Bali is known for its beautiful beaches, tropical resorts and vibrant culture. But Bali traditional food is also incredible.
As Bali experts who run group tours in Bali all throughout the year, we’ve had our fair share of delicious Balinese food.
When taking a trip to Bali, there are some dishes which you simply can’t miss, so we’ve outlined the 11 best Bali local dishes that you need to try on your next trip.
Let’s get right into it!
Bali Traditional Food
There’s such a wide variety of dishes in Bali. The cuisine is so diverse and features dishes for anyone and everyone. Whether you prefer Western food, veggie or vegan options, or a healthy smoothie bowl, Bali has you covered.
We’re strong believers in at least trying the local cuisine when you visit a new country, and we can personally say that each of these Bali traditional food dishes is mouth-wateringly good. Before we get your stomach rumbling any more, let’s get into the first local dish.
Nasi Campur is considered the national dish of Bali, so naturally, it has to make the first spot on our list. You may also see it called Nasi Goreng, but they are more or less the same dish. Nasi Campur perfectly summarises Balinese cuisine as it’s a little mix of everything, and most of the time, it can be completely personalised to what you like.
The core of the dish is a plate of steamed rice, and it’s a staple part of the dish…there’s no changing that. Then there is meat, usually chicken or beef, and then there are vegetables. The most common are spinach, cabbage or beans. Lastly, there’s a chilli paste known as sambal added on top to give it that Southeast Asian kick to it.
There’s no debating that Nasi Campur is one of the tastiest Balinese foods, and the best part is…it’s super cheap, and you can get it from pretty much anywhere. It’s a key dish in both Bali street food markets and high-end restaurants across the island. It’s simply a must-try.
Babi Guling, known in English as Suckling Pig, is a traditional Balinese dish that holds a special place in the culinary heart of Bali. It is another must-try dish for foodies visiting anywhere in Indonesia.
Babi Guling is prepared by slow-roasting a whole pig, typically a suckling pig, over an open fire. The result is succulent and tender meat with crispy skin that is simply irresistible.
The dish is typically served with a variety of sides. Steamed rice, Lawar (a mix of vegetables, grated coconut, and spices which we will discuss more later), and sambal are common add-ons to complement the roasted pig. The combination of textures and tastes is a true delight and creates an amazing and complete sensory experience.
Tum Ayam is a delightful dish that showcases the rich flavours and aromatic spices that define Bali’s cuisine. It’s a dish that truly captures the essence of the island’s culinary heritage.
Tum Ayam features tender chicken pieces marinated in a blend of traditional flavourings and spices, such as shallots, garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass. The marinated chicken is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection, allowing the flavours to meld and infuse into the meat. You’ll soon learn that banana leaves are a common way to present Bali traditional dishes.
And like most dishes, Tum Ayam is also served with steamed rice and accompanied by sambal or a tangy peanut sauce.
Important note: If you have a nut allergy and visit Bali, you need to be careful and research what dishes you can have 100% of the time, and always ask too. Nonetheless, Tum Ayam is a beloved dish among both locals and visitors to Bali.
Laklak is more of a snack or a side dish than a main course, but it will tantalize your taste buds regardless. It also perfectly embodies the essence of Asia and Bali’s street food culture.
Laklak is essentially bite-sized green pancakes made from a batter of rice flour and coconut milk. These little green wonders get their vibrant colour from the addition of pandan leaf juice, which also adds a unique flavour to the pancakes.
The best way to enjoy Laklak is served warm with a drizzle of palm sugar syrup and sprinkled with freshly grated coconut. It’s the perfect treat in Bali; each bite creates a blissful sensation in your mouth. Laklak is so simple yet so yummy.
Sate – or Satay in English – is usually a skewer with meat on it, and there are three main types in Bali. All three feature on this list of Bali traditional food dishes.
The first is Sate Lilit which is made from a mixture of minced meat, typically a combination of fish, chicken, or pork, blended with, you guessed it, spices such as shallots, garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass. The meat mixture is then carefully wrapped around a lemongrass stalk, giving it a unique and distinct appearance. A lot of Bali’s dishes are pretty green, just think back to the banana leaves.
It is then grilled to perfection over an open flame, and the smokey char from the grill enhances the flavours of the meat, creating a succulent and juicy bite, just like in a barbeque. You can’t go wrong with Sate Lilit, and it’s simple but effective!
Another of the Sate dishes is Sate Plecing. It’s centred around skewered meats, and again, it’s usually chicken or beef, as most dishes are in Bali. And it’s grilled over an open flame, BBQ-style.
The accompanying pleasing sauce sets this dish apart—a hot blend of chilli peppers, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste. Quite the combo! This bold and spicy sauce infuses every bite with a fiery but tasty kick.
Served with a side of steamed rice and fresh vegetables, such as long beans, bean sprouts, and spinach, Sate Plecing becomes a complete meal bursting with flavours and textures. As we have said throughout, Balinese cuisine is special because it’s a mix of everything.
The third and final Bali traditional food on this list in the Sate family is Sate Pentul. This time, the safe features small cylindrical-shaped meatballs, and you can probably guess the meat by now (beef or chicken), and you can probably also guess that they are infused with fragrant herbs and spices.
The meatballs are then skillfully skewered onto bamboo sticks and grilled over an open flame.
Sates are one of the best foods to grab from Bali street markets, and they’re really quick to eat too, which is useful for Bali life, where every second is precious.
Next up on our list of Bali local foods is Lawar, which was mentioned earlier as a side dish for Babi Gulung. Lawar is a traditional salad, hence why it’s sometimes served as a side.
It typically consists of finely chopped vegetables, such as green beans, grated coconut, and leafy greens, mixed with minced meat, often pork or chicken. Not beef for once! The salad is then generously seasoned – and we mean generously seasoned- with lots of spices.
The crispness of the vegetables, the richness of the meat, and the fireball of spices create a unique fusion of both flavours and textures that come together and dance in your mouth.
Mie Goreng is loved all throughout Indonesia and is super common in Bali. It’s a typical Southeast Asian stir-fried noodle creation but with its own twist.
Mie Goreng showcases the art of stir-frying noodles to perfection. It will usually have yellow wheat noodles, which are then stir-fried with an array of ingredients that can vary based on personal preference and regional variations. Didn’t we tell you the great thing about Bali is that you can pick and choose the ingredients?!
Common additions include vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts, along with proteins like chicken, shrimp, or tofu.
Being an island, leaving seafood off this list of Bali traditional food dishes would be impossible. The most common and popular is Jimbaran Seafood, a Bali culinary gem.
The options are abundant and diverse, from succulent grilled fish to plump prawns and delectable squid. The selling point of Jimbaran Seafood lies in the quality of the seafood and the picturesque setting. The views are magnificent.
And it wouldn’t be Bali without accompanying the seafood with steamed rice! It’s also common to add freshly squeezed lime and a variety of sambals just to add that extra bit of zing to the meal.
Last, but by no means least of these Bali traditional foods is Nasi Jinggo. Quite a funny name, right?
It’s small in size but huge in flavour! Nasi Jinggo is a compact package of fragrant steamed rice wrapped in a banana leaf and finished off with an assortment of toppings. The toppings can vary by where you are in Bali, but some examples included include shredded chicken, crispy fried shallots, slices of fried tempeh, and a spicy sambal sauce.
Nasi Jinggo is sold all day, every day, everywhere in Bali. Side note: Do you know when the best time to visit Bali is? Spoiler Alert: there’s no bad time! But back to Nasi Jinggo, its popularity stems from its affordability and convenience, which came together to allow it to grow as one of Bali’s most popular dishes.
Bali traditional food: FAQ
Below are a number of questions related to Bali traditional food, along with our answers.
Yes, Bali has a wide range of food options in its cuisine. Most food places will have a vegetarian option, even in street food markets.
Nasi Goreng, a tasty Indonesian fried rice dish, is considered one of the national dishes of Bali. You can get it pretty much anywhere in Bali.
Bali’s food is a delicious fusion of traditional Indonesian flavours featuring local spices, fresh seafood and tropical fruits. Bali’s cuisine is very unique and is a little mix of everything.
Like anywhere in the world, food prices in Bali vary depending on the type of dining experience. Fancy restaurants are going to be more expensive than street food. For reference, most people will get by on less than $5 per meal from street food in Bali.
Final Thoughts: Bali traditional food
And there you have it, a complete guide to our favourite Bali traditional food dishes.
Whether you treat yourself to a bowl of Nasi Goreng or some Jimbaran Seafood, you’ll find your tastebuds left satisfied as the Balinese cuisine is simply delicious.
The food in Bali is unbelievable, and there’s no better way to try it than as part of one of our group tours in Bali, so make sure to book soon, as they often sell out months in advance.
But whether you choose to join us or not, enjoy your meals in Bali. The food is incredible!
Whether you’re looking to travel solo or bring a friend along for the ride, our group tours in Bali, South East Asia & Australia are the perfect balance of culture, adventure, chill time & nightlife. You’ll arrive as strangers and leave as the best of friends.