: 300kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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