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Best Food To Try In Poland!

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A plate of dumplings with ham and onions, showcasing the best Polish food, on a wooden table.


Hands down, Polish food is one of the best in the world! From the mouthwatering pierogi to filling bigos, and yummy sernik. Everyone will find something for themselves in Poland, no matter what diet you are on!

Due to the diversity of cuisine in Poland, it’s quite easy to find keto, low carb high fat, and even vegetarian Polish food! Let’s discover the 22 best traditional Polish food that you must try in Poland, including some delicious desserts!

Best Polish Main Dishes, Soups & Sides

1. Pierogi

Pierogi with fried onions on a plate next to a pierogi on a fork.
Pierogi is the most popular Polish food!

A true classic and the most famous Polish food, pierogi are small dumplings with different stuffings that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

The pierogi dough is made of flour, eggs, water, and oil and is cooked in a pot of boiling water to achieve tender perfection. Of course, then can also be baked or fried, but boiled pierogi are the most popular Polish food.

You can put anything you wish inside the pierogi, however, the most popular fillings are:

Pierogi are traditionally topped with melted butter to make them juicier and luscious. Fried bread crumbs or fried onions can also be used. 

Here’s a tip to keep in mind when ordering your pierogi so you don’t sound like a tourist!. It’s not pierogis. The word pierogi is already plural. It’s one pieróg and many pierogi!

2. Gołąbki

Polish Golabki rolls on a plate.
Golabki is one of the most popular Polish dishes

Literally translated as ‘the pigeons’, traditional Polish gołąbki are cooked rice and meat wrapped in a cabbage leaf. They’re often also called golumpki, galumpki or gluntkes in English. There is also a vegan version of golabki.

Making their way from Ukraine to Poland in the 19th century, golabki are usually served warm with homemade mushroom or tomato sauce on top.

When you’re in the mood for the best Poland food but don’t want to take the trouble to make golabki, the lazy golabki or golumpki casserole is a good choice! 

3. Bigos

Bigos, the Polish Hunter's stew in a bread bowl and in a black bowl.
Bigos, Polish Hunter’s stew

The funny thing about the popular Polish food called bigos is that it always tastes different. Every housewife has a different bigos recipe. However, they all have one thing in common- cabbage! It can either be fresh cabbage or sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut or cabbage is mixed with chopped onions, different kinds of meat (kiełbasa, bacon, or other), mushrooms, and dried plums.

Polish bigos is a greasy and filling dish. It’s a little bit sour and it should be served warm with fresh bread as an add-on. It’s the best Polish food to eat during winter!

4. Żurek

Zurek soup in a bread bowl.
Zurek soup in a sourdough bread bowl

One of the most popular Polish food, the zurek is a sour, filling soup made of fermented rye flour. It’s traditionally served with boiled eggs, and meat such as bacon bits or fried kiełbasa.

Even though it may sound weird, żurek is really delicious. It’s hard to describe how it tastes. Have you tried sourdough bread? Imagine that it’s liquid and sourer.

Żurek is often served in a bread bowl that you can eat afterwards to relish the meal fully.

5. Schabowy z Ziemniakami i Kapustą

Schabowy and boiled potatoes on a plate.
Schabowy is number one for many Poles

This Polish dish is probably the one Poles miss the most when they are abroad.

For many families, schabowy z ziemniakami i kapustą is a must-eat every Sunday. The dish contains of:

While side dishes such as boiled or mashed potatoes are a must with the cutlet, the salads may vary. Poles eat it with mizeria (fresh cucumber and sour cream) or brine fermented pickles such as ogorki kiszone or ogorki malosolne.

6. Barszcz Czerwony

Red borscht soup with the ingredients around it.
Red borscht is a must-eat while in Poland!

Also known as the Polish red borscht, this soup is made of beetroot starter and broth.

Sometimes called wigilijny barszcz czerwony, this traditional Polish Easter or Christmas dish is also widely eaten in the country all year round.

Red borscht is served with boiled eggs, croquettes or the cutest little uszka dumplings.

7. Studzienina

Galareta or aspic on a plate.
Galareta is a popular Polish wedding food

Also known as galareta or zimne nóżki (cold feet), this is a traditional food in Poland made of boiled meat and veggies that are covered with gelatin. And they should be served with something sour such as vinegar or lemon juice.

You’ll often find studzienina served as starters at Polish weddings or carp jelly served for Christmas Eve dinner. 

But do you know what’s different about this popular Polish food? It’s often made with offal! Other than the regular aspic, you can also try my Polish jellied pigs feet recipe, pigs tongue jelly recipe, and chicken jelly recipe (follow the links).

8. Rosół

Polish chicken rosol soup in a white bowl.
Rosol chicken soup with fine noodles

The broth is the basis of Polish cuisine. Most of the best Polish soups can be cooked using rosol as a base. Add to it sauerkraut and you will get kapusniak. With beetroot sourdough, you have barszcz czerwony, with young beet greens you have barszczyk z botwinką, with beets, beans, and cabbage you have barszcz ukraiński.  When you add grated brine fermented pickles fried in butter, you will get ogórkowa. When you add some vegetables, you will get jarzynowa.

Polish rosół is typically eaten on Sundays in Poland. It’s a clear soup made of chicken and vegetables such as carrot, celery, parsley, onion, and garlic.

Rosół is served with fine egg noodles, makaron nitki noodles, or kluski noodles with fresh parsley leaves on top.

9. Chleb ze Smalcem

Be sure to try smalec while in Poland!

Smalec, a spread made of lard and onion is a very popular food in Poland. You’ll usually find it made with a smattering of finely chopped garlic and bacon. 

Smalec tastes best when served with sourdough bread and brine fermented pickles. You might find it served as a free starter in Polish restaurants, just like some restaurants serve peanuts or chips. 

10. Krupnik

Krupnik barley soup in a red bowl.
Krupnik barley soup

Polish barley soup is traditional Polish food that’s popular, especially among Polish kids. It’s mild and filling at the same time. Made of barley, broth, and veggies such as carrot, parsley, celery, onion, and potato, it’s also pretty healthy. You’ll find krupnik fed to people recovering from illnesses, surgeries, or even new lactating moms.

11. Ogórkowa

Ogorkowa soup with dill pickles in a bowl.
Ogorkowa soup is made with dill pickles

Made of brine fermented pickles that are specific to Polish cuisine, and broth, the tangy ogorkowa soup is delightfully sour. 

Traditionally served with bread, each family has their own variation of the soup, but the best ogorkowa, like mymom’s recipe is always made with homemade dill pickles. 

12. Zapiekanka

HHand holding a Polish Zapiekanka sandwich.
Zapiekanka is the tastiest and cheapest Polish food!

Zapiekanka is a baked open-face sandwich. One of the most popular Polish fast food, you’ll find it eaten at street stalls in Krakow. In fact, it’s so good and cheap, that the late-night drunk crowd is seen gorging on it after a night out.  

Made of baguette topped with corn, mushroom, cheese, ham, and fresh chive on top, it’s a perfect snack to have on the go. Zapiekanka is really east to make at home too!

13. Kapuśniak or Kwasnica

Kwasnica is sourer than kapusniak.

Sauerkraut soup is another traditional food in Poland that’s not only healthy but also delicious!

Depending on what meat and veggies you put inside or the regions the soup is from. The Polish sauerkraut soup recipe from the Podhale region may be called kwasnica (with sheep meat) or from other parts of Poland is called kapusniak (with smoked pork meat and veggies). 

14. Grochówka

Grochowka soup in a white bowl.
Grochowka is a Polish soup made with split peas

If you are in Poland, be sure to try grochowka wojskowa or the army’s bean soup as it’s referred to!

It’s made of beans, veggies, and smoked meat such as bacon, bones, and kielbasa. The soup is very satiating and very filling. So you’ll be full for a really long time, which is probably why it was served in the military. This popular Polish soup is definitely worth trying!

15. Klopsiki W Sosie Chrzanowym

meatballs in horsradish sauce.
Klopsiki W Sosie Chrzanowym

One of the best Polish food that’s unique to Poland is the klopsiki w sosie chrzanowym. The small walnut-sized Polish meatballs are cooked in a tasty horseradish sauce.

Creamy and zingy the pulpeciki w sosie chrzanowym is perfect for the cooler autumn and winter weather!

16. Placek Po Wegiersku

Potato pancakes with goulash on a white plate.
Placek po wegiersku

Goulash is a traditional Polish dish inherited from the Hungarians. And if you visit Polish homes, you’ll almost always find goulash served with placki ziemniaczane or potato pancakes.

Restaurants at stops along country roads will often see travelers stop to eat this wholesome and filling Polish meal. If you get a chance to visit, make sure you get a plateful of placek po wegiersku!

Best Polish Desserts

17. Makowiec

Slices of poppy seed cake makowiec
The poppy-seed cake called Makowiec is one of the most popular desserts in Poland

The poppy seed sweet roulade is traditionally served for Christmas in Poland, however, it may be eaten all year round.

Made with a paste of boiled poppy seeds and raisins called masa rolled in a yeast-based dough, the makowiec roll is sweet and savory. You can try my Polish poppy seed roll recipe at home.

This earthy Polish dessert can also be made in a cake format with cottage cheese and is called seromakowiec!

18. Mazurek

Walnut mazurek.
Mazurek Orzechowy is nutty and flavorful!

When I think about my auntie’s mazurek, my mouth literally starts watering! Ciocia Halinka bakes this cake every Christmas and Easter, and I’m always there to taste some!

Anyway, the Polish mazurek cake is made of a shortcrust pastry base and a filling made of nuts, raisins, and cocoa. Every region of Poland has a different kind of mazurek, however, they are all made of dough similar to shortbread.

Some popular mazurek recipes are chocolate mazurek, walnut mazurek, caramel mazurek, and more. But the most popular is the traditional royal mazurek krolewski!

19. Kremowka Papieska

The Kremówka is a Polish dessert that has become world-famous because of Pope John Paul II. Being a native Pole, he nostalgically referred to the times when he ate kremówka cake at the local bakery in Wadowice after finishing his final exams at school.

This square-shaped Polish dessert is made of puff pastry with a cream filling (made of pudding and butter). Kremowka is very popular in Poland and can be purchased in every Cukiernia (cafe/bakery).

A similar cake that’s made of shortcrust pastry is the karpatka or the Polish Carpathian mountain cake

20. Rogal Świętomarciński

St.Martin's croissant.
St.Martin’s croissant is a must-try while in Poland!

Originally popular only in Poznan, Rogal Świętomarciński is now available all over Poland.

Rogal Świętomarciński or St. Martin’s croissant is a puff pastry with a filling made of cream, white poppy seeds, raisins, candied fruits, and nuts. Icing and candied orange peel is used as a topping.

Rogal Świętomarciński is quite big, so it’s impossible to have it just as a dessert. It’s a dish itself!

21. Kisiel

Polish kisiel dessert.
Polish kisiel dessert with sour cream

The Polish kisiel is quite a popular summer dessert. Plus, it’s very easy to make and healthy too!

Kisiel is made of kompot (water, seasonal fruits, sugar), and potato flour. It’s best served warm. The structure of this dessert is quite unique- it has a viscous-like consistency something between a jelly and a liquid.

A bit more elaborate, if you leave the fruits in the jelly and also add some cooked pasta or noodles, you’ll get a delicious Polish fruit soup.

22. Pączki

Paczki donuts dusted with powdered sugar
Paczki donuts topped with powdered sugar

Polish donuts are quite different from those eaten in other countries, such as the United States. Instead of being ring-shaped, they are round-shaped and deep-fried with filled with different stuffings inside. 

The most popular are rose filling (pączki z różą), marmalade, pudding, or plum jam (powidło), or they can be simply made plain and topped with powdered sugar, sugar glaze, icing sugar, or chocolate glaze and candied peel.

Paczki are especially eaten by the dozens at Tłusty Czwartek, but can be made all year round. Apart from the traditional paczki donuts, there are also regional specialties like the Kuyavian donuts made of pumpkin and potatoes or the  Silesian krepliki serowe made of cream cheese and stuffed with jam or marmalade. 

No matter where you go in Poland, you’ll always find some tasty Polish dishes to whet your appetite! What’s your favorite traditional Polish food? Share it in comments!

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3 Responses

  1. I loved this. I was in Poland last year and local cuisine everywhere I went. I will save this for future reference.

  2. Polsk mat är jordbunden rustik å god å fyllig . Men jag var ihop med en polska en gång å hon gjorde en gudomlig sallad med vad jag kommer ihåg majonnäs ägg majs å några saker till som jag inte kommer ihåg . Kan jag få hjälp?

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