Home Desserts 25 Traditional Romanian Desserts

25 Traditional Romanian Desserts

These traditional Romanian desserts aren’t just delicious, they’re also a sweet snapshot of the country’s diverse culture.

No-bake cakes, DIY chocolate candy, and braided breads are a throwback to Romania’s post-war past when ingenious cooks were forced to be thrifty.

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Romanian Cheese Donuts Papanasi

Those tasty treats have stood the test of time and are still widely enjoyed today, but there’s now more decadent fare, too.

From layered lemon cakes to fruity dumplings and perfect pastries, there are plenty of elegant eats on this list of 25 Romanian desserts.

If you want something different for dessert tonight, take a tour of Eastern Europe and dive into these Romanian treats.

1. Cozonac

A sweetened, flaky bread, cozonac is traditionally served at Easter or Christmas in Romania.

This festive loaf is a yeast bread, meaning it puffs up beautifully while baking to give you a chewy, soft, doughy treat.

The slightly sweetened dough is flavored with orange and lemon zest, giving it a bright citrus tang.

It’s wrapped around a nutty filling made from walnuts, almonds, cocoa, and orange extract.

This one takes a few hours to prep, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Time it right, and you can enjoy warm sweet cozonac straight from the oven for a heavenly snack or delicious dessert.

2. Romanian Cheese Donuts (Papanasi)

Sweet and savory, cheese donuts are my new favorite thing.

They’re traditionally made with branza de vaci, a Romanian cow’s milk cheese, but that’s tricky to get outside of the country, so this recipe uses cottage cheese instead.

If you think putting cottage cheese in your donut batter is weird, you’re probably right. But it works. 

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This easy recipe shows you how it’s done. Just mix together cheese, eggs, flour, sugar, and a dash of rum.

Knead into donuts and fry until they’re irresistibly crispy.

Serve them warm with a very generous dollop of creme fraiche and lashings of blueberry jam or sauce. 

3. Plum Dumplings

This traditional treat consists of sweet plums nestled in a potato-based dough, almost like dessert gnocchi.

The dumplings are lightly boiled before being rolled in a sweet, buttery breading. 

If you really want to eat these like a Romanian, serve them cold with a spoonful of sour cream and a steaming mug of coffee.  

4. Romanian Chocolate Cake

One bite of rich, dark, Romanian chocolate cake, and you’ll realize that all other chocolate cakes are merely a pale imitation of the real thing.

Moist, sweet, and decadent, this is how chocolate cake is supposed to taste. 

The cocoa-rich cake is soaked in caramel syrup and topped with a thick, silky ganache. Don’t stop there.

Add a swirl of whipped cream on top, because this elegant dessert is all about putting on a show.

5. Pasca

Pasca is a braided bread that usually appears at Easter feasts and other celebratory meals.

The dough is lightly sweetened and wrapped around a creamy filling made from ricotta, lemon, and vanilla.

This impressive dessert looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Store it in the fridge but don’t freeze it, as the ricotta filling can turn soggy when thawed.

6. Romanian Layered Lemon Cake

This light, layered cake is a delicately fruity, moist, teatime treat.

Serve it for book club gatherings, visits from the inlaws, birthdays, and pretty much any time your guests want cake (which, in my experience, is always).

Also known as snow-white cake, thin sheets of flaky pastry are sandwiched together with a dreamy lemon buttercream.

With its burst of bright citrus, this is the ideal dessert for summer days or days where you’re just dreaming of summer.

7. Filled Peach Cookies

These gorgeous cookies are popular throughout Europe, not just Romania, and it’s easy to see why they’re so beloved across the continent.

These divine delights boast a soft and crumbly cookie shell wrapped around a nutty dulce de leche filling.

Despite the name, there’s no actual peach in this recipe. But they do resemble the fruit.

The tiny cookie balls are sandwiched together and painted with pink and green food coloring. They look like peaches and taste like heaven. 

8. Romanian Dessert Salami

Don’t be fooled, there’s no actual meat in this dessert (cue a sigh of relief).

When sliced, the thick roll of biscuity chocolate looks a little like salami, but there’s nothing meaty about this sweet snack.

Dessert salami is perfect if you’re in a rush to get something on the table.

The easy, no-bake bites come together quickly to make chewy, nutty, crowd-pleasing goodness.

The dish calls for a spoonful of rum, but if you’re feeding kids, just skip it. Your salami will still taste great! 

9. Romanian Apple Cake

This simple yet satisfying Romanian treat may just be the only apple cake recipe you’ll ever need.

Beautifully moist and packed with fruit, it’s a coffee-time classic.

Keep this around for a quick, energy-boosting snack, or serve warm with cream for an impressive dessert.

10. Jam and Walnuts Rugelach Cookies

Usually made as a holiday-time treat, these rugelach cookies are delicious all year-round.

Made with triangular sheets of sweet dough and rolled into tiny crescents, these cookies look more like croissants.

Feel free to get creative with the filling.

Any type of jam would work, or skip the fruit entirely and load up your cookies with chocolate sauce or nut butter.

However you make them, these are reliably melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  

11. White Chocolate Apricot Rugelach (Cornulete cu gem)

I can’t help it. I see the words ‘white chocolate apricot cookies’ and I start drooling.

Flaky and buttery, these cornulete are made from a basic dough wrapped around a fruity jam and white chocolate center. 

Once baked to golden brown perfection, the cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

There’s no added sugar in the dough, which saves these treats from becoming overwhelmingly sweet.

So go ahead, feed your cookie cravings with these amazing bites!

12. Romanian Sweet Cheese Pies

Proving that cheese makes everything better, Romanians love adding it to their desserts to make things really moist and mouth-watering.

These pillowy pies contain a soft, sweet, creamy filling made from cottage cheese, raisins, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.

And once you’ve mastered this delightful recipe, you can try making a savory version with feta cheese and fresh dill.

13. Mucenici

Mucenici is a flaky honey and walnut pastry. It was traditionally baked in March for the feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.

But you don’t have to be feeding forty martyrs to enjoy these syrupy sweets.

This is a braided bread, made with a yeast dough, so it does take a little bit of work. Don’t panic.

This easy recipe explains everything in clear, concise steps that’ll have you feeling like a pro baker in no time. 

14. Romanian Homemade Chocolate

When you make and eat your own chocolate, you won’t just get yummy treats, you’ll get a smug sense of satisfaction at having conquered confectionery.

Watch out, Hershey!

This authentic recipe dates back to a time when chocolate wasn’t readily available, so sweet-toothed Romanians had no choice but to get cooking.

It may have been invented in a time of scarcity, but the recipe holds up well.

Cocoa powder, sugar, butter, powdered milk are all you’ll need to make rich, dense, and crumbly chocolate bars.

15. Romanian Baked Apple Rice Pudding

Cold winter nights call for hot puddings. And you can’t do any better than this creamy, warming rice pudding flavored with fresh fall apples.

Short-grain rice is simmered in milk and then blended with sugar and eggs to give it a custard-like taste and texture.

Layer with soft roasted apples and add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla. This bowl-full of joy will make your belly very full and very happy.

16. Walnut Cookies

Shortbread cookies coated with a dreamy dulce de leche, these cookies are perfect for sophisticated, sweet-toothed guests.

They also make great gifts at Christmas time or other holidays.

Then again, they’re equally great hoarded by the cook and devoured in one sitting.

17. Apples in Pajamas

Want your kids to take more interest in cooking? Ask them if they want to make apples in pajamas. I guarantee there’ll be a stampede for the kitchen.

Not only will they love the name, kids (and adults!) will also love the results.

This recipe is best done with big kids though, and under adult supervision, as the apples are fried in hot oil.

Thick apple slices are coated in a plain batter and then fried until the crispy coating turns golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve warm.

18. Apple Pie Bars

If you’re craving apple pie but can’t face actually making pie, Romanian cuisine has a shortcut.

These apple pie bars are basically a simple slab cake, cut into squares.

The buttery crust contains a rich filling made from fresh apples, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

It’s sweet, tart, bright, and light. Make this one for dessert tonight and it won’t be long before it’s in regular rotation.

19. Ricotta Cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake is subtly sweet and more delicate than the dense New York-style pie, making it an appetizing alternative if you want something light.

It has all the smooth creaminess of your average cheesecake but without the overpowering sweet syrupy taste.

Toss in some raisins if you want more flavor, but this deceptively simple dessert is great as-is.

20. Vargabéles

Romanian cuisine is nothing if not creative, and this sweet noodle pie is a must for adventurous foodies.

Made with flaky filo pastry, sweet cheese, raisins, and wheat noodles, it’s a tantalizing mix of tastes and textures.

This soft pie is usually served warm and is also enjoyed as a sweet main meal.

21. Kürtőskalács

Also known as chimney cake, this unique dessert consists of coiled dough shaped into a towering stack.

It’s a traditional treat for weddings and tastes a bit like a brioche sweetened with a walnut cinnamon-sugar topping. 

Best of all, you won’t need any fancy equipment to make this impressive dessert. All you’ll need is a rolling pin! 

22. Plum Coffee Cake

Best enjoyed in summer when plums are at their juicy best, this coffee crumb cake is a seasonal sweet treat.

Cake batter is dotted with large chunks of fresh plums so the fruit oozes sweet juices into the crumb as it bakes. 

No summer plums? No worries! This versatile cake will work with any seasonal fruits.

Try cherries, peaches, apricots, or whatever berries you have on hand.

23. Chocolate Biscuit Cake

I love no-bake cakes, especially in the summer when it’s just too hot to turn on the oven.

On warm days, reach for this simple recipe for crunchy, nutty, chocolatey cake. 

Traditionally, the biscuit batter was rolled into a log and cut into slices for serving.

But if you’re just feeding the family, you can spread it out and slice it into handy squares for a grab ‘n’ go treat.

24. Vanilla Crescent Cookies

These delightful croissant-shaped cookies consist of flaky pastry filled with a nutty paste and sprinkled with vanilla sugar.

You’ll find them all over Europe, popular in Austria, Germany, and Hungary as well as Romania.

A bit like shortbread and a bit like cake, they’re all kinds of yum.

25. Crepes 

Fluffy crepes are something every good cook can (and should!) master.

Get started down the road to delicious pancakes with this easy recipe, which shows you exactly how to make homemade crepes from scratch.

Then the fun starts. Load up your DIY crepes with fruit, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, or ice cream, or all of the above!

25 Traditional Romanian Desserts

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Romanian Desserts

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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