Serbian Hamburger (Pljeskavica)

Serbian "Pljeskavica" Hamburger

Barbara Rolek 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Chill Time: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
371 Calories
22g Fat
3g Carbs
38g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 371
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 126mg 42%
Sodium 441mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 594mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A pljeskavica (pless-kah-VEE-tsah) is a Serbian hamburger that's popular in one form or another throughout the Balkans but especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. 

The name for these meat patties (pljeskavice is plural) comes from ​pljesak, a word meaning "to clap the hands," the motion used to form these thin, large burgers.

In this recipe, the pljeskavica can be made with any combination of pork, lamb, and beef. They can be grilled, broiled, baked, or pan-fried, although grilling is traditional. The meat mixture is usually identical to that used for cevapcici, little sausages that are formed by hand instead of being stuffed into a casing.

This recipe combines pork, lamb, and beef, along with garlic, onions, and paprika (sweet or hot) for a flavorful and juicy burger. Typical accompaniments can include ajvar, a spread made from roasted red bell peppers and eggplants, along with Serbian potato salad and coleslaw. These burgers are often served with either Serbian lepinje, a yeasted flatbread, or pogacha, a rustic yeasted bread.


  • 1 pound ground beef chuck

  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork

  • 1/2 pound lean ground lamb

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sweet or  hot paprika

  • Whole green onions, for serving

  • Chopped raw onion, for serving, optional

  • Tomato slices, for serving, optional

  • Ajvar spread, and lepinje or pogacha bread, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together ground beef chuck, ground pork, ground lamb, garlic, onions, salt, and sweet or hot paprika until thoroughly combined. Do not overmix because this will toughen the meat.

  3. Refrigerate meat mixture for several hours for the flavors to meld and for the mixture to firm.

  4. Heat a grill, indoor grill, broiler or skillet. Using slightly dampened hands, divide meat mixture into 6 portions. Form into thin patties, 9 inches by 1/2 inch or about the size of a small dinner plate.

  5. Cook pljeskavice about 7 minutes per side.

  6. Serve with green onions or chopped raw onion, tomato slices, ajvar, lepinje, and pogacha bread, although some Serbs place the patty on a large bun like an American hamburger.

  7. Enjoy.


If you want to take this recipe to the next level, you can add cheese (crumbled feta would be great) and cooked bacon. It's often also served with homemade cheese called kajmak as a condiment.

How to Store and Freeze Pljeskavica

Cooked pljeskavica will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days, as long as it's wrapped well or stored in an airtight container.

You can also freeze these patties for up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot all the way through.