Rolls of parenica cheese on a chopping board
food

Traditional food of Slovakia: 11 dishes to try when you visit

The traditional food of Slovakia is hearty and flavourful. Yet Slovak cuisine is almost unknown outside Slovakia, which is too bad!

Historically, Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later Czechoslovakia and, unsurprisingly, traditional Slovak food has been strongly influenced by the cuisine of its neighbouring countries.

Although some of the traditional Slovak dishes are similar to those found in other Central European countries, they have their own unique twist. 

Not only is Slovak food delicious, it is also simple to make. It relies on seasonal veggies and fruits grown in Slovak gardens and items easily sourced in your local supermarket.

Common ingredients include potatoes, meat, cabbage, flour, mushrooms, onions, milk products and garlic. To sum it up, the key to the traditional food of Slovakia is to use simple ingredients and lots of love. 

The inside of a traditional koliba in Smokovec village, High Tatras, Slovakia.

Where to try traditional Slovak food

While in Slovakia, the best place to find traditional Slovak meals is in the so-called 'Koliba'. The Koliba is a type of rustic restaurant with a traditional Slovak interior.

Almost every town in Slovakia has at least one restaurant dedicated to traditional Slovak cuisine or koliba-style restaurant. For example, Koliba Bystrina in Demänovská Dolina, Koliba Kamzík in Bratislava, Terchovská Koliba in Biely Potok and many more. 

If you want to try everything and you're short on time, another option is to do a traditional food tour when you visit.

Dobrú chuť! (Bon appetit!)

Bryndzove halusky served with sour milk

1. Bryndzové halušky (potato dumplings)

Slovakia's national dish is bryndzové halušky - little potato, sheep cheese dumplings mixed with special cheese called bryndza.

You won't find bryndza in your regular grocery store outside Slovakia, but the Israeli-style Feta from Trader Joe's can be a good substitute.

What adds even more flavour is the crispy bacon on top.

Halušky are somewhat similar to Italian gnocchi.

If there is only one Slovak meal that you can try, then this should be it.

Try our recipe

A bowl of traditional Kapustnica, a Slovak cabbage soup, served with bread

2. Kapustnica (rustic soup)

Soups have been an integral part of Slovak cuisine for centuries - from hearty onion soup to garlic broth, bean soup and cabbage soup.

One of the most common soups in Slovakia is kapustnica.

Kapustnica is typically made of sauerkraut, potatoes, dried mushrooms, onions, sausage and smoked meat.

Every Slovak region has its own variation of kapustnica. Slovaks love this healthy comfort soup so much that it's also one of the traditional Christmas meals.

To make kapustnica is simple. The ingredients are simmered together until the soup gets a thick and creamy consistency.

The result is a flavorful, filling soup that will leave you wanting more. You can eat kapustnica with a piece of bread.

Vyprážaný syr (deep fried cheese) served with fries and tartar sauce

3. Vyprážaný syr (fried cheese)

Vyprážaný syr is deep-fried cheese. Fried cheese? Yes, please!

Slovaks simply take a square of Edam or any other cheese, dip it into the batter made of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, and then fry it.

The result? A crunchy texture with a soft cheesy core that's perfect for dipping into ketchup, mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

This dish is typically served with fries, and you'll find it in most restaurants that serve Slovak cuisine.

It might not be the healthiest meal, but the combination of melted cheese with crispy batter and fries is just irresistible and a must-try.

A selection of Slovak cheeses including oštiepok, parenica and korbáčiky

4. Parenica a korbáčiky (local cheeses)

Aside from bryndza, there are two other kings of Slovak cheeses: parenica and korbáčiky.

Parenica is a traditional Slovak soft cheese made from unpasteurized milk. It is steamed and usually lightly smoked to give it that delicious smoky flavour.

Korbáčiky is a type of string cheese which originated in the Orava region of northern Slovakia and southern Poland. Picture cheese in the shape of thick spaghetti. If you take three strings and make them into a braid, you'll have korbáčiky.

Both are truly delicious, so make sure to try them if you're visiting Slovakia. You can find them in regular Slovak supermarkets.

But to sample real authentic korbáčiky, you'll need to visit some local farmers in Orava or Liptov region. One such farmer is Maria Zanova.

Zemiakové Placky, a Slovak potato pancake, served with sour cream

5. Zemiakové Placky (potato pancakes)

Zemiakové Placky is another classic Slovak dish. In fact, most European countries have some version of potato pancakes with small variations. It's grated potato pancakes with garlic, onion, egg, flour and simple spices.

They taste and look similar to Jewish potato latkes or rösti in Switzerland, but they use slightly different spices. Also, latkes are somewhat thicker compared to placky.

These hearty potato pancakes are very easy to make. Simply scoop potato mixture onto the heated pan with butter and oil and fry them from each side until nice crispy and golden.

Placky are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and they can be enjoyed with almost anything. For example, you can fill potato pancakes with meat, mushrooms or cheese or add sour cream.

You won't typically find them in Slovak restaurants. It's one of those dishes you'll need to make for yourself.

Makové Šúľance, sweet potato dumplings with poppyseed

6. Makové Šúľance (poppyseed pastries)

Makové Šúľance is one of the most popular sweet dishes in Slovakia. This dish consists of potato dough, but the key ingredient is lots of poppy seeds.

I often crave poppyseed pastries or meals, but outside Slovakia, they're hard to find, so you shouldn't miss out.

The dish is quite filling, and it's usually served as a main course. Yes, sweet main courses are a thing in Slovakia.

What makes it even more flavoursome is melted butter on top.

You can try makové šúľance in some restaurants that specialize in Slovak cuisine. For example, a Slovak pub restaurant in Bratislava has this type of dish on its menu.

If you can’t find makové šúľance, another great poppy seed delicacy is makovník. You can find this poppy seed roll in the pastry section in Slovak supermarkets.

A stall selling lokše (Slovak potato pancakes) with a variety of fillings

7. Lokše (potato flatbread)

Lokše is a traditional Slovak potato flatbread made from boiled potatoes, flour, and salt. If you like crepes, then you're going to love this.

It's usually served as a side dish, but you can also stuff it with meat.

It pairs perfectly with roasted duck and sauerkraut. You can also make a sweet version of lokše and add some jam of your choice.

A great place to find lokše is at the Christmas markets.

Christmas markets in Slovakia usually start the last week of November and last till about 23rd December.

Some of the best Christmas markets in Slovakia are in Bratislava, Košice, Banská Bystrica, Trenčín, Prešov and Banská Štiavnica.

Prague street food - Trdelnik

8. Trdelník (chimney cake)

Speaking of Christmas markets, another popular Christmas treat that you'll find at markets is trdelník.

Trdelník is a sweet, crispy dough pastry rolled around a stick and topped with walnuts, sugar or cinnamon.

The best way to savour trdelník is to enjoy it as you listen to carols and sip hot chocolate or mulled wine.

The secret to trdelník's crispiness is baking it over an open fire.

The smell of cinnamon and walnuts will make you drool, and it's definitely worth a try.

You can find trdelník in Bratislava's old town at Chimney Friends or at cafe Mňam in Košice, which serve trdelník with ice cream.

But nothing beats a freshly made one from the Christmas markets.

Fresh langoše, a Hungarian pancake

9. Langoše (Hungarian pancakes)

Fancy some Slovak street food? Although langoše originated from Hungary, they're also very popular in Slovakia and a few other European countries.

Langoš is a type of fried dough. It can be topped with ketchup or tartar sauce, garlic, and cheese for extra flavour.

My favourite is garlic and cheese langoš.

You can find langoše at Langoš Bar at SNP square in Bratislava or other street vendors scattered across the country.

Šišky, Slovak doughnuts filled with jam

10. Šišky (filled doughnuts)

Do you love doughnuts? But have you ever tried European-style doughnuts?

There are similar varieties of šišky in multiple countries, including German krapfen and Jewish sufganiyot.

Šišky are fried donuts, usually filled with marmalade. They have a different shape compared to American doughnuts.

They're served with powdered sugar - a perfect dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.

You can usually find these treats in supermarkets in Slovakia in the pastry section.

Meatballs served with boiled potatoes and cauliflower

11. Fašírka (meatballs)

Attention meat lovers! Fašírka is a meatball made from minced beef or pork. It's usually served with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut.

The meat is mixed with onions and spices, then fried in the pan until it's crispy and golden brown on both sides.

Fašírka is a savoury, delicious, nutritious meal that will fill your belly. Try it if you're looking for some local flavour.

A display of brightly-coloured Tatratea bottles in Bratislava

Popular Slovak drinks

Kofola

It's a non-alcoholic drink that tastes similar to Coca-Cola, with added herbs. You can buy Kofola in supermarkets, but the best Kofola is from a draught in Slovak pubs.

Vinea

A sweet, non-alcoholic, fizzy drink made from grape juice, available in supermarkets

Tokaj wine

One of the most famous Slovak wines comes from the Tokaj region

Slovak beers

Popular beers in Slovakia are Šariš, Zlatý Bažant, Kelt and more

Borovička

A clear spirit made from juniper berries with a strong flavour

Slivovica

A plum-flavoured alcoholic drink. If you get a chance, try homemade Slivovica, the Slovak version of moonshine

Tatratea

A tea-based herbal liqueur that originated from the beautiful High Tatra mountains.

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Kamila Jakubjakova

Author - Kamila Jakubjakova

Kamila is a freelance writer and blogger originally from Slovakia and now based in Canada. On her blog, she and her partner share useful tips for expat life in Canada. When she isn't writing, you can find her on a yoga mat or enjoying a cup of tea.

Last Updated 24 July 2023

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