Turkish Delight (Lokum) in Turkey

Page update - Apr 7, 2023

What is a Turkish delight (lokum)? What is the difference between lokum and rahat-lokum? What types and forms of the sweet exist? How is it produced in confectionary factories? What are the prices in stores and pastry shops in Turkey? Read the answers on this page and about the 12 most colorful and interesting varieties of Turkish delight.

The prices on this page were updated in April 2023. Turkish delight continues to rise in price, as does almost all foodstuffs in Turkey. The reason for the price increase is the fall of the Turkish currency which in the past two years dropped 2,5 times - from 7.5:1 to 19.2:1. See the actual prices below on this page.

What is lokum?

Lokum is a family of Turkish sweets made from sugar, starch, water and tartaric or citric acid. The sweet has a soft consistency, but a stable shape. The consistency resembles marmalade, but a little firmer.

Nuts, dried fruits, juices or flavorings are added to the sugar and starch mixture during the production process. Thanks to this, there are more than a thousand varieties of lokum in Turkey. The 12 most interesting varieties will be discussed in the second part of our review.

The shape of a lokum is most often in the form of a cube with a 4-5 centimeter (1.5-2 inches) edge. Less common are rolls, long cylinders or bars, which must be cut before consuming. The cubes are sprinkled plentifully with icing sugar to prevent them from sticking together.

The most popular Turkish flavors are rosewater, pomegranate, lemon, and orange blossom. The production technology is complicated and the cooking process is very long, which we will talk about a little later.

Lokum and rahat-lokum - what's the difference?

There is no difference except for the name. Lokum is called differently in different regions. In Turkey it is "Lokum", in countries of former Yugoslavia it is "Rahat-lokum", in Greece and Cyprus it is "Lokumi", in countries of Western Europe all these names are used.

Production technology

The technology of producing lokum has now reached perfection in Turkey. Over the centuries, the ideal dosage of all ingredients and the optimum time for each step has been precisely determined.

First, water is boiling in a big tank, and sugar is added to get a thick syrup. This syrup is boiled for one hour, stirring all the time.

Starch and water are mixed in another tank. Turks call the mixture "starch milk". The starch milk is then poured into the sugar syrup and citric or tartaric acid is added to the mixture. The mixture continues to be stirred continuously. The mixture boils for another 5-6 hours.

Nuts, dried fruit and/or flavorings are added afterwards. Then the mixture is allowed to cool down a little and poured into wooden trays for complete cooling and infusion which lasts for 12 hours in normal conditions. After it has cooled, the mixture is cut into cubic pieces, covered with icing sugar and packaged.

Traditional lokum is made in open tanks, and the time and energy required to make it is enormous. The whole process takes 18 hours or more! The Turks have worked hard on the technology, and now use pressure cooking and a temperature of 125 degrees. The cooking time is reduced to 1.5 to 2 hours. The cooling time is reduced to 3-4 hours with water cooling systems.

It is considered that only lokum according to traditional recipes to have the highest quality. That is, cooked in an open tank and cooled naturally. This kind of lokum is cooked in the best confectioneries, hence the high price.

How to cook at home

Turkish people cook lokum at home in the same way, but they take less water and boil the mixture for less time, about one hour. Turks rarely make lokum at home, as nobody wants to spend an hour in the kitchen stirring the mixture. It is easier to go to a store and buy ready-made.

Prices of lokum in Turkey

The prices of lokum in Turkey have risen recently. This is not surprising as the Turkish currency has fallen by almost 2.5 times since the beginning of 2021 until this page was updated (April 2023).

Pricing is pretty simple.

Classic varieties (with rose water, orange, lemon and apple flavors) cost 50-80 lira in factory packaging (in terms of per kilo). Starting at 80 lira per kilo in pastry shops. See the actual exchange rates in our review "Money in Turkey".

If complex and expensive flavors are added, then it is more expensive. For example: pomegranate, lavender, wild berries, etc. The price is 80-120 liras per kilo in factory packing, starting at 120 liras per kilo in pastry shops.

If nuts are added, it is even more expensive. If there are walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds, the price is 100-150 lira in factory packing, starting at 150 lira in pastry shops.

And the most expensive variety is with pistachio added. The price is 150-250 liras in factory packing, starting at 200 liras in pastry shops. The price of pistachio (as well as any variety with nuts) strongly depends on the amount of nuts inside.

Take note! There are expensive pastry shops in Turkey where even the plain variety can cost 200 lira. So don't be surprised. How much better and tastier is such lokum than an ordinary one? That's an open question. Try it and decide for yourself.

Famous brands

The most popular brand is Koska . This lokum is considered medium in quality and is found in almost all supermarkets and souvenir shops. The Koska confectionery company has been around since 1907. See the photo of the package nearby, click on the photo to enlarge it.

They now produce about a dozen varieties, including chocolate-glazed varieties. There are also heart-shaped gift packs and beautiful tins with oriental ornaments.

Another famous brand is Hazer Baba. Hazer Baba is less common and the quality is also considered average. Hazer Baba has been in existence since 1888.

Hazer Baba has an even wider range, with around 40 varieties. There are also oriental and heart-shaped gift boxes. The gift boxed lokum is very interesting.

If you choose the factory packed lokum, you can probably choose between Hazer Baba and Koska.

Sometimes you will come across Haci Bekir lokum. This confectionery company was founded by Hadji Bekir who invented the modern version of lokum. It is considered the best. If you come across it, take it. We'll talk more about Haci Bekir later.

By weight or factory-packaged?

Lokum hardens quickly in the open air. You should choose based on this fact.

If you're going to eat it in a few days, take the weighted one. If you can bring it home and distribute it to relatives and friends in a couple of days, you should also take the weighted one. The weighted lokum is usually tastier and the selection is usually much wider.

If you are going to keep it at home for a long time (a week or more) or if you can't distribute it quickly, get it in factory packaging. Look first at the date of manufacture - the fresher the better.

Where and how to buy lokum in Turkey

There are three options: souvenir shops, supermarkets, pastry shops.

The shops and stalls in the resort areas usually have a wide selection of unpackaged lokum and factory gift packs are available. However, the quality of the Turkish delight may be very poor or it may be very high if it comes from a good confectionery. It's a lottery. Taste it, choose, buy it if you like it.

In the MigrosM and CarrefourSA supermarkets, the range is usually narrow and only factory packaging is often available. The prices are lower than in pastry shops. If you're aiming for factory-packaged lokum, you should definitely visit a supermarket.

In pastry shops, they usually sell lokum only by weight. At customer's request, they can pack it nicely, but lokum will still harden in length of time even in a package, though it will be slower. You have to eat it or distribute it as soon as possible. The quality and taste are always the best in pastry shops.

The origin of lokum

The origin is quite vague - many theories, no proof. It is believed that a similar dessert was invented in Babylon 2000 years ago, and that Babylonian dish was a sweet chewing gum.

The name "lokum" comes from the Arabic expression "«رَاحَة الْحُلْقُوم»" ("rahat alhulkum", translate: "pleasure for the throat"). It is believed that similar sweets made of starch (or flour) and sugar (or honey) were invented in the Arab world in the 15th century or even earlier.

There is a very interesting opinion that the name comes from the Arabic "لعق" ("liak", meaning "to lick"). And that it was not originally a candy or sweet, but a form of medicine. That is, medicinal herbs were added to a base of honey (sugar) and starch and given to the patient to chew or lick. Turkishs replaced the herbs with nuts and dried fruit and made a sweet.

In its present form, lokum appeared at the end of the 18th century. A confectioner called Bekir from the town of Kastamonu made the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, after which he became known as Haci Bekir. It is believed that it was in the Arabian Mecca that he was inspired by the local culinary traditions. Haci Bekir moved to Istanbul where he first got a job as a pastry chef's assistant, then opened his own pastry shop in 1777.

There is a legend that a Turkish sultan broke his tooth while eating a dessert. The sultan announced a competition among the confectioners of Istanbul. The winning dessert had to be tasty, soft and safe for teeth. Haci Bekir won with his lokum.

Is the legend true? It is difficult to say, as no records of the contest have been preserved. However, it certainly has some truth, as Haci Bekir became the court confectioner under Sultan Mahmud II.

Lokum became very popular in the Ottoman Empire. It was used as a declaration of respect or love among the rich people. It was given to the ladies in laced velvet bags, and it was served on the tables in rich houses in silver dishes. At the beginning of the 19th century, it became a sign of social refinement.

Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir pastry shops

Hacı Bekir's first bakery was called Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir. The Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir confectionery still works in Istanbul, in the same place as 230 years ago. It is located at Katip Mustafa Çelebi Mahallesi, 83 İstiklal Cd. If you wish, you can visit this pastry shop and taste the lokum made by Haci Bekir's recipe. The business is in its 5th generation of Bekir family management.

The company is no longer a small pastry shop but a big enterprise with its headquarters in Istanbul, a large factory in Ankara, and a dozen shops and points of sale outside Turkey as well.

You may order Hacı Bekir locum through the Internet with delivery. The official website is:

Unfortunately, there are no Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir shops in popular resorts. There is only one point of sale in the province of Antalya. The one in Alanya is Chocolate House at Kadıpaşa Mahallesi, Stad Cd. 22. It sells the official Haci Bekir lokum, but in a very limited range.

The 12 most interesting varieties

Here are 12 varieties that are worth tasting. Some of them make our list as classics, some as very rare even for Turkey.

Naneli Lokum (mint variety)

Even in Turkey, this variety is considered rare and not commonly found in supermarkets, only in pastry shops. The mint flavor in this lokum is usually intense, not everyone will like it. But it is worth a taste.

The price is not high - 60-80 Turkish liras per kilo. If nuts are added, it is more expensive. Mint is not a rare or expensive ingredient, so it is priced like a regular lokum.

Safran Kaplamalı Lokum (saffron variety)

This lokum is coated not with icing sugar but with saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. The inside contains pistachios and is most often flavored with pomegranate juice.

It is considered a rarity in Turkey, found only in large and expensive pastry shops, and only a few companies produce it in packs. Given that saffron is more expensive than gold, prepare for high prices. The price starts at 200 lira per kilo in factory packaging and 300 lira per kilo in pastry shops.

Gül Yapraklı Lokum (with rose petals)

This is the variety that could win the "Most Romantic Gifts from Turkey" award. It's filled with pistachios, scented with rose water or pomegranate and topped with rose petals.

If you want to present such a lokum to a lady, note that it is made with pomegranate flavor most often. Pomegranate is not to everyone's taste. Better choose the rosewater-flavored variety - it's a win-win.

Sakızlı Lokum (with eucalyptus resin)

This variety is considered to be not only delicious, but also healthful. It is quite common in Turkey but almost impossible to find outside of Turkey, so don't miss the chance to taste it.

The price for the eucalyptus variety is the same as for the usual varieties - 60-80 Turkish liras per kilo in the factory packaging and starting 80 lira in pastry shops. However, it is often sold at triple the price in resort areas as it is a rare variety.

Kahveli Çikolatalı Lokum (coffee-chocolate variety)

Coffee is the flavoring and sprinkles are made using chocolate or cocoa. Most often, there are no nuts inside, but sometimes pistachios are used. Occasionally, Kahveli Lokum is also found without chocolate.

As cocoa is much more expensive than sugar and starch, the price depends on the amount of sprinkles. The price in the factory packaging is from 100 to 200 Turkish liras per kilo, the price in confectioneries starts at 150 liras.

Tarçınlı Lokum (with cinnamon)

Sugar and cinnamon is a win-win combination. However, the taste of this variety may seem unusual as we are used to cinnamon only in baked goods. There is a little cinnamon in this lokum - about 0.1%. This is enough for the flavor, but not enough for the rich color. This is why red dye is added.

The price is the same as the usual varieties - 60-80 liras per kilo in the factory packaging, starting 70 lira in pastry shops.

Zencefilli Lokum (ginger variety)

The taste is very unusual and not every European or American would like it. Very rare in Turkey, and almost impossible to find outside Turkey. If possible, taste it, at least "for the record".

The price is the same as for the simple varieties - 60-80 liras per kilo in the factory packaging, in cafes or pastry shops - starting at 70 liras.

Hurmalı Lokum (date variety)

Once upon a time, date lokum was one of the staple varieties at Haci Bekır's confectionery. This was not surprising because the Ottoman Empire then ruled the Middle East, and dates were plentiful and they were cheap. But the Turks have lost these territories and the date variety is now a rarity even in Turkey.

Often the name Hurmalı Lokum does not stand for the classic lokum but for the date puree candy. The date variety costs from 70 liras per kilo in the factory packaging to 100 liras in cafes and pastry shops.

Altın Lokum (with gold crumb)

This is regular lokum but with gold sprinkles on top. A few pastry shops in Turkey make this variety and most of it is exported to oil-rich Arab countries. In Turkey, you can taste it in a few of the fashionable hotels in Istanbul.

If you happen to come across a golden variety, you are more than welcome to taste it. But don't expect a taste extravaganza as gold has no taste or smell, and gold crumb do not affect the taste of the lokum. The gold in the lokum is not much, only 1.6 grams per kilo of product.

The price is 50 Turkish liras for a small piece.

Çift Kavrulmuş Lokum (double roast)

The Turkish phrase "Çift Kavrulmuş" literally translates to "double fried". Of course, it does not mean roasting lokum itself, but means roasting the nuts twice. It is more enjoyable because the nuts inside are softer.

The price is the same as for the regular varieties with nuts inside, 100-150 liras per kilo, and the price starts at 150 liras in the bakeries. If pistachios are added, even more expensive - 150-250 in a pack, starting at 200 in pastry shops.

Bal Lokum (honey variety)

Honey was once used in lokum as the main ingredient instead of sugar. However, this method is now a thing of the past and only a few pastry shops offer something similar.

The phrase Bal Lokum now refers to a regular lokum made of sugar and starch, but with a honey flavor. This variety does not belong to the list of popular ones, which is why it is rarely seen. The price is 80-100 liras per kilo, with bakeries and confectioneries starting at 100 liras.

Süt Lokum (milk variety)

A very rare variety with an admixture of milk. The lokum gets a nice white color and an unusual taste. However, this variety is not favored by manufacturers as the milk reduces the shelf life of the product.

The milk variety is extremely rare in Turkey in shops and confectioneries, but is very popular with housewives. If you come across it in a pastry shop, the price is 60-80 liras per kilo.

Tips for tourists

- You can find a lokum labeled as "Sultan" or "Saray" (palace). Many people ask: what do these names mean? The answer is that they don't mean anything, they are just the usual varieties and they are just a way for vendors to pad their prices;

- If you go to a good confectionery, they may refuse to take US dollars, Euros or UK pounds, even in the resort area. The best way to pay is in Turkish liras. Read our review "How to change currency in Turkey";

- The names of flavourings and fillings in Turkish: sade - plain (no fillers or flavourings), güllü - with rose water, fındıklı - with hazelnuts, fıstıklı - pistachio, nar - pomegranate, badem - almond, hindistan cevizi - coconut, cevizli - with walnuts, portakallı - orange, limonlu - lemon, çikolata - chocolate;

- There are almost no restrictions on the export of food products from Turkey. But there may be restrictions on the import of sweets into your home country either. Just keep in mind that quantities must fall under the term "for personal consumption". Read our review "What you can't take out of Turkey";

- Read about other gifts from Turkey and interesting Turkish food in our reviews: "What to bring from Turkey", "Baklava in Turkey", "Halva in Turkey".

Enjoy tasting Turkish delight and read our interesting pages about Turkey (find the pages list below). © 2020-2024