Mongolia, with its wide open plains, high mountains, and rich nomadic culture, has a unique and tasty cuisine. The food here is hearty and reflects the resourceful nature of its people. From delicious meat dishes to special dairy products, there are many flavors to explore. As you travel through this amazing country, make sure to try these ten must-try foods that give you a true taste of Mongolia's culinary traditions.

Suutei Tsai | Salty Milk Tea

Photo source:

This milk tea is unlike other milk teas found in Eastern Asia. In Mongolia, tsai is made from a simple recipe that includes salt, which creates a flavor profile that can take time for foreigners to become accustomed to.

Boortsog | Fried Dough

Photo source: Ulzii brand

Salt, sugar, water, butter, and flour become this fried dough treat, most often eaten with sugar, butter, or yogurt. Eaten throughout Central Asia and often equated with donuts, in Mongolian boortsog is more commonly dipped in tea (suutei tsai), like a biscuit or cookie.

Airag | Fermented Mare’s Milk

This alcoholic beverage comes from the coveted mare’s milk, which is then fermented in an open leather sack called a khukhuur. Airag is said to improve overall health when consumed in moderation and plays an important role at celebrations and summer festivals such as Naadam.

Aaruul | Curds

Photo source:

Commonly eaten in summer, aaruul is one of the primary dishes consumed by the nomadic peoples of Mongolia. Sheep, goat, cow, and yak are the most common providers of the milk needed to make aaruul, which can be flavored with herbs for a savory serving, or sugar and fruit for a sweeter preparation.

Buuz | Dumplings

Photo source: Эрүүл бууз

The meat-filled steamed dumplings may be the most widely known of Mongolian dishes. We often eat buuz, but mainly eat these dumplings during the Lunar New Year. These two-bite dumplings are typically filled with minced mutton and flavored with seasonal herbs such as onions.

Khuushuur | Meat Hot Pocket

Photo source:

Another dumpling-like dish, khuushuur is more closely linked to Russian cuisine, rather than East Asian. The meat, whether it’s mutton, camel, or otherwise, is ground with onion or garlic, packed into a circle of dough, then deep fried into its final form. We often eat khuushuur during the Naadam Festival.

Tsuivan | Fried Noodles and Meat

Tsuivan is a fried noodle dish served with fried meat and vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. It's not a lie to say that all Mongolian men like to eat Tsuivan and it’s one of the most widely eaten dishes in Mongolia.

Boodog | Meat Cooked in the Carcass with Hot Stones

Boodog, a barbecue style in which the dish is cooked inside a carcass. Goat and marmot are the most popular animals to barbecue, and both are cooked by having hot stones slipped into the inside of the carcass once the meat has been separated from the skin.

Bantan | Porridge 

Mongolians praise Bantan as a food with a gold medal. Because most Mongolians eat this food first after weaning. The main ingredients are just meat and flour and we sometimes eat it when we’re having a hangover.

Guriltai Shul | Noodle and Meat Soup

Noodles are most popular in Asian culture, but for us Mongolians, Guriltai shul is the most popular dish. This meat-based noodle soup is another traditional favorite, typically featuring a clear mutton stock, vegetables, and of course, hand-made noodles.