How to Find Ingredients for Polish Recipes + Substitutes (Full List)

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Living far away from Poland, cooking a classic Polish dish can be a real challenge.

The trickiest part?
Finding all the right ingredients.

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • the list of the most popular Polish ingredients,
  • where to buy them,
  • how to substitute them (if buying is not an option),
  • and how to use them best, once you get hold of them.

Please note: This post is a constant ‘work in progress’.
If there’s anything missing, please be patient – I’m trying my best to improve it as often as possible.

Contents

Fruit

Fruit Substitutes

Veggies & Herbs

Veggies Substitutes

Dairy

Dairy Substitutes

Spices & Aromatics

Groats, Flours, Legumes

Meat, Sausages & Cold Cuts

Fish & Seafood

Wild Mushrooms

Fermented Foods

Other

Fruit


Bilberry (Whortleberry, European Blueberry)

European bilberry

Substitute Bilberries with: Blueberries or Huckleberries
Try it in this recipe: Bilberry Pierogi
Bilberry in Polish: Jagoda Leśna (ya-god-ah lesh-nah)

Blackcurrant (Cassis)

blackcurrant

Substitute Blackcurrants with: Elderberries, Chokeberries (Aronia), Gooseberries or Fresh Cranberries
Best for: Desserts, Garnish, Preserves, Nalewka
Blackcurrant in Polish: Czarna Porzeczka (tschar-nah po-zhetschkah)

Gooseberry (Red, Green)

gooseberry

Substitute Gooseberries with: Fresh Cranberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Mulberries or Lingonberries
Try it in this recipe: Gooseberry Pie
Gooseberry in Polish: Agrest (agreh-st)

Redcurrant

redcurrant

Substitute Redcurrants with: Fresh Cranberries, Rhubarb, Mulberries, Lingonberries, Blackcurrants
Best for: Desserts, Garnish, Preserves, Nalewka
Redcurrant in Polish: Czerwona Porzeczka (tschervonah po-zhetschkah)

Sweet Cherry

sweet cherry

Substitute Sweet Cherries with: Mirabelle (Yellow) Plums, Loquats
Best for: Kompot (Fruit Drink), Nalewka, Cakes, Preserves
Sweet Cherry in Polish: Czereśnie (tsche-reshnieh)

Whitecurrant

White currant

Substitute Whitecurrants with: Redcurrants
Best for: Desserts, Garnish, Preserves
Whitecurrant in Polish: Biała Porzeczka (bya-wah po-zhetschkah)

Wild Strawberry

wild strawberries

Substitute Wild Strawberries with: Strawberries
Best for: Desserts, Garnish, Preserves
Wild Strawberries in Polish: Poziomki (pozyo-mkieh)

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Vegetables & Herbs


Beets (Young, with Greens)

beet greens

Substitute Green Beets with: [depending on the recipe] Beetroots (for soups)
Chard, Swiss chard (for salads)
Best for: Beet Chłodnik (Cold Soup), Salads
Beet Greens in Polish: Botwinka, Botwina (bo-tveenkah)

Cabbage (Green/White)

white cabbage

Substitute White Cabbage with: Savoy Cabbage, Red Cabbage
Try it in this recipe: Gołąbki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls), Kiełbasa and Cabbage, Bigos (Hunter’s Stew)
Cabbage in Polish: Kapusta (capoo-stah)

Cabbage (Young, Spring)

young cabbage

Substitute Young Cabbage with: Napa Cabbage
Best for: Soups, Salads, Side Dishes
Young Cabbage in Polish: Młoda Kapusta (mwodah capoo-stah)

Celery Root / Celeriac

Celery root

Substitute Celery Root with: Parsley Root, Turnip, Kohlrabi, Jicama, Daikon
Best for: Soups, Purées
Try it in this recipe: Polish Chicken Soup
Celery Root in Polish: Korzeń Selera (pron.: ‘ko-zheñ celerah’)

Dill

dill

Substitute Dill with: Fresh Tarragon, Fennel
Try it in this recipe: Dill Pickle Soup
Dill in Polish: Koper (pron.: ‘co-pair’)

Lovage

lovage

Substitute Lovage with: Fresh Tarragon, Wild Celery (Angelica)
Try it in this recipe: Rosół, Fava Bean Pierogi with Lovage
Dill in Polish: Lubczyk (pron.: ‘loob-tscheck’)

Parsley Leaves

parsley leaves

Substitute Parsley Leaves with: Cilantro (Coriander), Chervil (French Parsley)
Best for: Garnish
Parsley Leaves in Polish: Natka Pietruszki (pron.: ‘natkah pye-true-shkey’)

Parsley Root

parsley root

Substitute Parsley Root with: Celery Root, Turnip
Note: Parsnip looks very similar to Parsley root, but it’s not a very good substitute. It’s too mild and sweet, tasting more like a carrot.
Best for: Soups (e.g. Rosół, Kapuśniak, Red Borscht
Parsley Root in Polish: Pietruszka (pron.: ‘pye-true-shkah’)

Turnip

turnip

Substitute Turnip with: Parsley Root, Celery Root
Best for: Soups, Salads
Turnip in Polish: Rzepa (pron.: ‘zhe-pah’)

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Dairy


Twaróg (Polish-style Farmer’s Cheese)

twaróg farmer's cheese


Substitute Twaróg with: unsalted Farmer’s Cheese, Pot Cheese, or thick, well drained Quark
Make at Home: Polish Farmer’s Cheese
Try it in these recipes: Classic Polish Cheesecake, Cheese Pierogi, Potato and Cheese Pierogi
Farmer’s Cheese in Polish: Twaróg / Ser Biały (pron.: ‘tvaroog’ / ‘sir byaweh’)

Oscypek and Gołka Cheese

oscypek Polish smoked cheese

Substitute Oscypek with: Smoked sheep’s milk cheeses
Substitute Gołka with: Smoked cow’s milk cheeses
Best for: grilling, cheese board, sliced on bread
In Polish: Oscypek (pron.: ‘ostse-peck’), Gołka (pron.: ‘go-wkah’)
Where to buy: In the Polish Highlands (Oscypek season: May to September)

Soured Milk

soured cultured milk

Substitute Soured Milk with: Sour Cream, Kefir, Yogurt
Make at Home: Soured Milk recipe
Best for: Cold Soups, Baked Goods, Making Twaróg
Soured Milk in Polish: Zsiadłe Mleko (pron.: ‘s-shia-dweh mlekoh’)

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Spices, Dried Fruit, Aromatics


Allspice Berries

allspice berries

Substitute Allspice with: Equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. When cooking soups and stews, I just add extra black peppercorns instead.
Best for: Soups, Stews, Bigos
Allspice in Polish: Ziele Angielskie (pron.: ‘zyeleh’)

Bay Leaf, Dried

bay leaves

Substitute Bay Leaf with: Thyme, Oregano
Best for: Soups, Stews, Bigos, Brine for Fermented Foods
Bay Leaf in Polish: Liść Laurowy (pron.: ‘leesh-tch laurovee’)

Gingerbread Spice

gingerbread spice

Substitute Gingerbread Spice with: Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cinnamon
Try it in this recipe: Polish Gingerbread Cake
Gingerbread Spice in Polish: Przyprawa do Piernika (pron.: ‘pshe-prava doh pyer-nickah’)

Juniper Berries

juniper berries

Substitute Juniper Berries with: Rosemary
Best for: Bigos, Juniper Beer, Marinades, Nalewka
Juniper Berries in Polish: Owoc Jałowca (pron.: ‘ovos yawov-tsa’)

Poppy Seed

Poppy Seed in a jar

Substitute Poppy Seed with: (in small quantities) Black Sesame Seeds, Toasted Sesame Seeds
Best for: Poppy Seed Filling, Makowiec and other desserts
Poppy Seed in Polish: Mak (mac)

Smoked Prunes

smoked prunes

Substitute Smoked Prunes with: regular Dried Prunes
Best for: Bigos Stew
Smoked Prunes in Polish: Śliwki Wędzone (shleev-key ven-tsoneh)

Vanilla Sugar

vanilla sugar

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Vanilla Sugar for: Vanilla Extract or a real Vanilla Bean. One sachet of Vanilla Sugar (in Poland it contains roughly 16 g, a tablespoon-worth) can be substituted with one vanilla bean or 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Try it in this recipe: Karpatka Cake
Vanilla Sugar in Polish: Cukier Waniliowy (soo-keyr vanee-lyoveh)

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Groats, Flours, Legumes


Barley (Hulled)

hulled barley

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Hulled Barley for: Pearl Barley, Millet, Quinoa
Best for: soups, side dishes, pierogi fillings
Hulled Barley in Polish: Pęczak (Peh-tschuck)

Barley (Pearl)

Pearl barley

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Pearl Barley for: Hulled Barley, Millet, Quinoa
Try it in this recipe: Krupnik Soup
Barley in Polish: Kasza Jęczmienna Perłowa

Millet

millet

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Millet for: Bulgur, Quinoa
Try it in this recipe: Mazovian Baked Pierogi with Millet
Barley in Polish: Kasza Jaglana (Kasha Ya-glanah)

Potato Flour

potato flour

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Potato Flour for: Cornstarch, Tapioca Flour
Try it in this recipe: Gluten-free Pierogi Dough
Potato Flour in Polish: Mąka Ziemniaczana

Rye Flour

rye flour

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Rye Flour for: Wholemeal Wheat flour, Buckwheat Flour
Try it in this recipe: Rye Flour Starter for Żurek Soup
Rye Flour in Polish: Mąka Żytnia (mow-kah zheet-nya)

Split Peas (Yellow, Green)

split peas

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Split Peas for: Lentils
Best for: soups
Split Peas in Polish: Groch (groh)

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Meat, Sausages, Cold Cuts


Blood Sausage (Kaszanka)

Also known as: Polish Kishka, Buckwheat Kishka
Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Kaszanka for: Black Pudding, Morcilla, Boudin Noir
Try it in this recipe:
Blood Sausage in Polish: Kaszanka (kashankah)

Boar (Wild Boar)

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Boar Meat for: other Game Meats
Try it in this recipe: Hunter’s Stew
Boar meat in Polish: Mięso z dzika

Duck Blood

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Duck Blood for: Pig’s blood
Try it in this recipe: Polish Duck Blood Soup
Duck Blood in Polish: Krew kaczki (krev katch-key)

Kabanosy

kabanosy

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Kabanosy for: Sorry, there are no substitutes
Best for: snacking, charcuterie board
Pronunciation: caba-no-syh

Kiełbasa Sausage

Polish kiełbasa sausage

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Polish Kiełbasa for: German Bratwurst
Try it in these: Kiełbasa recipes
Kiełbasa Pronunciation: kyew-ba-sah

Kiełbasa (Raw, White)

white kiełbasa (biała)

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute White Kiełbasa for: German Weisswurst
Try it in these recipes: White Borscht, Żurek soup
White Sausage in Polish: Biała Kiełbasa (byawah kyew-basah)

Salo (Unrendered Lard)

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Unrendered Lard for: Jowl, Pork Belly
Try it in these recipes: White Borscht, Żurek soup
Unrendered Lard in Polish: Słonina (swo-nina)

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Fish & Seafood


Carp (European Carp)

carp fish, whole

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute European Carp for: Asian Carp
Try it in this recipe: Christmas Fried Carp
Carp in Polish: Karp (carp)

Crayfish (European Crayfish)

European Crayfish

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Crayfish for: Langoustines, King Prawns
Best for: appetisers, soups
Crayfish in Polish: Raki (racky)

Eel (European Eel)

Eel

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute European Eel for: Pacific Saury, Japanese Unagi (Freshwater Eel), Conger Eel
Best for: frying, smoking, pickling
Eel in Polish: Węgorz (ven-gosh)

Herring, Fresh 

fresh herring

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Fresh Herring for: Salted Herring (rinse it well before use, ideally soak overnight)
Try it in this recipe: Pickled Herring
Herring in Polish: Śledź (shle-G)

Perch (European Perch)

perch

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Perch for: Cod, Haddock, Pollock
Best for: grilling, frying, baking, steaming
Perch in Polish: Okoń (o-coñ)

Trout, Rainbow and Brown

rainbow trout

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Trout for: Salmon
Best for: grilling, frying, baking, steaming
Trout in Polish: Pstrąg (pss-tronk)

Zander / Pikeperch

zander

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Trout for: Hake, Cod
Best for: grilling, frying, baking, steaming
Zander in Polish: Sandacz (san-datsch)

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Wild Mushrooms


Bay Bolete  

bay bolete

Also known as: Imleria badia
Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Bay Bolete for: dried or frozen products; Boletus, other wild mushrooms (Honey Mushroom, Parasol Mushroom, Saffron Milk Cap), last resort – Brown Champignons (Button Mushrooms)
Try them in this recipe: Wild Mushroom Pierogi
Bay Boletes in Polish: Podgrzybek

Boletus (Porcini)

porcini

Also known as: Penny Bun, Cep
Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Bay Bolete for: dried or frozen products; Bay Bolete, other wild mushrooms (Honey Mushroom, Parasol Mushroom, Saffron Milk Cap), last resort – Brown Champignons (Button Mushrooms)
Try them in this recipe: Bigos Hunter’s Stew
Boletus in Polish: Borowik (boro-vick) or Prawdziwek (prav-gee-veck)

Chanterelle

chanterelles

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Chanterelles for: Sorry, there are no substitutes
Best for: scrambled eggs, savoury tarts; garnish for pastas, soups
Chanterelles in Polish: Kurki (koor-key)

Saffron Milk Cap

Saffron Milk Cap

Also known as: Red Pine Mushroom, Rovellon (Spanish name)
Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Saffron Milk Cap for: other wild mushrooms (Honey Mushroom, Parasol Mushroom, Bay Bolete)
Best for: frying in butter, pickling, adding to soups and stews
Saffron Milk Cap in Polish: Rydz

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Fermented Foods


Beet Juice, Fermented

beet kvass / zakwas

Also known as: Beet Kvass
Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: Beet Kvass / Zakwas
Substitute Fermented Beet Juice for: Sauerkraut Juice, Full Sour Pickles Juice (But if you’re cooking Red Borscht – don’t swap!)
Try them in this recipe: Red Borscht Soup
Beet Kvass in Polish: Zakwas Buraczany (za-kvass boo-rah-tschaney)

Pickles, Full Sour  

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: Dill Pickles in Brine
Substitute Full Sour Pickles for: Half Sour Pickles
Try them in this recipe: Polish Pickle Soup
Full Sour Pickles in Polish: Ogórki Kiszone (ogoor-key key-shoneh)

Pickles, Half Sour 

half sour pickles in a jar

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: coming soon…
Substitute Half Sour Pickles for: Full Sour Pickles
Best for: snacking, as aperitif, appetizer, side dish
Half Sour Pickles in Polish: Ogórki Małosolne (ogoor-key mawo-solneh)

Rye Flour Starter, Fermented

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: Fermented Rye Flour Starter
Substitute Rye Flour Starter for: Buckwheat Starter, Wheat Flour Starter
Try them in this recipe: Żurek Soup
Rye Flour Starter in Polish: Żur / Zakwas Żytni (zhur / za-kvass zhet-knee)

Sauerkraut

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: coming soon…
Substitute Sauerkraut for: Fermented Red Cabbage, Korean Kimchi (warning: it’s spicier!)
Try it in these recipes: Sauerkraut Pierogi, Sauerkraut Soup, Kiełbasa and Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut in Polish: Kapusta Kiszona (kapoo-stah key-shonah)

Soured Milk (see → ‘Dairy’)

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Other


Custard

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: coming soon…
Substitute Custard for: Sorry, there are no substitutes. Use instant/canned Custard instead.
Best for: desserts
Custard in Polish: Budyń (boodeñ)

Kissel

Where to buy: coming soon…
Make at Home: coming soon…
Substitute Kissel for: Sorry, there are no substitutes.
Best for: desserts
Kissel in Polish: Kisiel (key-syel)

Honeydew Honey

honeydew honey

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Honeydew Honey for: other types of Honey, Maple Syrup
Best for: desserts
Honeydew Honey in Polish: Miód Spadziowy (myood spa-Gyo-veh)

Żubrówka (Bison Grass Vodka)

żubrówka Polish Bison Grass Vodka

Where to buy: coming soon…
Substitute Żubrówka for: Sorry, there are no substitutes.
Best for: Drinks (e.g. Szarlotka: Żubrówka with Apple Juice)
Pronunciation: zhoo-broovkah

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Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia is the founder of Polonist, where she celebrates Poland’s very best food.
She’s a self-taught home cook, who – through her own culinary attempts – wants to show you how to recreate Polish flavours at home, wherever that is.
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