About Lithuanian Cuisine
Lithuanians like to eat a lot and enjoy good food. Our traditional cuisine is rather simple, but has a variety of interesting dishes, many of them hearty and suitable for those cold Eastern European winters. Rye, potatoes, various meats, beetroots and turnips, mushrooms, berries, and diary products are often used as staple ingredients. You will find some of the most popular traditional Lithuanian foods, dishes and drinks on the page below.
Didžkukuliai (Also Called Cepelinai) - Potato Dumplings
Didžkukuliai (colloquially known as cepelinai due to their distinctive shape) is often called the national dish of Lithuania. While it's considered an old, traditional recipe these days, potatoes were only brought to Lithuania in the 17th century, and became widely used for food in the beginning of the 19th one. In other words, while cepelinai is certainly a traditional dish, it's not as old as some.
Cepelinai are large, Zeppelin-shaped dumplings made from grated potatoes stuffed with meat. They are usually served with sour cream, spirgai (cracklings), or mushrooms. Some restaurants will serve a vegetarian version of the cepelinai made with a curd filling instead of meat. As you can imagine, it's a rather filling meal with enough calories to make any light eater or dieter run for the hills.
Šaltibarščiai - Cold Borscht (Beetroot Soup)
Šaltibarščiai is a popular summer soup easily recognizable by its vivid pink color. It's made from hard-boiled eggs, cooked and shredded beets, fresh cucumbers, dill, and green onions. All the aforementioned ingredients are chopped and put into a pot, and then soured milk or kefir is added. The soup can be seasoned with salt and some pepper to taste.
Šaltibarščiai is served cold, usually with hot boiled potatoes sprinkled with dill on the side. Sometimes a sliced hard-boiled egg is added into the plate as well. It's a great, refreshing meal on a hot summer day!
Juoda Duona - Dark Rye Bread
While duona means "bread" in general, the Lithuanian tradition is juoda duona - literally "black bread" - which is made of dark rye flour and naturally fermented sourdough without added yeast.
Duona is the oldest traditional Lithuanian food, and has been a staple fare for everyone from peasant to noble for centuries. It played a role in pagan agricultural rituals and still is occasionally used in wedding ceremonies and when welcoming honored guests. As the cornerstone of Lithuanian cuisine, rye bread was shown great respect and even viewed as holy.
Lithuanian dark rye bread is delicious, heavy, fragrant and has a long shelf-life. It can be eaten during breakfast, lunch or dinner. Of course, it isn't as popular these days as it was in the old times, when it was consumed with almost every meal. Nowadays you'll see it eaten with soup, used for sandwiches, or fried in oil and rubbed with garlic as a beer snack.
Balandėliai - Stuffed Cabbage
Balandėliai ("little doves") are made from cabbage leaves stuffed with a minced meat, rice and onion filling. They can be served with sour cream or tomato sauce. Since rice is not grown in Lithuania, pearl barley had been used instead in the truly authentic recipes.
This Lithuanian dish is far from unique, of course - many traditional cuisines in Europe and elsewhere in the world have some sort of stuffed cabbage rolls.
Bulviniai Blynai - Potato Pancakes
Bulviniai blynai, or potato pancakes are one of the many Lithuanian dishes made from potatoes. Shredded potatoes are mixed with eggs, some flour, seasonings, and occasionally an onion or two. They are usually served with sour cream, and sometimes with mushrooms. These are so-very tasty, never mind the extra calories!
Similar potato pancakes are also eaten in many other European and Middle Eastern countries.
Gira - Kvass (Fermented Rye Bread Drink)
Gira is a fermented drink traditionally made from black rye bread (a few raisins tossed in is a more modern addition). It has a unique bready flavor, and a sweet, yet tangy taste. Gira contains a lot of vitamin B and is a great drink for a hot day. It is known as "kvass" in Russia and is popular in other countries in Eastern Europe as well.
Gira is considered a soft drink but contains some alcohol (0.05-1.5%) due to the natural fermentation process, which also adds some natural carbonation. This doesn't apply to kvass-flavored sodas you'll find in a supermarket; these are carbonated artificially and have little to do with the traditional drink.
Skilandis - Cold-Smoked Sausage
Skilandis (also known as Kindziukas from its Polish name) is a pig stomach stuffed with minced meat and seasonings, smoked and then matured (dried) for some time. It is one of the many smoked meat products that are popular in Lithuania, which include smoked and cured ham (rūkytas kumpis) and smoked sausage (dešra). This traditional method of preserving meat to last a long time has been used in the region for many centuries.
Lašiniai - Smoked Fatback
Lašiniai are slabs of pork underskin fat with skin, often eaten as an appetizer with bread and / or onions or when drinking. Lithuanian lašiniai are a smoked product, while the Ukrainian equivalent salo is usually only salted.
Believe it or not, despite being animal fat, lašiniai are considered healthy by some experts. They're a good source of vitamins A, D, F, and E, and are rich in unsaturated fatty acids.
Bulvių Plokštainis - Kugel (Potato Casserole)
Bulvių plokštainis is another fattening yet delicious and hearty potato-based dish. Grated potatoes (with the juice removed) are mixed with eggs, milk, onions, and seasoned with pepper, salt, and occasionally marjoram or other herbs. The whole mixture is then baked in the oven, resulting in a flat potato casserole, which is what the name bulvių plokštainis literally means. It is usually served with sour cream and occasionally spirgai.
While having nothing to do with the authentic recipe, mushrooms and meat (chicken or pork, browned prior to adding it into the mix) are frequently added to this basic dish when cooking day-to-day.
Since it's commonly known as kugelis in Lithuanian, a discerning reader will no doubt notice the connection to the traditional Jewish dish.
Vėdarai - Potato Sausage
Vėdarai refers to baked sausages made from pig intestines and stuffed with either potatoes (bulviniai vėdarai) or a filling made of pork blood, barley, and other ingredients (kraujiniai vėdarai), which is similar to blood sausages eaten in Germany or Great Britain.
Both versions involve stuffing the mix into pork casings and baking them in the oven. This meal is usually eaten as a second course, with sour cream or some fancier sauce on the side.
Aguonų Pienas ir Kūčiukai - Poppy Milk and Pastries
Kūčiukai are small, hard pastries made from leavened dough. They are traditionally consumed on the Christmas Eve (Kūčios) together with aguonų pienas. Aguonpienis, or "poppy milk" is made by soaking poppy seeds in water for a day to soften them up, and then crushing them using a food processor until a white liquid comes out. It is then diluted with some cold water and sweetened to taste with honey or sugar.
This is an important part of the time-honored twelve-dish Christmas Eve supper in Lithuania, where each dish represents a month of the upcoming year.
Krienai - Horseradish
Horseradish (krienas) has been used as a condiment in Lithuania for hundreds of years. The roots are washed, cleaned, finely grated, and marinated in a mixture of water, salt, and vinegar. Some beetroot juice is usually added to give krienai a light pink color. Their powerful taste adds some spiciness reminiscent of the Japanese wasabi to the normally mild Lithuanian cuisine.
Horseradish sauce is also popular in Poland and other Eastern European countries.
Traditional Lithuanian Cookbook
Links and Resources
- Lithuanian Traditional Foods page has a lot of information on our national cuisine. The available recipes were compiled by Birute Imbrasiene, the author of the book displayed above. (The link leads to an archived version as the original page is no longer available).
- Wikipedia has a nice long article about Lithuanian cuisine with both a historical perspective and a list of more modern dishes.
A Small Country on the Eastern Shore of the Baltic Sea
Questions & Answers
Question: Is Klatski a traditional Lithuanian dish? How is it made?
Answer: If we're talking about "kleckai" they're dumplings which are usually made from dough but can also be made from potatoes, and filled with savory filling like meat, onions, etc. I'd Google "kleckai receptas" as there's quite a few and I'm no expert!
Question: What do you call pork meatballs used in Lithuanian dishes?
Answer: "Kiaulienos kotletai", or more commonly and simply just "kotletai".
Question: How are cepelina?
Answer: Very filling and fatty, not for everyone, but overall delicious.
Linda Mimnaugh on April 22, 2020:
Off subject—- the University of Pittsburgh have many Nationality Rooms located in the Cathedral of Learning. Each room depicts the customs of the many immigrants that settled in Pittsburgh. The Lithuanian Room is full of handmade woodworking. There is one item is breath taking. My Grandpap used to sing Lithuanian songs when I was a new born.
jnhuvfc on April 21, 2020:
=-). thank you so much.
Laura on February 07, 2020:
My mom was born in Lithuania came to the USA age 3 with her mom. My mom made delicious head cheese and we ate it a lot. Fish a lot. Blood sausage. The person down below explained how to make head cheese , pretty good recipes. You can also buy head cheese at the grocery stores , home made is the best!
Linda Paholich on December 21, 2019:
My mother was Lithuanian,first generation born in the USA. She would make a milk gravy and I don’t know what went with it,or how she made it. I hope someone can give a recipe. Thank you.
John from UK on November 01, 2018:
I had Kugelis for the first time last weekend. It was lovely, although very filling. I thought at first, it would be like an English Cottage Pie. I think, as my Girlfriend likes potatoes so much, when she next comes here to mine, I may get away with giving her my favourite concoction... Corned Beef, Mashed Potatoes and peas....blended together with Hammonds Brown Sauce, Branston Pickle and Piccalilli :-)
Diane Scharper on September 23, 2018:
Yes, I heard of Koseliena. My grandmother and mother made it. But they didn't use eggs. It was great.
Pete-the-Lit on July 08, 2018:
Regarding Koseliena in other countries, Koseliena, as I described, is pretty much farmer food, It isn't necessarily a pretty presentation. In the snooty countries they use a clear broth with gelatin added. Then they carefully place sliced eggs, some nicely cut meat, and pour the gelatin broth over it. The broth is fully clear, so you can see the presentation of the placement of the fillings inside.
Pete-the-Lit on July 08, 2018:
My grandparents were all from Lithuania, I'm a Lithuanian-American. I spent seven years in Europe during the Cold War. I've seen Koseliena in most countries. It is basically head cheese. My Grandmother, and myself, made it by cooking down fresh pork feet, hocks, ears, tail, snout, clean them thoroughly. I add a some cut up pork belly. You basically add spices similar to pickling spices, and rough cut carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover everything, Skim off the sludge that floats to the top, after 4 minutes or so. When the meat is falling off the bone, taste it and add salt and some white wine vinegar, taste again and adjust ass necessary.Strain it, and keep the liquid (strain out the fat).. Put the liquid in a casserole dish, and tear off and add the meat, some veggies, etc, from the strainer. Cover, and chill in fridge until it gels. It may have a hard white coating on top. Just crack it, and remove and throw away. That's fat. Then cut and eat with vinegar.
Andrew Po (author) on June 18, 2018:
Košeliena or (a more "official" name) šaltiena - it would be called aspic in English. We definitely eat that in Lithuania, but I believe people in neighboring countries have similar dishes as well.
CRose on June 17, 2018:
I am Lithuanian. Mother was Lithuanian. Great grandmother immigrated from Suvalkui. Has anyone heard of a dish call kushileene (sounds like). My great grandmother made it often when I was a child. It is meat (pork I think) in some kind of gelatinous broth. I don't know if the dish is Lithuanian, Polish or Russian as the Suuvalkui was on the Polish border governed as "Poland" by Russia prior to her immigration to USA.
Hello on May 23, 2018:
I am from lithuania
m&m on November 05, 2017:
Amazing , all the foods I grew up with.
ev on October 23, 2017:
Anyone here from Lithuania too?
m on October 15, 2017:
that is amazing
m on October 15, 2017:
Lori on October 02, 2017:
I'm excited to try some of these recipes.... the only thing I miss about my ex-mother in law was her cooking and she refused to share the recipes with me. Now I can do it myself !
jo on September 18, 2017:
who else here is Lithuanian
ryel on August 23, 2017:
helped a TON with my school projects! Thx so much!
Jo on May 22, 2017:
boy on May 12, 2017:
Paulina on March 13, 2017:
Helped a TON with my school project. Thx!
Jasmine on February 28, 2017:
Thx Helped with my thing for school!
Isa on February 26, 2017:
Now I can do my Social science proyect
Small on July 10, 2016:
The foods of my childhood! My father's family was from Lithuania and he died when I was little, but my mom kept cooking many of these things-- I had no idea they were so specific to his heritage. Thanks!
IslandBites from Puerto Rico on March 03, 2015:
Really interesting! Vote up!
dddddddddddd on November 15, 2014:
Titus2Homemaker on January 15, 2014:
Thank you for this lens! My g-g-grandparents were Lithuanian, so I was looking to bring a bit of the culture into my home. This makes it look pretty doable. :)
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on December 23, 2013:
Wow! They sure look delicious! Hope to try them someday. - Ms. Charito from the Philippines
Aladdins Cave from Melbourne, Australia on November 17, 2013:
mmmmmm. Not a geeky lens. Still looking.
Cheers from DOWNUNDER
othellos on August 03, 2013:
What a wonderful resource. Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive guide!
anonymous on April 10, 2013:
@anonymous: KUGELIS :)
anonymous on April 10, 2013:
@anonymous: that thing in lithuanian is called KUGELIS
anonymous on April 08, 2013:
I just stumbled upon this website looking for the same thing. My grandmother's version is made with ground beef rather than chicken/rabbit, but it sounds like it's made the same way. We call it (and I have no experience with the language so please forgive me) "cugulous". I can't find it by that name either, so it's probably called something completely different!
anonymous on April 06, 2013:
My Dads family was from Lithuania and he used to cook he called (this is what I remember and what I think it sounds like) Koishi (coyshee). It was grated potatoes, onion, salt, mixed with browned chicken or rabbit and baked. Is there another name for this or something similar as I can't find anything searching. Thanks.
LouisaDembul on April 03, 2013:
That Zeppelin potato cake sounds delicious. I'd love to try some of this Lithuanian food,
anonymous on April 01, 2013:
First make sure you wash the casings really well, if they have fat inside don't remove it, it will melt away and will prevent casing from cracking during baking.
For the filling:
Since I don't know how many casings you have itâs hard for me to tell you how many potatoes you will need. But let's assume you have one medium size casing.
1. Peel 4 or 5 medium Idaho potatoes and grate them fine, loosely squeeze some of the liquid off.
2. Heat up about 1/3 of the cup milk just to boiling point and pour over potatoes. Hot milk bleaches potatoes otherwise they will look dark grey. You can also use lemon juice from Â½ a lemon.
3. Lightly beat 2-3 eggs and add to the potatoes.
4. Add salt and paper to taste and one crumbled up bay leave.
5. Take the narrow end of the casing and close it tight by wrapping a thread, make sure itâs tight over wise filling will spill out.
6. You have to ask someone to help you for this step. One person will hold an open end of the casing and another will pour the filling spoon full at a time into the casing. Make sure you donât fill it up too tight, because potatoes will expand and will break the casing.
7. Tighten up the wide end of the casing; lay it out on a greased baking sheet. Take a toothpick and prick some holes into the casing, again to prevent breakage. Rub some olive or canola oil on top.
8. Put in the oven for about 1.5 hours at 375F you will know itâs done when your house will smell amazing and the casing looks crusty.
If your casing brakes donât worry, its part of the process, it all tastes amazing.
For the sauce you can sautÃ© some onions in butter, you can add mushrooms or bacon. Or you can simply serve with sour cream. Also if you have some filling left, just make some pancakes.
anonymous on March 30, 2013:
I am looking for a Lithuanian recipe that is grated potatoes stuffed in casings - they are called dashieds
gintyy on December 24, 2012:
Very delicious my country food :)
anonymous on December 04, 2012:
@anonymous: OMG hahahah lol that's so funny
ViolaSuSi on October 05, 2012:
Everything makes my mouth water. I should try some of these. Unique recipes.
anonymous on July 28, 2012:
I am looking for something very simple to cook with a ten year Lithuanian girl any suggestions?
anonymous on July 13, 2012:
@anonymous: it is
Rosetta Slone from Under a coconut tree on May 23, 2012:
The food looks amazing but I LOVE the clay dishes in the soup photo. I already drink kvass. It's super healthy.
anonymous on April 26, 2012:
@anonymous: Our clothing for an average day is very casual. Blue jean pants, basic shirt, long or short sleeved, tee shirt, or sweater, leather or athletic shoes. For casual dressy maybe kakhi pants with a shirt that has a collar and leather shoes. Suits are only worn for dress, weddings, funerals, work if it's an office environment. For a job interview you would try to dress according to the attire of the place you are thinking of working. Being clean, well groomed and pleasant is helpful too.
anonymous on April 08, 2012:
@anonymous: Utica, NY has 2 Polish meat markets Polaski on Lenix Ave.....the polish ladies make the fresh kilbasa its the best.....I think they will ship
Valdacious on April 02, 2012:
Your lens is making me hungry...:-) Thanks for sharing your culture...
anonymous on March 30, 2012:
The black rye bread looks delicious!
anonymous on March 23, 2012:
I remember all these dishes from LT. Our friends made them to us, and we like them very much. I bought the book many ears ago, but I haven't made something, yet.
anonymous on March 03, 2012:
@anonymous: The Lithuanian part of my family is also from mass,(Methuen). I know there is a Polish foods store in Worchester that sells many different home made kielbasi and sausages. I'm not sure of the name but I'm sure you can find it on line.
jimmyworldstar on February 06, 2012:
Ah borscht, the traditional Eastern European soup. I'm not familiar with cuisine in the former USSR but potato stuffed with meat and a side of sour cream to eat with it sounds hearty and filling to me.
anonymous on January 26, 2012:
@poutine: where would I find the grey kielbasa my grandmother from Lithuania made. She moved to Brighton/Alston MA. I also live in MA . The Lithuanian Club was a place we'd go to , though I was too young to remember that. Loved her type of kielbasa anyday over the red stuff in the stores
anonymous on January 26, 2012:
My grandmother was from Lithuania and moved to Allston/Brighton Mass. She hand made grey kielbasa ....to die for...where could I find some? I also live in Mass.
julieannbrady on January 18, 2012:
My dear, it all looks delicious and healthy too.
anonymous on January 16, 2012:
I love rye bread, don't know why I just do, this food looks good.
anonymous on December 13, 2011:
im Lithuania and i need to know what the traditional clothing there is... does any one know???
anonymous on November 30, 2011:
Im Lithuania. This delicous foods :)
Rom from Australia on November 16, 2011:
Thanks for this, didn't know much about Lithuanian food. Being the meat lover I am, i think i would very much like to eat the Skilandis, mmm yum.
anonymous on June 20, 2011:
@EuroSquid LM: kibinai is actualy tatars national dish not lithuanian. grand duke Vytautas used tatars as personal guards for their extraordinary abilities of fighting.
Debbie from England on May 28, 2011:
Blessed by a Squid Angel ;)
anonymous on April 04, 2011:
@marketmasterpro: aaw thats deadly
Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on March 14, 2011:
How great to see a personal regional food lens like this! Blessed by your neighborhood angel and added to my regional food lens.
Padaneis on March 09, 2011:
Slurp! It looks like mouth-watering...Very fine lens. Bests
EuroSquid LM on February 12, 2011:
I am not a big fan of Cepelinai. I prefer Kibinai which is sort of like a crunchy Cepelina. I believe it is a speciality from the area of Trakai..or at least that is where I had it first.
anonymous on February 04, 2011:
@aka-rms: If you want to learn more about Lithuanian cuisine, check this Lithuanian travel guide, i find useful :D Kugel actually is pretty good. http://www.way2lithuania.com/en/travel-lithuania/f... They even give you the recipe and the directions so you can prepare the dish on your own.
poutine on January 26, 2011:
I love Lithuanian dishes, specially the perogies and the borscht soup.
marketmasterpro on January 18, 2011:
Do you have any good perogie recipes? Great site...I am Lithuanian.
Jack on January 11, 2011:
Returning to bless.
Jack on January 06, 2011:
These recipes look delicious.
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on October 18, 2010:
I've tried a variety of ethnic foods, but I've never come across Lithuanian food. You lens made me want to try it. Well done and presented! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**
NeuroPhite on October 12, 2010:
Love your lens!
anonymous on September 14, 2010:
I've eaten some of those dishes and I think I just might make some!
anonymous on April 12, 2010:
This lens is awesome. I love it. I am going to tell my editors on my Thai News website to write something about this lens and probably feature it.
I will comment here again once we do.
teener1416 on March 17, 2010:
this is really cool! I made one on Lithuanian Egg art today... It;s still in the hammering out point but check it out please and give me some insight!
Jackasss on February 16, 2010:
Damn he stole my lens :D
anonymous on November 25, 2009:
did you take the photos? they're lovely. I'm finally getting around to thanking my squidoo fans for joining my "club." I'll be featuring this lens on my new thank-you lens.
bdkz on August 05, 2009:
Robin S from USA on August 03, 2009: