Best Polish Traditional Food

Old Traditional Polish Cuisine

In New York City, a long line of people can be found in front of a food truck named Old Traditional Polish Cuisine. It serves, as stated in their banner, their specialty of smoking hot kielbasas and a variety of pierogi. It claims to be authentic and traditional. The long queue makes you wonder: “What is about Polish cuisine that makes it irresistible to a lot of people?”

During the Middle Ages in Poland, whatever is served in the dining table depended on the available agricultural produce and crops, mostly cereals, and on what was brought home by hunters, like meats of farm and wild animals, as well as the plants found in the forest like herbs, spices, fruits and berries. There was the ubiquitous groats or “kasza” and an abundance of salt. Beer or mead was the staple drink during that time.

Proso millet was the cereal of choice because it was readily available, but other types of cereal soon became popular too.  In fact, a lot of them chose cereals instead of bread.

Poles were also fond of using mushrooms because there was an endless supply of this product in their dense forest.

In the early days, Polish nobility was served the unique meal of honey-braised paws of a bear that comes with a horseradish salad.  It is said that they also liked smoked bear tongue and bear bacon.

People from the old times widely used two basic sauces: the jucha szara and jucha czerwona. Their meals were often spicy not only because the spices were abundant, – they were cheap too.

People drank milk, buttermilk, whey and different herb-infused concoctions. The ubiquity of mead prompted Prince Leszek I the White to banter with the Pope that his knights would not take part in the crusade, because they know that there was no mead available in the Holy Land. In the 16th century Poles from the upper classes began importing Silesian and Hungarian wines. Almost around the same time, vodka grew in popularity with the lower classes, and then eventually made its way up the social ladder.

polish poppy seed pastry

Polish Poppy Seed Pastry (Makowiec)

The Poppy Seed Pastry, also called as the Poppy Seed Roll, highlights the use of the ingredient poppy seed. The seed has a nutty taste and aroma, although it’s not very strong. Poppy seeds are said to contain antioxidant and health-promoting compounds and properties.

The Poppy Seed Roll is basically a pastry roll of sweet bread with a rich filling of poppy seed in the middle. This pastry is popular, especially during Christmas and Easter. Its Polish name is Makowiec. The combination of sour cream and butter, egg yolk, milk, sugar, flour, and yeast make up the dough. The hint of citrus comes from the lemon or orange zest mixed with the dough. The filling is usually a mix of poppy seeds, butter or milk, sugar or honey, rum, vanilla and a sprinkle of raisins. Others use apricot jam instead of sugar. The dough is initially on the stiff side. The dough is arranged on a large sheet and then rolled into a log. It is best to make sure that the quantity or the thickness of the filling should be equal to that of the doughs. When the log is formed, it is brushed with egg white to make it shimmer. After that, the pastry is baked until golden brown.

Polish Breaded Pork Cutlet (Kotlet Schabowy)

Polish breaded pork or Kotlet Schabowy are the cutlets of breaded pork, with a coating of breadcrumbs, highlighting its similarity with the schnitzel, although the Kotlet Schabowy uses pork tenderloin.

The dish has been in the Polish table for as early as the 19th century, as evidenced by its listing in 1860 cookbook by Lucyna Cwierczakiewiczowa 365 Dinners for Five Zloty.

polish sheeps cheese

The pork tenderloin or pork chop is sliced about an inch and pounded with a mallet.  This is to make the pork soft and thinner. It is then dipped in flour, then in the egg that was beaten with the spices, and then coated with breadcrumbs. It is placed in the pan when the oil gets sizzling hot and has to be turned over frequently and cooked until golden brown. The Polish Breaded Pork Cutlet comes with a side dish of fried mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and seared cabbage, or sometimes with coleslaw or salad.

polish breaded pork cutlet

Polish Sheep’s Cheese (Grilled Oscypek)

Oscypek is a cheese that is highly associated with the Tatra Mountains region of Poland. This cheese, which comes from salty sheep milk, is smoked to obtain that distinct flavor. Grilled Oscypek is great for snacks or breakfast, and can be served with sweet, savory or sour fruits like strawberry, cranberry, and many others.

Polish Red Borscht (Barszcz)

This Polish red soup is a vegetarian dish because it does not contain any meat product. The main ingredient of this soup is red beetroot, which gives the dish great red color.  Beet greens, garlic, onions, carrots, celery and root parsley are cooking together. When they are ready, they are removed out of the soup. Then, different spices are added to make barszcz more delicious. Poles prefer to cook “Uszka” – the same red borscht served with filled dumplings. Stuffing may be various- from meat to mushrooms (usually cooked for Christmas).

polish red borscht barszcz
polish sausage kielbasa

Polish Sausage (kielbasa)

Polish kielbasa, literary known as sausage, has a number of varieties. So, it can be made of beef, turkey, chicken, pork, or lamb. It can be smoked or fresh. Polish sausage preparation has a lot of recipes, varying from region to region.


There are lots of delicious Polish dishes. Each of them is unique and tasty. If you’ve read as well as heard a lot about famous Polish cuisine, but never tried it — don’t wait anymore! Move to You’ll find a great selection of Polish food, offered in Syracuse grocery store.

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