The diversity of Slovenian landscape is legendary. This tiny country in the heart of Europe is a gorgeous mix of high Alps, flat Pannonian plains, warm Adriatic Sea and wild Karstic world. No wander that such diversity echos in a wide variety of dishes and wines. To learn more about traditional food of Slovenia check out our gastronomy guide below featuring some of the must-taste specialities.
Regarded as one of the most sustainable and eco friendly countries in the whole world, Slovenia is also emerging as an important gastronomy destination. Due to the ingenuity and ability of local chefs to spice up traditional recipes and present them to the world in a fashionable and unique way, Slovenia has earned the title European Region of Gastronomy 2021. The award is given by an independent international panel of experts and therefore provides high credibility and raise awareness about the value of local products.
Food of Slovenia is not just diverse but also takes pride in using healthy ingredients from local gardens and farms. People are used to draw fresh products from nature and at the same time live in harmony with their pure environment. Main focus of Slovenian cuisine has always been sustainability, which does not compensate with lack of taste or diversity.
SLOVENIA’S HAUTE CUISINE
The high quality of Slovenian gastronomy has been also recognised by the editors of Michelin Guide who listed no less than 52 restaurants in their first Slovenian publication in 2020. Five of them received one star, while the already legendary Hiša Franko under the leadership of its gifted chef Ana Roš got two. Roš earned the attention of the whole gastronomy world when she won the title World’s Best Female Chef in 2017 and continues to push boundaries of this never-resting field. Her unique vision to rely mostly on local products has made her the shiniest star in Slovenian gastronomy sky and encourage a host of similar-minded chefs to transform traditional food of Slovenia into a unique culinary experience.
Food of Slovenia is best described as diverse & fresh
As you might already know or suspect traditional food of Slovenia is a mix of different influences from other European regions: there’s pasta from Italy, all kinds of stews and thick soups from the continental Europe, and there is a huge variety of meat from from the Balkans. Slovenians – inventive as they are – managed to pull the best from all worlds and create a unique gastronomy of their own.
TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN LUNCH
Leaving haute cuisine aside, let us dive right into presenting some of typical Slovenian dishes. If you get a lunch invitation from a Slovenian family, you are guaranteed a soup followed by a plate of meat with potatoes and accompanied by a salad.
Most probably you will be offered beef soup, which is a thin broth with egg noodles. This nation-wide dish is always served as a starter, but there are also other spoon-consumed plates which are regarded as a stand-alone meal. Most commonly known are ričet (barley soup) and jota (a thick portage of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes and smoked pork).
Pork and beef meat usually dominate the Slovenian table and can be prepared in a number of ways. One of the most well known specialities is Carniolan sausage (kranjska klobasa) which has been around since 1896 and is now protected as a local dish. Stakes of any kind are also often listed on lunch menus of Slovenian households, as well roast veal.
Chicken and turkey are close second to pork and beef, while fish is more popular on the coast (especially sea bream and sea bass). Inland you can try the delicious marble trout found only in the rivers of the Balkans and northern Italy. A special and protected sub-species (Soča trout) lives in the emerald Soča River in north-western Slovenia. You will not find it in on any of the menus of local restaurants, but if you are keen on fly fishing, you can actually catch this beauty by yourself.
No mater what kind of meat you will be served, it will most probably be accompanied by potato, which has always been an important part of Slovenian cuisine. It comes in a wide variety of forms: roasted is probably the most popular one, followed by mashed, baked, cooked or fried. Yes, Slovenians truly love their potato! Other side dishes that sometimes take over are pasta, polenta, sauerkraut and žganci (groats made from buckwheat, corn or barley).
NAREZEK – SLOVENIAN TAKE ON COLD CUTS
When we talk about food of Slovenia, we cannot miss the delicious variety of dried meat products. If you visit a Slovenian household outside lunch or dinner hours you will surely be offered narezek – a plate of different types of dried meat, usually accompanied by homemade bread, local cheese, olives or seasonal vegetable and of course first class wine. Most popular types of dried meat are kraški pršut (ham dried by the so-called burja wind in the region of Karst) and stuffed pig’s stomach from Savinja Valley. Both of them have European protected geographical indication and are widely available throughout Slovenia.
Of course no narezek would be the same without proper local cheese. The ones you simply must try are Bovec and Tolimn sheep cheese from Soča Valley, semi-soft Mohart cheese made from raw cow’s milk in Bohinj Valley and hard Nanos cheese from Vipava Valley. They all have protected geographical indications.
If you are a vegetarian or a vegan reading about Slovenians being in love with meat plates, you might wander if this country is even appropriate for you to visit. The answer is yes, of course! Even though traditional dishes are mostly meat-orientated, modern Slovenian cuisine is taking giants leaps in filing the void for vegetarians. Seasonal salad, which has always been an important addition to typical Slovenian lunch, is now emerging as a stand-alone dish of numerous varieties.
In addition, there is a great offer of freshly prepared pies, vegetarian soups and dumplings. You must try štruklji – dumplings made with cheese and often flavoured with chives or tarragon. In autumn dishes from freshly picked mushrooms are widely available; especially popular are jurčki (wild cep), They can be prepared in various forms; most commonly with eggs or as a risotto.
If you are spending your Slovenian holidays in the gorgeous Soča Valley you will surely come across two typical dishes, also approved for vegetarians. The first one is very traditional combination of cooked potatoes with locally-produced cured cheese (known as čompe and skuta). The other one is frika and comes in different versions: basically we are taking about fried cheese and eggs which can be complemented by potatoes, polenta or other local products.
Explore the unique variety of Slovenian gastronomy
Slovenians take great pride in their national deserts, and the queen of them all is certainly potica. It just doesn’t get more Slovenian than this. Potica is a beloved throughout the country and actually became one of the national symbols. Original recipe can be traced back to the Middle Ages and used to be made on holidays and special occasions. It consists of a rolled pastry made of leavened paper-thin dough most often with walnuts, but there are numerous other variations.
While potica is common in all parts of Slovenia, several regions have their own local deserts that are no less delicious. Basically any itinerary to Slovenia will also take to Bled, where you can enjoy a traditional version of cream slice (kremšnita) which includes a puff pastry base and custard cream. While it can be found in others part of Slovenia as well, Bled’s kremišnita is by far the most recognisable, produced there since the 1950s.
Than there is Prekmurje layer pastry (Prekmurska gibanica) from Slovenia’s less visited region of Prekmurje at the Hungarian border. This rich cake is filled with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, cheese and cream. It is almost a meal on its own!
There are several other local deserts calling your name:
- Ljubljana Cake is mostly served in the capital of Slovenia. Legend has it that a cook baked it to impress a young noblewoman from the Ljubljana castle. This cake was the only thing served at their wedding for seven days and seven nights.
- Krof or Berliner is a traditional German pastry made from sweet yeast dough fried in oil, with a marmalade filling and powdered sugar topping. In Slovenia, krofs are widely consumed during the carnival period, but it you drive from Ljubljana to Maribor, you should stop at Trojane and taste their local version. It’s big!
- Bovški krafi and Kobariški štruklji are special dumplings typical for Soča Valley. They are cooked in salted water, served with melted butter, cinnamon and toasted breadcrumbs. In Bovec they are filled with baked dry pears, while the ones in Kobarid have walnut filling. Either way, they used to be served only on Christmas Eve, but now you can get them at any time of the year.
- Melania Cake is probably the newest addition to the list of Slovenia’s local desserts. It is served in Sevnica, home-tome of US First Lady Melania Trump and contains white chocolate mousse and nuts. Not to mention the golden decoration most suitable for its name.
Let us prepare a unique gastronomy experience just for you
There you have it. It will take you a while to eat your way around Slovenia if you want to try all the dishes mentioned above. And of course there is so much more! As a local agency specialised in tours all over the Balkans, we take great care in preparing personalised itineraries for all kinds of interests.
Our agents or your personal guide will be happy to recommend quality restaurants with romantic settings perfect for a romantic honeymoon in Slovenia or any other occasion. Why not dine like royalty? In Slovenia you have the perfect opportunity to enjoy your meal in a medieval castle such are the ones in Ljubljana and Bled.
You want more? We got you covered: there are numerous unique dining experiences we can include in your trip to Slovenia.
➨ Enjoy a romantic meal in a gondola high above the trees
➨ Visit a fish farm & sample the fresh catch
➨ Tour the vineyards of Goriška Brda
➨ Explore the popular food market in Ljubljana
➨ Taste trnič – the cheese of love – on Velika planina
➨ Dine aboard historic steam train
➨ Experience a candlelit dinner in a mine, 160 meter blow
➨ Try local beers at the beer fountain in Žalec
➨ Go fly fishing on Soča River to catch and taste the local trout
➨ Sign up for a baking class and learn how to make potica
➨ Take a guided food tour of Ljubljana
for a gastronomy trip to Slovenia