Turşu Suyu, or Turkish Pickle Juice in Istanbul

Turşu Suyu, or Turkish Pickle Juice

by Özcan Turşu (Özcan Pickles), Istanbul, Turkey

Turşu Suyu is a traditional pickle juice that is drunk in Turkey. Pickles are a popular snack or side dish in Turkish cuisine, and the locals swear by the health benefits of cups of briny pickle juice, which is sour, salty, and full of electrolytes.

Meşhur Özcan Turşu (Famous Özcan Pickles) has been pickling fruits and vegetables in the traditional Turkish style and serving up cups of bright red pickle juice since 1935. An Istanbul institution, it's considered to be one of the very best pickle shops in the city.

pickle juice in Istanbul, Turkey
Özcan Turşu's famous pickle juice in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish pickles, known as turşu, hold a significant place in Turkish cuisine and culture. Turşu refers to a variety of pickled vegetables and fruits, often prepared in a brine solution of water, vinegar, salt, and sometimes spices like garlic, dill, or mustard seeds. The types of vegetables used can range from cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and carrots to green tomatoes, beets, and even small unripe watermelons.

Turkish pickles are not just a condiment but a part of daily meals and are often served as a side dish or meze alongside main courses. They add a tangy, sour, and sometimes spicy flavor that complements many dishes, especially grilled meats and sandwiches.

Pickle juice, or the brine in which the vegetables are pickled, is also valued in Turkish culture. Some people drink it as a refreshing beverage or believe in its health benefits, considering it good for digestion or as a remedy for various ailments. I was told specifically that it made a good cure for a hangover due to the electrolytes.

Turşu Suyu, or Turkish Pickle Juice in Istanbul
a tray of turşu suyu, or pickle juice in Istanbul

I tried a small cup of pickle juice served with a variety of pickled vegetables, such as sweet green peppers, garlic, tiny young plums, carrots, cabbage, and red carrots. The red carrots are what gives the pickle juice its distinct color.

The pickled vegetables were really good! Each one had a very different flavor. I personally liked the pickled carrots the best. After eating the pickles with a fork, I drank the rest of the juice. It was really salty and strong but had a nice fresh flavor as well. I really enjoyed it, but I don't think I would need more than a small cup of it.

a small cup of pickle juice

Part of the fun is browsing through the shop and looking at all of the dozens of types of pickles for sale. Özcan Turşu pickles everything from carrots, and whole bulbs of garlic to sliced lemons and even fresh pinecones! Each ingredient gives the pickle juice a distinct flavor. I've been told by a Turkish friend that the pickled pinecones are not that good, but that the juice is really nice.

different types of pickles on display at Özcan Turşu in Istanbul
different types of pickles on display at Özcan Turşu in Istanbul

More great things to eat in Istanbul


Özcan Turşu is located on the eastern side of the Bosporus at Caferağa, Güneşli Bahçe Sok No:7, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Türkiye. It's just a short walk from Kebapçı İskender, one of the most famous kebab restaurants in all of Turkey! The nearest public transport station is Çarşı tram station.

You can see the exact location of this pickle shop on the map below.

inside Özcan Turşu pickle shop in Istanbul, Turkey
inside Özcan Turşu pickle shop in Istanbul, Turkey