Better (& Healthier) than Ketchup: Serbian Roasted Ayvar Sauce

Serbian Ayvar Sauce

My love affair with ayvar began about a month ago.

I happened upon a jar of the stuff while at the local market here in Kragujevac with a friend, where she casually recommended that I buy a jar of this common Serbian condiment.

Reluctantly, I purchased a bottle of the mushy, red sauce in a glass jar from an elderly lady’s stand. I’m all about jumping in head first to new food cultures, you know, so why wouldn’t I try it?

When I got home, I figured I would at least try a spoonful of it prior to making lunch.

The Kragujevac Market

The Kragujevac Market

Perhaps it would go well with my roasted chicken?

And that’s when it happened.

If anyone had been in the kitchen at the time, they would have witnessed my eyes get round and huge with excitement, and a sly smile creep over my face as I literally Mmmm!’d all over the place.

It’s that good.

It’s award winning good!

In fact, my previous love of organic ketchup has subsided (gasp!), replaced by another red condiment, full of rich flavor, texture, and nourishing goodness that had me at “first taste.”

Confession: While putting the jar away in the fridge, it detrimentally slipped out of my hands and broke (add that to the list of 10 other things I’ve broken this month).

Deep sadness ensued, to the point where I may or may not have tried to salvage it from broken shards of glass.

I may be a bit ashamed about this, but when you try it, you too will be willing to go LENGTHS to eat it (okay, maybe not with broken glass involved).


::Serbian Roasted Ayvar Sauce::

*Makes 2 large glass jars

6 red peppers
2 large eggplants (or 3-4 small ones)
2 – 3 cloves of garlic (depending on your garlic preference)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Sea salt + pepper


1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Put washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet (or in separate greased glass pans) and roast until their skins blister and start to turnblack (30 – 45ish minutes).


2. Place roasted veggies in a glass dish and cover with a top to let them steam for 10 minutes.

3. Peel off and throw away the blackened skins, and place the de-skinned peppers and eggplants in a large bowl.


4. Add salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, and either chop or blend to desired consistency. I like mine a bit chunky!


5. Transfer to a glass mason jar and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.



Enjoy making this delicatessen and eating it in a variety of ways as:

  • A spread on sandwiches
  • A dip for meats, cheeses, olives, or gluten-free crackers (my fave!)
  • A mediterranean-flavored sauce in spaghetti or rice dishes
  • On a spoon (scoop with a spoon and insert into mouth) :)

Bon appétit!


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19 responses on “Better (& Healthier) than Ketchup: Serbian Roasted Ayvar Sauce

    • Thank you! The sausage is called kulen, and is seriously an AMAZING traditional Serbian foodstuff! It’s made of low-fat minced pork, and has garlic and paprika flavoring.

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  4. Is the garlic supposed to be roasted or raw? I just made this with raw garlic and it seems a bit much. Maybe it will tone down a bit after it sits for awhile. Thanks for posting — new to Paleo and appreciate the recipes!

    • I used raw in this recipe, but you could certainly roast as well! Feel free to tone it down if it’s too much for you. :)

  5. Ajvar is the best. My parents were both born in Serbia and I go back every year. Two things that cant be matched here in the US, the nightlife and THE FOOOD! I love the fact that they don’t allow GMOs back home. I’ve literally sat down and eaten an entire loaf of bread and a whole jar of ajvar. It’s that good!

    • I totally agree!!! I am obsessed with ajvar! And yes, I also love that GMOs don’t exist in Serbia (yet).

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