Czech cuisine

Vepřo-knedlo-zelo (Roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut)
Obložené chlebíčky, a type of snack or appetizer

Czech cuisine (Czech: česká kuchyně) has both influenced and been influenced by the cuisines of surrounding countries. Many of the cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe originated within the Czech lands. Contemporary Czech cuisine is more meat-based than in previous periods; the current abundance of farmable meat has enriched its presence in regional cuisine. Traditionally, meat has been reserved for once-weekly consumption, typically on weekends. The body of Czech meals typically consists of two or more courses; the first course is traditionally soup, the second course is the main dish, and the third course can include supplementary courses, such as dessert or compote (kompot). In Czech cuisine, thick soups and many kinds of sauces, both based on stewed or cooked vegetables and meats, often with cream, as well as baked meats with natural sauces, are popular dishes.

Side dishes

Dumplings (knedlíky) (steamed and sliced bread-like) are one of the mainstays of Czech cuisine and are typically served with meals. They can be either wheat or potato-based, and are sometimes made from a combination of wheat flour and dices made of stale bread or rolls. Puffed rice can be found in store-prepared mixtures. Smaller Czech dumplings are usually potato-based. When served as leftovers, sliced dumplings are sometimes pan-fried with eggs. Czech potato dumplings are often filled with smoked meat and served with spinach or sour cabbage. Fried onion and braised cabbage can be included as a side dish.

There are many other side dishes, including noodles (nudle) and boiled or risotto rice (rýže or rizoto), which is sometimes served in the form of rice pudding (rýžový nákyp). Potatoes (brambory) are served boiled with salt, often with caraway seed and butter, pork fat or oil. Peeled and boiled potatoes are mixed into mashed potatoes (bramborová kaše). New potatoes are sometimes boiled in their skins, not peeled, from harvest time to new year. Because of the influence of foreign countries, potatoes are also fried, so French fries and croquettes are common in restaurants.

Buckwheat (pohanka), pearl barley (kroupy) and millet grains (jáhly) are rarely served in restaurants. These are more commonly a home-cooked, healthier alternative. Pasta (těstoviny) is common, either baked, boiled, cooked with other ingredients or served as a salad. Pasta is available in different shapes and flavours. This is an influence of Italian and Asian cuisine. Rice and buckwheat noodles are not common, but are becoming more popular. Gluten-free pasta is also available, made from corn flour, corn starch or potatoes.

Breads and pastries

Bread (chléb or chleba) is traditionally sourdough baked from rye and wheat, and is flavoured with salt, caraway seed (kmín), onion, garlic, seeds, or pork crackling. It is eaten as an accompaniment to soups and dishes. It is also the material for Czech croutons and for topinkyslices of bread fried in a pan on both sides and rubbed with garlic. Rolls (rohlík), buns (žemle), and braided buns (houska) are the most common forms of bread eaten for breakfast; these are often topped with poppy seeds and salt or other seeds. A bun or a roll baked from bread dough is called a dalamánek. A sweet roll or loupák is a crescent-shaped roll made from sweetened dough containing milk. It is smeared with egg and sprinkled with poppy seeds before baking, giving it a golden-brown colour.


Soup (polévka, colloquially polívka) plays an important role in Czech cuisine. Soups commonly found in Czech restaurants are beef, chicken or vegetable broth with noodlesoptionally served with liver or nutmeg dumplings; garlic soup (česnečka) with croutonsoptionally served with minced sausage, raw egg, or cheese; and cabbage soup (zelňačka) made from sauerkrautsometimes served with minced sausage. Kyselica is a Wallachian variety and contains sour cream, bacon, potatoes, eggs and sausage.

Pea (hrachovka), bean (fazolová) and lentil soups (čočková polévka) are commonly cooked in the home. Goulash soup (gulášovka) and dršťková are made from beef or pork tripe (dršťky) cut into small pieces and cooked with other ingredients; the meat can be substituted with oyster mushrooms. Potato soup (bramboračka) is made from potato, onion, carrot, root parsley and celeriac, spiced with caraway seed, garlic and marjoram. Fish soup (rybí polévka) made with carp is a traditional Christmas meal.

Other common Czech soups are champignon or other mushroom soup (houbová polévka), tomato soup (rajská polévka), vegetable soup (zeleninová polévka), onion soup (cibulačka) and bread soup (chlebová polévka). Kulajda is a traditional South Bohemian soup containing water, cream, spices, mushrooms, egg (often a quail's egg), dill and potatoes.[1] It is typical in its thickness, white color and characteristic taste. The main ingredient is mushrooms, which gives it the dish's scent. Kyselo is a regional specialty soup made from rye sourdough, mushrooms, caraway and fried onion.

Meat dishes

Svíčková na smetaně (Marinated sirloin), served here with dumplings and cream
A "traditional Bohemian platter" at restaurant Kolkovna in central Prague, consisting of roast duck, roast pork, beer sausage, smoked meat, red and white cabbage, bread, bacon and potato dumplings.
Prague-style beef goulash

Traditional Czech dishes are made from animals, birds or fish bred in the surrounding areas.

Pork is the most common meat, making up over half of all meat consumption.[2] Beef, veal and chicken are also popular. Pigs are often a source of meals in the countryside, since pork has a relatively short production time, compared to beef.

Jitrnice is the meat and offal of pork cut into tiny pieces, filled in a casing and closed with sticks. Meat from the neck, sides, lungs, spleen, and liver are cooked with white pastry, broth, salt, spices, garlic and sometimes onions. Klobása, known as Kielbasa in the United States, is a smoked meat sausage-like product made from minced meat. It is spicy and durable. Jelito is a pork meat sausage-like product containing pork blood and pearl barley or pastry pieces. Tlačenka is a meat or poultry product consisting of little pieces of meat in jelly/aspic from connective tissue boiled to mush, served with onion, vinegar and bread. Ovar is a simple meal from rather fatty pork meat (head or knuckle). These pieces of lower quality meat are boiled in salted water. Pork crackling (škvarky) and bacon (slanina) are also eaten.

In restaurants one can find:

Commonly-found poultry dishes are:

Other dishes

Apple Štrůdl


Fried bramboráky (potato pancakes)
Nakládaný hermelín (marinated cheese)
Fried cheese (Smažák), served with tartar sauce and side salad.


Christmas cookies (vánoční cukroví)
Larger koláč, so called "frgál" (plural frgály), baked at Moravian Wallachia area


Pilsner Urquell served in Prague

Aside from beer, Czechs also produce wine and two unique liquorsFernet Stock and Becherovka. Czech Slivovitz and other Pálenka (fruit brandies) are also popular. Tuzemak, traditionally marketed as "Czech rum", is made from potatoes or sugar beets. Slovak Borovička is also common. A mixed drink consisting of Becherovka and tonic water is known under the portmanteau of Beton ("concrete"). Another popular mixed drink is Fernet Stock mixed with tonic, called "Bavorák" or "Bavorské pivo" (literally "Bavarian beer"). Kofola is a non-alcoholic Czech soft drink somewhat similar in look and taste to Coca-Cola, but not as sweet. Kofola was invented in communist Czechoslovakia as a substitute to the Coca-Cola that they would not import, but it became so popular that production has continued well past the end of communism in the country.[9]

See also


  1. Czech Foodie Map - Everything You Need to Know About Czech Cuisine, Eating Europe. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  2. "ČSÚ: Czechs eat less meat, drink more alcohol". Czech News Agency. The Prague Post. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  3. Vokurková, Iva (15 March 2009). "Czech eating habits take a turn for the better". Radio Prague. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  4. Velinger, Jan (24 July 2009). "Czechs pick billions worth of forest mushrooms, berries annually". Radio Prague. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Horáková, Pavla (10 September 2005). "Snacks and party food". Radio Prague. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  6. History (Historie tvarůžků) at, the website of the A.W. company, the company producing Olomoucké syrečky.
  7. Horálková, Elena (27 July 2005). ""Bábovka" - un dulce con larga tradición". Radio Prague (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  8. O'Connor, Coilin (12 December 2007). "Pardubice – the "best place to live in the Czech Republic"". Radio Prague. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  9. "Czech Foodie Map - Everything You Need to Know About Czech Cuisine". Eating Europe. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
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