A Celiac’s Gluten Free Guide to Poland

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.

Jodi ettenberg gluten free guide to poland
gluten free poland guide: picture of Warsaw by Gary Arndt
Warsaw, Poland ©Gary Arndt

A detailed gluten free restaurant card for Poland

If you are looking for gluten free translation card, you can head to my landing page for celiac translation cards, for Mexico, Italy, Japan, Thailand, France, and much more.

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 oil in contact with gluten, 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. I will also send a second downloadable file, a PDF version that is easy to print, with English on one side and Polish on the other so that you can follow 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 surfaces or oils that have cross-contact with gluten 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.

polish gluten free restaurant card for travel, by legal nomads
Click to head over to the purchase page.

Eating gluten free in Poland

Starting off with what is normally safe in Polish food, though obviously it’s important to confirm when ordering in case traditional recipes are not followed.

Gluten free dishes and snacks in Poland

he 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.
celiac poland guide: bigos, a meat and sauerkraut stew whose standard recipe is gluten free
Bigos in Poland. Photo ©Mike Krzeszak 2011
  • 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.
Golabki, stuff cabbage leaves, are usually gluten free in Poland, and stuffed with minced beef, onions, and rice.
Golabki cabbage rolls. ©Quinn Dombrowski
  • 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 GF products 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 poland

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 of a few chain options:

  • Fit Cake, which has dozens of locations within Poland and is certified by the celiac association. Its products are made without sugar, lactose and gluten. Scroll down at the site above to see each location on the map.
  • A 100% gluten free bakery, BEZ Piekarnia has sourdough bread, French baguettes and other breads like ciabatta, as well as sweet pastries. They have several locations in Poland, including Poznań, Łódź, Warsaw and Krakow.
  • Another fully gluten free chain in Poland is Ciacho bez Cukru which serves delicious fancy cakes (many of which are vegan), and keto sweet treats. They have 22 locations in Poland, including Warsaw, Katowice, Lublin, and Krakow.

Gluten free restaurants in Warsaw

  • 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. CLOSED
  • 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!
  • For pizzas, pastas, and other fare, see Restauracja The Chef House, who have clearly marked which items can be made gluten free (“bezglutenowej“) from their menu.
  • 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.
  • Królowa Bezglutenowa is a certified gluten free Italian bistro. The menu has a variety of pizza, as well as gnocchi, spaghetti, and chicken entrecote. It’s a short walk from Metro Trocka in the Targówek Mieszkaniowy district. 
  • 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.
  • Slodki Bez is a dedicated gluten free bakery that also does dairy and sugar free custom cakes, cheesecakes, tarts, and more. CLOSED
  • 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.
  • For pizzas, pastas, and other fare, see Restauracja The Chef House, who have clearly marked which items can be made gluten free (“bezglutenowej“) from their menu.
  • Ciacho bez Cukru is 100% gluten free bakery has delicious fancy cakes, many of which are also vegan friendly. They also have keto sweet treats. It’s close to Skwer Imienia płk. Pacak-Kuźmirskiego, which is full of quirky sculptures you don’t want to miss. Perfect snack time after an art outing.
  • 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 100% 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).
  • Rola Pao is a delicious Indian restaurant with plenty of gluten free foods to enjoy. Dishes with gluten are clearly marked on the menu. It’s near the center of Warsaw, a short walk from Pałac Kultury i Nauki (Palace of Culture and Science) and Centrum Metro.
  • Calimero Cafe Konstrukorska is a certified gluten free cafe and workspace. The cafe has sandwiches, omelettes and desserts which can be made gluten free with consideration for cross-contact (and training for staff, required for certification!) They also serve great coffee, tea and wine. They have one location in Warsaw and two in Kielce.
  • 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

gluten free krakow
Krakow, Poland © Gary Arndt
  • 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.
  • Zapiekane Gluten Free Bistro is a dedicated gluten free restaurant, with zapiekane referring to a toasted open face sandwich traditionally topped with sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and sometimes ham. At this restaurant, however, there is a nice variety of topping choices. They also have lasagna, pierogi, and a veggie burger on offer.
  • Cukiernia Krakowskie Wypieki is a certified gluten free confectionery shop with several locations in Krakow. They are known for their cream and raspberry cake, chocolate and cherry cake, and blueberry heart cookies.
  • Restauracja Polonia does not have a gluten free menu, but several of the dishes can be reliably made gluten free, including pasta. The restaurant is located at Hotel Polonia, which has an old world charm and is just outside Old Krakow.
  • Amalia Steak & Fish can make their burgers gluten free on request, which was quite tasty. The menu also features delicious juicy steaks, which are safe too. The staff here are quite knowledgable about which foods are safe for celiacs.
  • Farina is a beautiful Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant with vaulted ceilings and a menu packed with local seafood. Gluten free dishes are not marked on the menu, but the staff are well versed on which dishes are safe for celiacs.  
  • Old Town Restaurant and Wine Bar is considered one of the best restaurants in Krakow by travelers. As with Farina, they do not mark gluten free dishes on their menu, but many dishes can be made gluten free and the staff here are very helpful.
  • 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 Poznań

  • Sorrir is the first superfood café to open in Poznań. (What is superfood, you may ask? It’s a focus on nutrient-rich and highest-quality healthy foods, often plant-based.) Everything they make is gluten free, vegan, lactose and sugar free. They make gorgeous cakes, grain bowls, and delicious shakes and smoothies. 
  • You can’t be more on the nose than naming your business Gluten Free. The menu has burgers, potato pancakes, kebab, and pasta. The foods are beautifully plated and the owner takes great effort to create dishes using local products.
  • BEZ Piekarnia, as noted elsewhere in this guide, has several locations in Poland—including Poznań. It is a fully, 100% GF bakery with sourdough bread, French baguettes and other breads like ciabatta, as well as sweet pastries. 
  • Wolna translates to Free, a perfect name for a dedicated gluten free bakery. They make bread, rolls, and baguettes with and without additives (as well as cakes, savoury pies, and muffins). Creating healthy foods that taste good is the main focus here. They also have shops in Wrocław, Łódź, and Komorniki.
  • Maitri is fully vegan and 100% gluten free. The menu is small and the dishes are prepared with fresh high-quality ingredients. Dine on vibrant salads, flavourful soups, and be sure to leave room for dessert.
  • Kafej makes stunning cakes packed with flavor. They were the first 100% vegan confectionary shop in Poland, and a year into business they made the decision to be fully GF as well. They also make cookies and macaroons. I love a place that is happy to make beautiful cakes that cater to a variety of food allergens!
gluten free guide to Poland: Poznań's Kafej cakes and tarts
One of the many beautiful delicacies on offer at Kafej, in Poznań, Poland. © Kafej
  • Is Poznań the capital of fully gluten free confectionery shops in Poland? It’s quite possible! Podwieczorek is a cute little bakery with a pink shop front and a menu of squares, cakes, muffins, and more.
  • FitCake, which as mentioned above has a slew of locations around Poland, is 100% gluten free. They serve cupcakes, cake slices, drinks and much more available—even a keto-friendly cake!
  • The lunch menu at Też Można is fully gluten free and all of their bakery goods are vegan as well. Try dishes like organic falafel with pita bread, Mediterranean pasta with shrimp or sweet potato gnocchi. (Temporarily closed, but I’m keeping it in for now as it looks like it’ll reopen shortly — I’ll remove if not!)
  • The smashburgers at Fat Bob Burger can be made with a gluten free bun for an added charge. Many celiacs have eaten here without getting sick, but there is a risk of cross-contact due to shared food prep space.
  • Curry-Mary’s grey stone façade makes it easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. While it looks drab on the outside, within is a menu of delicious Indian and Thai curries. Gluten free curries are not marked on the menu but they have a couple of options available upon request, and staff is knowledgeable.
  • Pizza Naturalna specializes in gluten free and plant-based pizzas. GF foods are prepared in a separate kitchen space and served on different coloured plates. They also have gluten free pierogi!

Gluten free restaurants in Wrocław

  • Manufaktura Bezglutenowa is a fully gluten free restaurant serving salads, soups, sweets and all sorts of other homemade celiac-safe food. It was the first fully GF restaurant in Wrocław.
  • Sorrir is the first superfood café to open in Poznań, and now there is a location in Wrocław. Everything they make is gluten free, vegan, lactose and sugar free. They make beautiful cakes, grain bowls, and delicious shakes and smoothies. 
  • Another fully GF bakery is Wolna, which translates to free, with shops in Wrocław, Poznań, Łódź, and Komorniki (it’s mentioned elsewhere in this guide). They make bread, rolls, and baguettes with and without additives, as well as cakes, savoury pies, and muffins.
  • Vivere Italiano offers gluten free pizza and other Italian dishes, and have been in business since 2013. They’re a popular spot near the Museum of Bourgerois Art. The menu clearly indicates which dishes are gluten free, including pizza, several antipasti dishes, grilled octopus, swordfish, and most of the desserts. It’s a favourite spot of local gluten free influencer, Oliwia Abraś.
  • When a burger craving hits, Soczewka Kitchen + Bar is a popular choice. They have gluten free buns for the burgers, but ask which homemade sauces contain gluten before ordering. Cross-contact is a big risk with the fries so it is best to avoid them.
  • Bez Lukru is a vegan restaurant with several gluten free foods on the menu, including buckwheat pancakes, carrot waffles, and burgers. They also make very tasty cakes.
  • Masala Indian Grill & Bar clearly indicates which dishes are gluten free on the menu. Most of the currys, biryani and tandoori dishes are safe, and they even have buckwheat naan bread, which is a real rarity. As always, confirm cross-contact is not an issue with the tandoor or surfaces.
  • Kasza i Pasza is a health-forward restaurant with several gluten free and vegan dishes. It has an eclectic artist vibe, and a popular breakfast and brunch spot.

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.
  • Kawiarnia Retro (full name on Google, but its FB page says ‘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. They’ve also got outposts in Gdynia and Torun, for those heading there.
  • Chleb z natury Piekarnia Bezglutenowa is a dedicated, 100% gluten free bakery. All of the breads are made with certified gluten free ingredients, and several are vegan friendly as well. They also have a tasty Keto bread which is lactose-free.
  • Mono is a trendy restaurant with gluten free foods clearly marked on the menu. Surprisingly, the only dishes that are not gluten free (or available as gluten free on request) are the pizzas and fries. The offerings include beef tartare, burgers, grilled octopus and steaks. They also have delicious cocktails.
  • For an added charge the bagel sandwiches at Balans Kawy Speciality & Bajgiel can be made with gluten free bagels. They also have a fluffy omlette with ham, mushrooms, and cheese. It’s a cute woman-owned cafe close to Długa street, with a lovely outdoor patio.
  • Also close to Długa street is Hola Tapas, a Mexican restaurant with several gluten free dishes marked on the menu. Try dishes like sopa Azteca (a spicy tortilla soup), pork tamales, tacos and burrito bowls — with or without some mezcal or tequila to accompany your meal.
gluten free restaurants in gdansk, poland — Hola Tapas
Celiac-safe tacos at Hola Tapas in Gdansk
  • Prya Bar marks gluten allergens on their menu, P for wheat and Je for barley. The menu highlights are the potato cakes and potato pancakes, most of which are gluten free. Prya Bar can also be found in Poznań and Gdynia!
  • If you have a sweet tooth, then a stop at Kaiser Patisserie may be a good idea. There is usually a couple of desserts which are gluten free, but they sell out quickly. They have serval locations throughout Poland, and the variety of gluten free offerings varies.
  • U Królika was the first restaurant to be certified by the Polish Celiac Association, and serves beautiful farm-to-table meat dishes, 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

  • Atelier Smaku is a bistro and deli, as well as a food truck operating in Gdynia that serves up vegan and gluten free fare.
  • Placek in Katowice is fully gluten free and sugar free. They serve pizzas, dumplings, and delicious soups. It’s a trendy little restaurant with board games and comfy chairs.
  • Bezcukru is a dedicated gluten free coffee shop in Katowice. They sell a variety of yummy gluten free, sugar free, keto, and vegan cakes brownies and pies. Coffees are are made with specialty grains and roasted in house – they offer several varieties of espresso!
  • In Białystok, Restauracja RAJ is 100% gluten free. They have a wide selection of pizzas, pasta dishes, pierogi, burgers and salad. Several dishes are vegan or vegetarian as well. 
  • Sweet Fit & Eat is a super cute cafe also in Białystok that is fully gluten free. The menu has a variety of bread, sandwiches, noodles, pancakes, cakes, cookies, and smoothies. They also have foods that are lactose free, sugar free, keto, and vegan.

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.
Perogi are not gluten free in Poland, but more and more places are starting to serve options for celiacs
Not so gluten-free! Photo © SarahJane 2011

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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