The 12 Most Typical Balinese Dishes

Bali is famous for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and world-renowned surf spots, but also because of its Balinese Dishes! Have you ever thought about the culinary journey that awaits you?

From deliciously spicy to sweet and tangy, the Balinese cuisine is a feast for your taste buds. In this article, we’re diving into the culinary world of Bali, exploring 12 of the most delectable local dishes you need to try on your next visit!


Balinese Dishes

Balinese cuisine, known for its intricate techniques and diverse ingredients, is a vibrant mix of spicy, sweet, and tangy flavors that are sure to delight any food lover’s palate.

Here, local ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, and turmeric blend seamlessly with an array of exotic spices to create dishes that sing with flavor.

From Babi Guling, a tantalizing roasted suckling pig marinated in a rich spice paste, to Lawar, a traditional mix of vegetables, minced meat, and spices, each dish is a gastronomic revelation.

And let’s not forget the heavenly desserts like Pisang Goreng (fried bananas) and the black rice pudding known as Bubur Injin.

As we delve deeper into the world of Balinese dishes, you’ll discover that the island’s food is not just about sustenance, but also a deep-rooted part of the local culture and ceremonies.

Babi Guling (Suckling Pig)

Babi Guling, or suckling pig, is a Balinese speciality, reserved for special occasions and ceremonies. The pig is stuffed and infused with a spicy concoction typically involving turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, black pepper and garlic.

It’s then spit-roasted to perfection. The result is a succulent and aromatic meat with a crispy, crackling skin. Each part of the pig can be enjoyed, from the crispy skin to the tender meat and even the rich, spicy blood sausage.

Bebek Betutu (Smoked Duck)

Bebek Betutu is a ceremonial dish involving a whole duck, which is generously rubbed with a mix of spices called ‘base genep’ – a complex blend of at least 16 different spices.

The duck is then wrapped in banana leaves and left to marinate for at least 12 hours. It’s then slow-cooked (or smoked) for up to 24 hours, resulting in an incredibly tender, flavorful meat.

Nasi Campur Bali (Balinese Mixed Rice)

Nasi Campur Bali is a vibrant dish consisting of small portions of vegetables, poultry, meat, fish or seafood, and a variety of other accompaniments.

The highlight of this dish is the ‘sambal matah’ – a raw, spicy shallot salsa that adds an extra zing. It’s a delightful medley of flavors and textures, ensuring each bite is different from the last.

Sate Lilit (Balinese Satay)

Unlike typical satay, Sate Lilit doesn’t use skewers. Instead, a spiced mince made from either fish, chicken, pork, or beef, is wound around lemongrass stalks, then grilled. The lemongrass lends its flavor to the meat, creating a unique taste profile.

Lawar (Mixed Vegetables, Meat, and Spices)

Lawar is another of the most popular Balinese dishes. It’s a traditional Balinese salad that combines chopped vegetables, minced meat, and grated coconut. The mixture is then seasoned with a rich blend of herbs and spices, including turmeric, garlic, and chili.

The ingredients can vary, but common additions include long beans, jackfruit, and cassava leaves.

Ayam Betutu (Spicy Chicken)

Ayam Betutu is a slow-cooked chicken dish, marinated in a rich blend of local spices including turmeric, galangal, ginger, chili, and shrimp paste. The marinated chicken is then wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked for several hours.

This slow process results in a tender, flavorful dish that’s deeply infused with spices.


Gado-Gado (Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce)

Gado-Gado is a refreshing, nutritious salad made from a mix of blanched or steamed vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu, tempeh, and lontong (rice cake). What sets it apart is the creamy peanut sauce dressing, which adds a rich, savory flavor to the dish.

Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)

Nasi Goreng in Bali often incorporates a unique blend of sweet soy sauce, garlic, shallots, chili, and shrimp paste, creating a flavor profile that’s distinctly Indonesian. It’s usually served with a sunny-side-up egg and a side of prawn crackers.

Pisang Goreng (Fried Banana)

Pisang Goreng is a simple snack made by battering and deep-frying ripe bananas until they’re golden and crispy. The result is a sweet, warm treat often served with a dusting of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)

Kopi Luwak is one of the world’s most exclusive (and controversial) coffees. The coffee cherries are eaten by a civet cat and then passed through its digestive tract.

During this process, the coffee beans undergo fermentation, which contributes to the coffee’s unique flavor. After being excreted by the civet, the beans are collected, thoroughly cleaned, sun-dried, and then roasted. This coffee is known for its smooth, rich, and less bitter taste.

Bubur Injin (Black Rice Pudding)

Bubur Injin is a traditional Balinese dessert made from black glutinous rice. The rice is simmered slowly with water and a sweetener, usually palm sugar, until it becomes a thick, sweet porridge.

The dessert is often served with a dollop of thick, salty coconut cream on top, creating a lovely contrast of flavors. It’s a comforting dessert that’s not too sweet and perfect for ending a hearty meal.


Bali’s culinary landscape is a tantalizing blend of flavors and traditions, reflecting the island’s cultural diversity. Each dish, from the main courses to the desserts and beverages, tells a story of the island’s rich heritage, waiting to be discovered and savored. So, on your next visit to Bali, make sure to step off the beaten path and explore the delightful world of Balinese cuisine. It’s a gastronomic journey that you won’t soon forget!

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Luca and Melisa, a couple from Australia with a love for Bali and Cooking.

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