Lithuanian cuisine features the products suited to its cool and moist northern climate: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Eastern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with other Eastern European and Jewish cuisines. 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 long common history, Lithuanians and Poles share many dishes and beverages. Thus there are similar Lithuanian and Polish versions of dumplings (pierogi or koldūnai), doughnuts (pączki or spurgos), and crepes (blini or blynai). German traditions also influenced Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis) 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. The popular «Torte Napoleon» was introduced during Napoleon's passage through Lithuania in the 19th century.
Cepelinai, potato dumplings stuffed with meat, curd cheese or mushrooms, is the most famous national dish. It is popular among Lithuanians all over the world. Other national foods include dark rye bread, cold beet soup (šaltibarščiai), and kugelis (a baked potato pudding), smoked sausage and vedarai (cooked potatoes and sausage stuffed into pig intestines). Lithuanian cuisine also include suktiniai (arba zrazai) - fried beef stuffed with salt pork, crushed garlic and caraway seeds and Lithuanian guliašas, that is a quite different from Hungarian goulash. Some of these foods are also common in neighboring countries. Lithuanian cuisine is generally unknown outside Lithuanian communities. Most Lithuanian restaurants outside Lithuania are located in areas with a heavy Lithuanian presence.
Locally brewed beer (alus), vodka (degtinė), and kvass (gira) are popular drinks in Lithuania. Starka is a part of the Lithuanian heritage, still produced in Lithuania. Beer, an occasional drink in ancient times, has become very popular. There are around 80 big and small breweries in Lithuania. Some light brews have been recognized the best in the world for several years. Lithuania is the only place where you may taste the unique snacks with beer such as: garlic bread, peas with ribs, smoked cheese, smoked pig ears and plums with various fillings.
Every region in Lithuania has preserved its original traditional dishes. The Aukštaitija residents are experts in flour and freshwater fish dishes and their culinary heritage is member of the European Culinary Heritage. The Žemaitija residents are excellent cooks of potatoe, vegetable and dairy meals. People from Suvalkija are unrivalled in smoked meat products. Residents of Dzūkija specialize in dishes of forest products as well as cakes. The most savoury smoked fish can be tested in Lithuania Minor and on both shores of the Curonian Lagoon.
In Lithuania people usually eat three meals each day. Breakfast is between 7 and 9 am, the main meal between 12 and 3 pm, and a lighter meal between 6 and 8 pm. In rural areas, meals are eaten earlier than in urban areas. For the midday meal most people either go home or eat in cafeterias at work. Toasts are often made during meals, whether guests are present or not.
Cepelinai - the most famous national dish of Lithuania
Lithuanian cold beet soup (šaltibarščiai)
Traditional dark rye bread
Traditional smoked sausages
Potato pancakes with sour cream
Home-made cottage cheese
Baroque tree cake (šakotis)
Kibinai – most popular national dish of Karaite cuisine