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21 Polish Foods You Need to Try

Go Beyond the Kielbasa and Pierogies and Try These New Dishes

Pierogi are one of the most famous foods to have come from Poland. The delicious dumplings are hugely versatile and are perfect for every occasion.

If you are looking to expand your culinary horizons, Poland has a whole host of traditional dishes that are well worth a try.  

21 Polish Foods You Need To Try That Aren’t Pierogi

We have rounded up 21 of our favorite Polish dishes to give you some inspiration for your next dinner. There is no need to bring out the pierogies again for a while.  

Bigos

Pronounced: bee-gos 

Bigos is a type of stew, sometimes referred to as a hunter’s stew. It is so popular in Poland that it is the national dish.

It traditionally contains mushrooms, potatoes, bacon, spicy Polish sausage, and sauerkraut. There are commonly other meats in the stew too, ranging from pork to rabbit, to venison.  

This is a very easy dish to make, but it does take a long time. This is because it is simmered for hours over a low heat to allow all of the flavors to infuse.

It has been a staple Polish dish since the 17th century and is commonly served alongside slices of bread. According to tradition, you should have a shot of Polish vodka either just before or just after consuming the stew.  


Kotlet schabowy

Pronounced: cot-let sa-baw-vi 

This is a type of pork cutlet that has been coated in breadcrumbs. It is similar to schnitzel but is only made with pork chop or loins. It is believed to have become popular in Poland during the 19th century.  

Traditionally, kotlet schabowy is served with potatoes (boiled or mashed), seared cabbage, coleslaw, and other salads. 


Kotlet mielony

Pronounced: cot-let me-eh-law-ni 

This translates to a minced cutlet. It is ground pork meat that has had egg and breadcrumbs added to it. This mixture is then seasoned and formed into oval shapes. These balls are then rolled in breadcrumbs and shallow fried.  

These are either served with mashed potatoes, fried beetroot, and cucumber salad or in a bread roll with pickles and onions.  


Barszcz z uszkami

Pronounced: bar-sh-ch zz oosh-kami 

This dish is a hot beetroot soup served with mushroom dumplings. The dumplings are known as uszka, which translates to little ears, due to their shape. They are filled with mushrooms and boiled in a broth to cook.  

This is a very common meal for Polish families to eat on Christmas Eve for their dinner.  


Gulasz

Pronounced: gou-lash

This is goulash, traditionally made with pork as the main ingredient. The pork is simmered slowly with onions and paprika to make a rich and flavorful broth.

The dish will often have a variety of vegetables for bulk, such as mushrooms, carrots, and peppers.  

It is commonly served over noodles. We also recommend trying it over potato pancakes or buckwheat groats for a fresher take on this hearty meal.  


Kluski

Pronounced: kloss-kee 

Kluski is a general term for any kind of soft and malleable dumpling. This term can also be used to refer to noodles and other forms of pasta, especially when served in a soup. 

One of the most common types is kluski śląskie. This translates to Silesian dumplings. They are made from mashed potatoes, bound with egg and flour.

The dumplings are traditionally served with boiled red cabbage, gravy, and fried rounds of beef. 


Knedle ze śliwkami 

Pronounced: k-ned-leh zeh shliff-kami 

These are a popular sweet Polish dumpling. The dough is made of potatoes bound with egg and flour. This dough is then enriched with butter, cream, and salt.  

The dough is portioned and then flattened to create a pancake shape. This is rolled to encase a pitted plum filled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. The dumplings are then boiled in water to cook until they float to the surface.  

They are drained and then served with sweet cream, a dusting of cinnamon, and some melted butter.  


Placki ziemniaczane

Pronounced: plats-kee shem-niah-cha-neh 

These are potato pancakes. They are thin and crispy and can be adapted to be served savory or sweet. They are commonly served with meat sauce, mushroom sauce, goulash, or sour cream.

Some are topped with cottage cheese, apple sauce, and fruit syrup.  

It was a staple food at Polish monasteries in the 17th century. During the economic recession in the 19th century, Polish peasants often used placki ziemniaczane as a replacement for bread.  


Golonka gotowana

Pronounced: goh-lon-kah got-oh-van-ah 

This translates simply to boiled knuckle in English. It is a dish based around a sealed and then slowly cooked ham hock, the ankle area of a pig. This cut of meat is fairly cheap to buy and has long been a staple part of Polish cuisine. 

Golonka gotowana is traditionally served whole and with the bone still intact. Sides for this dish include sauerkraut, mustard or horseradish sauce, boiled potatoes, and roasted vegetables.  


Zrazy

Pronounced: z-raz-zih 

This is also called Polish beef roulade, although the term can be used for any meat roll. Boneless cuts of meat are bashed until they are thin before being seasoned and pan-fried.

These rolls are then served covered in a creamy sauce made from the braising juices of the meat, cream, tomatoes, onions, and spices.  

It has roots that date back to the 14th century when it was a favorite meal with the nobles. It is often served with a side of buckwheat porridge, mashed or boiled potatoes, beetroot, rice, or pierogi.  

As well as plain zrazy, you can get stuffed versions. You can get a lot of different kinds of zrazy filled with different foods. Common choices include sauerkraut, mushrooms, horseradish breadcrumbs, sliced pickles, potatoes, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and herbs.  


Gołąbki

Pronounced: gaw-whomp-kee 

The name for this dish literally translates to little pigeons. They are a nationally loved dish in Poland and this is a staple meal in almost every home.

Gołąbki are cabbage leaves wrapped around a mixture of ground pork, ground beef, and rice. The rolls are then covered in a tomato sauce and baked in the oven. 

They are served with buttered rye bread, applesauce, and mashed potatoes. Gołąbki can be eaten hot or cold, making them suitable for all occasions. 


Żurek

Pronounced: zhoo-rrek 

This is a rye meal soup containing sausage, bacon, ham, mushrooms, and potatoes. Żurek has a very sour taste which comes from the soup base used.

The soup base is known as a żur and is very sour. Rye flour and water is allowed to ferment for up to 5 days before it is used.  

In Poland, this is often served at Easter time, as a precursor to the day’s main meal, or as a cure for a hangover. It is sometimes served in an edible bread bowl and each region of Poland has a unique spin on the soup.  


Kopytka

Pronounced: koh-pit-kah 

Kopytka are another type of potato dumpling. The name translates to little hooves as their shape resembles a hoof. The dumpling dough is created from potato, flour, salt, and eggs.

This is then shaped and thrown into hot salted water to boil.  

They are considered to be Poland’s take on gnocchi. Kopytka are served with buttered bread crumbs and juices from roasted cuts of meat.  


Sałatka jarzynowa

Pronounced: s-ow-atkah yah-zi-nova 

This literally translates to vegetable salad and never contains meat. It commonly consists of hard-boiled eggs, peas, and a mirepoix. This mirepoix is finely diced onion, carrot, and celery, which has been cooked slowly over a low heat in butter.  

The salad is dressed with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Some recipes will call for pickles and tart apples to be added. This salad is usually eaten at celebrations such as Christmas Eve. It is very similar to the Russian Olivier salad. 


Jajka faszerowane

Pronounced: y-eye-kah fa-sheh-raw-vah-neh 

This dish is simply stuffed eggs in their shells, think deviled eggs taken up a notch. The eggs are hard-boiled and then the egg, shell and all, is cut in half. The egg flesh is scooped out, mashed with seasonings, and fried before being replaced in the shell halves.  

The exposed egg in the shells is dipped into breadcrumbs to create a coating. This is then placed inside a pan of hot oil and fried until golden brown.  


Fasolka po Bretońsku

Pronounced: fah-sol-kah paw bret-on-skoo 

This dish is the Polish equivalent of homemade baked beans. In essence, it is haricot beans that have been cooked in a thick tomato sauce, somewhat like a stew.

Traditionally served with thick slices of fresh bread, the dish is warming and hearty.  

The beans will commonly have some meat such as bacon or sausage added during the cooking process. It is an incredibly simple dish to make and will keep well for a few days.

Many people think that the taste improves the day after the dish is made.  


Ryż z jabłkami

Pronounced: rizz zz yab-oo-kamee 

This dish is a sweet one. The translation is rice with apples. It is a very traditional fall dessert in Poland. Rice is boiled in milk with sugar, butter, and vanilla essence. The rice is cooked until tender and then set aside. 

Apples are peeled and grated then cooked in butter, sugar, and lemon juice until they have softened. Cinnamon is then added. Half of the rice is added to a dish or mold and topped with the apples. The second half of the rice is added on top and covered with more butter.  

This is then covered with aluminum foil and baked in the oven. The rice pudding is served with a dusting of cinnamon, a sprinkle of sugar, and some whipped sour cream.  


Chłodnik

Pronounced: who-odd-nick 

This is a cold soup that is somewhat similar to borscht. The word chłodnik can refer to any cold, vegetable based soup. The most common version is chłodnik litewski – beetroot soup.

This is served garnished with dill, chives, and boiled eggs. It is occasionally topped with roasted meat or cold cuts.  

The soup is made by simmering beetroot and then blending it with radish, cucumber, and dairy products. It is either pink or red in color, depending on the quantity of milk that has been added.

Alternatives to milk include yogurt, sour milk, sour cream, and kefir. The primary ingredients in this soup are beetroot, dill, and cucumber.  


Oscypek & Bryndza cheese

Pronounced: ost-zih-peck and brind-zah cheese 

These are 2 of Poland’s natively produced cheeses. They are sheep’s milk cheeses and come from the Tatra mountains found in southern Poland. The cheeses are smoked in a Bakowska, essentially a specially designated wooden hut.  

The manufacturing process is so highly regarded that the producers are subsidized by the EU.

This allows the manufacturers and sheep farmers the economic freedom to continue producing these cheeses. The tradition and manufacturing methods are highly valued, hence the subsidy.  


Pączki

Pronounced: pon-ch-kee 

Pączki are Polish donuts, also sometimes called bismarcks. They are commonly eaten on Fat Thursday, the week before the beginning of the Lent period.

The dough has a small quantity of grain alcohol added prior to frying. This prevents the frying oil from penetrating into the dough too deeply.  

Pączki dough is made to be incredibly rich. It contains a high amount of fat and sugar, along with eggs, milk, and yeast. They can be filled or plain.

Some traditional fillings include plum jam (powidła), rose petal jam, and Bavarian cream. They are served covered in powdered sugar, icing, or dried orange zest.  


Makowiec

Pronounced: mah-kov-ee-ets 

This is a type of yeasted dough topped with a sweetened poppy seed spread. This is then rolled together prior to baking, creating a beautiful swirl effect.

The contrast of the black and white colors makes for an incredibly beautiful and luxurious dessert. In Eastern Europe, poppy seeds are closely linked to wealth and prosperity. 

It is commonly consumed during the festive period and is a traditional food in many homes. The bread often contains honey, fruit peel, raisins, or apricots to sweeten the flavor. It is consumed with a hot drink such as tea or coffee.  

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.