Your Guide To The Best Traditional Polish Food

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Poland’s cuisine is hearty and wholesome, and the portions are large enough to keep you well fed through the cold winter.  If you are planning your trip to Poland, make sure you try these traditional foods;


My Polish friends always raved about Polish doughnuts, which are often eaten either for breakfast or instead of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, but I didn’t understand why until I tried them for myself. These are hands down the best doughnuts I have ever eaten.  Of course you can get plain doughnuts dusted in a little sugar, but also try the doughnut balls and glazed doughnuts too.  I personally rate the orange glazed doughnut with orange peel topping and quince jam.


This yeast cake is made with layers of chocolate and vanilla sponge arranged to look like map topography, and often made in a bundt cake mould.  

Chimney Cake

Yes you can find chimney cake in most of Eastern Europe, and on many street food stalls elsewhere, but you need to try them at their best.  Served fresh from a street stall or small kiosk, still warm and dipped in chocolate, cinnamon sugar or coconut; totally delicious!  As with most food in Poland, these are served in giant portions so it is probably best to get one to share.


You wouldn’t usually associate dumplings with European cuisine, but pierogi are amazing.  Often stuffed full with duck and served with sour cream and cranberries, they definitely hold their own against their Asian counterparts.  Again size seems to matter in Poland, and three of these dumplings will see you full up for hours.


Bigos is a traditional stew made with finely chopped meat stewed with sauerkraut and shredded cabbage. It is slightly sour and sharp, but if it is stewed long enough it almost tastes sweet.  As if this stew wasn’t filling enough, it is often served with roasted pork knuckle and mashed potato. Full of those satisfying umami flavours, this is definitely feel good food that warms your soul on a cold winter’s day.


Commonly known as borscht in Russian, this is the Polish name for the same dish. Of course there is more to this sour soup than beetroot (celery, potato, onion and garlic all make an appearance), but it is the beet that adds both the powerful flavour and striking look of this dish.  Definitely worth trying, if nothing else it makes for a great photo.

Spicy Sausages

Dense meat (made from either beef, pork or veal) is spiced with pepper, juniper and paprika to create delicious and filling sausages.  There are many different types of sausage, depending on the ingredients used and whether it is eaten raw, smoked or cooked.  One to try is the kielbasa wedzona which is boiled and served in soups.   


Ok this is not specific to Poland, but the Poles do eat a lot of it.  From sweetbreads, to veal, and kaszanka (congealed pig’s blood) to flaki (tripe soup), Polish cuisine definitely subscribes to the nose to tail school of thought, leaving nothing to waste.  Of course years of preparing these more unusual cuts of meat mean that they know how to get the very best out of it.


I know this may come across as a bit general, but on almost every menu you will find slow braised ox cheek, pork knuckle with crispy crackling, roast duck, steak tartar, rabbit, and veal.  It is usually the cheaper cuts of meat that have been selected (except for the steak) which are then slow cooked to make them tender and delicious.  I had some of the best ox cheek ever in Poland, so it is definitely worth a try!


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