When you visit Poland, make sure that you get your hands on some Polish desserts. Sweet, rich, and oh-so-comforting, this former Eastern-bloc country knows how to make sweets that will change your life. From unique Polish candy to crispy, greasy pastries, desserts from Poland are warming, sweet, and the perfect combination of the new and familiar for every season.
What Makes Polish Desserts So Good?
Desserts from Poland are at their heart, comfort foods. The cold weather and long winters mean that Polish people rely heavily on rich, delicious foods to get them through. As a result, many Polish desserts are made using essential, no-nonsense ingredients that you can find in pantries at home – eggs, sugar, and flour are the stars of most Polish sweets. No fancy additions here!
Three different empires partitioned Poland – as such, the desserts draw inspiration from neighboring countries, traces of which are still apparent today. Look for flaky Polish pastry layers, rich vanilla creams, and fresh berries as the main features in many Austrian and Hungarian-inspired desserts.
Polish desserts vary from region to region, focusing on fresher produce near the Baltic Sea in the north and more decadent pastries and cakes originating from the south.
The sheer number of desserts in Poland might seem intimidating, but there is only one way to try them all – get started today! Here are 12 fantastic Polish desserts for you to try when you visit.
Popular Desserts from Poland
If there’s one Polish dessert that you need to try, make it faworki! These desserts from Poland are crispy, deep-fried pastries found all over the country and are a firm favorite for locals of all ages.
Very rich and not for anyone counting calories, these delicious Polish treats make a fun snack during your visit. A basic faworki dough contains egg yolks, cream, and flour – however, you can find different flavors and varieties depending on the baker and where you are in Poland.
The dough is twisted and fried, creating a dish that looks as good as it tastes. Once fried, the dough becomes light, airy and crispy. These Polish pastries are often dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon and melt in your mouth with every bite.
Faworki is seasonal and usually enjoyed around carnival season in February. The best faworki can be found at markets and festivals during this time. So make sure you grab some on Fat Thursday, the last day of the Carnival season, and enjoy these traditional Polish pastries while taking in the sights.
This Polish dessert might look familiar, and there’s a reason why. Modeled on the classic Austrian dessert cremeschnitte, variations of this popular dessert can be found all over Europe. Puff pastry layers with vanilla pastry cream to create an irresistibly decadent and filling Polish dessert that’s guaranteed to please even the fussiest eater!
While the best kremowka are found in bakeries and patisseries, you can usually pick some up from Polish grocery stores for reasonably cheap. This Polish cake is available year-round and is perfect in both cool and warmer weather.
Our recommendation? Look for napoleanka, a variant of kremowka that incorporates a layer of whipped cream for an extra rich and buttery texture.
The word rurki is actually a general term for a kind of dessert made famous in Bulgaria in the 16th century. Called rurki z kremem, this Polish dessert is a kind of cream roll – thin pastry wraps around sweet pastry cream or sweet whipped cream for a delicious, crispy treat. Depending on where you are, rurki z kremem will sometimes be fried after filling – this extra step makes this dessert from Poland extra rich and crunchy!
Rurki is sometimes referred to as ‘torpedo dessert’ due to its funnel-like shape. You’ll find rurki in Turkey and Bulgaria as well, and many different variations of this Polish dessert are available across the regions. Look for vanilla, chocolate, or even blackberry creams as fillings, though it must be said – the original is always the best!
The first European-style donut, krapfen, is the inspiration behind so many common varieties filling the grocery store shelves worldwide. Like ordinary donuts, krapfen can be eaten plain – however, they’re more commonly filled with jams, custards, and chocolate sauce.
Krapfen originated in Poland in the 9th century, and recipes mimicking the modern dessert have been around since the late 1500s. These delicious Polish pastries are made from a light and airy dough, deep-fried until golden-brown and coated in powdered sugar. The result is a chewy, moist treat that will delight and warm you on a cold Polish winter day.
While krapfen is best eaten warm, be careful when you take that first bite – the custard in the middle can be like molten lava!
If you’re a huge fan of pancakes, visit a market during Christmas and get yourself some racuchy! A perfect combination of fluffy American-style pancakes and delicate French crepes, these delicious Polish desserts are a sweet and comforting treat at any time of day. While racuchy is usually served as breakfast food, really you can eat them whenever you like – they’ll still be delicious!
Diced apples, sugar, and cinnamon all come together and make this sweet, crunchy Polish dessert one you won’t forget in a hurry. While the taste and thickness of racuchy differ depending on the region, most are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. These delicious flat Polish cakes usually come with powdered sugar or honey as a topping, but you can also use chocolate syrup and jams.
The original ‘jack of all trades’ of Polish desserts, Mazurek is a flat cake that can be topped with absolutely anything and everything. Sweet, rich, and dense, this Polish cake is traditionally baked around Easter and accompanies multi-course meals on Easter Sunday after church.
A specific texture doesn’t constrain mazurek – you’ll find spongey, crumbly, and marzipan-based Mazurek depending on the region you’re in. This tasty dessert originated from Poland but was inspired by classic Turkish desserts in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mazurek dough usually contains nuts, jams or seeds, and is topped with icing, chocolate, or toffee sauces.
If you’re in Poland around Easter, you’ll find Mazurek in bakeries and grocery stores – however, the best option is at the festive markets. So wash it down with some traditional Polish coffee or even some fruit wine depending on how you’re feeling!
Steering away from the chocolate and candy-rich desserts, makowiec is a Polish variation of a poppy seed roll. This traditional dessert in Poland has layers of fluffy dough lined with thick slabs of poppy seed paste. Ingredients like raisins, almonds, and orange peel are usually added to enhance the poppy seeds’ savory notes and give makowiec a distinct texture.
Makowiec is usually prepared around the Christmas holidays and makes the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. This semi-sweet Polish cake is known for its unique, mesmerizing spiral design when sliced thinly and doesn’t have the overly-sugary taste and texture of other Polish desserts.
Covered in powdered sugar, makowiec is the perfect winter pick-me-up during the festive season. Visit a Polish bakery or market during November and December to get a slice, and see for yourself how good it really is!
Desserts in Poland often have similar characteristics to other countries’ sweet treats, and piernik will seem incredibly familiar to most people! Although piernik is technically a traditional Polish cake with honey and spices, this wheaty Polish dessert is reminiscent of another Christmas dessert – gingerbread! Laced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, this festive treat comes not as a biscuit, but as a loaf.
Originally from Poland in the 13th century, modern-day piernik often contains additional ingredients like apples and walnuts and is usually served with plum jam. This Polish dessert requires a mature dough for its rich flavor (similar to sourdough bread) and will often be left for days or weeks before baking.
For all the dairy-lovers out there, sernik is one dessert from Poland you’ll want again and again. This traditional Polish cheesecake was first documented in the 17th century when it appeared in recipe books of the royal court of King Jan III Sobieski.
Believed to have come from an old Turkish recipe, sernik is a rich blend of eggs, sugar, and twarog, a traditional tangy cheese that is rich and oh-so-delicious. This thick mixture pours onto a layer of crumbly, crunchy cake and creates an unforgettable blend of flavor and texture.
Sernik traditionally contains raisins and dried fruit – nowadays, it’s common to find these decadent cakes filled with chocolate sauce, vanilla, or fresh fruit. Like the cheesecakes you may have tried at home, sernik comes in both baked and unbaked varieties and is a trendy dessert in Poland all year round. Look for types with fruit jelly on top and a thick sponge-cake base layer for a modern twist on the Polish classic.
Many desserts in Poland are seasonal and are made around the time of Easter and Christmas. Babka, a delicious sweet bread, is almost worth planning your visit around these holidays!
The name comes from the Polish word babcia, meaning ‘grandmother’ – many Polish children’s first experience with this tasty festive bread would be at the tables of their grandparents after church services. Some also think that the name comes from the overall shape of the Bundt molding, which creates a fluted shape similar to a skirt or dress.
Traditionally made with rum, raisins, and a fruity glaze icing, babka has historical roots in fertility and prosperity rituals. It is eaten during holidays to celebrate and manifest happiness in the coming year. Although some people think this Polish cake comes from Italy, there is no denying just how delicious and comforting babka is – especially when it’s cold outside!
Best eaten warm with a side of coffee or tea, babka is the perfect way to spread holiday cheer to your tastebuds. You’ll find this delicious Polish dessert in bakeries, markets, or, if you get invited, a Polish family’s Christmas table!
Just as many Polish desserts are seasonal, there are many which are hangovers from a time in Poland’s history where decadence was reserved for royalty. Despite its deliciously decadent flavors, ziemniaczki (or Polish rum balls) were created by peasants to use up scraps of other desserts and dishes about to go to waste.
These soft, decadent Polish sweets were a combination of cakes, cookies, and whatever else was lying around, creating a rich flavor and chewy texture that are both tasty and highly addictive. Modern-day ziemniaczki are made with cocoa, hazelnuts, rum, and coconut and usually appear around Christmas or Easter in marketplaces and grocery stores.
You’ll find these traditional Poland desserts in sweet shops, and the flavors will change from place to place. Even though fresh ingredients are readily available these days, most Polish sweet shops will still use the old methods and recycle the contents of the dessert cabinet.
One of the great Polish dessert classics, szarlotka is a treat sure to please even the fussiest eaters! Delicious eaten warm or cold, this Polish apple pie is laced with cloves, cinnamon, and ginger for a warming and comforting winter treat.
Inspired by French and Italian fruit pies, szarlotka’s fresh flavors are perfect in the fall and winter months. Green apples are sliced, stewed with sugar and cinnamon, then poured into a crumbly pastry layer and coated in buttery, floury crumbs for a delicious crunch.
One of the most popular desserts in Poland, you’ll find szarlotka year-round in markets, grocery stores, and bakeries. Order a fresh slice with whipped cream for the best experience!
A Polish Dessert For Every Occasion
In Poland, desserts play an essential role in telling the history of this fascinating country. Whether you like fruit, chocolate or something less sweet, there is a Polish cake, pie or sweet to suit every taste. While many desserts are linked to other cultures and neighboring countries, many of these flavors and combinations are purely and uniquely Polish, and worth making the trip to sample.