10 foods you can’t leave Israel without trying

Jerusalem bagels are softer and sweeter than those found in the US.

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Jerusalem bagels are softer and sweeter than those found in the US.
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garfnata/Shutterstock

  • Many people are familiar with hummus and falafel.
  • But Israel has a lot of other delicious foods to offer, including sabich, a popular sandwich stuffed with fried eggplant.
  • Dessert lovers will also want to try rugelach and halva.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Israel has a diverse food scene that has been influenced by cultures from around the world. And while many people are familiar with foods like hummus or falafel, the country has a lot more to offer in the way of fresh dishes.

Whether you’re looking to purchase street foods from a market or sit down for a larger meal, here are the must-try foods that you can’t miss during your next trip to Israel.


Tahini is a very popular topping in Israel.

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Hummus typically comes served with tahini.
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Inna Reznik/Shutterstock

Chances are, you won’t find too many meals that aren’t topped with Tahini sauce when dining in Israel.

A dense paste made from crushed sesame seeds is combined with lemon juice, garlic, salt, water, and sometimes chopped parsley to create a sauce that tops hummus, falafel, and more.


Hummus is a dietary staple.

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Hummus can come topped with chickpeas and olive oil.
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John Theodor/Shutterstock

Although the origins are widely contested, hummus is one of the most prevalent foods in Israel. Typically served in a large dish, it consists of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.

The dish may also come topped with fava, chickpeas, pine nuts, or ground beef. Onions, pita, pickles, and even hot sauce will be served alongside the dip.


Falafel is a popular street food option in Israel.

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Falafel is a deep-fried ball of chickpeas.
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Steven Depolo/Flickr

Like much of Israeli cuisine, falafel’s birthplace is up for debate. However, while its origins may be unclear, there’s no question that you’ll find this street food just about everywhere you go in Israel.

The fried ball is typically made from soaked and crushed chickpeas, garlic, and various spices such as cumin. It’s then fried in oil and served in a pita. It may come topped with tahini, Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, and olive oil), and hummus.


Jerusalem mixed grill is another popular street food.

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The dish features a mixture of grilled meats.
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Fanfo/Shutterstock

This mixed grilled meat dish is popular throughout Jerusalem. It consists of grilled chicken hearts, spleens, and livers mixed with lamb that’s been seasoned with onion, garlic, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, olive oil, and coriander.

Oftentimes, it comes served in a pita and is topped with tahini, onions, and pickles.


Rugelach is a sweet pastry that can come filled with chocolate.

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Marzipan Bakery is a popular spot to find rugelach in Jerusalem.
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Brian Yarvin/Shutterstock

Originally hailing from Eastern Europe, Rugelach is a popular pastry found across bakeries in Israel, the most popular being Marzipan Bakery.

The crescent-shaped pastry is typically made with yeast dough and filled with chocolate, nuts, poppy seeds, or preserves.


Sabich is a popular Israeli breakfast sandwich.

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Sabich comes stuffed with eggplant and eggs.
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Gufetto78/TripAdvisor

Also known as sabih, this common Israeli sandwich consists of pita stuffed with fried eggplant, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, Israeli salad, parsley tahini sauce and amba, which is a tangy pickled mango condiment.


Bagels in Israel are very different from the ones you’ll find in America.

Jerusalem bagels are softer and sweeter than those found in the US.

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Jerusalem bagels are baked instead of boiled.
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garfnata/Shutterstock

These elongated pieces of bread are often sold by vendors on the streets of Israel. Also known as Jerusalem bagels, they are softer and less doughy than the bagels made in the United States due to being baked instead of boiled and come topped with sesame seeds.

Jerusalem bagels aren’t served with the traditional toppings you would find in the US, either. Instead, the come with dry spices like za’atar or cumin.


Shakshuka is a popular dish that’s typically served for breakfast.

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You can swap out vegetables for a modern take on the popular dish.
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jules/Flickr

Shakshuka is a North African dish that has become a popular breakfast option in Israel. The traditional dish consists of spiced, stewed tomatoes and peppers topped with poached eggs. However, you can replace the tomatoes with alternate sauces such as spinach and cream to make green shakshuka.


Try a sweet sesame halva for dessert.

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Different kinds of halva are sold in a Jerusalem market.
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Subodh Agnihotri/Shutterstock

Halva is a flaky, dairy-free, tahini-based treat that can come filled with different nuts, seeds, and various flavors. It’s served in huge slabs that are then cut or shaved into slices like cheese.


Shawarma is another popular food served in a warm pita.

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Shawarma can feature a variety of meats.
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FoodAndPhoto/Shutterstock

Although it’s been eaten across the Middle East for hundreds of years, this meat-filled wrap, similar to a gyro or doner kebab, has gained in popularity across Israel.

Also served in a warm pita, thin slices of spiced meat, such as lamb or chicken, are then topped with tahini or garlic sauce.