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Lithuania Cuisine


Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to its cool and moist northern climate: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialities. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Eastern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with other Eastern European (Polish, Ukrainian and Russian) cuisines, and shares some similarities to Hungarian, Romanian, and Georgian cuisines as well as Ashkenazi cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country's long and difficult history.

Because of their common heritage, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ashkenazi Jews share many dishes and beverages. Thus there are similar Lithuanian, Litvak, and Polish versions of dumplings (koldūnai, kreplach or pierogi), doughnuts spurgos or pączki, and blynai crepes, (bliny, or blintzes). German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and potato sausages (vėdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as šakotis. The most exotic of all the influences is Eastern (Karaite) cuisine, and the dishes kibinai and čeburekai are popular in Lithuania. "Torte Napoleon" was introduced during Napoleon's passage through Lithuania in the 19th century.

The Soviet occupation badly damaged Lithuanian cuisine. As elsewhere in the Soviet Union, however, its people were allowed to maintain their own small garden plots; these were, and are, lovingly tended. After the restoration of independence in 1990, traditional cuisine became one of the ways to celebrate Lithuanian identity.

Despite the apparent richness of the cuisine, Lithuania has a very low prevalence of obesity.

Traditional Dishes

Generally, Lithuanian cuisine is based on agrarian products, among which the most important are barley, wheat, rye, potatoes, cucumbers and radish, meat and dairy products. Bread is an inseparable part of most meals in Lithuania. The most popular local version is dark rye bread called duona.

Cabbage is also one of the most popular vegetables used. It is used for making soups, second courses and very often for wrapping various fillings. Pork is the most popular meat, followed by beef.

An essential part of local cuisine is dairy products. Local cream and butter are uniquely rich and very delicious. One to recommend is the mild white curd cheese, especially when served with honey.

Lithuanian food is filling and usually tasty. Some traditional recipes include the skilandis, or ‘smoked meat’, salti barsciai, a tasty cold soup and cepelinai, grated potatoes filled with minced meat. The Baltic area of the country also specialises in smoked eel.

One of the most important and representative traditions for the Lithuanians is named "Twelve-dish Christmas Eve" supper; the local name for this event is Kūčios. Each of the twelve months of a year is represented by a food. This tradition is also practised in Ukraine and Poland, and it is believed to have been widespread in the Russian Empire. The foods that are served at this meal are nearly similar in all of these countries. Among the ingredients, the poppy seeds have a significant role in the Lithuanian version of this event. Poppy milk and slizikai are the two most important foods eaten in this occasion. The other dishes are based on fish, peas and fruits, from which the desserts are made.

The main festivals that are planned in Lithuania do not have as main goal the promotion of the national dishes. Most of them are organised in order to support the national folklore, through dance and music. However, this is a good occasion for the visitors to try the traditional food.


Lithuanian-style cakes (pyragas) are often baked in a rectangular pan and sometimes have apple, plum or other fruit baked in; they are less frequently iced than is customary in the United States. These cakes are cut into squares for serving. Poppy seed is sometimes used as a swirl filling in dessert bread and as a flavouring in other pastries.

For special occasions, tortes may be prepared; they often consist of 10 to 20 layers, filled with jam and vanilla, chocolate, mocha, or rum buttercreams; they are lavishly decorated. Lithuanian coffeehouses (kavinė) serve a variety of tortes and pastries.


Popular drinks in the region are also found in neighbouring countries – from kvass all to vodka. Beer is also commonly served, both local and imported. Another tasty local drink is a mild liqueur made of honey.




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