One of the best parts of a good holiday is the food, and no visit to any country would be complete without trying its traditional and iconic dishes. With Lithuania being part of the Baltic region in Europe, Lithuanian cuisine truly reflects its culture and suits its climate. The hearty grains and vegetables, coupled with dairy products are sure to keep you warm and toasty during your trip. While most Lithuanian food items tend to be on the heavier side, there are some exceptions. Do try their desserts, to end your meal with a bang. Need we say more? Check out some of our favourite traditional food in Lithuania you must try.
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1. Balta mišrainė (white salad)
Maybe start your food tour with something light and easy—the traditional balta mišrainė, plainly known as white salad. The recipe is a mixture of boiled potatoes, carrots, eggs cut in cubes, green peas, pickled cucumbers, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. All the dry ingredients are tossed into the mayonnaise and then salt and pepper are added to taste. The salad is usually garnished with boiled egg and pickled cucumber when served.
With these basic ingredients typically stocked in the kitchen, this Lithuanian white salad can be enjoyed in no time. It is also one of the most well-loved salads in the country.
2. Kugelis (potato pudding)
Potatoes and other root crops greatly influence Lithuanian cuisine and they are key ingredients in nearly every course. One of their dishes that star potatoes is kugelis, or potato pudding. It is a mixture of grated potatoes, milk, onions, eggs, and bacon baked until the top surface is golden brown. Best served while steaming hot, kugelis is then cut in squares and served with applesauce or sour cream.
It is a cherished dish in the country that kugelis recipes are passed down from generation to generation and each family’s is a little different.
3. Varškės apkepas (fried curd cheese cakes)
These small cakes are made with traditional Lithuanian curd cheese and are coated in a mixture of flour, eggs and sugar. It is then fried and served warm with some fresh berries. Doesn’t it sound like a great way to finish off a nice Lithuanian meal? Forget the calories, because this combination of deep fried cheese and jam is certainly worth it! This curd cheese also plays a major role culturally, with a special place in the hearts of many Lithuanians. In fact, Lithuanian curd cheese has been put on the list of protected products by the European Commission. Certainly, a unique dessert that can’t be missed! Many restaurants in Lithuanian are sure to offer this dessert.
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Compared to the heartier foods mentioned above, this cool beetroot soup is sure to provide some relief during the hot summer months. It is made from beets (of course), as well as green onions and vegetables. Sour milk, also known as kefir locally, is then added to give it a little kick. Seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled with some dill, you have Lithuania’s most popular summer dish. It is served seasonally, during summer months, with hot boiled potatoes or a hard-boiled egg. It is usually recognized by its bright pink colour, perfect for brightening up your Instagram feed. Definitely, one of the cooler dishes (in both ways) to enjoy in Lithuania.
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5. Bulviniai blynai (potato pancakes)
I did say that potatoes are a staple of Lithuanian cuisine and this dish is proof! This simple yet addictively delicious dish is made of grated potatoes, eggs and onions, which are then fried until they are wonderfully golden brown and crispy. Different places have their own version of this simple homemade dish, with more vegetables or even with the addition of the aforementioned famous curd cheese. Whatever the case, this dish is sure to hit the spot and rise up the ranks as one of the best potato dishes you have had in Lithuania.
6. Grybukai (mushroom cookies)
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Contrary to the name translated from Lithuanian, these are not mushrooms. They’re adorable cookies shaped like mushrooms, made from cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, butter and the like. The cookies are glazed to create that familiar white “cap” and dark “stalk” of the mushroom. Evidently, these cookies take quite a bit of effort to make and that makes it all the more enjoyable. There are many bakeries and restaurants to try them out.
7. Kibinai (mutton and onion pastries)
Kibinai is a handmade pie, that is the traditional dish of the Karaite people. They are an ethnic minority that has been living in Lithuania for ages. These pies can contain meat, vegetables or the famous cheese curd enveloped in a wonderfully soft pastry crust. It is usually served as a snack, or a side to go with soups. It is also a good starter to whet your appetite before starting your meal.
This dish is pretty simple, it is Lithuanian dark rye bread which has been fried in oil. The bread is then seasoned with generous amounts of salt and garlic, before being served with a cheese sauce. Lithuanians do love their carbs! It is typically eaten as a snack or as an appetizer rather than a meal on its own, but it definitely goes well with other Lithuanian dishes such as the soups. Most commonly, it is served to accompany a wonderful ice cold beer, a popular drink among Lithuanians. This simple yet addictive snack can be commonly found in many restaurants and bars, so keep a look out!
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9. Spurgos (Lithuanian doughnuts)
Spurgos are these bite-sized doughnuts, commonly filled with pastry cream mixed with poppy seeds. The doughnuts are deep-fried before the pastry cream and seeds are piped in. It is then dusted off with sweet satisfaction, by that I mean icing sugar. While each culture has its own version of these deep-fried dough balls, the Lithuanian spurgos is definitely in its own league. They’re a popular dessert, eaten especially on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. These doughnuts will be unlike any that you’ve had before, and you definitely can’t miss them on your trip to Lithuania!
10. Balandeliai (stuffed cabbage)
Vegetables aren’t usually very popular, but this dish will be an exception. Balandeliai (which means “little doves”) is a dish made out of rice, ground meat, onions and other vegetables, all wrapped in cabbage leaves. This roll is then smothered in a sauce made from tomato puree and the stock of the meat used, either beef or pork. The exact recipe varies from family to family, you may get different variations at different places that this dish is served at. This mouthwatering dish is served during festivals usually Christmas dinners and weddings.
11. Raguolis or sakotis (traditional spit cake)
This last dish is a special one, a traditional cake that is usually only served during special occasions, such as Christmas Eve, Easter and weddings. It is a cake with a hollow centre and the most recognisable feature are the spikes coming out of the edges of the cake. These “spikes” are made from dripping the batter as the cake is turned on a spit. It can be served plain or with chocolate sauce and decorations on it.
Cepelinai or potato dumplings is the national dish of Lithuania. They are dumplings usually stuffed with boiled or raw potatoes. Cooked pork stuffing is another popular variant. The cooked dumplings are then drizzled with a generous serving of sour cream and bacon, or with some more fried potatoes. Lithuanians certainly don’t shy away from potatoes. In fact, their diet mainly revolves around these root vegetables. This is a hearty meal that is sure to fuel you up for more sightseeing! Some restaurants also serve vegetarian options where the pork is replaced with curd. Fun fact: Cepelinai get their name from their zeppelin-like shape!
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Duration: 3.5 hour
Start the feast
With so many places to visit and things to do in Lithuania, don’t forget to stop by their eateries and try these rich meals that are sure to warm you up. All these traditional dishes guarantee a culinary experience you won’t forget!
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