best czech food

Czech Food – 18 Traditional Dishes You Simply Must Try

If you’re visiting the Czech Republic, and are keen to try some delicious Czech food, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re a foodie that’s feeling adventurous, or you want to inject a little Czech flavor into your home cooking, our article is packed to the brim with exciting and flavorsome Czech dishes.

All-in-all, we’ve compiled a list of 18 traditional Czech dishes that you simply must try when you visit the Czech Republic. Whether you’re a lover of succulent meats, rich sauces, or want to try something sweet, this list has a flavor for all types of food lovers.

Introduction to Czech Food

best czech food

The Czech Republic is well-known for its unique architecture and hearty beer, with the country boasting the highest per-capita consumption of the beverage in the world. However, when it comes to food and drink, there’s so much more to this beautiful country than just a trinket of cold, refreshing beer.

The Czech Republic boasts a wide range of traditional foods with a diverse palette of flavors. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, due to the sheer number of influences in Czech food. Many neighboring Balkans countries have all lent a hand when it comes to food, creating a unique and flavourful range of Czech dishes and cuisine. Full of mouth-watering soups and rich sauces, if you’re a lover of meat, in particular, you’ll enjoy some of the delicious Czech foods on offer. 

We’ve compiled a list of eighteen traditional Czech foods and dishes that you simply must try when you visit the country.

18 Delicious Czech Foods to Try

1 – Bread Knedliky

Bread Knedliky - Czech food

Knedliky is the country’s most basic food. These dumplings are excellent for soaking up all of the tasty toppings and sauces that Czech cuisine has in abundance. They can be sweet and savory, and they are included in almost every sauce-based dish.

Czechs say their number one rule is not to spread butter on knedliky or dumplings, and not to eat them with hands. They are not your typical English muffins, although they look quite similar. The most popular type of Czech dumplings are the bread dumplings served as slices.

Traditionally, they are made with slightly stale bread, but nowadays, other ingredients like flour are also added. The dumplings are then shaped and steamed or boiled in water.

These bread dumplings are usually served as side dishes for Svíčková and Gulash, or any meat. They are great for soaking up those mouth-watering sauces. They are never eaten dry, but if you like the taste and eat one dry dumpling in front of the Czech, expect them to eye you as if you’ve done something odd!

Another version of knedliky made from potato is also common, as is simply known as potato dumplings.

2 – Svíčková Na Smetaně

Svíčková Na Smetaně - Czech food

This is definitely not a simple dish as it requires around three hours of preparation, but it’s considered the winner of Czech sauce-based dishes. It’s a national dish that’s usually prepared for special occasions.

This classic Czech meal is a quality cut of beef, or beef sirloin, slowly roasted and served with vegetable puree. The vegetables are cooked together with the meat, removed, and pureed together with the meat juice.

The meat is covered in cream sauce and topped with cranberry sauce, whipped cream, and a slice of lemon. It is served with bread dumplings. Svíčková may be difficult to make, but it’s definitely worth the wait. As Czech food goes, it’s right up there as one of the stand-out dishes.

3 – Goulash

Goulash - Czech food

Goulash is another must-try Czech food. It is a rich and herb-flavored dish, typically prepared during winter.

It’s a meaty, gravy-like delicacy, consisting of chunks of stewed beef in a thick meat sauce with paprika, and dumplings or knedliky on the side of the plate. Sometimes you can find it with pork, and even wild boar in the fall. It’s usually served topped with shredded onion, and possibly a few chili peppers for some extra heat.

The taste of goulash is similar to that of rich, beef soup with marinated chunks of beef. It’s not spicy, but you’ll notice the tang of paprika and herbs. Locals like to soak knedliky in the sauce for the ultimate eating pleasure.

4 – Kuřecí Kapsa

Kuřecí Kapsa - Czech food

Kuřecí kapsa is the Czech version of stuffed chicken breasts with a little German twist and a few unique Czech influences that make something truly special. The chicken breasts are perfectly grilled with a German ham or cheese filling. Mushroom and parsley are also fillings used commonly.

It’s a true firework of flavors. The texture of the grilled chicken with the flavored ham and creamy cheese inside is a perfect combination, making this a truly flavorful Czech food by anyone’s standards.

5 – Vepřo Knedlo Zelo

Vepřo Knedlo Zelo - Czech food

This is one of the Czech’s national dishes. Essentially, Vepřo Knedlo Zelo is roast pork with cabbage, and, of course, the hearty dumplings. The meat is roasted in onion and caraway gravy.

Czech people typically use sauerkraut in the preparation of this meal, but sometimes they use red cabbage. There are sour and sweet varieties of this dish, and the recipe can include other meats besides pork, such as beef and chicken.

6 – Kulajda

Kulajda - Czech food

Kulajda is a beautiful creamy soup made with mushrooms and potatoes. The mushrooms and sour cream make up most of the soup, so the taste is a delicate combination of sweet and sour. The soup also includes potatoes, a considerable amount of dill, and a poached egg, usually a quail egg.

It’s often served with a drizzle of thick, green sunflower oil, which helps add to the richness of the dish. Although you can have it as a starter, the soup is surprisingly filling, so it’s more than acceptable to order it as a main meal.

7 – Zelňačka

Zelňačka - Czech food

Zelňačka is another delicious soup you must try when visiting the Czech Republic. It’s sauerkraut soup, and it’s much tastier than you could ever imagine. In fact, even if you’re not a fan of sauerkraut, there’s a good chance you’ll love it.

The base of the soup is formed from a generous amount of sauerkraut, but it also includes smoked sausage, potatoes, sour cream, and sometimes mushrooms. It’s often topped with a drizzle of green pumpkinseed oil, similar to the way Kulajda is served. When it comes to the taste, you’ll be surprised that it’s not that stringy, more soft and lush like a chowder.

8 – Bramboráky

Bramboráky - Czech food

These are the traditional Czech potato pancakes. They are made from shredded potatoes, crushed garlic, milk, cumin, marjoram, some flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Everything is mixed well into a dough, and it’s common to add grated celery, cabbage leeks, or onions to the recipe.

Ladles of dough are poured into a pan and fried until crisp and golden brown on both sides. They are served immediately, and often sold as street food at festivals. They go excellent with goulash. Many Czechs enjoy these delicious potato pancakes with a cold beer. It’s a Czech food that’s a hit with everyday people, that’s for sure.

9 – Tatarák

Tatarák - Czech food

This strange but delicious dish is actually fresh, minced raw beef mixed with diced onion, egg yolk, paprika, pepper, salt, mustard, some diced cucumber, and often a dollop of ketchup. The dish can be made with either beef or pork.

You can find it served pre-mixed, or its ingredients placed separately around the plate so you can mix your own Tatarák to taste. It’s served with fried toast and garlic. How do you eat it? You grate the garlic against the toast and spread a portion of the meat on top of it. Tatarák goes great with a glass of cold beer.

Since the dish includes raw meat, it’s best to choose only trusted restaurants to eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination.

10 – Pečená Kachna se Zelím

Pečená Kachna se Zelím - Czech food

This hearty Czech food consists of roasted duck with red cabbage and dumplings, but you can often find roast duck with sauerkraut as well. The red cabbage pairs perfectly with roasted duck, so this delicacy is sure to please you. The ingredients combine to form a dish that’s got a little of everything when it comes to flavor: it’s salty, rich, tangy, and sweet in every bite.

Roasted duck or roasted goose is very popular in the Czech Republic. They are eaten regularly by families at the dinner table, but also served on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve.

11 – Vepřové Koleno

Vepřové Koleno - Czech food

Pork knee is the key ingredient of Vepřové Koleno. So much so, Czech cooks even leave the bone in on the plate. Although for some people, the appearance may not be so pleasant, the taste is divine. The meat is super tender and is marinated in dark beer to make it even more flavorful. And don’t worry, you’ll have no problem eating it off the bone.

It tastes like roast pork but much more tender and succulent being still on the bone. It’s served with bread, pickles, horseradish, or spinach and potato dumplings. It’s a Czech food that meat-eaters will thoroughly enjoy.

12 – Smažený Vepřový Řízek

Smažený Vepřový Řízek - Czech food

This Czech food is the Czech version of Schnitzel, which is made with pork. Pork slices are pounded until perfectly thin and then coated in breadcrumbs, flour, and eggs. The slices are then fried in vegetable oil or pork fat until golden.

The main meal is served with lemon slices, fresh parsley, boiled or mashed potatoes, or potato salad. Some versions of Smažený Vepřový Řízek include marinating the pork slices in lemon juice for around half an hour before being coated in the breadcrumb mixture. There’s also a version made with chicken, called Smažený Kuřecí Řízek.

13 – Česnečka

Česnečka - Czech food

This is one of the oldest soups served in the Czech Republic. It’s a garlic-base soup that contains raw egg, which is added at the end of the cooking process. The egg is cooked only in the heat of the soup.

Sometimes the soup includes small pieces of pork, sausage, or cheese. It’s usually served with croutons. Česnečka is also known as a hangover soup, and you’ll be surprised how effective it is. This is a Czech food loved by millions across the country.

14 – Rajská Omáčka

Rajská Omáčka - Czech food

Rajská omáčka is a traditional Czech tomato sauce usually served with beef. The sauce is delicious and creamy, made with pureed tomatoes. The tomatoes are boiled until the sauce reaches the right creamy consistency. The tart taste of tomatoes is enhanced with different spices like allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, and sugar, while the summer version of this dish includes fresh thyme and basil.

The beef is sliced and boiled, doused in the creamy tomato sauce and served alongside bread dumplings. The sauce is also served with stuffed peppers, roasted meat, meatballs, pasta, and other Czech food.

15 – Moravský Vrabec

Moravský Vrabec - Czech food

This popular Czech dish translates into Moravian Sparrow, but it has nothing to do with sparrows, or any other bird for that matter!

It’s actually a Czech food that originates from the Moravian regions. The dish consists of pork, sauerkraut, and dumplings. The meat is taken from a cut with higher fat content, such as the shoulder, and cut into small chunks. The pork chunks are marinated and roasted.

When it comes to the other two main ingredients, they can vary in type. Some chefs and cooks prefer using bread dumplings and red cabbage, while others prefer potato dumplings and white cabbage — some like a combination of both types.

Moravian Sparrow is a rich and filling dish, so don’t plan an active afternoon if you have it for lunch. We assure you that you won’t want to do much moving around after eating this hearty and wholesome meal!

16 – Ovocné Knedlíky

Ovocné Knedlíky - Czech food

One of the most traditional Czech desserts goes by the name of Ovocné Knedlíky, which translates to Boiled Fruit Dumplings in English. These dumplings are made with either potato or leavened dough, or a mixture of fresh quark cheese and wheat flour.

They are filled with fruit, usually plum or strawberry, and served hot with butter or occasionally with curd cheese. Sometimes you can find them with cinnamon and sugar or a vanilla cream sauce. The filling might also include blueberries or lightly sweetened apricots. The dumplings are cooked in boiling water, and they make a great sweet snack.

17 – Koláče

Koláče - Czech food

This type of pastry holds a portion of fruit, such as prune or apricot, surrounded by sweet, puffy dough. These cookies are eaten as everyday comfort food but are also served on holidays and at church suppers. Traditional spices used in the recipe include nutmeg and mace.

The cookies can be filled or decorated with a combination of cream cheese, apricot, prune, poppy seed filling, or various fruit jams. This Czech dessert can be enclosed or open-face. Every family has its own recipe of Koláče that is passed down from generation to generation. As a Czech food, it is one steeped in a proud heritage.

18 – Trdelník

Trdelník - Czech food

Our final Czech food takes up to a widely popular dessert that’s enjoyed across the country. Trdelník is a grilled or baked dough wrapped around a metal or wooden stick, dusted with sugar, and topped with nuts and cinnamon. It originates from Slovakia, and the name comes from the word Trdlo, which translates into a wooden stool. It is a type of spit cake that’s always served warm.

Once the dough is wrapped around the stick, it’s roasted over an open flame. It’s a delicious dessert, and you won’t struggle to find it being sold at food markets and by street vendors. Modern versions of Trdelnik with Nutella or ice cream are offered by some vendors in Prague. It’s the perfect warm Czech food for the cold winter days.

Try this deliciously crispy and fun dessert while exploring the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague.

Czech Food Summary

That’s a wrap! We reached the end of our wondrous tour of Czech food and dishes you simply must try. Alive with color and rich in flavor, there are some truly mouth-watering dishes on this list of foods. When you visit the Czech Republic, be sure to have this list handy so that you can request Czech food at local vendors and restaurants.

One final time, here’s the full list of Czech foods we covered in this article:

1 – Bread Knedliky
2 – Svíčková Na Smetaně
3 – Goulash
4 – Kuřecí Kapsa
5 – Vepřo Knedlo Zelo
6 – Kulajda
7 – Zelňačka
8 – Bramboráky
9 – Tatarák
10 – Pečená Kachna se Zelím
11 – Vepřové Koleno
12 – Smažený Vepřový Řízek
13 – Česnečka
14 – Rajská Omáčka
15 – Moravský Vrabec
16 – Ovocné Knedlíky
17 – Koláče
18 – Trdelník

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