Wrap your taste buds around traditional Slovenian food – one of the reasons why this ‘green’ treasure packs a mighty punch. If you’re a foodie-loving traveller, you’ll be thrilled to discover the distinctive flavours of traditional Slovenian dishes during your visit.
Slovenia is sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, with a thin sliver of the country hugging the Adriatic Sea. Consequently, Slovenians have ‘borrowed’ the best from their neighbours and made it their own. Pasta and pastries are reminiscent of Italy, strudels from Austria and carb-heavy stews, potatoes and dumplings taste like the Balkans. Ready to dig in?
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There isn’t one flavour or dish that defines Slovenian cuisine. And, with more than half of the country covered in forest, fresh produce certainly isn’t difficult to come by. As such, traditional Slovenian food develops around what’s available or in season. So, wherever you are in the country, seek out the local delicacies. You won’t come across the same flavours twice. Here are our favourite traditional Slovenian foods to sample:
Bite-sized and bursting with all manner of exotic fillings, the humble Slovenian dumpling is as close to ‘national dish’ status in Slovenia as any other traditional Slovenian food.
Forget Mandu or Asian-style dumplings, Slovenians make theirs with buckwheat. This gives them a distinctly earthy, nutty flavour. Stuff these with cheese, veal, potato or pork. The result? A melt-in-your-mouth accompaniment to any meal.
This is one of those Slovenian dishes you’ll find on every restaurant menu across the country. But, like all traditional Slovenian food, every place will have its own proud twist.
2. Kremna rezina
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We can’t mention the next favourite Slovenian dish without a brief diversion to Slovenia’s magical Lake Bled.
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Although your free time in Lake Bled is best spent enjoying the beautiful views, you’ll not want to miss another regional treat: Kremna rezina.
Layers of custard, cream and puff pastry make this decadent Slovenian dessert utterly irresistible. Better still, find somewhere to enjoy both the views and the kremna simultaneously.
3. Kranjska klobasa
It may look like any other pork sausage in the world but trust us, it’s not. What makes Slovenian sausage or kranjska klobasa truly special? In true Slovenian style, the perfect combination of flavours, of course.
For decades, Slovenian babica (grandmothers) have blended the best pork meat and bacon with their own secret seasonings. The result? A hearty traditional Slovenian dish you’ll want to eat again, and again.
Good news is that foodies can find kranjska klobasa across the country. Since it’s unlikely you’ll have an opportunity to taste babica’s best, rest assured that local restaurants pair it perfectly with a side of sharp sauerkraut. At food stands, snap it up served on warm bread with mustard and peppery horseradish.
In other words, the Slovenian take on a hot dog – the emphasis here is on ‘hot’ in more ways than one.
Visiting Slovenia in autumn or winter? To fight the chill, you should definitely nip into the nearest cosy restaurant for a steaming bowl of bograč which will warm you up in no time.
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A firm favourite in eastern Slovenia, this filling stew was once a staple at large events. Bograč is another of those perfectly ‘borrowed’ Slovenian blends.
The combination of three types of meat (usually pork, beef and game) with potatoes, wine, sweet paprika, seasonal mushrooms and onions in one pot is actually originally Hungarian. Legend has it that it was a toasty treat for shepherds at the time when this part of Slovenia fell under Hungarian rule. Fast forward a few centuries and today you can visit the world capital of bograč, the town of Lendava, near Hungary.
Every August, the locals hold a competition to award the best bograč. But this isn’t the only famous Slovenian treats to grace the table at Bogračfest. Other Slovenian favourites like Lendava pretzels and the delicious local sparkling wine also make an appearance.
5. Idrijski žlikrofi
More dumplings anyone? This traditional Slovenian food gets its own mention despite it being a dumpling. There’s nothing humble about Idrijski žlikrofi. In fact, this different take on a familiar Slovenian favourite is protected under European law (we’re not kidding).
First, these moreish morsels are stuffed with everything from minced pork and ham to potatoes, onions and spices. Then, those babicas drown the delight in a thick mutton or rabbit sauce.
Although we can’t get enough of these little hat-shaped bites, this Slovenian dish was first invented by miners’ wives in the mid-19th century. You can find them at any restaurant in the town of Idrija in western Slovenia.
Banters, look away. Pogača is a local variation of flatbread that, at first glance, may look not unlike Italian focaccia.
Besides featuring delicious salty caraway flavours, the bread is baked in the sizzling ashes of a fireplace. Served piping hot from the oven, for breakfast lunch or dinner, it’s the perfect comfort food.
It may look like an Austrian strudel, but štruklji is uniquely Slovenian and can be filled with savoury or sweet combinations.
It should be noted that štruklji was once only served on festive occasions. But why limit their lusciousness to a few days of the year? Consequently, the Slovenians and any visitor can enjoy štruklji any time, anywhere. No fanfare required.
The Alpine-fed rivers of Slovenia are fertile ground for freshwater fish but on Slovenian menus, trout is the most common fish dish.
More often than not, Slovenians roll the fish in their national staple, buckwheat flour, and then fry it.
Enjoy it at its source if you can. The best trout in Slovenia is said to come from the Soča River region.
9. Prekmurska gibanica
Headed to Slovenia in winter? End off all that traditional Slovenian food with something sinfully sweet. Keep your eyes peeled and your taste buds primed for Prekmurska gibanica.
Previously, you would only find this festive Slovenian dish in the Prekmurje region. A Slovenian twist on a carrot cake, prekmurska gibanica graces the displays of bakeries across the country.
The recipe is as delicious as it is simple. Layer apple, walnut, cottage cheese and raisins into a half-cake-half-pastry treat. Best of all, order it anytime and anywhere.
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What are your favourite traditional Slovenian dishes? What Slovenian food have you had an opportunity to sample? We’d love to hear more, so comment below…