A Guide to Turkish Ice Cream a.k.a why Maraş Dondurma rocks

While Turkey has its fair share of the humdrum ice cream brands, the one type of ice cream that stands out and that any tourist must try is Maraş (from the city of Kahramanmaraş where it was first developed) Dondurma (the Turkish word for ice cream). Maraş Dondurma’s most distinct features are its chewiness and its ability to stay frozen even after long periods of time. The main reason for the second attribute is one of its ingredients – salep, which is a kind of flour made from the tubers of wild orchids, grown mostly in South-Eastern Turkey.

Maraş Dondurma



Most people who have lived and traveled in Turkey will be more than familiar with the sellers of Maraş Dondurma on the streets of particularly touristy cities like Antalya, Istanbul etc. It gets boring after a while as these sellers are quite bent on doing ‘tricks’ with the ice cream to prove that it never falls off and melts. Sometimes though, it goes too far, as one of friends had to rudely find out, when one of the dondurma sellers decided to poke him in the crotch with a scoop of maraş dondurma.


Some delectable Maraş dondurma with fresh fruits that I had in Safranbolu, on the Black Sea coast

However, it’s not these street-side sellers who have the best maraş ice cream. The best chain store that I’ve found for such a style of  ice cream is definitely MADO, which has franchises all over the country. Besides MADO, maraş dondurma produced by the Atatürk Orman Ciftliği (or Atatürk farms), is also quite delectable. I was never a big fan of vanilla flavor, but they totally bowled me over with the vanilla dondurma. I would advise however, that you stay away from more mediocre versions of the Maraş style by brands such as Algida.

Some delectable çikolata dondurma from MADOSome delectable çikolata dondurma from MADO

However, it’s not all om-nom-nom for the Turkish ice cream industry. The wild orchids from which the salep is produced are said to be under a serious threat of extinction. It’s already forbidden to export these from the country, but ice cream manufacturers still continue to use these orchids. For more, read this piece on ‘Ice cream threatens Turkey’s flowers’

Where’s your best ice cream in Turkey been so far? And what kind?


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