Sampling Weird Polish Dishes

To my surprise, many visitors to Poland were amazed that Poles eat kanapki for breakfast. Foreigners find these open-face sandwiches strange due to their ‘uncovered’ top. As a native Pole, however living abroad most of my teenage and adult life, I’ve never thought about how strange kanapki might seem to other people.

Anyway, kanapki made me wonder what other Polish dishes might seem strange to both Poles and foreigners and this is why I decided write about them.

Weird Polish Dishes

Weird Polish Dishes

1. Kaszanka

Kaszanka is a type of sausage filled with buckwheat mixed with pig blood and offal. It might sound a bit gross, but it’s actually quite tasty and similar to Scottish haggis. It’s usually fried with onions and served with a bit of horseradish. Another variant of kaszanka is kiszka which is filled with groat instead of buckwheat.

2. Nóżki w galarecie

Literally ‘little feet’, these are jellied pig or cow feet. The cooked meat is simmered in a grayish gelatin with some herbs and usually carrots and peas. It’s also usually served with horseradish. Another variant of nóżki is jellied fish, usually carp. Although this dish was originally a Jewish tradition, nowadays it’s commonly served at Christmas.

weird polish dishes

3. Flaki

Flaki is actually a very famous soup in various Eastern European countries, due to – as some may say – its miraculous function as a hangover remedy. It’s often served during Polish weddings for breakfast. I haven’t tried it and I don’t think I’m going to – the smell always scares me away.

4. Smalec

Smalec is very common on Polish tables. I remember my mom preparing it when I was a kid and I couldn’t believe that someone could consume it. I gave it a go last year and it’s still a no-no for me. Smalec is basically pig fat melted in a pan with an onion and sometimes pieces of bacon. In English , t’s commonly referred to as lard.

5. Czernina

Czernina is another Polish dish containing blood, however it might sound a bit more scary than kaszanka. It’s a goose blood soup that was considered a symbol of Polish culture in the 19th century. It was commonly served to men whose marriage proposal was rejected by their girlfriend’s parents.

6. Fruit soup

Fruit soup was my nightmare in kindergarten when I was simply refusing to eat it every time until the teachers accepted that there is no way in this world to convince me to eat it. I was a stubborn child after all. A fruit soup contains overcooked cherries or strawberries and often a bit of milk and some pasta.zupa

7. Milk soup

Poles love soups. However, I guess I’m not your typical Pole. Along with the fruit soup, another childhood nightmare for me was milk soup. When thinking of milk soup, the first thing that comes to mind are corn flakes. However, in Poland people love to eat cooked pasta or rice with warm milk

8. Zsiadłe mleko & kefir

Zsiadłe mleko is soured milk that for some might seem like it’ s bad. Due to the bacterial fermentation, it’s quite thick. It’s often eaten on young potatoes with dill. Kefir is also a fermented milk with kefir grains. It’s a bit less thick than zsiadłe mleko.

READ MORE: Ultimate Guide to Warsaw

9. Kiszone ogórki & kiszona kapusta

Poles love to pickle food. The Polish pickled cucumber is a bit different than the traditional gherkin you might be used to – it’s a bit sour, with a lot of dill, similar to kosher style pickles.

Cucumbers only pickled for a few days have a different, less sour taste than those pickled for longer. They’re known as ogórek małosolny, which literally means ‘low-salt cucumber’. There is also kiszona kapusta, literally sauerkraut, which might appear strange, due to the method of preparation. Like wine, one has to keep on stepping on it in a barrel…

Preparation of kapusta kiszona

Preparation of kapusta kiszona

10. Kwas Chlebowy

Kwas chlebowy is a non-alcoholic drink made of fermented yeast and rye bread. Writing this I actually realized that Polish food contains a lot of fermented products. Don’t worry though, it’s all good!

11. Bigos

Bigos is a traditional Christmas dish in Eastern Europe. Funnily enough, its name means mess or confusion in Polish. Bigos often reminds people of a stew. It’s made with cabbage, kielbasa and often mushrooms.

It got introduced into Polish cuisine by the Polish-Lithuanian King Wladyslaw Jagiełło who loved hunting. Because of this, he decided to put some of the venison from the deer he killed into the stew.


12. Wild mushrooms

Wandering in the forest for hours while picking mushrooms is extremely popular in Poland. Although it’s a traditional Polish past-time, mushroom picking is often met with uneasiness from American tourists.

Questions like ‘How do I know it’s not poisonous?’ and ‘Are wild mushrooms even good?’ often arise when it comes to mushrooming. However, wild mushrooms are incredibly tasty and I have to admit that I eat them every day when I’m in Poland.forest

Any questions about weird Polish food?


    • Anna
      Aug 8, 2014 / 4:17 pm

      It is… unless you eat too much of it during Polish Xmas haha!

  1. Leszek Jakubowski
    Mar 28, 2014 / 8:02 pm

    “Literally ‘little feet’” Nope, literally ‘legs in jelly’. Also ‘fish in jelly’ is not a variety of ‘legs’ 🙂 Other than that: nice post.

  2. Mar 29, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    The milk soup reminds me of the Mexican desert “arroz con leche” rice with milk. I haven’t try it and I don’t think I would ever do, it simply repulse me just by seeing it. Great post by the way!

    • Anna
      Apr 30, 2014 / 12:15 am

      I wish it was like arroz con leche… but trust me – it’s not as good 😉 Btw I love arroz con leche!

      • Kimberley
        Jul 20, 2015 / 2:39 pm

        Ever had rice pudding in the Uk? I’d like to know how it measures up to the other two. Basically milk, cream and rice. Amazing.

  3. Mar 29, 2014 / 7:59 pm

    The milk soup reminds me of the Mexican desert “arroz con leche” rice with milk. I haven’t try it and I think I would never will , it simply repulse me just by seeing it. Great post by the way!

    • Anna
      Aug 8, 2014 / 4:17 pm

      Not mine for sure 😉 I hate kefir to be really honest 😉

  4. Apr 15, 2014 / 12:49 pm

    Czernina? What the heck is that? Never tried it before, but it does sound like a wicked dish :D!

    • Anna
      Apr 15, 2014 / 4:03 pm

      I know one restaurant where you can try it 😉 If you like kaszanka you’ll like it 😀

  5. Apr 16, 2014 / 9:54 pm

    Nice post, Anna! Wild forest mushrooms, Polish bread and kluski are the things I miss the most. Very happy to be back in Poland for Easter, though. I’m gonna have a guiltless feast! 🙂

    • Anna
      Apr 17, 2014 / 3:50 pm

      I want some kluski with wild mushrooms now 🙂

  6. Darin Dunakin
    Apr 18, 2014 / 7:44 pm

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth used to be a entertainment account it. Glance advanced to far introduced agreeable from you! However, how can we be in contact?

  7. Estela
    Jul 2, 2014 / 11:54 am

    Greetings! I’ve been ffollowing your website ffor some time now and finally got
    the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney
    Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

    • Anna
      Aug 8, 2014 / 4:16 pm

      Thank you Estela!

  8. Oct 29, 2014 / 5:14 pm

    Do you smalec straight (as in by itself) or mix it in with whatever other items you have on your plate?

    • Oct 29, 2014 / 5:44 pm

      Personally I hate smalec haha! People eat it alone as a bread spread 🙂

  9. Apr 7, 2015 / 9:53 am

    great put up, very informative. I ponder why the
    other experts of this sector do not realize this. You must continue your writing.
    I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  10. Steve
    May 19, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    No Gołąbki? Its not weird but nothing on your list is weird except for the blood soup, which is usually made from duck blood.

    Also a major recipe in Bigos is tomato sauce/paste. Really its preference but the picture you included has tomato included.

  11. Jul 17, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    I love Polish food. Although it’s very different taste from my country – Portugal – I tend to find it very exotic. Every time I go to my wife’s parents place in Poland, I taste so many different dishes. Very interesting post. Thank you. Greetings from south Morocco!

  12. jack
    Feb 10, 2017 / 10:01 am

    lol attempted christmas #2

  13. Laura
    Feb 16, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Wow, Nóżki w galarecie seems extremely similar to one of the most popular dishes among Lithuanians. Only the name of it is completely different. In Lithuania it’s called ‘ Šaltiena’. Also, in this website: you’ll find more similar dishes that are common in neighboring countries.

  14. George Vickers
    Apr 24, 2017 / 11:36 am


    • George Vickers
      May 11, 2017 / 11:18 am


  15. Lea
    Apr 25, 2017 / 7:14 am

    Great post! I was not convinced to Polish food and I didn’t even want to try it. I have visited Poland few times, but I didn’t try traditional food. Last time my friend took me to great restaurant called the Akademia. Even though it is a Polish restaurant, they preapre everything in more modern way. Everything was surprisingly delicious and I was really delighted! I would never think that I would like Polish dishes so much:)

  16. Adam
    Jul 25, 2017 / 8:36 am

    I do agree that some of the Polish traditional dishes are crazy, but most of them is really tasty. The dish that has surprised me the most was “tatar”. I couldn’t imagine that people eat just raw meat and it is normal for them :p But a friend of mine once took me to a cozy bar in the Old Town called Bubbles and tricked me into trying tatar. I loved it! I don’t know if I would try it in any different place, because it still seems a little bit odd, but every time I visit my friend in Warsaw we go to Bubbles to have tatar with champagne – and it is awesome!

    • Anna
      Jul 25, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      Oh right. It’s popular in France too 😀

  17. asdf
    Aug 21, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    Hmm typical flaczki that u can buy at a grocery store (from some more renown brand like Morliny at least) smell like typical broth and the taste is not far from that, maybe a bit sweeter because of carrots and allspice.
    Some more bizarre food would be probably tatar (finely minced raw beef sirloin with egg yolk, chopped pickled cucumbers(korniszony) or capers, mushrooms, chopped onions, salt and paper, it’s very good. Zakwas chlebowy is a basis of my favorite soup called Żurek. Poles also use offal for various dishes such as Krupnik on chicken stomachs, pate based on livers and hearts, some old people even eat chicken lungs in vinegar or brains (tbh i have never tried these two and im not going to 😀 ). There’s also beef tongue in horseradish sauce. Salceson is made out of boiled heads, ears and other gross left overs. There’s probably more but I can’t think of it now.

  18. Mark K
    May 1, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    I used to travel to poland every summer, so only 1 or 2 of these are offputting to me.

    how about kogel mogel?

    i used to like it as a kid a lot, now … not so much

    • Anna
      May 1, 2018 / 8:30 pm

      I never liked it haha! Yuckie 😀

  19. Mark K
    May 1, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    Oh, i also wanted to mentioned. i go mushroom hunting with my father every fall, in new jersey.

    boletes/kozak czerwony
    yellow knights/zielonki

    and a couple others, but those are the major ones

    u can pickle em, fry em… good stuff

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