Written by Adrianna Zawadzka


When you hear ‘Polish cuisine’, probably the first (and maybe the only) dish that comes to your mind are Polish dumplings – pierogi. While they surely are one of the most traditional Polish meals, Poles, known for their hospitality, can surprise you with much more than that.

Loved by many but known by few, here are four traditional dishes tourists are likely to die for (or at least to dine for). 

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ŻUREK [zhoo-rrek]

First, one of the most traditional dishes on a Polish table (especially during Easter), is ŻUREK – sour rye soup. The name comes from the old, German word – sūr (today sauer – sour). The soup is based on a sourdough, which (if you’re preparing the meal traditionally) has to lay in a warm place for around 3-4 days. Served usually with hard boiled eggs cut into halves, sausage, marjoram and horseradish. 

Poles usually serve the soup in a big, round loaf, curved inside. This way you can enjoy another Polish pride – pastry, crusty like any other.


Polish people love bread, especially when it’s part of a tradition. Being on our country’s dining list since forever, a generous layer of homemade lard on a thick bread slice crowns any fare, festival and Christmas gathering. Lard is usually made from pork fat and mix with caramelised onion and crackling or in some variations, with apple and sausages. Visuals of this might raise some doubts but trust me – it tastes better than it looks! All you need is a pickle from a freshly opened jar, and you can relish this easy yet full-flavoured snack!

BIGOS [ˈbʲiɡɔs]

BIGOS (hunter’s stew or cabbage stew), is a fulfilling dish, which can play a role of either generous starter or a main dish. It contains chopped meat of various kinds (beef, pork or chicken), stewed with a finely minced sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, chopped, dried plums and mushrooms. Polish cuisine is known for its love for meat, but if you fancy a vegetarian option, simply replace meat with more veggies (or meat substitute). 

Served traditionally with rye bread or mashed potatoes, it is a great ‘comfort food’. The dish doesn’t lose its taste for a long time, which makes it a great lunch option for outdoor activities. It was traditionally known as the perfect option for hunters and travellers, as it doesn’t spoil quickly. Like Żurek, it can be served in bread bowls, or simply, on a plate.


Originated in the South region of the Tatra Mountains, oscypek became the trademark and the essence of Polish mountain areas. The recipe (held only by baca – the experts in oscypek’s making) is strictly protected and regulated. That’s why there is no translation of oscypek’s name and access to it is narrowed down to the Southern Poland area. Produced in a traditional, hand-made way, this cheese cannot be mistaken with any other. 

To be called oscypek, it has to be made from at least 60% of sheep’s milk, measure between 17 and 23 cm and weight between 600 and 800 grams. Once it’s presented  in a decorative form, it has to be placed in a brine-filled barrel for two nights. Then, it is kept in the roof of the wooden huts specially built for the oscypek’s production, where they can be later cured in hot smoke for 14 days. What is so amazing about this cheese, is how delicate, flavoury and unique it is. Bacas can produce the cheese only from late April till late October, because that’s when the sheep are fed with fresh grass, that help them produce the best-flavoured milk. Oscypek can be served in many shapes, whether as a cold or roasted snack, with a bit of a cranberry jam for an extra spin.