Ready to meet the next European culinary star? Lithuanian cuisine is an incomparable blend of seasonal specialties, root vegetables, fresh fish, berries, cheese, mushrooms and creativity. Every region – from southern Lithuania and its green sea to Lithuania Minor on the Baltic coast – has its own food and edible treasures.
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To be hungry ? Let’s dive into an 11-course tasting menu through Lithuanian cuisine.
Šaltibarščiai – Instagram-worthy cold beetroot soup
Looks like summer. It smells like summer. And it shares the crown with cepelinai (more in a minute) as the most popular Lithuanian dish. Its very Instagrammable festive pink color comes from the fall of beets among their cool friends, kefir, cucumbers, sour cream and dill. With hard-boiled eggs added to the mix, it becomes a summer hit.
Take a spoonful, close your eyes and you can imagine yourself on a windy Baltic beach in Palanga. Unless, of course, you’re already there.
Mushroom soup in a bread bowl
Frankly, it’s genius. You take a creamy and dreamy soup made from juicy and fresh mushrooms from the forest. Then you take a solid rye bread. Cut out the middle. And you pour the soup inside. As you sip, you discover pieces of bread that have absorbed all the flavors, turning into soft, mouth-watering pieces.
It’s so good, you finish the entire bowl in a matter of minutes. Then you eat the bowl.
Cepelinai – aka “Zeppelins”, aka the queen of Lithuanian dishes 🇱🇹
Soft potato dumplings stuffed with meat and served with bacon and mushrooms, accompanied by sour cream. Need we say more? As if that wasn’t enticing enough, this giant chunk tends to be topped with bacon sauce and even more bacon. It might get its name from its shape, but it also fits in another way – it’s such a tasty dish that it will uplift your spirits. And there’s good news for non-meat eaters too: you can find vegetarian versions of cepelinai.
Kepta Duona – Lithuania’s Must-Have Fried Bread Dish
The first step. Take a loaf of rich rye bread. Second step. Cut it into small slices and fry them with lots of garlic. Step 3. Get an amazing beer from a local Lithuanian brewery. Step 4. Have a toast with your friends, say “Į sveikatą! “. Or skip steps 1-3 by visiting one of Lithuania’s many bars and pubs.
FYI – Lithuania is crazy about black bread. In fact, each person eats 110 kg per year, or about 200 breads per year!
Kugelis – the best of sliced Lithuanian cuisine
Sizzling bacon, caramelized onions, grated potato, all bound by beaten eggs and milk, then cooked until crispy and golden. That pretty much sums up Kugelis. This dish is tasty enough to make you want to pack your bags and move to Lithuania. At the very least, fly over to try all Lithuanian dishes.
Kibinai – the Cornish pâté of Lithuanian dishes
Kibinai is a gift to Eastern Lithuanian cuisine. And oh, what a gift. Under its puff pastry and puff pastry wrapping hides a delicious filling. It could be ground pork and cabbage. It could be cheese and spinach. Or, it could be something sweet, like berry jam or apples and plums.
And with that, it’s time for Lithuanian desserts.
Grybukai – mushroom cookies
We can tell you that you just raised an eyebrow, so let’s clarify one thing. These cookies are not actually made from mushrooms. They just look like them. Bite into one of these adorable little cookies and you’ll have a burst of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Mushroom cookies? More like a lot-name.
Varškėčiai – good fried cheesecakes
Many salty Lithuanian dishes are generous with cheese (yay!), But so are many sweet dishes (double yay!). Among them are the Varškėčiai, fried cakes made from Lithuanian cheese curds that are creamy and crispy to perfection. Served, of course, with wild berries, honey and cream. Mmmm. Needless to say, they’re a local favorite and tend to sell like, well, hot cakes.
Also to try: Varškės spurgos, small round donuts made even better with the addition of cheese curds. That, or varškės apkepas, a Lithuanian cheesecake.
Šakotis – the cake that goes round in circles
Some might say that this festive cake looks like a porcupine. Others might say it looks like a Christmas tree. Either way, none of them are alike. That’s because Šakotis gets its fun shape from the dripping dough and the quick spin on a spit cooker. It’s a treat that looks sweet, but it’s even more exciting to see it made.
Gira – Lithuania’s famous bread drink
You heard that right. It’s like bread, but you can drink it. Also called kvass, this sweet fermented wonder is made with dark rye bread, honey and raisins. That plus water. Unlike beer, it is virtually alcohol-free. Like beer, it’s great for washing down those amazing Lithuanian dishes you’ve enjoyed.
Lithuanian curd cheese and honey – the ultimate pair of potency
Its name is varškės sūris, but you can call it cottage cheese. He is a national star of international renown. It is smooth and dissolves on the tongue resulting in a sensation that can only be described as heaven. You can fry it, smoke it, season it with cumin. But sprinkle with honey and you have something divine.
Unfortunately, you can’t take it home with you. You can, however, bring apple cheese, a dairy-free treat that will have a sweet tooth. cheese fans go slice after slice.
Lithuanian dishes 2.0
No guide to Lithuanian cuisine would be complete without a nod to its rising food scene. Young chefs are busy concocting a revolution, while remaining faithful to local ingredients and deep-rooted traditions.
What does it taste like? At Sweet Root, it could be pike-perch with spruce tips and sauerkraut. At Nineteen18, a dazzling plate evoking everything that comes from their own farm. And in Džiaugsmas, a cool combo of porcini mushrooms with ice cream.
A little piece on the Lithuanian language to help you when ordering food
Lithuania has cool letters. But how do you pronounce them? Do not worry. We’ve got you covered.
|J sound like Yes.||Example: John sound like yawn. By which we don’t mean, of course, that John is boring.|
|VS sound like ts.||Example: As in “let’s go fly to Vilnius.|
|?? sound like ch||Example: as in “Cepelinai? Excellent choice! “|
|?? sound like sh||Example: As in “Sure, I will have more altibarčiai.|
|Yes sound like ee||Example: “Three mushroom cookies, please.|
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