Lithuania is a country located in the Balkin region of Europe that borders Poland, Latvia, Belarus, and Russia. The cold climate makes for rich and hearty foods in Lithuania that keep you warm and satiated.
What’s Special About Food In Lithuania
Lithuanian foods are influenced by the country’s neighboring countries and location on the Baltic sea. Because of this, several variations of recipes from other countries have become the traditional food of Lithuania over time. Conventional practices of foraging for mushrooms and berries, growing vegetables, and preserving by pickling are still present and frequently used.
Dairy is a big part of Lithuanian food, with sour cream being a condiment in many meals. Curd cheese, similar to cottage cheese, is another component of many meals and appears in desserts and savory dishes.
Lithuanian cuisine consists of healthy and filling meals based on local ingredients. If you love bread, soups, dumplings, cheese, fish, potatoes, and root vegetables, you will love the foods of Lithuania. Here are some popular dishes amongst the delicious traditional foods in Lithuania that you can try when traveling to the Baltic country.
Most Famous Food Of Lithuania
While there are lots of well-loved foods throughout Lithuania, there is one that is beloved above the rest.
Cepelinai (Stuffed Potato Dumplings)
Often described as the national dish of Lithuania, Cepeliniai are potato dumplings filled with minced meat, curd cheese, or mushrooms. This traditional food of Lithuania is typically topped with a creamy sour cream sauce and a sprinkle of crispy pork skin.
The name Cepeliniai comes from the dumpling’s shape, which is long and tapered, resembling the German Zeppelin airship. The dumplings come in different sizes and sometimes different shapes depending on who makes them to distinguish the different fillings.
Raw potatoes are grated and mixed with mashed cooked potatoes to make this traditional Lithuanian food. The mixture is formed together, and then the filling is added. The dumplings are boiled in salted water and then enjoyed with sour cream sauce.
This is one of the main dishes that Lithuania is known for and you definitely give it a try when you visit.
Traditional Foods In Lithuania: Soups
Soups are a staple in Lithuanian foods, keeping the locals warm and satiated in the cold weather and healthy in the springtime with fresh ingredients. Soups are not only an excellent way to combine many elements but are easy to make and utilize lots of spices for extra flavor.
Kopustu Sriuba (Cabbage Soup)
Soups are one of the primary foods in Lithuania, and this cabbage soup is one of the favorites. Combining the flavors of tangy sauerkraut and fresh cabbage with salty smoked ham hocks, Kopusto Sriuba is a tasty meal.
Kopusto is a hearty soup filling and satisfying in the cold months. Like most dishes, the ingredients are simple, using plentiful resources, such as cabbage, to create most food from Lithuania.
Shchavel Borscht (Sorrel Soup)
Shchavel Borscht is a traditional food from Lithuania made of sorrel leaves, broth, and potatoes. This soup is a “sour soup” typical in Eastern Europe because the sorrel leaves give it a tanginess and acidity.
Sorrel is a leafy herb used in salads, dressings, and soups. Known as “green borscht,” Schavel is made primarily in spring when sorrel is in season. Sometimes bacon is added to the soup for extra flavor and is served with a dollop of sour cream. This simple soup is a light and delicious traditional food of Lithuania.
Saltibarsciai (Cold Beet Soup)
The vivid pink color makes this cold beet soup, or Saltibarsciai, a visually unmistakable favorite food in Lithuania. Commonly served in the summer as a refreshing and healthy dish, Saltibarscial is made of beets, cucumbers, dill, and hard-boiled eggs. Kefir or soured milk is added to the ingredients to create a soup.
Saltibarsciai is served with boiled potatoes on the side for a filling traditional Lithuanian meal. Although this soup is typical in the summer, it is so beloved that many restaurants will carry it year-round.
Gyrbu Sriuba (Mushroom Soup)
Another “sour soup,” Gyrbu Sriuba, is made of another common ingredient in the country, mushrooms. Often made of dried mushrooms that are reconstituted in hot water, this popular food in Lithuania is also made with sour cream, chicken or beef stock, pearl barley, and seasonings.
Gyrbu Sriuba originated in Poland and made its way into the tradition of Lithuanian food. This tangy mushroom soup is sometimes served in a bread bowl made of traditional dark rye for an incredible meal.
Traditional Foods Of Lithuania: Potato Dishes
Potatoes may be the single most beloved ingredient in traditional Lithuanian foods. The country of Lithuania enjoys many different variations of this starchy root vegetable, from soups to pancakes.
Bulviniai Blynai (Potato Pancakes)
Lithuanian foods often revolve around potatoes, and this traditional dish is no exception. Bulviniai Blynai are crispy pancakes made with shredded potatoes, eggs, onions, flour, and spices. If you like hashbrown or tater tots, this will likely become one of your favorite foods in Lithuania.
Bulviniai Blynai are a great snack or side dish for the main meal. Typically served with sour cream, apple sauce, or even sauteed mushrooms, this food from Lithuania is hearty and exemplifies the Lithuanian love of the potato.
Zemaicių Blynai (Potato Pancakes Filled with Meat)
Zemaicių Blynai are potato pancakes filled with minced meat from the region of Samogitian in Lithuania. Unlike Bulviniai Blynai, Zemaicių are made of dough from cooked potatoes that is filled with meat and sealed before being coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried in lots of butter.
Like most foods of Lithuania, the Zemaicių is typically served with sour cream but can also be topped with a rich gravy made of pork skins. As with anything, more fat typically equates to more delicious flavor when enjoying this Lithuanian dish.
Kugelis (Baked Potato Pudding)
Kugelis is a potato pudding that is a very traditional food in Lithuania. This potato dish is made by combining grated potatoes, milk, eggs, bacon, and onion in a pan and baking it in the oven.
The outcome of these ingredients is a dense casserole that is savory and flavorful. Served often as a side dish, Kugelis can also be the main meal when served with jam, applesauce, or sour cream. This traditional Lithuanian food is not commonly served in restaurants but rather often enjoyed cooked at home using recipes passed down.
Bulviniai Vedarai (Potato Sausage)
Vederai is a unique and traditional Lithuanian food. It is made of pork casing stuffed with a mixture of raw grated potatoes, onions, and sometimes bacon. What makes this dish unique is that it is a sausage that has very little meat in it.
The sausage is baked in the oven before being served as a side dish or main course of a meal. The idea of Vederai is similar to the blood sausage in the UK, which is stuffed with pork blood and barley and is also not primarily made of meat. Vederai is served topped with sour cream sauce like most foods in Lithuania and lots of onions and crispy bacon.
Traditional Foods In Lithuania: Sides and Snacks
Simple ingredients used to make knock-out snacks and side dishes are typical of Lithuanian food. The rich history of preserving ingredients by pickling or curing them has led to some delicious dishes best enjoyed washed down with a cold beer.
Juoda Duona (Dark Rye Bread)
Made of naturally fermented sourdough and dark rye flour, Juoda Duona is nutritious and dense but also soft and chewy. The bread is also known as black rye since the color is so rich and dark.
Duona, or “bread,” is by far the oldest and most traditional Lithuanian food. Enjoyed by peasants and nobility alike throughout history, Juoda Duona is a staple on the table of most meals and is used to build hearty sandwiches and soak up sauces.
Kepta Duona (Fried Bread with Garlic)
Made by frying thin strips of Juoda Duona, Kepta Duona is a typical food of Lithuania enjoyed as a bar snack with a beer. Salty and flavorful, the fried bread is covered in freshly grated garlic for a real kick.
Traditionally this snack has been made with dark rye bread, but sometimes it is made with Lithuanian white bread. Nowadays, you can find Kepta Duona alongside a cheese dip or even covered in cheese for an extra decadent treat to accompany your drinks.
Lasiniai (Lard or Cured Fatback)
Lasiniai is a traditional Lithuanian food made of smoked fatback from a pig. Also known as lardo in Italy or salo in Russia, Lasiniai is a way of preserving this cut of meat to be used over time.
Lasiniai is seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic and then smoked for several hours to preserve it. Loaded with natural flavor from the fat, Lasiniai is often served on a thick piece of rye bread, onions, and pickles for a fatty and acidic snack before dinner. This traditional Lithuanian food is perfect for anyone who enjoys smoked meats and cheeses.
Silke Su Pomidor (Herring Salad with Onion and Tomato)
Since Lithuania is located close to the Baltic sea, it is common to see herring salad on the menu. Silke Su Pomidor, or herring salad with onion and tomato, is a traditional Lithuanian food that is served throughout the country.
Made with salt-brined herring filets, Silke Su Pomidor is full of briny flavor from the herring, along with acid from the tomatoes and onions. Typically this food from Lithuania is served on sturdy dark rye bread, but some prefer to enjoy it with boiled potatoes.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Traditional Foods Of Lithuania: Stuffed Dishes
Many traditional foods of Lithuania involve stuffing a mixture into a pastry or pancake and then cooking before enjoying. This delicious process yields some of Lithuania’s best dishes.
Lietiniai (Stuffed Pancakes)
Lietiniai are a simple pancake stuffed most typically with curd cheese and fried before being enjoyed with a sprinkle of sugar and a dollop of sour cream. Like most typical foods in Lithuania that are versatile, Lietiniai can be served for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
Lietiniai can also be made with bananas or other fruit for a sweeter treat or ham and cheese for a savory meal. This everyday dish is a staple and traditional Lithuanian food.
Balandeliai (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
Balandeliai is a typical traditional Lithuanian food made of stuffed cabbage with rice and seasoned meat. Often cooked in a tomato sauce, Balandelia is full of flavor and served as a dinner or hearty lunch.
Originating in Poland, this Eastern European dish quickly became traditional to Lithuanian cuisine. Balandeliai is served, like many foods of Lithuania, with boiled potatoes and a good amount of sour cream.
Kibinai (Pastries Filled with Meat)
Kibinai is a savory meat-filled pastry that originated in the Trakai region of Lithuania. Typically this traditional food in Lithuanian is filled with onion and ground mutton, but sometimes pork, cheese, or chicken is used instead.
Like a hand pie that you would find in the UK, Kibinai is flaky and crunchy, with many simple flavors typical of Lithuanian foods. You may find it as a snack or served with a side of warm bouillon to dip it in as a meal.
Kalduny (Boiled Dumplings)
Kalduny are stuffed dumplings made of unleavened dough. This traditional food in Lithuania is one of many types of dumplings that are very popular among locals and tourists.
Kalduny can be stuffed with meat, mushrooms, or cheese curd for a soft pillowy bite. Similar in looks and texture to the Polish pierogi or the Italian ravioli, the dough is made from eggs, flour, salt, and water. Sometimes, Kalduny is baked in the oven in a sauce instead of boiled.
Traditional Foods In Lithuania: Desserts And Sweets
Every cuisine has its traditional sweets, and Lithuania is no exception. Often incorporating cheese curd into their desserts, here are a few typical traditional Lithuanian sweets.
Sakotis (Tree Cake)
Sakotis is a traditional Lithuanian food served around the holidays and on special occasions such as weddings. Resembling a Christmas tree, this traditional tree cake rotates on a spit and is baked by the fire while it turns.
This cake is tasty but not decadent and made of simple ingredients such as eggs, flour, butter, sugar, and cream. Sakotis can be baked in a regular oven, but seasoned eaters can tell the difference when it’s not made over an open fire.
Varskes Spugos (Cheese Curd Donuts)
This sweet snack is made of dry curd cheese stuffed inside a fluffy, fried exterior. Varskey Spugos are extra delicious when jam and powdered sugar accompany the fried delight.
Varskes Spugos are made all over Lithuania, and they are best when they are right out of the fryer, as the inside will be extra creamy and delicious. This food from Lithuania is a unique and yummy treat that is great for any time of the day.
Varskes Apkepas (Oven Baked Curd Casserole)
Varskes Apkepas is a sweet and fluffy semolina cake made with cheese curd. This traditional food in Lithuaia is not super sweet and is often served with syrup to enhance its sweetness.
Although this Varskes Apkepas may look like a dessert, it can also be eaten for lunch or dinner. Often, berries or raisins are added for some extra flavor and texture. This unusual dish uses simple ingredients to create an uniquely Lithuanian food.
Enjoying The Traditional Foods In Lithuania
When traveling in Lithuania, be sure to enjoy some of the traditional foods that this country has to offer. From hearty meat dishes to sweet snacks, there is something for everyone to try. If you are not from around the region, many of the dishes will offer a new twist of flavor profiles to your taste bud. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a cold glass of mead!