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Polish cuisine (Polish: kuchnia polska) is a mixture of Slavic and foreign culinary traditions. Born as a mixture of various culinary traditions, both of various regions of Poland and surrounding cultures, it uses a large variety of ingredients. It is rich in meat of all kinds and with spices, as well as in different kinds of noodles and dumplings, the most notable of which are the pierogi. It is related to other Slavic cuisines in usage of kasza and other cereals, but was also under the heavy influence of Turkic, Germanic, Hungarian, French or colonial cuisines of the past.



History - Middle ages
During the Late Middle Ages the cuisine of Poland was very heavy and spicy. Two main ingredients were meat (both game and beef) and cereal. As the territory of Poland was densely forested, use of mushrooms, forest fruits, nuts and honey was also widespread.

Thanks to close trade relations with the East, the price of spices (such as juniper, pepper and nutmeg) was much lower than in the rest of Europe , and spicy sauces became popular. One purpose was to neutralize the odour of imperfectly-preserved meat.

The most popular beverages were beer, including the very lightly-fermented barley-water, podpiwek, and mead -- however in the 16th century the upper classes started importing Hungarian and Silesian wines. After distilled spirits became common in Europe , vodka became popular, especially among the lower classes.

With the ascension of queen Bona Sforza, the 2nd wife of Sigismund I of Poland , in 1518, countless cooks were brought to Poland from Italy and France . Although native vegetable foods were an ancient and intrinsic part of the cuisine, this began a period in which vegetables such as lettuce, leek, celery and cabbage were more widely used. Even today, such vegetables as leeks, carrots and celery are known in Polish as wloszczyzna, which refers to Wlochy, the Polish name of Italy .

The Republic
BigosUntil the Partitions, Poland was one of the largest countries in the world, encompassing many regions with their own, distinctive culinary traditions. Among the most influential in that period were Lithuanian, Turkish and Hungarian cuisine. With the subsequent decline of Poland , and the grain production crisis that followed The Deluge, potatoes began to replace the traditional use of cereal. Also, because of numerous wars with the Ottoman Empire , coffee became popular.

Under the partitions, the cuisine of Poland became heavily influenced by cuisines of the surrounding empires. This included Russian and German cuisines, but also the culinary traditions of most nations of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the Russian-occupied part of the country, tea displaced the then-popular coffee. Under German influence the tradition of making white sausages was adopted in Greater Poland. Perhaps the most influential was the culinary tradition of multi-national empire of Austria-Hungary , which led to development of a Central European cuisine in Galicia .

PierogiThe 19th Century also saw the creation of the first Polish cook-book, by Lucyna Cwierczakiewiczowa, who based her work on the 18th Century diaries of the szlachta.

After World War II
Polish meat shop in the 1980s.After the end of World War II , Poland fell under Communist occupation. All restaurants were at first nationalized and then mostly closed down by the authorities. Instead, the communists envisioned a net of lunch rooms for the workers at various companies, and milk bars. The very few restaurants that survived the 1940's and 1950's were state-owned and were mostly unavailable to common people due to high prices. The lunch rooms promoted mostly inexpensive meals, including in soups of all kinds. A typical second course consisted of some sort of a ground meat cuttelet served with potatoes. The kotlet schabowy is similar to the Austrian Wiener schnitzel.

With time, the shortage economy led to chronic shortages of meat, eggs, coffee, tea and other basic ingredients of daily use. This situation led in turn to gradual replacement of

traditional Polish cuisine with food prepared of anything that was available at the moment. Among the popular dishes introduced by the public restaurants was an egg cuttelet, a sort of a hamburger made of minced or instant egg and flour. The traditional recipes were mostly preserved during the Wigilia feast, for which most families tried to prepare 12 traditional meals.



Modern times
With the end of the communism in Poland in 1989, restaurants started to be opened once again and the basic foodstuffs were once again easily obtainable. This led to a gradual return of the traditional Polish cuisine, both in everyday life and in restaurants. In addition, the restaurants and the supermarkets promote the usage of ingredients typical to other cuisines of the world. Among the most notable of ingredients that started to be commonly used in Poland were cucurbit, zucchini and all kinds of fish. During the communist times, these were available mostly in the seaside regions.

Recent years saw the advent of a slow food movement, and a number of TV programmes devoted to traditional Polish cuisine gained much popularity.

Famous all-national dishes


  • Barszczbarszcz - beetroot soup, ubiquitous among Slavic nations
  • chlodnik - cold soup made of soured milk, young beet leaves, beets, radishes, cucumbers and chopped fresh dill
  • czernina - duck blood soup
  • flaki - beef or pork tripe stew with marjoram
  • rosól z kury - clear chicken soup
  • zupa grzybowa - mushroom soup made of various species of mushroom
  • zupa ogórkowa - soup of sour, salted cucumbers, often with pork ("dill pickle soup")
  • Zupa szczawiowa (Sorrel soup)
  • zur - soured rye flour soup with white sausage and/or hard-boiled egg
  • zurek - dense soup based on rosól; usually with added potatoes, meat, eggs, carrots (a variable and often improvisational dish)

Main course

  • pierogi - dumplings, usually filled with sauerkraut and/or mushrooms, meat, potato and/or savory cheese, sweet curd cheese with a touch of vanilla, or blueberries or other fruits -- optionally topped with sour cream, and sugar for the sweet versions
  • bigos - a stew of sauerkraut and meat, similar to the French choucroute, but generally less acidic and including unfermented white cabbage
  • kotlet schabowy - a pork chop, similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel but usually thicker
  • kasza gryczna ze skwarkami - buckwheat cereal with chopped, fried lard and onions
  • kaczka z jablkami - roast duck with apples
  • sztuka miesa - a meat dish similar to the French ragout
  • golonka - stewed pork knuckle or hock
  • gulasz - Goulash
  • golabki - Golumpki, white cabbage leaves stuffed with spiced minced meat, tomato sauce and rice
  • placki kartoflane/ziemniaczane - potato pancakes
  • pyzy - potato dumplings served by themselves or stuffed with minced meat or white cheese
  • nalesniki - similar to crepes, and filled similarly to pierogies, sometimes savory, but often with sweet curd cheese and/or fruit, and optionally topped with (sour) cream and sugar.


  • Oscypekkutia - traditional Christmas dish, made of poppy seeds, wheat, nuts and delicacies
  • makowiec - poppyseed cake
  • syrop z cebuli - syrup made of onion and sugar, basically a medicament
  • chalka - sweet white wheat bread of Jewish origin
  • paczek - donut with rose marmelade and other fruit fillings.
  • krówki - milk toffee candies


  • kapusta kiszona - sauerkraut
  • ogórek kiszony - salted sour cucumber, a pickle prepared in a similar way to sauerkraut
  • kielbasa - polish sausage, comes in a wide variety of versions


  • Paczkimiód pitny - mead
  • podpiwek - very lightly alcoholic beer made of crumbled dark bread
  • wino proste - a variety of alcoholic beverages made of fruit extracts and spirit, countless types and names of which exist

Regional cuisine
A list of dishes popular in certain regions of Poland :


  • prazonki (duszonki)
  • strudel jablkowy - apple cake, identical to Austrian apfelstrudel
  • piszyngier - cake made of layers of wafer and layers of cream or filling; in the Swietokrzyskie area its name is kajmak and it's usually covered with chocolate

Eastern Poland

  • babka zóltkowa - yolk and yeast cake
  • bliny gryczane
  • cepeliny - big long-shaped potato dumplings stuffed with meat and marjoram
  • chlodnik - cold soup made of soured milk, young beet leaves, beets, radishes, cucumbers and chopped fresh dill
  • grzyby po zmudzku - mushrooms Samogitian style
  • kawior z baklazana - "caviar" of egg-plant
  • kreple z lejka -
  • kugiel ze skwarkami -
  • kutia - traditional Christmas dish, made of poppy seeds, wheat, nuts and delicacies
  • melszpejz zaparzany z jablek -
  • pieczen wiedzmy -
  • szodo -
  • tort ziemniaczany - potato cake
  • zrazy wolynskie -
  • zeberka wieprzowe po zmudzku -


  • babka ziemniaczana -
  • cebulniaczki -
  • chleb biebrzanski -
  • kartacze - big long-shaped potato dumplings stuffed with meat and marjoram
  • kiszka ziemniaczana - potato sausage
  • okon smazony, w zalewie octowej - perch fried in vinegar
  • zucielki -


  • szpekucha - small dumplings stuffed with lard and fried onion

Masovia (including Warsaw )

  • baba warszawska - yeast cake
  • bulka z pieczarkami - a bun filled with a champignon (field mushroom) stew
  • flaczki z pulpetami (po warszawsku) - tripe stew with marjoram and small meat noodles
  • kawior po zydowsku - "Jewish caviar" - chopped calf or poultry liver with garlic
  • paczki - donuts with rose marmelade
  • pyzy z miesem - round potato dumplings stuffed with meat
  • zrazy wolowe - beef chops in sauce
  • zupa grzybowa po kurpiowsku (z gasek) - mushroom soup made of Tricholoma equestre, a large mushroom with a cereal-like flavor.


  • kartacz


  • pierniki - gingerbread


  • knysza
  • makówki or moczka - traditional Christmas dessert
  • rolada z modra kapusta - meat roll with red cabbage

Tatra mountains

  • kwasnica - meat and sauerkraut stew
  • sliwowica lacka - (read: [shlee-voh-veetsa won-tskah]) strong (70% of alcohol) plum brandy
  • oscypek - hard, salty cheese from nonpasteurized sheep milk

Wielkopolska (Greater Poland )

  • kluchy z lacha -
  • kaczka z pyzami i modra kapusta -
  • rogale swietomarcinskie - croissants filled with poppy seeds, almonds, nuts and raisins, traditionally eaten around Nov 11 ( St. Martin 's day)


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