Romania Tips

20 Amazing Romanian Foods You Must Try in This Lifetime

You can’t have a blog dedicated to a specific country without talking at least a little bit about the culinary element, right? Fortunately, Romania has some amazing foods that anybody in the world would love – or at least that’s what I really hope.

And even though these traditional Romanian foods can be found in other Balkan countries (and not only) as well, they are part of the Romanian culture and part of what makes this country such an amazing one.

But let’s skip the talking and instead let’s feast our eyes with these 20 amazing Romanian foods that you must try at least once in this lifetime. Preferably not all at once!

1. Sarmale – Cabbage Rolls

Probably one of the first things that comes to mind if you ask a Romanian native about an example of a traditional dish.

Made of minced meat (usually pork, but also a combination of pork and chicken or just poultry meat) mixed with rice and spices, rolled into sour cabbage leaves (fermented cabbage) and boiled for hours in a special sauce made of the sauerkraut juice, water, tomato juice and other secret ingredients, they are simply delicious.

2. Mici – Grilled Minced Meat Rolls

Tasty Romanian Food: Mici

Mici or Mititei are literally translated as “Small ones” and this comes because of their size: normally, they are no longer than one adult’s finger, even though lately bigger mici have become the norm.

Created from a mixture of minced pork and cow meat, mixed with spices and garlic as well as sodium bicarbonate, they are then grilled and eaten hot with mustard. They are absolutely delicious, too.

3. Ciorba de Burta – Beef Tripe Soup

Viata Romaneasca
Viata Romaneasca

Eating beef tripe might not sound like the best thing to do when you visit a foreign country, but that’s because you have never tried the Romanian Beef Tripe Soup aka Ciorba de burta.

Serve it with sour cream, vinegar and a traditional garlic paste known as “mujdei” and all your pleasure spots will be tickled.

4. Varza a la Cluj – Cluj-style Cabbage

Teo's Kitchen
Teo’s Kitchen

This dish sounds a bit like the “Sarmale,” made a bit differently: minced meat, condiments and sauerkraut baked in the oven and usually served with sour cream.

This dish is more popular in the northern parts of the country, but it’s equally delicious no matter where you decide to eat it.

5. Mamaliga cu branza si smantana – Polenta with Cheese and Sour Cream

Mamaliga is probably the second thing that Romanians will use as an example for traditional Romanian foods, after Sarmale (and maybe after Mici). It is very similar to the Polenta: boiled corn flour in water with a dash of salt and a few drops of sunflower oil.

It is usually served with traditional Romanian cheese and sour cream and often times it is used as a side dish for Sarmale, Varza a la Cluj or other dishes.

6. Pomana porcului – Honoring the pig

Alex Juncu
Alex Juncu

This is really an old tradition and difficult to experience as a whole: the Pomana porcului is eaten in the honor of the pig that has just been slaughtered, usually in December, before Christmas.

Fresh meat from the recently-deceased pig is cut into larger pieces and fried in a deep pan, usually in the pig’s fat. It is then served immediately to all those who participated at the pig’s slaughter and always accompanied by the traditional “moonshine” – Tuica.

Restaurants serve this dish as well, but you will never get the real taste unless you eat the meat from a recently slaughtered pig.

7. Papanasi

A delicious dessert made usually of cottage cheese (or any type of sweet cow cheese), that is rolled into donut like shapes, filled with sweet cream and topped with jam, usually berries or cherries.

They are pretty difficult to make and if you don’t like them when you first try them, try ordering them some place else: if they get them right, they are a delight for your senses!

8. Ciorba Radauteana – Soup from Radauti

A delicious, fatty soup made from a lot of vegetables and chicken meat. It’s also usually served with sour cream and after you try it once, you won’t eat your chicken soup otherwise!

9. Jumari cu ceapa – Greaves with Onions

Aurora Odobesti
Aurora Odobesti

These are obtained from frying bits of bacon and they are as delicious as they are unhealthy. However, if you don’t overdo it and serve them warn with salt and large chunks of onion, you will surely love them. They make the traditional Tuica go down easier, too!

10. Cozonac

Diva in Bucatarie
Diva in Bucatarie

A sort of sweetb read filled with a sweet walnut paste, poppy seeds paste or Turkish delight, this dessert is usually cooked during the holidays. Now you can find it in every store here in Romania, but if you want to experience the real taste of the Cozonac, you have to try the homemade version!

11. Iahnie cu ciolan – Beans with Hocks

Gustos Bun
Gustos Bun

You can’t go wrong when you combine beans with a large chunk of a smoked pork hock or any other type of smoked meat. Usually eaten during the winter, together with pickles, it’s a culinary delight. Trust me!

12. Mucenici – Sweet Dough Rolls

Dulceata de trandafiri
Dulceata de trandafiri

These sweet dough rolls are eaten once a year, on the 9th of March. There are actually two types of Mucenici in Romania and they are completely different one from another.

We’re talking about the Moldavian version here, which are large, 8-shaped pieces of delicious sweet dough, baked in the oven and served with a topping of honey and walnut paste. (And just to cover them all, the other version of mucenici is served in a huge bowl of syrup with vanilla and lemon flavor, while the mucenici are way smaller and are basically 8-shaped pasta).

13. Salata boeuf – Beef salad

This is a really funny traditional Romanian food: despite the French name and the “beef” in its title, it’s actually inspired by a Russian salad and is usually made with chicken meat (even though the beef version still exists). Add pickles, peas and mayonnaise and you will get the delicious salata boeuf.

14. Drob

Eu Bucatar
Eu Bucatar

Usually prepared for Easter, the Drob is normally prepared from lamb organs but many prefer the chicken liver version, myself included.

You mix the meat with dill and spices, you place boiled eggs in the middle and you serve it cold. You can check out the first drob that we’ve made, plus a few other traditional Easter dishes here.

15. Coliva

Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia

Although this sweet was originally nothing but a sweet made from boiled grain seeds with sugar and walnuts, it is now traditionally served to honor the dead or after funerals. Some people still prepare them during the holidays and they are absolutely delicious!

16. Zacusca – Vegetable Paste


A delightfully tasty paste that I am a huge fan of, the Zacusca is made mostly of eggplants, but there are other varieties, with peppers, onions and even green tomatoes.

The ingredients are baked and boiled for hour, then canned and eaten when they’re cold. It doesn’t look like much, but it is delicious.

17. Slaninuta afumata cu boia – Smoked Bacon with paprika

slaninuta cu boia

Usually made of fat coming from the pig’s liver and smoked at home, this bacon is served with paprika and red onions with salt. Add some homemade bread to the mix and a traditional red wine made in Romania – or even our Tuica and you are all set!

18. Parjoale Moldovenesti – Meatballs from Moldavia

A special type of meatballs, these are made of minced pork meat mixed with dry bread crumbs, garlic and spices, then deep fried in sunflower oil. Unlike regular meatballs, they are larger and flatter.

19. Carnati de Plescoi – Plescoi sausages


A delicious type of sausage made from mutton spiced with chili peppers and garlic, the Plescoi sausages are first dried then smoked and finally served baked with mustard and white bread.

20. Placinta cu branza dulce si stafide – Fried dough with sweet cheese & raisins

There are many variants of this dish, but I’m sticking here with the traditional one: fried dough pie, filled with sweet cow cheese and raisins. Sprinkle some sugar on it and serve it hot or cold – it’s delicious either way!

OK… so not really the best article to write by a person who’s on a diet right now, but these amazing Romanian foods had to be shared with the world. Now all I can hope is that you will be able to try them all out as soon as possible!

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    1. Indeed, we eat a lot of pork-based dishes here in Romania so it makes sense that there are some really tasty recipes too 🙂 And the good thing is that indeed most go great with some red wine!

  1. Yes, this must have been hard for you to write about! Did you drool over the pictures like I did;-?
    So, do most average Romanians spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the daily meals, or are pre-packaged, tinned, or frozen food the norm?
    Thanks for the interesting (and mouth watering) article;-)
    ~Teil (USA)

    1. Glad it was a mouth watering article, it was intended to be this way 🙂

      Romanians still spend a lot of time in the kitchen making real food from scratch. Although the use of pre-packaged, super-processed foods is starting to become more and more popular (since it’s easier to cook), many people here still cook their own food at home. Probably that’s why it tastes so good!

    2. No. Usually the people spend the time doing all these from scratch. They are very time consuming that why some of them are made on special ocasion. Also women spend lot of time in the summer preparing Vegetable Paste for the winter. They make a stock of different flavours using various vegetables.

  2. Oh my gosh, these all look SO good. Do you have recipes for them that you can share?? I would really like to make these for the kids. Or, if you have a great recipe, you can do a guest post at our place if you want. I would love to share these with our readers – they all look delicious!!!

    1. We have a saying here in Romania that’s something like “the best vegetable is pork meat” so eating fish is not something that we traditionally do. And even though we do eat fish, we don’t have any special dishes that I know of that are worth sharing, unfortunately. Grilling or frying it seems to be the norm 🙂

  3. Thank you. My worst fears realized.
    I don’t think I can live in Romania anymore.

    Pork just makes my skin crawl, lol.
    I can’t – I won’t – eat it.

    1. Christa, don’t be afraid! Although these are traditional foods, most of them are not consumed on a daily basis and quite a few are only consumed during holidays. I’m sure that you will find everything you want to while here. And maybe slowly develop a sweet tooth for…. pork :))

  4. AW: i’m married to a Romanian man and guess what i’m so hooked on the food its so delicious, i simply cant get enough of románeste!!!!

  5. I read reviews about Kamagra on the Canadian drustore and decided to try it. The result was great – had sex for three hours, with breaks of 15 minutes. Kamagra jelly helped to feel like a sexual monster, ruthless and tireless. My girlfriend was very surprised and I will not forget her grateful look. I bought it many times in this store.

  6. I’m 100% Romanian, my father is from Canada, but both his parents immigrated there from Romania and my mother moved to America from Romania when she was 25 y/o. When I was 3 y/o in 1969 my Bunica (mother’s mother) came to live with us for good. She loved to cook, so I ate most of these dishes growing up, but my favorite was her cheese strudel! She would get the strudel dough stretched out paper thin and it would cover the entire dining room table, it was incredible how she did that and it was beyond delicious! Growing up, while my friends snacked on chips and cookies, I snacked on Jumari and Strudel…and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  7. My husband just came back from a first time trip from Romania, What a beautiful Country! and delicious food! He actually brought me back some goat cheese and bread in his suitcase and we loved it! What a blessed people to live in such a place, someday I hope to experience it for myself…

  8. The best place on earth to eat and live. We just returned from a short stay in Beclean. My heart remains there!

    The food is great, the country side better and people the best.

    1. I am happy you enjoyed it there, Kristen, although I must be honest and admit that I had to Google Beclean as I had never heard of it before 🙂 Looks like a nice town and I am sure that the surrounding area was even better.

  9. A great blog! I wanted to share some foods from two areas of the country. First, the south, Oltenia, (even if not given much credit in the food department), one can also find things in there for people who are not meat enthusiasts for its vegetable-oriented soups and foods. Leek soup is a big thing in there, also orache spinach soup, stinging nettle food, and garden patience* stevia* food. The soups are more sour in there. For meat lovers, besides the things said already, there is pork meat preserved in the jar with lard, over the winter. The good stuff, man. Also – jellied meat/ pig’s trotters with heavy garlic flavour.
    The second area is the center of the country, Transylvania . There is something specific in here called green salad soup (with fresh salad, sour cream, eggs and smoked bacon in it, I mean, what can go wrong?) and also noodle soup but the noodles are made from scratch with a special machine. One thing that is awsome is left from the Saxons of Transylvania and it’s a sort of sweet pie called Lichiu / *Hencles made in a wooden oven. Mentioning it because older romanian women still have some ovens like that and use them for lichiu or for baking enormously round bread, slowly cooked which tastes so good, especially if you spread some oxen sour cream on it. Besides these, on the top of my head it comes, roasted pepper salad with vinegar or garlic, meatballs soup and Ostropel, which is a sort of romanian stew with chicken and thick tomato sauce. Sorry, this got too long. 🙂

    1. You made my mouth water, Xari! It is true that when it comes to soups and stews, Romanians get very creative. We do love our varied soups!

      It was also the first time that I had heard about lichiu – sounds delicious and I know the ovens you’re talking about. The bread baked there is the best!

  10. Thanks to our visit, I am so glad we got to sample some of the wonderful Romanian dishes. The pictures still make me drool and l still say #5 with polenta is not on the cards for me. Federico did have it and loved it, but not for me thank you! Everything else l would gobble up. Where is the bean soup in the bread? 🙂 Loved that so much too.

    1. I also hated polenta until recently, but for some reason I really enjoy it now. But yes, it’s not that special for sure! And indeed I forgot about the bean soup in the bread, but at least we have that beans dish with hocks to make up for it 😀

  11. Bon appetite Calin!
    So, #16 I can eat with no remorse.;-)
    As a vegetarian (sorry!), I imagine one can improvise with soy, tofu, etc., to substitute for the different meats in the majority of the dishes. “Tofurky” anyone?
    Also the deserts and soups and salads look great, but I imagine the recipes could be modified to lose the high-fat content, and still maintain the yumminess.;-)
    Out of curiosity, do the Romanians, as a rule, maintain a higher body fat percentage? Pictures and videos of the hoi polloi don’t suggest this, but if one consumes so much of this obviously “rich” food pictured here, how could they not be? Maybe lucky and good gene pool? Me, I’d be a blimp or dead from a coronary if I ate all the food pictured here. Now, don’t get me wrong, it looks delicious, and I am sure is prepared with great skill, but…
    Unfortunately in the USA, the lack of healthy choices–especially for people who don’t live near supermarkets, are stuck with fast food, 7-11’s, and Circle K’s. Hence, too many people are overweight from consuming fatty, sodium-rich, sugary food and beverages which cause nothing but health issues.
    Certainly no lack of weight-loss programs on TV, though!
    Great update!

    1. I remember reading recently that Romanians are eating healthier than ever now. The people are more educated now and have the option to make healthier choices – and most of them do.

      Until recently, bread consumption was extremely high. Basically, in Romania, you ate everything with half a loaf (not slice) of bread 🙂 My father used to eat french fries with bread, pasta with bread… anything with bread, and he was not alone 🙂 But things are getting better.

      So we’re not constantly having the foods listed above. And there are healthier options as well, but the traditional foods come from a time where people were a lot more active and that extra grease didn’t harm them as much as it does us today.

      Regarding the body fat percentage, most Romanians are not very fir actually. I noticed that -probably like in most of the world thanks to fast foods and cheap prices – Romanians are starting to put on more weight. But fortunately, there’s this growing trend of eating healthier, so things are getting better hopefully.

  12. Any restaurant recommendations for first time visitors. We will be in Bucharest and Brasov the week of Easter this year, and we are definitely foodies. We cannot wait to try some traditional food, and we love getting recommendations from locals.

  13. Oh my god you just made me simultaneously craves all these foods! I’m Romanian and man I’m getting homesick now…

    1. 1)Stuffed cabbage leaves are eaten all over Eastern Europe, you will have a hard time convincing anyone that it is purely Hungarian
      2) not Hungarian, sorry, just stop
      3) Hungarian tripe soup is reddish and tastes closer to Pörkölt, nothing to do with the Romanian tripe soup, Hungarians dont even use borş for God’s sake
      4) Varza a la Cluj is from Cluj, not from a city in Hungary
      5) since when is Polenta exclusively Hungarian?
      7) Papanaşi is an exclusively Romanian dessert, sorry, nothing alike in Hungary
      8) Radautean soup is a regional recipe specific to Romania too
      10) such Walnut marble cakes exist across Eastern Europe (Povitica in Croatia or Slovenia or Kozunak in Bulgaria), what evidence do you have to claim it is exclusively Hungarian?
      12) sorry, Mucenici are Romanian
      13) its a Romanian version of Russian salad, nothing to do with Hungary, sorry
      15) Coliva is eaten in Orthodox countries, what connection does it have to Hungary? Oh, actually none!
      16) Zacusca reminds more of Serbian Ajvar or Bulgarian Lyutenitsa, nothing particularly Hungarian there
      19) its a Romanian sausage

      I would understand your comment if there was Pörkölt, Gyulas, Paprikas, Langos or others in there, but sorry, you just came here with the intention to provoke, with no basis whatsoever, often not even knowing those dishes and making claims that they are Hungarian. Cuisines borrow from each other, thats normal, Hungarian cuisine also borrowed from others. But in this list, there arent many dishes which are originally Hungarian, actually, none of those dishes are originally Hungarian

  14. One important correction about the Cozonac description: “sweetbread” and “sweet bread” are very very very different things. Sweetbread is organ meats while cozonac is dessert.

  15. Hello, I really enjoyed the article and have almost all of them and enjoyed them. Ciorba is really my favorite soup! My Romanian husband past in 2018 and I can tell you he would totally agree with you about your top 20 because he definitely loved all of those! Thank you!

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