Romania’s culinary tradition is a comforting fusion of local ingredients intertwined with influences from Balkan, Turkish, Serbian, German, and Hungarian cuisines. 

Our list of the most popular foods from Romania includes unique ingredients, bold flavours, and unforgettable dishes.

food in romania

In Romania, the culinary landscape is shaped by various staple foods cherished for generations.

Staple Foods From Romania

  1. Sour Cream (Smântână): A universal ingredient in Romanian cuisine, sour cream adds richness and tanginess to many dishes, from soups and stews to desserts.
  2. Mămăligă: Often likened to polenta, mămăligă is a traditional Romanian dish made from boiled cornmeal. It’s a versatile staple served as a side dish, a base for stews, or a breakfast item with cheese and sour cream.
  3. Telemea Cheese: This traditional Romanian cheese is similar to feta but with a creamier texture. Enjoy it crumbled over salads, stuffed into pastries, or served alongside bread.
  4. Sarmale: These cabbage rolls are stuffed with a savoury mixture of minced meat (usually pork), rice, onions, and spices.
  5. Mititei (Mici): These small, grilled sausages are packed with flavour from a blend of ground meats (typically beef, pork, and lamb) mixed with garlic, paprika, and other spices. 
  6. Ciorbă: A sour soup with various iterations, ciorbă is made with a souring agent such as fermented wheat bran or vinegar, combined with vegetables, meat, and herbs. 

These staple foods form the foundation of Romanian cuisine, reflecting the country’s agricultural abundance, cultural diversity, and centuries-old culinary traditions.

20 Most Popular Foods from Romania

1) Tochitura moldovenească (Moldavian Stew)

Tochitura moldovenească moldavian stew foods from Romania

Tochitura moldovenească is a traditional Moldovan dish. It is a hearty and flavourful pork stew typically made with various cuts of pork, such as pork belly, pork shoulder, and sausages, cooked together until tender. 

The dish is often enhanced with garlic, onions, capsicum, and sometimes tomatoes, creating a rich and aromatic sauce.

It is served with a side of mămăligă (Romanian polenta) and a dollop of smântână (sour cream) on top.

2) Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls)

Sarmale or cabbage rolls - Foods in Romania

Sarmale, or cabbage rolls, are a quintessential Romanian dish. They are made by wrapping minced meat (often a mixture of pork and beef), rice, onions, and spices in pickled cabbage leaves. 

The filling is seasoned with herbs and seasonings such as thyme, dill, and paprika, giving sarmale a distinctive taste.

Once assembled, the cabbage rolls are simmered in a flavourful broth until tender. There are variations of this dish in other countries, too. For example, it’s called holubtsi in Ukrainian cuisine, and it is known as Sarma when it comes to Macedonian food.

The best cabbage rolls I’ve ever eaten were in Transnistria, the little-known disputed territory in Europe. 

Sarmale is easily one of my favourite foods from Romania; I’m certain it will be one of yours, too.

3) Ciulama (Creamed Chicken)

Ciulama - creamy foods from Romania

Ciulama is a beloved dish in Romanian and Moldovan cuisine, featuring tender meat and mushrooms bathed in a creamy white roux sauce. 

Varieties include ciulama de pui (chicken), ciulama de curcan (turkey), or ciulama de vițel (veal). 

Typically accompanied by mămăligă or mujdei (spicy garlic sauce), Ciulama pleases the palate with its satisfying taste and textures.

4) Mămăligă (Romanian Polenta)

Mămăligă is Romanian polenta - Classic food in Romania

Mămăligă is a beloved staple in Romanian cuisine, often considered the national dish of Romania. 

It’s a type of cornmeal porridge or polenta, typically made by boiling coarse yellow cornmeal with water and salt until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency.

Mămăligă is a versatile side dish accompanying various meats, stews, or vegetables. Its hearty and comforting nature makes it a favourite choice in Romanian households, particularly during cold winters or festive occasions.

5) Papanași (Donuts)

Papanasi - Romanian donuts

Papanasi are fried or boiled dumplings made from cottage cheese (brânză de vaci), semolina, eggs, sugar, and flour. 

The dough is then formed into small balls, flattened slightly, and commonly deep-fried until golden brown, resulting in a crispy shell and a soft, light interior.

Once fried, papanași are traditionally served hot, either plain or with a dollop of sour cream and a generous drizzle of fruit jam, usually sour cherry or raspberry. 

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6) Ciorba de fasole cu ciolan (Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hock)

Translating to “bean soup with pork knuckle,” this dish is a staple in Romanian cuisine, especially during the colder months.

The dish typically consists of white beans (fasole) cooked with a pork knuckle (ciolan) or smoked pork ribs to impart a rich, umami flavour to the soup. Additionally, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves are added to enhance the taste.

Ciorba de fasole cu ciolan is known for its zesty and slightly sour flavour, achieved by adding a small amount of vinegar to the soup.

The soup is usually served hot, garnished with fresh parsley or dill, and accompanied by a slice of crusty bread.

7) Zacuscă (Vegetable Spread)

Zacuscă - popular Romanian cuisine

It’s a vegetable spread made from roasted eggplants, capsicum, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, cooked down into a thick, savoury spread.

Vegetables are typically roasted or grilled until soft and charred, which adds depth and smokiness to the flavour. Then, they are peeled and chopped before being cooked together with onions and garlic until they break down into a thick, jam-like consistency. 

Salt, pepper, and sometimes paprika or chilli flakes can be added to enhance the flavour.

Zacuscă is spread on bread or crackers as a snack or side dish alongside grilled meats.

8) Mici (Grilled Minced Meat Rolls)

Mici - Foods from Romania

Mici, or “mititei,” are small, cylindrical grilled sausages, a beloved dish in Romanian cuisine. 

Made from a mixture of minced meats, typically beef, pork, and lamb, mici are seasoned with garlic, paprika, thyme, and other spices, typical to flavour many of the popular foods from Romania.

The preparation of mici involves shaping the seasoned meat mixture into small sausage-like shapes and then grilling them over an open flame or on a barbecue until they are cooked through and have a grilled exterior. 

The result is juicy, delicious sausages with a barely charred crust.

They are typically served hot, accompanied by mustard, bread, hot chips, pickles, and sometimes a sour cream or ajvar (a roasted red pepper spread).

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9) Rasol (Stew)

Rasol - Romanian stew

Rasol is a classic Romanian dish, particularly popular in the Maramureș region of the country. 

Rasol is renowned for its hearty blend of meat and vegetables. Typically crafted with pork, beef, or poultry, the meat is boiled alongside a medley of vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, peppers, peas, or celery roots.

Once cooked, the tender meat is sliced and plated alongside the flavourful cooking liquid and vegetables.

This dish is a satisfying meal, often served with traditional accompaniments like horseradish sauce, sour cream, and mămăligă, elevating its rich flavors and textures.

This is one of the traditional foods from Romania that you should try.

10) Alivenci (Sweet Polenta Cake)

Alivenci - Food in Romania

Alivenci, a cherished dessert in Romanian cuisine, traces its roots to the Moldova region of Romania (distinct from the neighbouring nation, Moldova). 

This savoury pie, crafted with cheese and corn flour, holds a special place in culinary tradition, passed down through generations.

11) Ciorba de Burtă (Tripe Soup)

Ciorba de Burtă - Tripe Soup Foods from Romania

Oppositions are sharply divided regarding tripe soup—it’s a dish that inspires either love or aversion. 

This traditional Romanian food derives a potent smell yet boasts a silky texture, achieved through hours of meticulous preparation. 

Apart from the beef tripe, this culinary masterpiece incorporates beef and pork legs simmered for several hours to yield the luscious soup base.

Interestingly, while tripe plays a role, the soup or broth has a satisfying flavour due to the medley of vegetables and fresh herbs.

The soup is served with a few dollops of sour cream, slices of hot peppers, and toasted bread.

Travel to Eat? Check out these 10 Best Countries for Food Lovers

12) Ciorba Radautean (Radauti Soup)

Ciorba Radautean - Soup food in Romania

If you’re not a fan of trying Tripe soup, this version (which uses beef or chicken meat instead of the lining of the animal’s stomach) might be easier to enjoy.

This robust soup is known for its rich and tangy flavour, typically achieved using a combination of sour ingredients such as bors (fermented wheat or barley bran) or lemon juice.

The base of Ciorba Radauteană is usually beef or chicken broth, to which various vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and celery are added. 

Additionally, it often includes meat, such as beef or chicken, simmered until tender.

Be sure to add a good dollop of sour cream (smântână) when serving; it makes all the difference.

13) Jumări (Pork Greaves)

Jumări - Popular snack food in Romania

Jumări is crispy, fried pork fat or pork rinds, and they’re one of the very satisfying foods from Romania that locals love!

Preparing jumari involves cutting pork fat into small pieces or strips and slowly rendering it over low heat to release the fat.

The remaining crispy pork rinds are seasoned with salt and typically served hot, offering a satisfying crunch and rich flavour.

Jumări are often enjoyed alongside other traditional foods from Romania, such as slănină (smoked pig fat), raw onions, homemade bread, and a shot of țuică (plum brandy), forming a comforting and hearty starter or accompaniment to a meal.

14) Plăcintă (Romanian Pie)

Plăcintă - Popular Romania foods

Essentially, plăcintă refers to a type of pastry or pie that can be sweet or savoury and filled with various ingredients. Delicious foods in Romania like this are the reason I return!

For sweet plăcintă, the filling might include fruits such as apples, cherries, or plums, sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes nuts or raisins.

These sweet fillings are often encased in a thin layer of dough and baked until golden brown, resulting in a delightful dessert or snack.

On the savoury side, plăcintă can be filled with cheese (brânză), cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin, or even meat. 

Plăcintă is one of those super comforting foods in Romania; I recommend you tasty, both savoury and sweet if you get the chance.

15) Cozonac (Sweet Bread)

Cozonac - Romanian sweet bread

Cozonac is a traditional Romanian sweet bread, typically enjoyed during holidays and festive occasions, especially Easter and Christmas. 

It is a rich and indulgent bread like a brioche or sweet loaf, filled with nuts, raisins, cocoa, and sometimes rum.

Once baked, cozonac is often brushed with a syrup made from sugar and water to give it a shiny finish and add extra sweetness.

It is typically served sliced and enjoyed as is or with a cup of coffee or tea. This type of bread is popular in many European countries, particularly Slovakian cuisine and the foods from Poland.

16) Cârnați (Pork Sausage)

Cârnați - Sausage foods from Romania
Cârnați – One of the most common foods in Romania

Cârnați are traditional Romanian sausages made from a blend of ground pork, beef, or both, mixed with spices. 

They are stuffed into casings, then grilled, fried, boiled, or smoked.

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17) Drob de Miel (Lamb Haggis)

Drob de Miel - Foods from Romania

Typically enjoyed during Easter celebrations, Drob be Miel is a dish made from lamb offal, primarily liver, heart, and lungs, mixed with ground lamb meat and seasoned with herbs and spices.

To prepare Drob de Miel, the offal and ground meat are cooked together until tender, then mixed with sautéed onions, herbs such as parsley and dill, and sometimes rice or bread crumbs to bind the mixture. 

This combination is then formed into a loaf shape and baked until golden brown.

Once cooked, Drob de Miel is usually served cold or at room temperature, sliced and garnished with hard-boiled eggs, parsley, and sometimes pickles.

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18) Găluște cu prune (Plum Dumplings)

Găluște cu prune - Dessert foods from Romania
Găluște cu prune – My favourite sweet foods in Romania

Găluște cu prune is a traditional and cherished Romanian dessert, and one of the common foods in Romania.

These enjoyable treats consist of small dumplings made from a mixture of potatoes or dough, filled with pitted plums and a touch of sugar.

To prepare găluște cu prune, the potato or dough mixture is typically flattened into small rounds, each of which is wrapped around a plum and then sealed to encase the fruit completely. 

The dumplings are boiled until tender and the plums have softened.

Once cooked, găluște cu prune is often served hot, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and occasionally accompanied by a dollop of sour cream or a drizzle of melted butter. 

These dumplings are very popular in some other countries and a favourite dessert in Serbian cuisine, I even learned how to cook them in my Serbian Cooking Class in Belgrade.

19) Țuică (Traditional Alcoholic Drink)

Țuică - Romanian drinks

A quintessential Romanian spirit crafted from plums, țuică is a hallmark of the country’s culinary heritage.

Whether served chilled during summer or warmed in winter, țuică holds a place of honour in Romanian culture. It’s a symbol of national pride, often shared during celebratory occasions like weddings and baptisms, and offered as an aperitif before meals.

The foods in Romania taste even better when they begin with a bit of țuică!

Welcoming guests into a new home often involves presenting them with a glass of țuică, a gesture of hospitality and friendship.

20) Pomana Porcului (Pork Feast)

Pomana Porcului or Pork Feast - Foods in Romania

Pomana Porcului, or the Pork Feast, is an age-old tradition in Romanian culture. This has to be one of the most common foods in Romania and one that is earned!

It is a token of gratitude to those who helped in the pig slaughtering process, including relatives, neighbours, and friends and is hosted by the homeowner once the work is done. 

The feast consists of frying various parts of the slaughtered pig, such as muscle, liver, bacon, ribs, and jaw, representing the entirety of the animal. 

The pieces are cooked in fat and served alongside polenta and a glass of wine.

It’s a meal of honour and appreciation, celebrating the spirit of communal support and tradition.

And there you go! Twenty of the most popular foods from Romania.

Believe me, this underrated nation offers many more gastronomic delights. If you’re interested in trying to cook some of these common foods in Romania, check out these fantastic recipes from Delicious Romania for inspiration.

If you plan to explore the country, don’t miss these top 10 things to see in Romania.

You may also be interested in visiting these 10 cheapest countries in Europe to help you stay on budget.