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Overhead photo of a meat and cheese wooden tray platter on a gray background.

Balkan Meza: Tapas-Style Appetizer Platter

How to put together a tasty Balkan meza that consists of a variety of flavorful finger foods like cheese, cured meats, dips, and bread.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Bosnian, Croatian, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbian, Slovenian
Servings 6


  • one large serving tray or several small ones large enough to hold your ingredients


(Per taste and eating needs) An assortment of Balkan cured meats

  • suho meso, pršut, slanina, pastrma, stelja, ham, cracklings (substitute with bresaola, Italian prosciutto, and bacon as needed) about 1.5 ounces (50 grams) per person of each
  • kulen, sudžuka (substsitute with Italian dry cured sausages such as Mortadella or Soppressata) about 1.5 ounces (50 grams) per person of each

An assortment of grilled meats and eggs

  • grilled chicken, veal, ćevapi sausages, sudžukice or hard-boiled eggs about 1.5 ounces (50 grams) per person of each

An assortment of Balkan cheeses

  • travnički sir, mladi sir, kačkavalj, škripavac, kozji sir, Paški sir, and Trapist (substitute with: feta, Monterey jack, Belle Chevre, Manchega, mozzarella, queso blanco, havarti and gouda) about 1.5 ounces (50grams) per person of each

An assortment of spreads

  • ajvar, pindjur, lutenica, kajmak, honey about 1.5 ounces (50 grams) per person of each

An assortment of fresh and fermented vegetables

  • fresh tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, scallions, onions, and olives about ½ ounce (30 grams) per person of each
  • turšija (medley of fermented vegetables), sauerkraut, pickles about ½ ounce (30 grams) per person of each

(Per taste and eating needs) An assortment of fish and seafood

  • fried smelt or pilchard, salted marinated anchovies, grilled shrimp, and sardines per taste
  • fresh octopus or seafood salad, mussels per taste

An assortment of carbs

  • homemade bread, crescents, fried dough balls, pogacha bread, and crackers several ounces (50-150 grams) per person
  • burek several ounces (50-150 grams) per person

(Optional) An assortment of fresh fruit and nuts

  • apples, grapes, figs, pears, almonds, walnuts, peanuts about ½ ounce (30 grams) per person of each


  • rakija, višnjevača liqueur, beer (substitute with fruit brandies, grappa or ouzo) optional, and as per taste, to get tipsy and not drunk
  • juices, sodas, coffee, tea homemade or store-bought, per taste


Ingredient preparation

  • Before putting the meza together, slice and dice all your ingredients appropriately (bite-sized). There is only one hard rule: slice cheese thinly, and meat very thinly! In fact, the smaller everything is, the better.

Meza arrangement ideas

  • There are also no hard rules for putting the meza together. However, below are a few suggestions.
  • Option 1: Group food items by type in a symmetrical design: Arrange meats and cheeses (and other items) into groupings by type, however, try to keep it in a symmetrical design.
  • Option 2: Start in the middle: Start by placing an item (like a bowl with ajvar) in the middle of your tray, and then arrange other items n a circular or rectangular shape around it.
  • Option 3: Play with different serving items: Use a couple of different-sized trays, and bowls and divide the items between them.
  • Option 4: Group items by color: Instead of just the type, group items based on color.
  • Option 5: When in doubt, go to Pinterest for ideas. :)

Serving, making ahead, storing

  • Serving: Meza is best served at room temperature. Serve with small plates, utensils, and napkins. Encourage guests to try a bit of everything. Preparing ahead: you can prepare the meza ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Storing: store leftovers in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Do not freeze!


  • Nutrition and Servings
As each person eats a different amount of different ingredients, it's impossible to calculate nutrition for meza.  The serving size is also an approximation. It'll depend on the number of your guests.
  • Ingredients
Adjust the ingredients and volume based on your own needs. These are just suggestions, and ideas for what goes on a Balkan meza platter. (If we were putting it together, obviously we'd never put every single ingredient on it.) 
Finally, adjust the type of meat and seafood based on eating preferences. 
  • Preparation Time
Preparation time is an approximation. It will depend on whether you have the ingredients and items on hand, and how much additional slicing, dicing, and arranging you have to do.
Pro tip: while in the store, ask whether they can slice cheese and meat up for you. (In Europe, they'll usually do it without having to ask.)  
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!