Latvia is a gorgeous country built on tradition. Modern-day Latvia fuses an exciting blend of the old and new, and the foods in Latvia are no different. This little country knows how to make big flavors!
In Riga, you will find beautiful architecture and traditional artisans. The Latvian people bring their love of country, tradition, and art to everything they do, including their delicious traditional Latvian foods.
The food in Latvia takes influence from its coastal landscape, neighboring nations, and their rich forests. Latvian food is all about local products and simple styles. The food here is made to comfort and sustain you, so bring your appetite!
What is Special about Latvian Food?
The food in Latvia is full of comforting flavors and rustic dishes. Latvian cuisine is made to keep you warm through the long Baltic winter. It features hearty grains and rich proteins. Latvian cooks don’t heavily spice their foods, rather they include lots of flavorful local produce to enhance their dishes.
Latvian food takes some influence from other Baltic cuisines. The culture here is of resilience and creativity. The Latvians create beautiful arts and music, and this commitment to craft extends to their homey style of cuisine.
The food in Latvia is unpretentious and delicious! Pack your sense of adventure and appetite for comfort food, because you are sure to love Latvia’s hearty cuisine.
Most Famous Food Of Latvia
Pelēkie Zirņi ar Speķi (Gray Peas, Onions, and Spec)
This dish is so important to Latvian cuisine that Pelēkie Zirņi ar Speķi has earned the distinction of Latvia’s national dish. This hearty meal consists of gray peas, onions, and fried spec. It’s full of hearty flavors inspired by Latvian agriculture.
The most special part of this unique Latvian food is the green peas. These large peas are dark gray, and they have a flavor and texture closer to a chickpea.
These unique peas have even been added to the register of protected European products. True gray peas are only grown in Latvia, so you must try them while you are there!
Traditional Foods In Latvia
Sklandrausis (Carrot and Potato Pie)
This is a local favorite. Sklandrausis are tasty little pies made with all the great flavors of Latvia. These tasty traditional pies are so important to European cuisine that they have been given the status of “Traditional Status Guaranteed”.
Some bakers put their own twists on these pies, but the basic elements are always the same. These small pastries have a rye flour crust and are filled with delicious layers of carrots and potatoes.
They bake into a rich, sweet, and savory hand pie that can be enjoyed cold as a snack or like a tea cake. A homey representation of food in Latvia.
Hearty grains are an absolute staple in Latvian cooking. Griķi or buckwheat is a plant with grain-like seeds that can be boiled into a sort of porridge.
The Latvians eat buckwheat with sour cream on the side of a pork chop or as a dish on their own. This rustic food shows the Latvian commitment to making simple foods that celebrate their farms and landscape.
Gailene (Chanterelle Mushrooms)
The many beautiful forests in Latvia create the perfect setting for mushroom foraging. Locals have a love affair with this tasty hobby. One local mushroom that is used commonly in Latvian food is the chanterelle.
This mushroom has a bright yellow to orange skin and a unique floral and fruity flavor. This tasty fungus finds its way into vegetable medleys, sauces, and more. The classic Latvian dish of Karbonāde (pan-fried pork chop) is traditionally finished with a beautiful chanterelle sauce.
Breakfast Foods In Latvia
Rupjmaize (Dark Rye)
Every Baltic nation has a strong connection to rye bread; Latvia is no exception! Rupjmaize is rich dark rye that has been a staple of Latvian cuisine for centuries.
Most households in Latvia keep rye bread on hand, and families hold rye bread recipes very closely. This balanced bread is paramount to Latvian cooking because it is used in so many other recipes from bread soup to sandwiches.
One great way locals enjoy rye bread is as part of their breakfast. Latvian rye is complex, sweet, and malty in flavor and pairs very well with fruit or hard-boiled eggs. Start your day with some rupjmaize in Latvia to truly taste the heart of Latvian food!
Auzu Pārslu (Oatmeal)
Latvia produces a great variety of grains. A typical Latvian morning may include auzu pārslu, or oatmeal. This universally loved breakfast may take on another life in Latvia. In addition to oats, it’s common to see other grains mixed into this porridge.
Latvians like their oatmeal prepared like they take most of their foods, local, rich in grains, and fortified with some dairy.
Side Dishes And Snack Foods In Latvia
Speķa Pīrādziņi/Speķrauši (Savory Pastry)
These tasty savory pastries have a few regional names in Latvia. Pīrādziņi is a common local way to refer to this delicious Latvian food. Pīrādziņi are hand-held Latvian pastries that are traditionally filled with a mix of meat, cheese, onions, and spices.
These delightful pastries make the perfect snack to take on a walk around Riga, or to enjoy with some delicious Latvian soup!
Rasols (Potato Salad)
Rasols is Latvia’s mouthwatering take on potato salad. Latvians love this salad so much that it is served on almost every special occasion. This amazing Latvian food makes the perfect side dish, but it tastes so good you’ll want a full-sized portion!
Rasols typically feature pickled vegetables, sausage, eggs, and of course potatoes in a creamy dressing. This cold salad is filling and layered in tons of Latvian flavors!
Kartupeļu Pankūkas (Potato Pancakes)
Potato pancakes are familiar to many around the world, but the Latvian spin on these crispy discs is just too tasty to miss! Kartupeļu pankūkas are so familiar to Latvian locals that many consider this dish an easy weeknight standard.
Latvians make their potato pancakes with grated potatoes and flour, then fry them, and serve with sour cream. One bite of these and you’ll know why this is one of the favorite foods in Latvia!
Dinner Foods In Latvia
Biešu Zupa (Beetroot Soup)
Beets grow well in Latvia, so they are featured in the local favorite, biešu zupa, or beet soup. Latvian cuisine follows the seasons, so the foods you see in summer may not be available in winter.
Beetroot soup is a comforting dish that brings flavor to the harsh winter season. Warm, hearty, and rustic beetroot soup has everything you need to stay warm through a Latvian winter.
This soup features beetroot, potatoes, and beef. The humble ingredients come together to make a traditional Latvian food that is as nice to look at as it is to eat!
Putraimdesas (Black Pudding)
This dark-colored sausage is a common protein used in Latvian foods. Putraimdesas are a rich type of blood sausage.
Latvian cooking uses what is available, and no dish does that as well as blood sausage. These links use pork or beef blood, suet, and groats to create a toothsome and hearty sausage.
This farmhouse-inspired meat is commonly paired with jam or porridge. Latvians make the most of the food available, and these sausages are the perfect way to incorporate under-used parts of the animal.
Aukstā Zupa (Summer Vegetable Soup)
Nothing says Latvian summer like aukstā zupa. This traditional Latvian food is a cold vegetable and cream soup. This beautifully colored soup uses the abundant summer vegetables that grow in Latvia to produce a soup worth waiting all year for.
Beets, cucumbers, and milk sausage star in this soup, but the best part is the slightly pickled flavor from the vinegar in the soup.
Kotletes (Latvian Meatballs)
Kotletes are Latvian meatballs, and they are delicious! This protein-packed dish can vary in preparation throughout Latvia; everyone has their style or spin to put on kotletes, but some things are pretty consistent across all the different iterations.
These meatballs typically use two or three types of ground meat and oats or breadcrumbs for texture. A typical plate of kotletes would include salad and potatoes, too. Kotletes are a simple yet flavorful piece of Latvian foods.
Due to a complex history with the former Soviet Union, the largest ethnic minority group in Latvia is Russian. They have brought with them some of their traditional foods and married them into Latvian cuisine. One such dish is pelmeni, or dumplings.
Cultures around the world have different personal interpretations of dumplings, but the kind you will find in Latvia is a true celebration of Baltic foods.
The usual fillings for pelmeni include pork, onions, and simple seasoning. These perfectly-filled pockets of dough come either in soups or served with a meal of pork and onions. One taste of these meaty dumplings and you will be hooked!
Skābeņu Zupa (Sorrel Soup)
Skābeņu zupa or sorrel soup looks like a Latvian harvest in a bowl! Sorrel is a leaf plant with a bright almost lemony flavor, and it grows in abundance in Latvia. This hearty Latvian food consists of barley, sorrel leaf, onions, and potatoes in a rich, beefy broth.
Some cooks will add more vegetables and whole chunks of beef. It is a satisfying bowl that reminds the eater of the Latvian landscape! Like most Latvian cuisine, sorrel soup is inspired by the harvest, and because sorrel has a long season this bright dish can be enjoyed even longer!
Karbonāde (Breaded Pork Chop)
Latvians love pork! This meat ends up in so many traditional Latvian foods because pork is delicious! Latvians love pork so much that it is incorporated into as many dishes as possible.
Karbonāde is a great example of Latvia’s love of pork dishes. It’s made up of a thin-cut pork chop that is breaded and pan-fried. Traditionally, it is served with a velvety chanterelle mushroom sauce and potatoes.
Latvian food is all about making simple ingredients like pork chops and mushrooms taste amazing, and karbonāde is the proof.
Frikadeļu Zupa (Meatball Soup)
Frikadeļu zupa is a cozy and filling meatball soup. Latvian food features so many great soups because cooking down vegetables and meats make them more rich and flavorful. This humble meatball soup is made from a simple broth with carrots, onions, potatoes, and meatballs.
The meatballs will usually use both beef and pork. The unctuous broth is so good that it’s hard not to slurp, and the meatballs take it over the edge!
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Dessert Foods In Latvia
Maizes Zupa (Bread Soup)
Rye bread has so many delicious applications in Latvian cuisine, but one local favorite tops them all, maizes zupa, or bread soup. This amazingly unique pudding-like treat combines leftover rye with water to give the bread a custardy texture.
Sugar and dried fruits add sweetness to the bread, and it is finished with whipped cream. This dish is a little unconventional, but it really is beautiful in taste and appearance!
Debesmanna (Cranberry Mousse)
This bright and fruity treat is a classic Latvian dessert. Debesmanna is a mousse made from cranberries and farina (a starch). It is a simple Latvian food, but so tart and tasty from the cranberries.
Latvia’s climate is uniquely suited to growing cranberries. Latvia is known for being one of the few places in Europe where both wild cranberries and American cranberries can thrive, and this dessert is a wonderful celebration of that gift.
Rupjmaizes Kārtojums (Rye Bread Parfait)
Latvian rye bread is rich and sweet on its own, so adding it to dessert just makes sense! Rupjmaizes Kārtojums are rye bread parfaits. They are a scrumptious dessert that layers rye bread, lingonberry jam, and whipped cream.
Pretty parfaits are finished with chocolate shavings to make a gorgeous presentation. Not only do these treats taste like heaven, but they look as tantalizing as they taste!
Discovering Traditional Foods In Latvia
Getting to know Latvia and its people can be so easy when you bring your appetite! Latvian cuisine celebrates all the diverse local produce and meats available in this idyllic Baltic country. The Latvian cooking tradition takes the simple and makes it sing!
This country will inspire you with its beautiful wooden architecture and coastal expanses, but the food in Lativa will make you want to stay! Experience Latvian food like a local with some of the dishes on this list.