Polish food is humble, tasty and a cuisine worth getting excited about.
You don’t need to eat in fancy restaurants to taste the best of Polish cuisine; you can find that in old-style canteens, hole-in-the-wall food joints and Polish home kitchens.
Here are my Top 18 Traditional foods from Poland to try:
Table of Contents
1. Gołąbki (Cabbage Roll)
Cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat, diced onions, mushrooms and rice, then stewed.
Golabki is covered with a thick and flavourful tomato sauce when served. I love to add a big dollop of sour cream to create a creamy consistency.
Golabki can be eaten on their own or with boiled potatoes or bread.
You can also find similar versions of Golabki in countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia and North Macedonia, to name a few.
2. Gulasz (Goulash)
Many countries in Central Europe have their versions or recipes for this popular meat stew.
Polish Goulash is prepared using pork or beef, tomatoes, onions, peppers and the essential spice that brings the depth of flavour to the dish, paprika.
It can be served with noodles, boiled potatoes and a side of fresh bread to mop up all the delicious sauce.
3. Nalesniki (Crepes)
Nalesniki are Polish crepes. You can fill them with whatever you wish, and they’re often eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Popular sweet fillings are twaróg (sweet, slightly sour curd cheese), jams, fruit, honey, nutella and cottage cheese.
Nalesniki can be with savoury ingredients like mushrooms, sauerkraut, cheese, and meats too.
These yummy crepes remind us of eating our way around Slovakia. These crepes are hugely popular there too, although poppyseeds are a very popular filling in Slovakia.
Search for these crepes there too (called ‘palacinky’) in Slovakia. It’s another affordable country in Europe that offers fantastic cuisine. Read more about our favourite places to go in our blog about the 10 best places to visit in Slovakia.
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You may recognise this dish if you have heard about Polish cuisine before reading this post. Unquestionable, pierogi is the most popular Polish food. Old traditional Polish cuisine for sure.
Pierogi are small parcels of thinly rolled dough or dumplings with various fillings, which can be savoury or sweet.
Popular pierogi fillings are potatoes with fried onions, meat, mushrooms & sauerkraut, spinach and cheese, sweetened cottage cheese with seasonal fruit (cherries, blueberries and strawberries) and raisins, and more.
You can get pierogi boiled or fried, but sticking to Polish food traditions, enjoy them boiled with butter and caramelised onions over the top.
6. Bigos ( Meat Stew)
Bigos is the traditional food of Poland.
It’s a meat stew, and its primary ingredients are shredded sauerkraut and cabbage, assorted types of meat and sausages, onions, dried prunes and mushrooms, tomatoes and spices.
This is a dish that slowly cooks away on the stove for a few hours on low heat until all the flavours have permeated the ingredients and the aroma fills the house.
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Potato pancakes are another dish much loved all over Poland and other European countries. The recipe can vary slightly, but the core ingredients are always grated potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, sometimes fresh garlic and a few herbs and seasonings for flavour.
The potato pancakes are added to a pan on medium heat, with a generous amount of vegetable oil, flattened and fried until golden.
Add sour cream or mushroom sauce over the top and enjoy!
10. Paczki (Polish donut)
Paczki are the Polish version of donuts, but if you ask me, they’re possibly the best kind of donut I’ve ever eaten. This deep-fried dough is filled with homemade jams, fruit, chocolate, lemon curd or custard and sprinkled with powdered sugar or sugared icing.
We’ve tried many Paczki in Poland; however, the clear winner was this Rosehip jam filled Paczki from Goraca Paczkarnia in Wroclaw. It was sublime.
11. Kopytka (Potato Dumplings)
Kopytka is a simple yet delicious traditional food from Poland. These diamond-shaped potato dumplings can be enjoyed as a main dish or a side.
Comparable to Italian gnocchi, Kopytka is topped with various sauces or ingredients. The most popular toppings are mushrooms and onions, tomato sauce, sauteed with fresh garlic, and even covered with breadcrumbs that have been pan-fried in butter first.
Kopytka is a popular dish for children as they can choose what they want on top.
12. Krokiety (Croquettes)
Krokiety are essentially filled crepes (Nalesniki) covered with breadcrumbs and fried until golden and delicious.
This traditional food from Poland is commonly stuffed with meat and cabbage, or mushrooms and fried onions. It’s usually served with Borscht, a sour soup typical in Poland, Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.
13. Rosol (Chicken Soup)
Arguably, the most common and probably most readily available soup served in Poland. Rosol is Polish chicken soup. It is straightforward, easy and quick to prepare, typically served with homemade noodles.
The ingredients include pieces of chicken (wings or legs are perfect for this dish), onions, carrots, leek, parsnip, kohlrabi, parsley, bay leaves, peppercorn, salt and pepper.
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14. Makowiec (Poppy Seed Roll)
This is a delicious Polish dessert, especially if you get a piece that has just been cooked and is still warm.
It’s a strudel or rolled dough filled with poppy seeds, and you can find it at any Polish bakery.
In addition to the poppyseeds, the mixture inside Makowiec can include butter, sugar, raisins and walnuts – it’s the perfect accompaniment for your mid-morning tea or coffee.
15. Kabanosy (Polish Sausage)
These Polish sausages are so tasty, and they’re often said to be the finest meat stick on earth! Yes, a big call, isn’t it; but you need to taste it to decide for yourself.
Why are they so good?
It’s all in the preparation and process of salting and curing the sausage. It can take three months to one year to produce this fine thin sausage.
16. Chłodnik (Lithuanian cold soup)
A popular soup in Polish cuisine that is made from cucumbers, beets, and dill.
This is a cold soup, and it looks similar to borscht as it has a deep red or pink colour. It may look a little odd, but it’s packed with flavour, so don’t miss it!
17. Fasolka po Bretońsku (Polish Beans & Sausage)
This dish is the Polish interpretation of homemade beans. It’s made from Haricot beans, tomatoes, spices and smoked bacon and sausage are added to achieve the smokey flavour.
This dish is often served with some warmed, fresh crusty bread. It’s also popular in other European countries, and I fondly remember eating a similar dish at Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia.
Once you’ve tried these cheeses, it’s hard to return to standard cheddar or tasty cheeses you may be used to eating at home.
Traditional food of Poland includes cheeses like Bryndza and Oscypek. This cheese is produced with sheep’s milk from the mountain fields of southern Poland in the Tatra Mountains.
This cheese has a wonderful smoked flavour, achieved in the preparation by smoking it in a hut called a Bacowska or a wooden oven.
And there you have it, our 18 top traditional foods from Poland. What dish would you add to our list?
A Final Word About Polish Food
If you enjoyed learning more about traditional food from Poland, this Polish cuisine cookbook is fabulous. So many fantastic recipes for Polish food. Why not learn to cook some of these delicious dishes at home?
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