Lithuanian National Cuisine
Lithuania is not only sights of Vilnius, beaches of Klaipeda, and ancient architecture of Kaunas, but also unique and very delicious Lithuanian cuisine. So, what should a tourist who goes to this authentic and original country try?
Features of the Lithuanian national cuisine
If you’ve been to Lithuania and haven’t tasted the local cuisine, then the trip has gone in vain. Comparing Lithuanian cuisine with Estonian and Latvian, it should be noted that it is hearty and simple. If in other Baltic countries seafood is mainly used, in Lithuania they prefer:
- Flour and meat dishes.
- Milk, cottage cheese and cheese dishes.
- Minimal amount of spices.
The true queen of Lithuanian cuisine is potatoes – a vegetable that can be boiled, fried, baked, and used to prepare a variety of delicious dishes.
The country can be conventionally divided into four regions with their own culinary peculiarities:
- Aukstaitinais love cottage cheese dishes and pancakes.
- The Jemaitians like porridge.
- The Dzukians have buckwheat porridge, potatoes, and mushrooms as their main dishes.
- The Suvaltians have potato sausage and smoked meat.
Zeppelins are a real calling card of Lithuanian cuisine. They are something like big potato dumplings with various fillings: cottage cheese, meat, mushrooms, etc. The name of this dish comes from the German “Zeppelin” (blimp), because the shape really resembles this flying machine.
In the classic recipe of zeppelins necessarily includes raw and boiled potatoes – thanks to the large amount of starch, the dish does not boil. In addition to boiled zeppelins, you can also find other versions of them: fried, with open stuffing, etc.
This nourishing and quite nutritious meal can be tasted at any restaurant in the country, but the real experts in its preparation are considered to be the cooks of restaurants in the historic part of Vilnius. A portion of zeppelins costs about 11-12 litas (about $4).
Vedarai is the second most popular national Lithuanian dish. It is basically a potato sausage: during preparation, pork intestines are stuffed with grated potatoes and bacon (sometimes barley grits are added to the recipe) and fried until golden brown.
You can try vedaray in almost any restaurant around the country or even buy this sausage in the supermarket. The cost is about 10 litas ($3+).
This is a light and tasty first dish that is perfect for health food lovers. It is a cold beet soup with a kefir base and the addition of cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and other ingredients. The “highlight” of the soup is boiled potatoes with dill, which is served separately.
The dish is prepared in most restaurants in Vilnius, and the approximate price of a serving is 6-8 litas ($2-2.5).
Žemaičiai (Žemaitija pancakes)
Fried pancakes made of mashed potatoes with pâté minced meat come from Žemaitija, a western region of Lithuania.
You don’t have to go to Telšiai, the capital of the region, to try this delicious and very hearty dish, because it is served in many establishments in other cities, in particular in Vilnius and Kaunas. The approximate cost is 15 litas ($15.5).
In fact, kibinai are the dish of the Karaites, but thanks to the fact that these people have long and firmly settled in the town of Trakai, these patties have become a Lithuanian national dish. They are made of unleavened dough with a variety of fillings:
- Cottage cheese.
- Vegetables, etc.
The best kibinai in Lithuania can be tasted exactly in Trakai, where there are several Karaite restaurants.
In addition, this dish is served in Vilnius – for example, in a pastry shop called PinavijaCafé & Bakery. The cost per pie is 6 litas (just over $2).
Skilandis is not just a dish, but part of Lithuanian culture. It is a kind of cold-smoked sausage made from pork stomach, which is stuffed with chopped or ground pork.
In Lithuania this product is consumed on its own or added to borsches, soups, salads, etc. Skilandis are available in many restaurants or at any supermarket, priced at 35 litas per kilogram (approximately $12).
As you may have already understood, potatoes are the real queen of Lithuanian cuisine. Kugelis is a casserole, which is also prepared on the basis of this vegetable with the addition of lard (in the classic recipe – pig ears), sometimes – cottage cheese, chicken and other ingredients, and served with a sauce of cracklings and sour cream.
A serving of kugelis in Lithuanian restaurants costs about 11 litas ($4).
Morku apkess is worth a try for those who find Lithuanian cuisine a bit greasy and heavy. It’s a casserole made of cooked carrots that are mashed with yolks, cinnamon and sugar and then baked in the oven.
The price per serving is 6-8 liters ($2-3).
Pigs’ ears also play a very important role in the cuisine of this country. They are boiled, fried, smoked, and served both as a separate dish with various garnishes (most often with peas) and as an appetizer for beer.
For example, one of the most famous appetizers in Lithuanian restaurants is Klausuciu – cooked smoked pork ears with peas and garlic sauce.
The cost per serving is 16 litas (almost $6).
Shakotis is as famous a Lithuanian dish as zeppelins. It is a very tasty cake that is made with eggs, sugar and flour over an open fire using a small skewer. This method makes chacotis look like a hedgehog or a Christmas tree.
It is most often made for weddings but tourists think of it as a kind of souvenir and it can be kept for about six months and contains no preservatives at all! You can buy shakotis at any pastry shop for around 32 litas ($11.50).
The most popular drink in Lithuania is beer, which is said to be equal in taste and quality to Czech or German beer.
The most famous Lithuanian beer is “Shvituris”, which has been brewed in Klaipeda since 1784.
Half a liter of beer will cost about 6 liters ($2).
Also, you should definitely try the old Lithuanian tincture called Suktinis, which is made with honey with the addition of different berries, including juniper, poplar buds, etc. But be careful – the strength of this drink leaves about 50 oh.
And for those who do not drink alcoholic beverages, you will probably like rye kvass and various herbal teas, for which the Lithuanians are also considered to be great masters.
10 top dishes of Lithuanian cuisine: what a tourist should try
Lithuanian cuisine is not too refined, but rather homey, hearty, and soulful. Tasting the local dishes, you can be transported to the past and feel like visiting your grandmother. Potatoes, meat, cereals, rye bread, natural dairy products are the basis of the main traditional treats. We will tell you what dishes a tourist should try in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities. We will advise what you can take home to treat your loved ones.
Šaltibarščiai | Kholodnik
The Lithuanian cold borscht is worth trying in Vilnius in summer. This soup is very refreshing and satiating on a hot day. This soup is made of beets, cucumbers and herbs. This appetizing soup is topped with heavy kefir. It is separately served with hot potatoes and eggs. This famous soup can be easily found in national restaurants in Vilnius Old Town. It is one of the popular traditional dishes that Lithuanians also love.
In supermarkets in Vilnius you can buy chłodnik in a tetrapak. It looks strange, but the taste of this unusual soup-drink is very pleasant. Especially on a hot summer day.
Sriuba duonos kubilėlyje | Soup in bread
In Lithuania, the national soup with rye bread is a must-try. Fragrant, hot, tasty and homemade, it is the ideal cold season dish. The most popular soup in Vilnius is mushroom cream soup. This variant is more popular than the others. Rye bread successfully complements the delicate creamy flavor of mushrooms. “Plate” is also worth eating, it is always good. We also advise to try cheese, vegetable or meat soup in bread in Lithuania.
Take home three kinds of local bread from Lithuania:
- Vilniaus | Vilnius.
- Bočių | Bočiu (with cumin).
- Palanga | Palanga (gray).
Didžkukuliai | Zeppelins.
The calling card of the national cuisine of Lithuania. Cepelinai are a must in Vilnius for any lover of hearty home-cooked meals. These aromatic potato cakes with juicy meat stuffing and sour cream sauce with crispy cracklings and onions are a real culinary delight. Vegetarians in Lithuania are advised to try zeppelins with mushrooms, vegetables, or cottage cheese. Portions in restaurants are usually generous, so you do not need to order anything extra.
Appetizing potato pancakes with a flavorful meat filling, which is usually topped with garlic and onions. Try this dish in Vilnius or any other city in Lithuania – it is nourishing and really tasty. The pancakes are made with grated potatoes in jacket. They are fried until crispy and brown, and served with sour cream-mushroom sauce, melted butter, or lard-based dressing with cracklings. The last variant is very greasy – it is designed for tough northern stomachs. Zemajci is worth trying with Lithuanian beer, a particularly tasty combination.
Zrazy | Zrazy
The first thing you should try in Lithuania out of meat dishes is zrazy. Most often they are made of minced beef. These appetizing meatballs stuffed with grits, mushrooms or potatoes are usually served with a delicious cream sauce. The dish turns out a nourishing, slightly unusual taste (the stuffing plays a major role). Lithuanian vegetarians are advised to try potato zrazy with mushroom stuffing in a sour cream sauce. However, this dish can be recommended to everyone else as well – it literally melts in the mouth and pleasantly satiates. Delicious, just like at grandma’s!
Skilandis | Skilandis
Delicious jerky made according to a traditional Lithuanian recipe is sure to please fans of natural sausages. The appetizer is made of selected pork with a small amount of lard, pepper, fragrant coriander and garlic. All this is placed in a natural casing, tied with tight twine, and then cured or smoked for 10 to 30 days. Try Lithuanian sausage on traditional rye bread. Skilandis in the form of sausages is a popular street food in Vilnius and is traditionally served with bigus (stewed sauerkraut).
You can buy the national sausage in Lithuanian supermarkets to bring it as a gift to your loved ones. Choose a factory-packaged version.
Kibinai | Kibinai
It is believed that the best traditional Lithuanian kibinai cakes can be tasted in the city of Trakai. However, you can easily find them in Vilnius – they will be just as delicious. These ruddy patties with a small pigtail on top are sold in street stalls and small bakeries. The traditional filling in Lithuanian pirozhki is chopped lamb with onions. However, today in Vilnius you can buy kibinai with pork, mushrooms, potatoes or other hearty filling. Wash it down with sweet tea and take two or three at a time – they are so delicious that it’s impossible to stop!
Kastinys | Kastinis
An old-fashioned dish based on thick sour cream, butter, garlic, pepper and other spices. It is whipped to a delicate creamy consistency and is usually served as an appetizer. You should try kastinis in Lithuania with rye bread or on hot potatoes. In supermarkets you can find it in the department with curd cheeses. Homemade castinis is served in restaurants – it has a fantastic taste, so don’t miss the opportunity to try this traditional snack. Of the street food, popular are sandwiches in which kastinys is used as a spread or filler.
Žagarėlis | Khvorost
The thin crispy cookies have lived in Lithuania since the times of the USSR. While in Russia it has lost its popularity, here it is prepared more and more often. Khvorost is a popular sweet fast food that you can buy in Vilnius together with take-away coffee or in pastry shops. These thin cookies made of unleavened dough fried in deep fryer and then sprinkled with powdered sugar are worth trying in Lithuania in winter with a hot beverage – they are especially cozy and homemade.
You can buy ž agar ė lis in gift boxes at Vilnius supermarkets or souvenir shops, making it an excellent gastronomic souvenir from Lithuania.
The legendary cake, the sweet trademark of Lithuania, is a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. Šakotis is made from sweet egg dough (it tastes a bit like biscuits). It is baked on a spit, which is why this appetizing treat is hollow on the inside. The surface is not usually made smooth, but in the form of sprigs. Shakotis is a popular street food in Vilnius and other major Lithuanian cities. It can be filled with nut cream, whipped cream, chocolate, fruit, ice cream or anything else you wish.
Trying a few dishes will definitely not be enough for a full introduction to Lithuanian cuisine. It makes sense to take it one step further and go on a gastronomic tour of Vilnius, so you won’t miss anything. It is definitely delicious and interesting.
Vilnius Main Market
In the company of a Russian-speaking guide you will go on a tour of the historic Vilnius Hale market. Here you will learn how Lithuanian cheese and meat delicacies are made, try dozens of national products and discover places with delicious cuisine. You’ll find out where the best Vilnius barnai shop is located, what dishes Lithuania is proud of, and what local farmers are selling. In short, this tour will appeal to foodies who want to know the country from the inside.
For all connoisseurs of beer, you must try beer in Lithuania as it is brewed here in an excellent way. Take a tour around Vilnius in Russian to discover the most interesting brews. Small private breweries, popular establishments, and atmospheric pubs: you will find 4 different places and at least 4 types of beer. Read the reviews of tourists about this tour in Vilnius – the tour is worth it.
Of alcohol in Lithuania, it’s worth trying a Midus, as well as a few balsams and liqueurs. Do this in Vilnius in the company of a tour guide, who will not only show you the best places to do the tasting, but also tell you a lot of interesting historical facts. The guide will advise what kind of alcohol you should bring from Lithuania as a gift to your loved ones, where to buy it, how to choose it correctly. In short, an invaluable tour for connoisseurs of hot drinks and good souvenirs.
Lithuanian cheeses and wines
Did you know that they make wine in Lithuania? And the excellent and not necessarily from grapes (from dandelions, for example, as in Bradbury). Equally good is Lithuanian cheese, which is popular far beyond the country’s borders. Take a tour of Vilnius with a Russian guide, who will tell you where to look for these gastronomic treasures, give valuable tips and show you the “secret” places. It will be interesting!
Before your trip to Lithuania, be sure to check out our guide to smart shopping in Vilnius and other cities of the country. Clothes, accessories, souvenirs, gifts, delicacies – we have gathered all the most interesting things in one place.