Must Try Balinese Food | Bali’s Tantalizing Flavors

Published by Yose Kristianto on

must try balinese food

Immerse yourself in the vibrant essence of Bali through its exquisite cuisine. From rich, aromatic flavors to artistic presentations, Bali’s culinary offerings are a true reflection of its culture. Discover the must try Balinese food that capture the island’s heart and soul as we explore this flavorful journey.

Nasi Goreng

When exploring the culinary treasures of Bali, one dish that stands out as a must-try Balinese food is Nasi Goreng. This renowned Indonesian dish, meaning “fried rice,” has not only made its mark across the world but has also been uniquely adapted by the Balinese. While it may have originated in Indonesia, Bali’s Nasi Goreng showcases the island’s distinctive flavors, making it an essential part of any food lover’s Balinese experience.

must try balinese food

Balinese Nasi Goreng: A Distinctive Twist

In the world of must-try Balinese food, Balinese Nasi Goreng is undoubtedly a standout. The Balinese version of Nasi Goreng offers a distinctive twist that harmoniously combines locally sourced ingredients and a special blend of aromatic spices. Here’s a closer look at what makes Balinese-style Nasi Goreng unique:

  • Local Ingredients: Balinese Nasi Goreng boasts an array of locally sourced ingredients that vary depending on the specific region of Bali you’re exploring. Anticipate a delightful blend of fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and spices, all cultivated on the island itself, adding a distinct regional touch to this must-try Balinese food.
  • Spice Blend: Balinese cuisine is known for its use of aromatic spices, and this is no exception with Nasi Goreng. The Balinese-style Nasi Goreng is typically seasoned with a special blend of spices, which may include turmeric, garlic, shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste, creating a flavorful and fragrant base.
  • Balinese Sambal: Sambal, an indispensable chili paste or sauce in Balinese cuisine, plays a pivotal role in elevating the flavors of Balinese Nasi Goreng. Served as a side accompaniment, Balinese sambal offers a spectrum of spiciness levels, imparting an exciting kick to the dish. This allows you to tailor the heat precisely to your preferences, enhancing your enjoyment of this must-try Balinese food.
  • Toppings: Balinese Nasi Goreng can feature a variety of toppings, including prawns, chicken, tofu, or even duck. These proteins are typically cooked with the fragrant spices and served on top of the fried rice, adding depth of flavor and texture.
  • Garnishes: Fresh garnishes such as sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and a sprig of cilantro or basil are common in Balinese Nasi Goreng. These garnishes not only enhance the visual appeal of the dish but also provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the fried rice.
  • Crispy Shallots: Crispy fried shallots are a popular topping for Balinese Nasi Goreng. They add a delightful crunch and a hint of sweetness to each bite, making the dish even more enjoyable.
  • Balinese Presentation: Balinese cuisine often emphasizes beautiful and artistic presentation. Nasi Goreng is no exception; it’s often served on a banana leaf or in a visually appealing manner, showcasing the vibrant colors and textures of the dish.
  • Variations: Just like in other regions of Indonesia, there are numerous regional variations of Nasi Goreng in Bali. Some places might add pineapple or shrimp, while others might incorporate cashews or other local ingredients. Exploring different versions can be an exciting culinary adventure.

Balinese-style Nasi Goreng is a flavorful and aromatic dish that perfectly captures the essence of Balinese cuisine, making it a delightful experience for your taste buds. It presents a wonderful opportunity to savor the unique flavors of this beautiful Indonesian island, truly making it a must-try Balinese food for every visitor.

Read: Authentic Balinese Experience

must try balinese food

Sate Ayam

In the realm of must-try Balinese food, Sate Ayam shines as an iconic and delectable dish that encapsulates the essence of the island’s cuisine. This dish consists of marinated and skewered chicken pieces, grilled to perfection and served with a tantalizing peanut sauce. Here’s a closer look at Sate Ayam, from its preparation to its delightful presentation:

Grilling to Perfection

What sets Sate Ayam apart is the grilling process. The skewers are meticulously grilled over an open flame or hot coals. This method imparts a smoky and charred flavor to the chicken, creating a harmonious contrast with the vibrant spices of the marinade. The result is succulent, tender, and slightly crispy chicken skewers that are simply irresistible.

Peanut Sauce Perfection

Sate Ayam finds its crowning glory in the traditional Balinese-style peanut sauce that accompanies it. This sauce is a harmonious fusion of roasted peanuts, velvety coconut milk, fragrant lime leaves, and a delicate balance of sweetness and spiciness. It introduces a creamy and nutty layer to the dish, enhancing the smoky grilled chicken with unparalleled depth and flavor.

Visually Appealing

As with many Balinese dishes, presentation plays a significant role in the overall dining experience. Sate Ayam is often served with meticulous care, featuring an artful arrangement of skewers, a bowl of peanut sauce, and a side of lontong (rice cakes) or steamed rice. The colorful ensemble is not only a feast for the taste buds but also a visual delight.

A Favorite for All Occasions

Sate Ayam is more than just a dish; it’s a beloved part of Balinese culture and a versatile culinary delight. Whether enjoyed as a street food snack, a family meal, or a special treat during celebrations, Sate Ayam remains a cherished and enduring symbol of Balinese cuisine.

When you visit Bali, savoring Sate Ayam is not only a culinary adventure but also an opportunity to appreciate the island’s vibrant flavors and the rich traditions that surround this must-try Balinese food.

Get Set for Your Bali Journey – It All Begins Here:

🏨 Cozy Bali Accommodation
🚐 Bali Attractions & Activities
🧳 Travel Insurance to Bali
✈️ Best Flight Deals to Bali
🧘‍♂️ Healing Yoga Retreat in Bali

Mie Goreng

When embarking on a culinary journey through Bali, one dish that should not be missed in the realm of must-try Balinese food is Mie Goreng. Originating from Indonesia, Mie Goreng is a beloved fried noodle dish, and in Bali, it undergoes a unique transformation, showcasing the island’s culinary creativity. Here’s a closer look at what makes Balinese-style Mie Goreng stand out:

  • Local Ingredients Abound: Balinese Mie Goreng is a celebration of the island’s abundant produce. Expect a medley of fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices that are locally grown, creating a palate of vibrant flavors.
  • Balinese Seasoning Mastery: Balinese cuisine is renowned for its mastery of spices, and this is reflected in the seasoning of Mie Goreng. A harmonious blend of traditional Balinese spices, such as turmeric, lemongrass, and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), imparts a depth of flavor that is truly unique.
  • Protein Variations: Just like in Nasi Goreng, Balinese Mie Goreng offers an array of protein options. You can relish it with chicken, prawns, tofu, or duck, all cooked with Balinese spices to create distinct and delectable flavors.
  • Balinese Sambal Kick: As with many Balinese dishes, Mie Goreng is often served with a side of Balinese sambal, allowing you to customize the spiciness level to suit your taste buds.
  • Crispy Toppings: Balinese Mie Goreng is frequently garnished with crispy shallots or fried garlic, providing a delightful crunch and an added layer of flavor.
  • Artistic Presentation: In Bali, presentation is an art form, and Mie Goreng is no exception. The dish is often presented with a visually appealing arrangement, showcasing the vibrant colors and enticing textures.
  • Regional Variations: Bali’s diverse regions may offer their own unique twists on Mie Goreng, so exploring different versions can be a delightful culinary adventure.

Balinese-style Mie Goreng embodies the essence of the island’s cuisine, offering a symphony of flavors and textures that is a treat for the senses. When you visit Bali, be sure to savor this delicious noodle dish, a testament to the island’s culinary creativity and a true must-try Balinese food.

Read: What to Know Befote Traveling to Bali


When it comes to experiencing the essence of Bali through its cuisine, Lawar stands out as a delightful and essential exploration. This Balinese specialty is not just a dish but a captivating journey that invites you to savor the island’s vibrant flavors and cultural traditions, making it a must-try Balinese food.

A Culinary Treasure

Lawar is a traditional Balinese dish that holds a special place in the island’s culinary repertoire. It is essentially a flavorful salad that beautifully combines a variety of finely chopped vegetables, such as long beans, coconut, and green papaya, with grated coconut infused with aromatic herbs and spices. This medley of fresh ingredients is brought to life by a harmonious blend of local flavors and Balinese culinary expertise.

Two Distinct Varieties: White and Red Lawar

Lawar can be prepared in two primary varieties: White Lawar (Lawar Putih), which features coconut, vegetables, and a base of minced meat or fish, and Red Lawar (Lawar Merah), characterized by the addition of a rich and spicy shrimp paste sauce. This versatile dish can be enjoyed on its own as a refreshing appetizer or as a delightful side dish to complement other Balinese specialties.

A Culinary Journey: Flavors, Presentation, and Tradition

With its emphasis on freshness, vibrant flavors, and meticulous presentation, Lawar offers a delightful culinary journey into the heart of Balinese cuisine. It’s a dish that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also showcases the island’s rich culinary heritage and artistic traditions. When you’re in Bali, savoring Lawar is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the local culture, making it a true must try Balinese food.

Read: Bali Day Trips to Include in Your Plans

Ayam Betutu

In the realm of must-try Balinese food, Ayam Betutu holds a special place as one of Bali’s most iconic dishes. This Balinese culinary masterpiece is a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage and culinary creativity.

What is Ayam Betutu

Ayam Betutu is a traditional Balinese dish that primarily features chicken (though there are variations with duck as well). What makes Ayam Betutu distinctive is the meticulous preparation and the flavorful blend of herbs and spices. Here’s a breakdown of Ayam Betutu’s key elements:

  • Heritage of Ritual and Flavor: Ayam Betutu has deep roots in Balinese culture and traditions. It’s not just a meal; it’s a sacred dish that’s often prepared for special ceremonies and celebrations.
  • Exquisite Spice Blend: Ayam Betutu’s essence is its exquisite spice blend. Combining turmeric, ginger, galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, candle nut, and more, these aromatic elements form a paste that marries perfectly with the chicken, elevating it with a burst of flavor and fragrance.
  • Marination and Slow Cooking: The chicken, usually whole and bone-in, is marinated with this fragrant spice paste. It is then tightly wrapped in banana leaves, creating a parcel. Traditionally, Ayam Betutu is slow-cooked, often in a pit dug in the ground with hot stones. This slow cooking process infuses the meat with an incredibly rich and complex flavor.
  • Balinese Sambal Companion: Ayam Betutu is often served with Balinese sambal, adding a spicy and zesty kick to the dish. The sambal complements the chicken’s rich and tender texture.
  • Balinese Presentation: As with many Balinese dishes, Ayam Betutu is presented with great care. The presentation is visually striking, often with intricate banana leaf wrappings and artistic arrangements.
  • Variations and Adaptations: While the traditional method involves slow-cooking the chicken in a pit, there are modern adaptations that use ovens. Some variations also use duck instead of chicken, offering a delightful twist.
  • Cultural Significance: Beyond its delectable flavors, Ayam Betutu embodies the cultural significance of Bali, making it a must-try for those seeking an authentic taste of the island.

Balinese Ayam Betutu is a culinary masterpiece that beautifully encapsulates the essence of Bali’s culture and flavors. When you visit Bali, indulging in this dish is not only a treat for your taste buds but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s rich traditions, making it a true must-try Balinese food.

Get Set for Your Bali Journey – It All Begins Here:

🏨 Cozy Bali Accommodation
🚐 Bali Attractions & Activities
🧳 Travel Insurance to Bali
✈️ Best Flight Deals to Bali
🧘‍♂️ Healing Yoga Retreat in Bali

must try balinese dishes

Babi Guling

In the world of must-try Balinese food, Babi Guling stands as a prominent and flavorful emblem of Balinese cuisine. This dish is a testament to the island’s rich culinary traditions and the artistry of Balinese chefs.

What is Babi Guling: A Balinese Culinary Treasure

Babi Guling is a Balinese-style roast pig, and it’s a dish that holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors to Bali. Here’s a closer look at this tantalizing dish:

  • Central Attraction: At the heart of Babi Guling is an entire suckling pig, customarily reserved for festive celebrations, ceremonies, and extraordinary gatherings. This porcine centerpiece is meticulously seasoned with a blend of turmeric, coriander seeds, lemongrass, lime leaves, and an array of aromatic spices.
  • Crafting Perfection: The art of Babi Guling lies in the meticulous preparation process. The whole pig is expertly roasted over an open flame or on a spit, carefully calibrated to achieve the ideal marriage of crispy skin and succulent meat. The result is a tantalizing contrast between the irresistibly crisp skin and the tender, flavorful meat beneath.
  • Balinese Flavors: Babi Guling’s distinctive flavor comes from the blend of spices and herbs used in the seasoning. It is a harmonious marriage of Balinese spices that infuse the entire pig with an irresistible aroma and taste.
  • Serving Style: When served, Babi Guling is typically accompanied by a variety of side dishes, including rice, vegetables, lawar (a traditional mix of vegetables and coconut), and sambal (spicy chili paste). The combination of these elements creates a balanced and delightful culinary experience.
  • Cultural Significance: Babi Guling is not just a dish; it holds cultural and ceremonial significance in Bali. It is often prepared for important religious celebrations and is considered a symbol of good fortune.
  • Variations: While the classic version features a whole pig, some places offer variations with just the pork meat, making it more accessible for smaller gatherings or individual servings.

Babi Guling is a gastronomic masterpiece that captures the essence of Balinese cuisine and culture. When visiting Bali, indulging in this dish is not only a feast for your taste buds but also an opportunity to appreciate the island’s culinary traditions, making it a true must-try Balinese food.

Read: Best Time to Visit Bali

must try balinese dishes

Sate Lilit

Sate Lilit, a quintessential Balinese culinary treasure, is a captivating satay variation featuring minced seafood or chicken blended with fragrant coconut, lime leaves, zest, coconut milk, and a bouquet of Balinese spices. This aromatic mixture is carefully coiled around bamboo sticks and expertly grilled, infusing the skewers with smoky perfection. Now, let’s delve into what makes Sate Lilit a must-try Balinese food:

  • Balinese Essence: Sate Lilit beautifully encapsulates the rich flavors of Bali through its carefully curated ingredients. It reflects the vibrant and aromatic essence of the island’s cuisine, making it a true representation of Balinese gastronomy.
  • Minced Proteins: The dish offers a delightful choice of minced proteins, such as fish, shrimp, or chicken, allowing you to explore various flavor profiles. The choice of protein adds depth to the dish, catering to a range of preferences.
  • Aromatic Blend: Sate Lilit’s flavor complexity arises from the meticulous blend of ingredients. The minced proteins are combined with freshly grated coconut, fragrant lime leaves, zesty lime zest, creamy coconut milk, and a medley of Balinese spices like lemongrass, garlic, and ginger. This creates a harmonious explosion of flavors.
  • Unique Spiral Shape: What sets Sate Lilit apart visually is its captivating spiral shape. To achieve this, the aromatic mixture is carefully and artistically wrapped around bamboo sticks, creating a stunning presentation that is as enticing to the eyes as it is to the palate.
  • Grilling Mastery: Sate Lilit is not just about the ingredients but also the grilling process. The skewers are expertly grilled over an open flame or hot coals. This grilling method imparts a smoky and charred depth to the dish, enhancing its overall flavor profile and texture.
  • Balinese Accompaniments: Sate Lilit is traditionally served with a variety of side dishes and condiments. These often include sambal matah (a spicy shallot and lemongrass relish) and a side of steamed rice or lontong (rice cakes). These accompaniments complement the skewers, creating a harmonious flavor symphony.
  • Versatility: One of Sate Lilit’s charms lies in its versatility. It can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a flavorful snack, or a satisfying main course. This adaptability makes it suitable for various dining occasions and preferences.
  • Cultural Significance: Beyond its culinary appeal, Sate Lilit holds cultural significance in Bali. It is prepared for various occasions, from family gatherings to temple ceremonies and festive celebrations. Its presence is a testament to its role as a cherished and enduring symbol of Balinese culture and hospitality.

Indulging in Sate Lilit offers not only a tantalizing culinary adventure but also a profound experience of Bali’s rich traditions and the artistry of its cuisine, making it an absolute must-try Balinese food.

Read: Why is Bali So Popular for Tourists

must try balinese food

Rendang: A Favorite Must Try Balinese Food

In the realm of exquisite Balinese cuisine that is a must-try, Rendang stands as a culinary marvel that beckons you to explore the multifaceted and rich tapestry of Balinese flavors. Originating from Indonesia, this iconic dish is celebrated for its intricate fusion of fragrant spices and painstakingly slow-cooked, tender meat, bathed in luscious coconut milk. Explore the layers of taste and cultural significance that elevate Rendang to an esteemed status in Balinese culinary heritage:

  • Slow-Cooked Artistry: Rendang is a testament to the art of patience and culinary craftsmanship. The meat, typically beef but sometimes chicken or lamb, undergoes a meticulous slow-cooking process in a bath of coconut milk and an array of spices. This deliberate method allows the dish to achieve a sublime tenderness and an aromatic depth that is nothing short of divine.
  • Aromatic Spice Ensemble: What truly distinguishes Rendang is the intricate blend of aromatic spices that dance in harmony. The dish boasts a symphony of flavors with ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and kaffir lime leaves. These spices intermingle to create a complex and nuanced flavor profile that gracefully marries sweet, savory, and spicy notes.
  • Cultural Significance: Beyond its culinary allure, Rendang carries profound cultural significance in Balinese traditions. It is often prepared for significant occasions, celebrations, and cultural ceremonies, symbolizing hospitality, togetherness, and reverence for time-honored values.
  • Versatility: Rendang transcends its role as a mere dish and takes center stage as a main course, typically served with steamed rice or lontong (rice cakes). Its flexibility extends to the choice of protein, accommodating diverse dietary preferences.
  • Global Acclaim: Rendang’s acclaim reaches far beyond Bali’s shores, earning it a prominent place on the world culinary stage. In a testament to its universal appeal, CNN Travel crowned it the world’s most delicious dish in 2017.

Indulging in Rendang isn’t just a culinary experience; it’s a profound immersion into the captivating flavors and cultural heritage of Bali. This dish embodies the culinary finesse of the island, making it an absolute must-try Balinese food for those seeking an authentic taste of Balinese culture and cuisine.

Read: Best Night Night Markets in Bali

In closing, must try Balinese food isn’t just a culinary experience—it’s an immersion into Bali’s rich culture. Each dish, from Rendang to Sate Lilit, Lawar, and Ayam Betutu, tells a story of tradition and artistry. So, on your next visit to Bali, savor these culinary treasures and experience the heart of the island’s culture through its flavors.

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Yose Kristianto

With 15 years of experience as a Bali travel guide, I've grown to love every corner of this mesmerizing island. Crafting personalized itineraries and ensuring smooth travel experiences are just part of what I do. But what truly ignites my passion is sharing Bali's rich culture and exploring its lesser-known wonders. My clients aren't just companions; they're part of my Bali family, and their joy is my ultimate mission. Let's set out on a journey to discover Bali like seasoned locals, where every moment is an adventure waiting to unfold.