I’m part Polish, and can attest personally to the fact that Poles love their gluten. I grew up on a diet of not only meat and potatoes, but the doughy, springy, dumpling-like treats that Polish cuisine excels at. Of course, it wasn’t until later that I knew I was celiac. But I had my fair share of Polish foods under my belt before I realized they were now off limits.
Poland is a complicated place for celiacs. On the one hand, lots of information available: the Polish Celiac society, gluten free Polish companies (see below under “shops”), and restaurants that are certified as gluten free (see below under “restaurants”). On the other hand, not as much knowledge about the dishes that do have wheat, barley, or rye in them as a celiac would want or need.
The guide below follows the others here on Legal Nomads, offering up dishes that are safe and unsafe traditionally, as well as questions to ask, where to shop, and what else to read. It also has a gluten free restaurant card in Polish, and my first pass translator is a celiac. Her translation was so impeccable that the second round translator simply said, “I have nothing to change or add.”
I started my celiac guides in 2008 and onward there really wasn’t much online for celiacs who didn’t want to let their disease stop them from seeing the world. I added the gluten free translation cards to do so safely. While there are some places that are harder than others, the overall message remains: with care, research, and help communicating, the world is open for all of us.
LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 10, 2023
A detailed gluten free restaurant card for Poland
This detailed gluten free restaurant card will help communicate your eating restrictions, and allow you to understand what is safe and unsafe from the menu.
Note: The card is available for purchase via Gumroad, a trustworthy 3rd party site that uses Stripe, so you know your information is safe.
Why is this card different?
I used several different translation cards on my travels, and I still got sick. I may be more sensitive than some celiacs, but even a small amount of contaminated oil for frying, or wheat-thickened sauce in the food, is enough to make me ill for days. Let alone the joint pain later that week, and the fatigue. And regardless of whether we feel it or not, ingesting any amount of gluten is a problem if we are celiac.
This card is different because:
✅ Immediate download, sized specifically for mobile. You can save it to your phone and have it with you as you travel, or you can print it out and laminate it to take along.
✅ It uses local ingredients and lists of what you can/cannot eat help you eat safely, not just “I can’t eat gluten”.
✅ Unlike less-detailed cards, this card explains that contaminated surfaces or oils are also unsafe.
✅ It is researched by a celiac and goes through two sets of translations to ensure accuracy. In the case of this card, the first translator is herself a celiac.
An English translation of the card will be emailed to you following your purchase.
Eating gluten free in Poland: dishes and snacks
The following dishes are commonly gluten free in Poland. This is not an exhaustive list, but I wanted to be sure some of the more common dishes were represented so you could recognize them on the menu.
As with any destination, at home or abroad, it’s important to confirm on a case-by-case basis that no flour, bread, or gluten-filled condiments were used in the dishes. In Poland, soups are often risky because of wheat flour as a thickener for them. But there is an abundance of potatoes, rice, side salads, and grilled meats to choose from, many of which are safe.
Kasza gryczana (buckwheat groats), and Kasza jaglana (proso) (millet).
Important note: while in many countries “kasha”/“kasza” most often refers to buckwheat, which are gluten-free naturally, in Poland things are different. The word “kasza” includes different kinds of grains here, including those made from barley, rye, spelt, or wheat.When ordering “kasza” always make sure to specify that you can only eat “kasza gryczana” (buckwheat) or “kasza jaglana” (millet).
Kaszanka is a blood sausage traditionally made with pork blood, offal and kasza. Sometimes the buckwheat is replaced with barley, so double check and if the person is unsure, do NOT risk it.
Chłodnik is a bright pink beetroot soup served cold in summer. Aside from beets, the main ingredients include radishes, cucumbers, green onions, dill and yoghurt, making it a fresh and healthy option for celiacs during summer’s heat. Ensure that no flour was added to thicken the soup.
Some Barszcz, or borscht, is gluten free, while others are thickened with wheat, barley or rye (bialy) or served with dumplings (uszka). Barszcz is a common Eastern European dish that derives its vibrant reddish-purple color from its primary ingredient—beets! Along with an assortment of other veggies, the beets are simmered at length before the broth is strained and served with a dollop of sour cream. Variations abound, so use your translation cards and speak with servers and chefs about ingredients to make sure you’re ordering one that is gluten free.
Zupa ogórkowa is a cucumber soup, often made from sour pickled cucumbers and potatoes. It can be served hot or cold. Ensure that no wheat, barley, or rye was added to thicken the soup.
Kapusta kiszona is Polish sauerkraut, often served as part of a larger dish or as an accompaniment. Ensure no gluten was added to thicken.
Zupa pomidorowa is a leek and tomato soup, usually served with rice. As always, make sure no flour is mixed into it, as some recipes call for flour as a thickener. The recipe I’ve used at home is this one (no flour), but double check when in Poland.
Bigos is a meat and sauerkraut stew that can be safe or unsafe based on ingredients, but standard recipe is celiac-friendly. As always, make sure no flour is mixed into it, and if you’re at a place where the bigos is served in a RYE BREAD BOWL – ask for potatoes instead.
Kluski śląskie are Silesian dumplings, potato dumplings traditional to the Silesia region of Poland. Unlike other dumplings in Poland where gluten abounds, these call for potato and potato starch, and an egg. Best to confirm they are made as such, but these little disks – which resemble thumb cookies – are a great snack and safe for us celiacs in Poland.
Mizeria is a salad made of cucumbers with sour cream, named for the Polish word for misery, but it apparently made Queen Bona Sforza, an Italian princess who married Polish King Sigismund I in the 16th century, homesick. Mizeria is a dish of cucumbers, sour cream, dill, chives, vinegar, and seasoning. Simple and fresh, a solid choice for a side when you’re lost about what to order.
Gołąbki are stuffed cabbage leaves, often filled with minced beef, onions and rice. Do be aware that sometimes the rice is combined or replaced with barley, so it’s important to always check.
Whether it’s smoked, cured, or dried, saltwater or fresh, fish is a diverse staple of Polish diets. Herring (Śledz), carp and salmon are all common, and many dishes are naturally gluten free when not served with bread.
Łosoś is baked or boiled salmon with dill sauce.
Ogórki Kiszone are pickled cucumbers in brine. Yum!
Cheeses such as Oscypek, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese often served with cranberry marmalade. Also popular are bundz and bryndza, a softer cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Fruits dried and fresh are seasonally abundant.
Miod Pitny is a Polish mead, made of honey, water and yeast.
Wafle ryżowe, the eponymous rice cakes that many of us take around the world to eat cheese, dips, and other snacks where we can!
Kompot, a non-alcoholic VERY sweet beverage that may be served hot or cold . Not to be confused with compote (what we in North America think of as purely stewed fruit), kompot is a drink made from stewed fruit that has Slavic origins but is popular throughout central and eastern Europe.
Kefir, zsiadłe mleko, maślanka are all fermented dairy drinks, safe for celiacs and good for gut health too.
And of course, Wodka is gluten free when distilled 3x, and if made from potatoes then regardless of distillation times it will be safe to consume.
Celiac-safe shopping and gluten free restaurants in Poland
Gluten free products and shops in Poland
Gluten free products are very accessible in Poland, at a variety of different shops:
- At super- or “hypermarkets”, like Lidl, Biedronka, Auchan, Real, Tesco, Carrefour. Look for brand names like Balviten, Bezgluten, or Glutenex, which carry certified GF lines of products for purchase;
- At health food / bio shops (in Polish: sklep ze zdrową żywnoscią; and
- Even at some convenience stores (Żabka).
- Sin Gluten is an entirely gluten free store in Warsaw where all your celiac needs will be met! A great place to stock up on the basics and emergency snacks.
- Friendly Food is a bakery, shop and online shop that offers an extensive range of gluten free products, including regional Polish specialities.
For products, the Polish celiac association advises travellers to look for this sign, which indicates that the product is safe for celiacs:
Gluten free restaurants in Poland
For starters, the Polish Celiac Association offers Menu Bezglutenu, a comprehensive list of restaurants, cafés, bakeries and hotels that have joined their gluten-free menu initiative and been certified as safe for celiacs.
You’ll want to look for this trusty sign:
Making mention a chain, Fit Cake, which has dozens of locations within Poland and is certified by the celiac association. Its products that are made without sugar, lactose and gluten. Scroll down at the site above to see each location on the map.
Gluten free restaurants in Warsaw
A few options below, with the dishes and shops in this celiac guide to help you make decisions via local menu when you’re stuck.
Margita is Poland’s first completely gluten free bakery. Located in Warsaw, they offer wafer bowls, savoury and sweet rolls, and other baked items, but also sell a variety of third party certified gluten free products, like cereals, pasta, sausages, and more. For those familiar with Polish, you can buy products via their website.
La Cantina in Warsaw is well-informed about celiac disease and make every effort to ensure that every diner has a safe and tasty meal, with great labeling across the menu and even a few gluten free beer options!
Groole is a baked potato bistro, with potatoes from local farms. Sauces are prepared daily on site, without any artificial additives or dyes. Gluten free options are marked on the menu, which include potatoes with herring filling in Greek yogurt, sheep cheese with chives, beetroot pesto, or salmon with a dollop of cream.
Wiesz co zjesz (translation: you know what you eat) features traditional Polish dishes with Mediterranean twists. 99% of the menu can be made gluten free, including gluten free dumplings (yay!). The restaurant is certified by the celiac association.
Manufaktura Bezglutenowa is the first fully gluten free restaurant in Warsaw, serving salads, soups, sweets and all sorts of other homemade celiac-safe food.
If you want cake in Warsaw, check out Zdrowe Ciacho, where all their beautiful cakes are vegan and gluten free, certified by the national celiac association.
Bakery Putka has come out with a whole line of gluten free products, which are sold throughout Warsaw. You can check this map to see where the products are available, or buy online and ship to you if you are in town for a longer period of time.
O matko z córką is a fully gluten free bakery in Warsaw with two locations, offering bread, sweet cakes and tarts, pastries, and more.
BEZ Piekarnia is another fully GF bakery with sourdough bread, French baguettes and other breads like ciabatta, as well as sweet pastries (blueberry rolls, buns with fillings, cheesecakes, apple pies and much more).
The Chef House has gluten free pizza, pasta, starters and mains, as well as desserts, all prepared safely and certified by the celiac association.
Edamame Vegan Sushi has gluten free soy sauce, as well as a menu that clearly delineate which items are gluten free. This includes their miso soup, made with rice-based miso instead of barley, and much of the sushi menu itself.
Otsu & Miszito Sushi is certified by the celiac association, if you’re still craving something Japanese. They will make the meal gluten free upon request (it is not a fully GF facility), as is Sushi We Sola, another spot in Warsaw for sushi options if you’re in the mood.
Gluten free restaurants in Krakow
Piekarnia Bezglutenowe is a gluten free bakery producing delicious celiac friendly rolls cakes and loaves of bread in Lublin, Krakow and Poznań.
BEZ Piekarnia has another fully GF bakery outpost in Krakow, as in Warsaw. (See above for details)
Ostoja Garden is a higher end spot with venison, lamb, pasta, soups, Polish dishes, as well as handmade dumplings, all prepared with gluten-free certified products.
Pod Baranem in Krakow specialises in high quality traditional Polish cuisine with an extensive gluten free menu. This is your best chance to try gluten free pierogi!
On Nowy Świat in Warsaw check out La Cantina Meyhane if you are craving some gluten free pizza or heavier main courses. It’s an Italian-Portuguese blend of a restaurant, and can cater to celiacs with its certification from the Polish Celiac Society.
Placek Katowice serves 100% gluten free Hungarian style potato pancakes, crepes and pizzas amongst many other interesting menu items. Worth the hour trip from Krakow!
Cakester Cafe is exactly what it sounds like: a spot to get great treats in a cafe setting. In this case, a sweet or savoury breakfast, as well as crepes, dumplings made from potato starch and other flours, and open-faced sandwiches with sourdough gluten free bread. With lots of sweet options too, it’s a must visit for celiacs heading to Krakow. English menu here.
The bakery Zakręcona Kawiarenka is certified by the Polish celiac association, and has a robust gluten free menu. As their website states, “gluten is forbidden to visit us!” Sounds like a perfect place to visit, right?
Another 100% gluten free, sugar free spot is FitCake, which as mentioned above has a slew of locations around Poland including two in Krakow. Cupcakes, cake slices, drinks and much more available—even a keto-friendly cake!
Gluten free restaurants in Gdańsk
A great 100% gluten free option is Trattoria Sano, serving Italian food like pizzas, calzones, and pastas, and has a good cider and drinks menu as well.
Retro is not a dedicated gluten free bakery, but are knowledgeable about celiac disease with many clearly marked cakes on offer to try.
Pueblo is a Tex-Mex restaurant with gluten free options clearly marked on the menu, and knowledgeable staff, serving soups, ceviche, and corn tortilla tacos for those in the mood.
U Królika was the first restaurant in to be certified by the Polish Celiac Association, and servers beautiful farm-to-table meat, vegan/vegetarian dishes, soups and more, artfully presented and delicious.
Manna 68 is a vegan restaurant with gluten free options on the menu and staff that is aware of celiac disease and cross-contact concerns. This is a shared kitchen, though, so it’s not fail-safe.
Gluten free restaurants elsewhere in Poland
To & Owo Glutenowo is an entirely gluten free restaurant in Piotrków Trybunalski that specialises in catering to dietary needs.
Oberża Pod Dzwonkiem is an entirely gluten free restaurant in Poznań. Chef Aleksandra Korytowska places high priority on fresh, organic produce, traditional Polish hospitality and cuisine, and making sure that celiacs can eat safely without fear of cross-contamination.
Atelier Smaku is a bistro and deli, as well as a food truck operating in Gdynia that serves up vegan and gluten free fare.
What ISN’T gluten free in Poland?
Wheat, barley (kasza pęczak) and rye are all staples of the Polish diet, meaning many, many traditional dishes are unsafe for celiacs. This includes orkisz (spelt), which is commonly used and an ingredient to check for on packaging, and kasza manna (semolina).
Oats (unless specified that gluten free, but 99% of the oats you can find in Polish supermarkets will have gluten)
Cured meats often contain gluten, including many sausages such as kielbasa. Gluten free do options exist, you just have to look carefully for them, and if in doubt, assume it contains gluten.
Soups are also tricky in Poland, as most are thickened with flour.
- Żurek is a rye-based soup
- Krupnik a different soup, made with barley.
- Many other soups such as Rosół, a chicken soup, contain wheat noodles.
- Kapuśniak is a cabbage soup of sauerkraut and pork, potatoes and carrot that is often thickened with flour.
Barszcz bialy are also not gluten free due to the inclusion of rye or dumplings.
Pierogies, those most emblematic Polish dumplings, are not gluten free unless in a specified gluten free restaurant. And while pierogies are the most well-known of dumplings, they aren’t the only ones common in Polish food.
Also to be avoided:
- Kluski leniwe (dumplings made with wheat flour and white cheese)
- Knedle (another form of dumplings, usually with fruits inside)
- Pyzy (another form of dumplings)
- Uszka (‘little ear’ dumplings, small pockets of wheat filled with wild mushrooms and/or minced meat.)
- Kopytka are potato dumplings similar to gnocchi that sadly contain flour.
Krokiety, croquettes, which are usually breaded
Paszteciki, patties, a processed, deep fried dough stuffed with meat or vegetables often found in fast food shops or bars.
Golonka, pork knuckles are pub food in Poland, found at many an inn or tavern. Traditionally, they are cooked in their own juice and served with mustard, cabbage and/or peas. Many recipes are gluten free. But! Take care for golonkta tavernsw piwie, pork knuckle dish that commonly (and continuously!) braised in beer and honey as it cooks.
Kotlet schabowy, a breadcrumb-coated pork cutlet, is another typical Polish dish off limits to celiacs.
Polish potato pancakes, placki ziemniaczane, are not gluten free due to the addition of flour.
Kapusta zasmażana (fried cabbage) and other products with “zasmażka” (made with wheat flour)
Anything with panierka / panierowany / w panierce (breaded)
Kwas chlebowy, a drink made from rye.
Kotlet schabowy, a breaded pork cutlet dish.
Naleśniki, breakfast pancakes
Books to read about Poland
- Written by Zuza Zak, a young Polish ex pat living in London and writing all things food, Polska is a celebration of the author’s childhood steeped in the traditional foodways of Poland, foraging and cooking with her mother and grandmother. Here we see a modern take on these traditions, and beautiful photographs and a bit of history to boot.
- Perhaps the classic tome on Polish cooking for American and Western European audiences, Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans contains some 500 recipes covering the breadth of Polish cuisine. There is some assumption of basic cooking skills in the recipes presented, but for the most part the recipes are simple, straightforward and tasty.
- If you really want to know how the sausage is made, look to Polish Sausages, Authentic Recipes and Instructions. There’s nothing flowery here, just solid, detailed instructions on how to make a variety of Polish sausages from scratch using the techniques mastered by Poland’s food scientists in the latter half of the 20th century.
- Part history lesson, part cookbook Polish Country House Kitchen boasts 90 classic and modern recipes, and over 150 gorgeous photographs highlighting this long overlooked cuisine and food culture.
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Happy and safe eating!