The Ultimate Polish Christmas Menu [2023 Edition]

You’ve listed and checked it twice, but is your Christmas menu set in spice?

Whether it’s a cosy Wigilia supper for two or a gathering of twenty, we have all the classic festive recipes for a delightful Polish Christmas feast.


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A note on traditions

The Wigilia feast begins on the evening of December 24th, coinciding with the first sighting of the evening star. The tradition initiates with the breaking of the Christmas wafer (‘opłatek’, pron.: opwa-teck), symbolising the commencement of the celebrations.

Christmas Eve is observed as a day of fasting, which means steering clear of meat-based foods. The table is filled with 12 distinctive dishes, symbolically honouring the Twelve Apostles; you’ll find recipes for some of these below.

Expect a vibrant spread featuring an assortment of fish, wild mushrooms, poppyseed, and an array of vegetable dishes.

Following the feast, many gather for the midnight mass (‘Pasterka’) at a nearby parish, marking the conclusion of Christmas Eve’s observances.

Any leftovers find their way back to the Christmas Day table, this time accompanied by meat-based dishes such as roasted meats and an assortment of cold cuts.

In this recipe collection, we’ve featured dishes known and loved across the country.

However, throughout Poland, you’ll encounter an array of regional dishes, each with distinct flavours and traditions, sometimes significantly different from those enjoyed elsewhere in the country.

And, of course, there are family recipes too, though sadly, most are kept secret…

Christmas Barszcz

Step 1: Zakwas

[Start on 3-10 Dec]
Make Beet Zakwas, lacto-fermented beet juice, for souring the soup.

Fermented beet juice / beet zakwas

Step 2: Uszka

[Week leading to 24th]
Make Uszka z grzybami, mushroom-filled mini-dumplings.

Step 3: Soup

[23 or 24th Dec]
Make Barszcz Czerwony, and serve with Uszka or a side of your choice.

Christmas Fish Recipes

Ryba po grecku

Fish coated with veggies, two ways to choose from:
Gourmet-style and old-school Commie-style.

'Ryba po Grecku' Polish-style Christmas Fish with Vegetables in Tomato sauce on the festive table

Smażony Karp

Christmas Fried Carp: a delightful surprise with its crispy exterior and tender flesh.

Śledź w Occie

Herring Marinated in Vinegar, perfect for savouring on dark rye bread.

Pickled herring in vinegar with onions, in a jar

Christmas favourites

Sałatka jarzynowa

Vegetable Salad combines root veggies, tart apples, and tangy pickles for a harmonious flavour balance.

Kapusta z Grzybami

Sauerkraut & Mushrooms, perfect as a standalone dish or for filling pierogi or krokiety.

Krokiety z Kapustą i Grzybami

Polish-style Croquettes with Sauerkraut and Mushrooms, the ideal pairing with a cup of clear Barszcz Czerwony.

Krokiety - Polish style Croquettes

Christmas Pierogi

While they’re a staple for everyday meals, pierogi do make a meatless appearance on the Polish Christmas table.

Popular stuffings include Wild Mushroom, Sauerkraut, or a mix of both, while regional variations feature fillings like poppyseed and prune.

Christmas Pierogi

If you have your own filling in mind, you can start by choosing one of the following dough recipes:

Pierogi z grzybami

Wild Mushroom Pierogi spotlight Polish foragers’ autumn harvest.

Pierogi z kapustą

While delicious on its own, sauerkraut finds a delightful home within the dough of the Sauerkraut Pierogi.

Polish Christmas desserts

Sernik klasyczny

Cheesecake; a creamy classic on a shortcrust base.

Piernik Staropolski

Polish Gingerbread requires maturing. Ideally, start on Nov 6th, but no later than Dec 10th.

Keks Świąteczny

Keks: Fruit Cake with rich toppings and a hint of rum.

Poppy seed love

Masa Makowa

This Poppy Seed Filling works wonderfully for desserts like Makowiec, Kutia, or even as a pierogi filling.

MaKowiec zawijany

Poppy Seed Roll, filled with poppy seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and soaked raisins.

Poppy Seed Roll, sliced (Polish 'Makowiec')


Kutia: Poppy Seed Dessert, a traditional pudding-like dessert abundant with poppy seeds, wheat berries, nuts, and dried fruit soaked in honey.

Kutia: Poppy Seed Christmas dessert

Even more ideas

Gift Guide

Make someone’s holiday sweeter – Ren Behan’s “The Sweet Polish Kitchen” cookbook is a thoughtful gift for all dessert enthusiasts.

Christmas day & 2nd Day

On the 25th and 26th (Polish ‘Pierwszy i Drugi Dzień Świąt’), meats are allowed once more. Among the popular dishes are:

Time to spread the festive cheer!
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