Top 20 Most Popular Slovak Foods
Slovakia is a small country of five and a half million people located in central Europe. It is frequently referred to as the heart of Europe. Despite being so small, Slovakia has a lot to offer with its diverse geography, complex demographics and a deep-rooted culture.
Throughout history, and due to its central geographical location, Slovak culinary traditions have been substantially influenced by Hungarian, Czech, and Austrian traditions, but other cultures have also left their mark on Slovak kitchens.
The Polish, Turks, Italians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Spaniards, Jews, and other peoples have all had an influence, and the exceptional array of choices Slovak food offers is testament to this cultural diversity. While there are too many recipes to cover them all, the following list is a selection of the twenty most popular Slovak foods, including soups, appetizers, main courses, and sweets.
Kapustnica is a soup made from sauerkraut and meat. Sauerkraut has a long history in Slovak culinary tradition, with first mentions going back to the 15th century. Cabbage is grown locally and it is used in a wide variety of dishes. Kapustnica plays an important cultural role for Slovaks.
There are even festivals dedicated to cabbage production, with the Stupava region leading the way. In many families, kapustnica is served at Christmas dinner, and this hearty soup is a must-have at any Christmas market throughout the country. The recipes used to make kapustnica vary, but generally, it is made by cooking sauerkraut in water and subsequently adding the rest of the ingredients. Usually, smoked pork shoulder and sausages are added, along with dried mushrooms, potatoes, onion, garlic, and seasonings.
2. Fazuľová Polievka
Bean soup is another widespread favorite and commonly served on the lunch menu in restaurants. Taking a long time to cook, the beans are normally soaked in water overnight prior to cooking. Bean soup can be made with or without meat, but smoked pork, bacon, and smoked sausage are most commonly used. Potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and seasonings are all added.
Apart from being rich in taste, beans are also rich in protein and fiber, and bean soup makes your stomach feel full. There is also a sour version of bean soup, cooked with sour cream and topped with white vinegar.
3. Cibuľačka v Bochníku
The last soup on the list is French onion soup served in a small, hollowed-out, oval-shaped bread. Rather than using a plate, the top of the bread is cut off, leaving only the hard outer crust. This is then filled with onion soup and topped with grated cheese.
This soup is very basic, requiring only onions, salt and spices, but more sophisticated recipes also include butter, white wine, broth, flour, and other ingredients. Slovaks also make a garlic variation of this soup called cesnačka, which is served in the same manner. The bread crust is eaten alongside the soup.
4. Obložené Chlebíčky
The most common Slovak appetizer is garnished bread sandwiches. Obložené chlebíčky are a favourite at gatherings with family and friends, trips, or during celebrations ranging from birthdays, christenings, graduations, and even wakes.
Sandwich bread is covered with butter and mustard, and other ingredients are subsequently added on top, including potato salad, sliced hard-boiled egg, tomato, pepper, ham or salami, and it is topped with grated, smoked cheese.
Many tourists find this appetizer made of raw ground beef unpleasant, but for most Slovaks, this is a delicacy and a very popular dish, especially when on a nights out at a bar or restaurant.
It is certainly an acquired taste, but enthusiasts of raw steak are likely to enjoy it. Raw ground beef is formed into a ball with a small hole in the middle, into which a raw egg yolk is dropped. The rest of the ingredients are served separately and added individually according to preference. Fresh chopped onion, black pepper, salt, Worchester sauce, mustard, ketchup, and garlic can all be added. The beef, egg yolk, and the rest of the ingredients are mixed together and served on toasted bread.
Essentially, this is a bone, meat, and vegetable broth jelly. Pork leg and skin is cooked for about five hours, creating a thick broth that turns to jelly when cooled. Chopped and cooked vegetables and meat is prepared in bowls and the broth is poured on top. Huspenina is subsequently cooled and refrigerated, and served cold with bread and vinegar as an appetizer. It is very tasty and has positive health benefits because it is full of collagen.
7. Grilovaný Oštiepok s Brusnicovou Omáčkou
Oštiepok is a traditional Slovak cheese made from sheep’s milk. The cheese hardens when smoked and softens when it is grilled. It is served with bread and topped with cranberry sauce. Oštiepok is one of Slovakia’s national heritage foods. Traditionally, it was made by taking a piece of fresh, sweet, sheep cheese, pressing the cheese into a mold, and then soaking it in salty water for a while so it maintains the shape of the mold.
8. Husacia Pečeň
Goose and duck liver are both very popular mainly during the fall and winter months. It is commonly eaten with traditional flat-bread called lokša. The dish is quite fatty but delicious. Traditionally, it is made by cooking the liver in goose or duck fat mixed with water. The liver can also be grilled or stewed.
The origins of goulash are Hungarian, and Hungarians consider it to be their main national dish. But this beef and vegetable stew with paprika is very popular and widespread in Slovakia and other European countries too.
Gouláš is cooked in many variations but the most popular is kotlíkový guláš, which is stewed in a pot on an open fire and served in a bowl with bread. This is a popular meal made during camping trips and outdoor activities. It can be cooked in large quantities in a big pot.
10. Bryndzové Halušky so Slaninou
Potato dumplings covered with bryndza and sour cream and topped with fried bacon is arguably the most famous dish in Slovakia. This is because bryndza is not made anywhere else in the world.
Bryndza is basically a type of fermented sheep cheese made from raw sheep’s milk. It is very popular and commonly found in Slovak fridges. The taste is pretty intense and can be off-putting for those not used to eating it, but the majority of Slovaks absolutely love it and use it in a variety of tasty dishes.
11. Zemiakové Placky
These delicious fried potato pancakes with garlic and marjoram seasoning are original to Slovakia, and a popular traditional food. They are easy to make and very filling. Preparation is quite simple. Potatoes are grated and egg, salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, a little flour, and other seasonings are added to make a dough. This is patted into flat pancakes and fried in a pan.
12. Zemiakové Lokše
These are traditional Slovakian flatbread made from potatoes, flour, and salt. The dough is flattened and baked on a lightly oiled pan. The finished flatbreads are covered with duck or geese fat. Lokša is especially popular in villages surrounding the capital city of Bratislava, situated in Malé Karpaty.
They are sought after during the fall and winter months and served with goose or duck liver. There are also sweet versions with fillings like Nutella, poppy seeds, or nuts, with powdered white sugar sprinkled on top.
Langoš is also a flatbred but very different from lokša. It is made of basic sourdough – milk, flour, yeast, and salt. It is deep-fried, and seasoned with garlic, ketchup, sour cream, and grated cheese. Langoš is especially popular during the summer months and during outdoor activities.
Street sellers offer them at most gatherings such as concerts, festivals, or at popular lakes during the summer. They are probably the least healthy dish on the list. But because they are not regularly consumed, people don’t feel too bad about indulging in them once in a while.
14. Halušky s Kyslou Kapustou
Another very traditional Slovak dish that uses dumplings, but instead of covering them with bryndra and sour cream, they are cooked with sauerkraut. They are topped with fried bacon or smoked pork meat. They are also referred to as strapačky, or in other words strapaté halušky. This can be translated to dumplings with messy hair, directly referring to the sauerkraut they are mixed with.
The dumplings are handmade with potato dough, boiled in water, mixed with sauerkraut, seasoned and lightly stewed. They are perfect for people who are not so keen on bryndza but still wish to try traditional Slovak dumplings.
15. Krupicová Kaša
This sweet milk and semolina porridge is very popular with small children, but sometimes even adults can’t resist a plate of this simple, traditional children’s dish. It is quite simple and quick to make, but it is easily spoiled if it burns, when it gets a foul taste and has to be thrown out.
The proper way to make it is to stir the milk until it is steaming hot, then slowly add semolina, stirring continuously. Once the milk thickens, it is poured into bowls, topped with pieces of butter and powdered with Granko (Nesquick) or sugar. Once cooled, it is thick and holds its shape, almost like a milk and semolina jelly.
Crêpes are not traditional to Slovakia, but given their international popularity, they have found their way into Slovakian culinary culture. The origin of crêpes is not certain. Some argue crêpes are traditionally French but first mentions date back to 6th century Greece.
Contemporarily, they have been adopted by many countries around the world. Crêpes in Slovakia are served sweet or savory and there are dozens of possible fillings. To experience true Slovak crêpes, visit a shop called Palacinka Lacinka, located in Bratislava. They have been making Slovak-styled crêpes for decades and their crêpes are widely known and loved by locals.
17. Pečené Buchty
Baked sourdough buns filled with sweet plum jam and sprinkled with powder or vanilla sugar are a classic Slovak dessert.
The buns are filled with jam and baked close to one another in the oven. Once the dough rises, the sides of the buns touch one another so it bakes in one piece, almost like a cake made of buns. This leaves the middle dough unexposed and soft, and the top a bit more cooked and hard. After baking, the buns are powdered with sugar, separated, and eaten individually.
In Slovakia, buchty are a classic dessert served by grandparents, mainly because they are quite difficult to make and require a lot of practice to get them just right.
18. Dukátové Buchtičky
This is a variation of sourdough buns (buchty), and a dish especially loved by children. The sourdough is made into tiny little buns, baked, separated, and covered with a type of vanilla cream, similar to vanilla pudding. This sweet dish is very popular in schools and children love it for lunch.
19. Skalický Trdelník
The origin of this sweet cake roll is not exactly known because it can be found in a number of countries including Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, and Romania (Transylvania region). Whatever the primary origin, this sweet roll is very tasty and it is no wonder many culinary traditions have adopted it. It is made by wrapping sourdough around a stick, grilling it, and then covering the baked roll with a mix of sugar and walnuts.
Essentially a coffee and tea pastry, it is a favourite dessert made for parties and other social occasions. The cake is topped with melted chocolate and powdered sugar and cut into many slices. Bábovka symbolizes the importance and comfort of family. When freshly baked, it fills the home with a beautiful smell, making it very welcoming. There is no such thing as one recipe for bábovka, as each family bakes this pastry in their own special way.