Ajvar (Serbian Roasted Red Pepper Relish)

Get ready to fall in love with grill-roasted red peppers. One bite of Ajvar, and you will want to put this Serbian red pepper relish on everything from bread to meat and even veggies! 

Ajvar (pronounced AYE-var) is a bright and robust red pepper relish that originates from the Balkans region of southeastern Europe. Ajvar could be considered a sauce similar to ketchup in its tangy, slightly sweet flavor and its most common use, as a topping for cevapi sausages.

Like ketchup, its uses go far beyond a simple sausage topper. It can be used as a condiment for grilled fish and meats, as a sandwich spread, or simply spread on bread or a cracker for a nice snack.

The key to making a good ajvar is to roast the red pepper and eggplant on a grill. You can roast them in the oven in a pinch, but you will loose all that delicious, smoky goodness that the grill imparts.

Once the vegetables are soft and charred, then it is time to peel and seed them. Finally, the roasted flesh goes into the food processor with some raw garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

A good pulsing in the food processor gets the relish to the perfect consistency. Ours was thick enough to our liking after just the time in the food processor. But, if yours is a bit too watery, don’t be afraid to transfer it to a skillet or sauce pan and cook it down a bit, uncovered, over low heat, until it reaches a consistency you like.


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Recipe by Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere Course: Appetizers, DipsCuisine: SerbianDifficulty: Easy


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It is a simple recipe, but the sweetness of the roasted red pepper and the deep smokiness from the grill mingle with the sharp raw garlic and the bright vinegar for a sauce that will blow your mind.


  • 2 Large Red Bell Peppers

  • 1 Small Eggplant

  • 1 Clove Garlic

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt

  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Black Pepper


  • Preheat the grill to medium high heat, roughly 450⁰F. (You should be able to hold your hand a few inches above the cooking grate for 4-6 seconds.)
  • Pierce the skin of the eggplant all over with a fork. Place the eggplant over a cooler section of the grill (350-400⁰F) and let it roast, turning occasionally, until the skin darkens and the eggplant is soft, 30 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is roasting, place the red peppers over the hottest part of the grill. Rotate the peppers as the skin blackens, until the peppers are soft and you have achieved a nice char on all sides.
  • Place the charred red peppers in a paper bag or in a glass bowl covered with a tea towel to let them steam for 10 minutes.
  • After steaming, the skin on the peppers should have loosened. Remove the stem and core of the peppers and peel off the skin. Place the remaining flesh into the bowl of your food processor.
  • Once the eggplant is soft, remove it from the grill. Let it cool until it is easy to handle. Cut the eggplant in half. Scoop out the flesh and place it in the food processor with the red peppers.
  • Add the raw garlic clove to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is well chopped.
  • Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and pulse until combined.
  • Taste your ajvar and adjust the salt and pepper as desired.
  • Use your ajvar immediately or keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  • Wood fire roasting is pretty key in making Ajvar, but if you’re in a rush, you can use the grill without the wood smoke. Try using your smoker to get a good roast on them.
  • The oven is just fine, though you won’t quite get that authentic smoky element Ajvar is known for.
  • Note that this is not a HOT sauce, though you CAN make it with hotter peppers. You can easily heat things up with spicy flakes or powders. It may not be HOT, but it is BIG on flavor.