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Flavourful, filling, and with plenty of cross-continent fusions, Slovak food has delights in store for both the curious and casual foodie.
Slovakia is a beautiful, intriguing country, with a cuisine that has very much gone under the radar internationally. If you’re planning to travel to Slovakia, or you’re simply fascinated by its diverse range of rich and hearty dishes, you’ve come to the right place.
Join us on a culinary journey of awe and splendor, as a local writer takes a closer look at 22 traditional dishes with us – all of them are unique in their own little way, and definitely worth trying when you visit Slovakia.
Slovakia is a landlocked country located in Central Europe, surrounded by Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
Due to its location and history, Slovak cuisine is heavily influenced by the dishes of these neighboring countries, especially Austria and Hungary.
Traditional Slovak dishes are largely simple, comforting, filling, and homely. Common meats and ingredients include pork, poultry, wheat, cabbage, potatoes, sheep’s and cow’s cheese, garlic, and onions, among many others.
While Slovak cuisine has largely gone under the radar internationally, the country can proudly claim some of the most wholesome and hearty dishes in Central Europe.
Culturally, Slovakians eat three main meals a day, with two snacks squeezed in between – desiata, a late morning elevenses, and an afternoon snack known as olovrant. In short, Slovaks love their food, whatever time of day it is!
So, now that we have some context, let’s take a closer look at 22 of some of the country’s must-try dishes, ready for when you visit this beautiful country.
Mains / Sides
1. Bryndzové Halušky
This hearty meal is the national dish of Slovakia, and is right up there as one of the most important of the country’s foods.
Bryndzové halušky consists of a wholesome combination of potato dumplings topped with fried bacon and sheep’s cheese.
Slovaks use a high-quality, soft, and creamy locally-produced sheep’s cheese, bryndza, in this dish. Bryndza is one of Slovakia’s most beloved cheeses, and it is very much a source of national pride.
Once the dumplings are filled with cheese, the dish is topped with sour cream, fried onion, spring onion, and crispy bacon pieces.
The dough-based version of this dish is called bryndzové pirohy, and consists of pierogi-style dumplings filled with bryndza. This version pairs delightfully well with a glass of sour sheep’s milk, žinčica, which has a tangy, fermented taste. Also look out for strapačky, which uses sauerkraut instead of sheep’s cheese.
Kapustnica is a heartwarming, rich, and tangy cabbage or sauerkraut soup, with such soups being typical of the Central European region.
One of the most comforting and soothing Slovak dishes, the soup is a hearty mixture of sauerkraut, dried mushrooms, sliced smoked sausage, and onions, seasoned with the likes of nutmeg, paprika, and garlic, and served with baked bread.
You can even find the soup served in a hollowed out loaf of bread, with the soft bread soaking up all those juices and the crust giving each mouthful a welcome amount of crunch. If you’re ever in the country, be sure to try and find it.
Kapustnica is one of the most important dishes in Slovak cuisine. It can be eaten as an appetizer but is also a part of the traditional Christmas dinner.
3. Fazuľová Polievka
Fazuľová Polievka is a rich and creamy sour bean soup. It has a base of fazula beans, a spotted, colorful bean native to Slovakia.
This traditional soup has a deep, smokey flavor, due to the combination of softened fazula beans and smoked bacon. Sour cream, milk, flour, potato, and vinegar help form a thick, creamy base, while garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves infuse the broth with extra spice and flavor.
Fazuľová Polievka is usually served with crusty bread and butter. It can be eaten either as a starter or as a main course, and is true comfort in a bowl, that’s for sure.
Prívarok is a hearty legume and vegetable stew, that can have different tastes, depending on the ingredients used.
Commonly, vegetables used can include cabbage, beans, lentils, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, peas, or winter squash, while the soup is thickened with flour and whipping cream.
Salt, pepper, and dill are all used to season, and prívarok is often served with a fried egg and diced potatoes, or bread, but you can also combine it with smoked meat and sausage for extra protein. As a dish, it has diverse spectrum of flavors, and is rich, soothing, and very tasty.
5. Segedin Goulash
Segedin goulash is the Slovak version of Hungarian goulash. It is a satisfying combination of sour and savory, and a much-loved comfort food throughout the country.
Segedin goulash consists of chunks of pork shoulder stewed with sauerkraut and thickened with heavy cream. This gives the goulash a creamier texture, and a softer, milder taste.
Sometimes sour cream instead of heavy cream is used to add a little tang, while the sauerkraut in this style of goulash is heavily seasoned with paprika to balance the sour notes.
This dish is traditionally served with dumplings, but you can also enjoy it served with rice.
6. Mäsové Guľky
Pretty much all European cuisines have their own take on meatballs, and Slovakia is no different. Slovak meatballs are commonly rolled from a mixture of minced pork, mashed potato, breadcrumbs, and other ingredients such as mustard, garlic, and parsley, then fried in vegetable oil until brown.
Mäsové guľky can be served in so many different ways, including with tomato sauce, over a bed of sauerkraut, or topped with fried onion.
7. Plnená Paprika
Prolific throughout Southeastern Europe and the Balkans, plnená paprika is the Slovak take on a dish of stuffed peppers, boasting a wide range of different variations, stuffings, and names, depending on what country you are in.
Typically putting hollowed out yellow bell peppers at the forefront, the plnená paprika stuffing will vary depending on preference and region, but commonly consists of a mixture of spiced minced meat and rice, with additional ingredients such as tomato, egg, leek, beans, cheese, and herbs and spices for seasoning.
Once the hollowed out peppers have been filled with the stuffing, they are either baked or steamed, and served with potatoes, dumplings, or rice.
If that doesn’t sound delicious enough, Slovak people will even use any leftover stuffing to make mäsové guľky and bring plenty of meat-based delights to the dinner table.
8. Zemiakové Placky
Zemiakové placky are a dish of potato pancakes, typically served as an afternoon snack, especially to school children in Slovakia.
Potato pancakes are a hugely popular food in Slovakia, along with many other Central and Eastern European cuisines. In Slovakia, the pancakes are made from grated potato, flour, and egg, then fried in oil and garlic until browned.
Ideal for dipping in soup or as a side dish to various main courses, these pancakes are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Various spices are used, depending on region, so anticipate a little heat if you order them.
Zemiakové placky are often served warm with kefir, sour cream, or soured milk, and are very much a dish of the everyday population.
Hungarian by origin, langoš is a fried flatbread with various toppings, and a popular street food not only in Hungary and Slovakia, but also in the likes of the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania.
The base of any langoš is a gorge-worthy fried flatbread, with a thin and crispy crust, that can either be folded and eaten like a taco, or pulled apart and eaten in pieces.
Common toppings include cheese, sour cream, meats such as sausage and ham, garlic butter, and condiments like tomato ketchup, garlic sauce, and tartar sauce.
The possibilities, however, are endless, and langoš can be accompanied by delicious ingredients ranging from mushrooms to fruit jams, depending on how creative the street vendor is willing to get!
Prepared in a similar way to Italian focaccia, where the dough is first baked in ashes and then finished in the oven, pogača is a type of bread found in cuisines across the Balkans, with slight differences in name and preparation.
Most commonly made from an unleavened dough of wheat flour, the real magic of pogača, beyond their soft, baked biscuit-like texture, is in their stuffings. You can find them with ground beef, potato, and cheese fillings, among plenty of others.
Often topped with the likes of sesame or black nigella seeds, pogača pair well with sour milk and make for a quick, delicious Slovakian meal that is both great to eat on the go, or at home.
This common dish, found in Slovakia and other Central European countries, may be simple and inexpensive, but it is incredibly filling and wholesome.
Every cuisine has its comforting, quick-and-easy go-to, and that is very much the case with granadír. It is a simple dish of boiled potatoes and pasta (some Slovaks even do this in the same water to save time), which is then fried in a pan of hot oil with ingredients such as diced onion, bacon, and other leftover ingredients, seasoned with the likes of paprika, and parsley or chives for garnish.
Filling enough to be a main dish with a side of pickles, you can also prepare granadír as a side dish and serve it with grilled, baked, or roasted meats like sausages, pork chops, and chicken.
Hemenex, quite literally an abbreviation of English ‘ham and eggs’, is one of the country’s most popular breakfast dishes, simply consisting of ham and eggs.
In Slovakia, it is commonly prepared by first layering deli ham in the pan so that it overlaps. Once the ham is in, the egg yolk is cracked over the top of it. Finally, it is then seasoned with salt and paprika.
The eggs are cooked until the whites set, while the egg yolks are left a little runny. Hemenex is simple, delicious, and also popular in the likes of Czech cuisine and other Balkan cuisines.
13. Cigánska Pečienka
Cigánska pečienka is a beloved street food sandwich, known informally as the ‘Slovak burger’, or its nickname ‘gypsy roast’.
The dish consists of a heavily seasoned and marinated pork cutlet or chicken breast, grilled or fried, and served in a bun with mustard, caramelized onions, and sometimes hot peppers.
Cigánska pečienka is a staple food at many Christmas markets in Slovakia, while you will find street food vendors grilling up this sandwich at all times of day throughout the country.
14. Vyprážaný Sýr
Also a staple of Czech cuisine, vyprážaný sýr is an indulgent dish of deep-fried cheese, served in restaurants, cafeterias, and canteens around the country. It is also sold by street vendors, and it is a hugely popular street food.
Typically, it consists of a thick slab of Edam, Emmental, or some type of Swiss cheese, coated with breadcrumbs, flour, and egg, and then deep-fried.
It is usually served with French fries, potatoes, sliced vegetables, or a dab of tartar sauce, and is a perfect example of how simple yet delicious Slovak food so often is.
Demikát is a rich and beloved traditional Slovak soup. It has a base made of the country’s favorite sheep’s cheese: bryndza.
In addition to bryndza, the soup contains garlic, onion, stock, potatoes, and sour cream. Seasonings like cumin, black pepper, and ground red pepper help enhance the flavor.
The characteristic flavor of bryndza cheese means this is a soup that packs quite the punch, with plenty of tangy, salty, and acidic notes in every spoonful.
Demikát is often served with dumplings or chunks of baked bread, and served with a sprinkle of chopped chives.
16. Palacinka Hortobágyi
Palacinka hortobágyi is a pancake dish originating back to Ottoman-ruled Hungary, and today is one of the most popular foods in Hungary, Slovakia, and other Balkan and Central European countries.
Palacinka hortobágyi is a dish of rolled savory pancakes, stuffed with a meat-based filling, often chicken, pork, beef, or veal, covered with a generous amount of a dense, creamy sauce that typically mixes the meat juices with sour cream.
The pancakes are finished with a dollop of sour cream, and can be served with bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.
17. Cesnaková Polievka
Soups, as we can see from our list, form an integral part of Slovak cuisine. Therefore the popularity of cesnaková polievka, a rich garlic soup, should come as no surprise.
Cesnaková polievka typically consists of a broth packed with garlic, cubed potato, and spices such as paprika, caraway, cumin, and other seasonings.
Typically the broth is thin and juicy, but it can be made thicker and creamier, depending on preference.
Often, while the soup is cooking, Slovaks will line the bowl with sliced or cubed bread, then pour the soup over the top once it’s ready to eat.
Garnished with chopped parsley and grated cheese, cesnaková polievka is generally eaten as a starter.
Desserts / Pastries
18. Ryžový Nákyp
We have spent plenty of time looking at starters and mains, so now let’s turn our attention to dessert.
Ryžový nákyp is a Slovak take on rice pudding, and one of the country’s favorite desserts. It is renowned for its taste, quick preparation, and low cost.
Ryžový nákyp is made by boiling rice in milk, then baking the mixture with eggs, cream, compote, or canned fruit (cherries, plums, apples), and raisins or other dried fruit.
Finally, the cake is covered with egg-white foam. It is traditionally cut into square pieces and served with a side of fresh fruit. It is a sweet, tasty, and wholesome dessert, that can easily be customized to people’s preferences.
19. Skalický Trdelník
While the debate around the authenticity of trdelník continues to this day, with tourists making it popular in the likes of Prague in the Czech Republic, Skalický trdelník, hailing from the Slovak town of Skalica, needs no discussion about its origin.
So much so, the dessert was even registered as a PGI (protected geographical indication) by the EU in 2007. A society was even formed to keep the tradition of baking the dessert over an open fire.
This traditional pastry is classed as a spit cake, and it is made by wrapping dough around a stick and grilling or baking the dough over heat, which is how it gets its iconic hollowed roll shape.
Topped with sugar, dried fruits like chopped apricots, and nuts such as crushed walnuts and almonds, keep your eyes peeled for the name, Skalický trdelník, to try this dessert in its most authentic form.
Laskonky are traditional Slovak meringue cookies, with each delicious cookie consisting of two meringue layers sandwiching a buttercream filling in between.
Coconut and ground walnuts are often added to the meringue mixture, to which the meringue is then baked into thin, oval cookie bases.
The most common filling used for the preparation of these sweet, crispy treats is caramel buttercream. However, modern varieties can include chocolate or coffee-flavored fillings.
Laskonky are usually enjoyed with a cup of hot tea or coffee. As Slovak desserts go, this is right up as one of the sweetest and most decadent.
Žemlovka is a wholesome bread pudding, and a popular dessert in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Žemlovka is made by layering slices of bread and covering them with different fruits. Soft, white bread rolls like veka or rohlik are most commonly used.
Once bread slices are assembled, they are soaked in sweet milk with vanilla flavoring. With each mouthful, between the rich bread layers, you’ll be treated to a thick layer of tart and sweet forest and/or seasonal fruits.
The most common fruit used for Žemlovka is apples, dusted with cinnamon, while pears, peaches, and plums are also typical fillings.
You can also find this delightful Slovak dish made with quark cheese, raisins, or topped with a creamy meringue. The dessert is best served hot or warm.
22. Višňová štrúdľa
This delicious dessert is a Slovak take on a sour cherry strudel. It includes three of the most commonly used foods in Central European cuisine – poppy seeds, sour cherries, and strudel pastry.
A mixture of sour cherry compote, poppy seeds, butter, and brown sugar is used for the filling, which is spread over a very thin layer of pastry. The pastry is then rolled to form a strudel.
Višňová štrúdľa is usually served with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and is best enjoyed hot or warm, often with whipped cream or ice cream.
Slovak Food Summary
We’ve come to the end of our mouth-watering array of Slovak foods you simply must try when you visit this breathtaking country.
Whether your palette yearns for creamy soups, baked delights, or rich, sweet desserts, there is something for everyone to get excited about. Slovakia is a country with proud food history, and the country’s dishes are timeless, prepared with plenty of love and passion.
So, one final time, here’s the full list of all foods covered in the article. Be sure to have this list of Slovakian food handy when you visit, so that you can try one or more of these delicious foods from a street vendor, at a restaurant, or from a bakery.
1 – Bryndzové Halušky
2 – Kapustnica
3 – Fazuľová Polievka
4 – Prívarok
5 – Segedin Goulash
6 – Mäsové Guľky
7 – Plnená Paprika
8 – Zemiakové Placky
9 – Langoš
10 – Pogáča
11 – Granadír
12 – Hemendex
13 – Cigánska Pečienka
14 – VyprážanýSýr
15 – Demikát
16 – Palacinka Hortobágyi
17 – Cesnaková Polievka
18 – Ryžový Nákyp
19 – Skalický Trdelník
20 – Laskonky
21 – Žemlovka
22 – Višňová štrúdľa
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