Traditional Polish Food

Zakopane High street is lined with restaurants and cafes selling POlish food
Zakopane High street is lined with restaurants and pavement cafes selling typically Polish food. There is also a KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut but everyone likes a change now and then. There is a growing number of Italian, Chinese and vegetarian restaurants in Poland. Read more about eating out in Poland


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Traditional food in Poland

Traditional Polish dishes you're likely to see on the menu are:


boiled pastry, similar to large triangular ravioli, with a variety of savoury or fruit fillings such as meat, cheese and potato, cabbage and mushroom, strawberry, cherry and so on.

The savoury variety are usually served with fried and chopped Polish bacon sprinkled over or butter. Vegetarians would need to specify that they don't want the topping.


Pork features on every menu. It appears as bread crumbed or battered pork fillets and chops, pork roast, in the huge selection of Polish sausages and hams.

Polish bacon is different from bacon in Britain. It is much fattier and is purchased from the cold meat counter in large pieces or sliced from the piece.

Roast pork knuckle is sold as Golonka, ribs are also popular, served plain or with sauces or in cabbage soup called Kapusniak.

Poles also like galaretka which is jellied pork with added vegetables. In Poland pork tends to be used as the meat in stuffed cabbage leaves.


Stuffed cabbage leaves or Golabki

stuffed cabbage leaves or golabki

Essentially cabbage leaves are stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, rice and sometimes onions or mushrooms and made into little parcels. These are served with a creamy tomato or mushroom sauce.


A picked cabbage (sauerkraut) stew with added pork, salami, other meats, mushrooms and occasionally other ingredients such as onion, apple - everyone has their own recipe. This stew came from the days when each peasant household preserved barrels of their own cabbage for the winter and ate it with whatever was available.

It is served with bread or potatoes. In some restaurants it is served up in specially made bread bowls with lids.


polish food
Food on the table above is pork cutlet fried in breadcrumbs or batter with chips. Chips or frytki are everywhere. The plate to the bottom left contains Polish potato pancakes - stodgy but nice.

Polish salamis

A typical Polish meat counter in a supermarket is stocked with 75% processed meat products such as salamis and 25% fresh meat.

There are salamis for eating cold for breakfast, in sandwiches and as snacks. There are salamis specially made for grilling on barbecues - these are often sold as a street fast food meals and snacks. Salamis are also ingredients in bigos, bean stews, on pizzas and in and other dishes.

Polish bread and cakes

Certain traditional Polish cakes are well known abroad, take to various countries with exiled Poles. The yeast based Babka, rose scented jam filled doughnuts, gingerbread biscuits, poppy seed roll (Makowiec), and baked cheesecake can be purchased around the world.

As a comparison with British cakes, the Polish variety of sponge cake tends to be less sweet and lighter. Layered cakes filled with artificial cream are commonly sold in bakeries. You will also find a selection of yeast cakes containing apple, raisins or other fruit, both iced and plain.

Szarlotka or apple Charlotte is a cake that features on the dessert menu in many restaurants. A cake type base is covered with a deep filling of chopped apple and a crumbly top. This is served plain or accompanied by whipped cream, drizzled chocolate sauce and ice cream.

Vodka and drink

Vodka remains the most popular drink of choice along with good Polish beer. A group of friends out for the night often buy whole bottle of vodka to place on the table. Raspberry syrup is sometimes added to beer or tea. Internationally known cocktails are also available.

Warm mulled wine is a welcome drink on a cold and frosty evening. As well as buying this in restaurants, it's sold at Krakow Christmas Market where it adds to the festive atmosphere.


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