Home Recipe Roundup 20 Traditional Romanian Foods

20 Traditional Romanian Foods

If there’s one thing all Romanian foods have in common, it’s that they’re loaded with garlic to keep the vampires away. 

I’m kidding, of course. 

Potato Moussaka with Meat and Cheese
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Although Romanians enjoy garlic like most of the world, they aren’t especially known for overusing it. 

Instead, Romanian cuisine is rich and diverse. It’s heavily influenced by Germany, Turkey, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Bosnia. 

Their sweet foods are decadent and delectable, and their savory foods often incorporate numerous veggies, herbs, and spices. 

Presentation also plays a significant role in Romanian food.

For many chefs there, the way something looks is just as important as how it tastes. 

So if you’re unfamiliar with Romanian cuisine, you’re in for a real treat. Get ready for some gorgeous, delicious dishes. 

1. Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)

Cabbage rolls are a traditional Romanian dish, and they have a lot going on inside them. 

You’ll make them with sour cabbage, ground pork, bacon, rice, onions, tomato juice, and some seasonings. 

They take a few hours to make, but hey, perfection doesn’t happen in a matter of minutes.

When finished, they look and taste incredible.

They’re a lovely golden-brown, shiny from the tomato juice and dusted with fresh parsley.

Stack them up and add a dollop of sour cream to the top, and you’re all set for a traditional Romanian meal.

2. Romanian Country Bread

Despite its somewhat firm outer crust, Romanian country bread is remarkably airy and moist inside. 

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Its flavor is similar to that of sourdough bread, and it’s perfect with soups and other foods we like to sop up with thick, crusty bread.

Like the cabbage rolls, this bread, too, takes several hours to make, but a massive chunk of that time is letting the dough rise and idle cook time.

It only takes about 20 minutes of hands-on work.

3. Mamaliga

Known as the country’s national dish, mamaliga is cornmeal-based porridge. You may know it by another name – polenta. 

It’s thick and wonderfully creamy.

However, unlike polenta, which people sometimes eat in its soft, porridge-like form, you’ll leave the mamaliga to harden into a solid circle of yumminess.

Other than water, salt, pepper, and something creamy to serve with it, you’ll only need two ingredients to make mamaliga – cornmeal and butter. 

Plus, unlike the first two recipes on the list, this one only takes 25 minutes to make.

4. Romanian Stuffed Peppers

Although Romanian stuffed peppers may not look exactly like the stuffed peppers you’ll eat at a Mexican or Italian restaurant, they taste very similar. 

The fillings are also a lot alike – pork (or beef), rice, onions, peppers, and plenty of herbs and seasonings. 

You’ll also coat them in a tomato-based sauce that adds another layer of complexity to the flavor.

These take a little less than 2 hours to make, but they’re well worth the time you spend making them.

5. Cheese Pie

What could be better than flaky puffed pastry stuffed with two kinds of cheese? Not a lot.

Cheese pie is the absolute best. It’s such a yummy, cheesy dish, and every bite is heavenly. 

It takes a little over an hour to make, but it only requires four ingredients.

So if you have some feta and ricotta cheeses, puff pastry, and an egg, you can make this delicious, savory pie. 

A little fresh dill will add an extra bit of oomph to it, as well. 

6. Mushroom and Mayo Salad

In Romania, people usually serve this cold salad on New Year’s Eve, but it makes a pretty tasty treat any time of the year with some crackers or a piece of a toasted baguette.

It’s also easy to make. It requires no cooking, only mixing and chopping, and all you’ll need for it are mushrooms, mayonnaise, garlic, and dill. 

It takes about 10 minutes to whip up, but you’ll want to refrigerate it for a few hours before serving it. 

7. Romanian Meatball Soup

This traditional Romanian soup takes about an hour and a half to make, but it’s a must-have recipe for any collector of Romanian recipes. 

As The Bossy Kitchen tells us, Romanian meatball soup is “the glory of the soups” and “the pride of every Romanian cook.”

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single soup recipe.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to make, and it does taste fantastic. It’s full of tomato and herb flavor and is just a bit spicy.

Plus, the thick, tasty meatballs make the soup very filling and perfect for colder months.

8. Cozonac

Despite how intricate and elegant this bread looks, it’s not all that hard to make.

The ingredients list looks long, and the 4-hour total time seems scary, but it’s not as difficult as it seems.

First of all, the ingredients are common pantry and refrigerator staples.

Secondly, 2 hours of that large chunk of time is idle time to let the dough rise. So don’t be turned off by the recipe.

Finally, even if it was difficult to make – and it’s not – it’s entirely worth it in the end.

The bread is sweet, with a hint of citrus and a rich, nutty swirl running through the middle.

Plus, it looks lovely, making it ideal for giving as a gift or bringing to a big, fancy dinner or celebration.

9. Romanian Potato Salad

Romanian potato salad is another traditional Romanian dish. People eat it so often that it’s practically another national dish. 

If you like potato salad that’s a little on the sour side, you’ll love this one. 

The potatoes, onions, and black olives provide an earthy base, but the gherkins, green olives, vinegar, and Dijon mustard give it a sour, zesty kick that’s totally unique. 

10. Romanian Eggplant Salad/Dip

If you enjoy dips that are smoky and full of garlic and herbs, this eggplant dip is one for you. 

It’s naturally gluten-free and vegan-friendly, and because it’s made primarily from veggies, it’s pretty nutritious.

It tastes great with vegetables, chips, crackers, or pita bread.

11. Romanian Sausage Stew

I can’t help but think of this dish as the Romanian equivalent of steak and potatoes, with the polenta serving as the potatoes.

Really, though, it’s more appropriate for breakfast. Of course, I’m sure the sausage, fried egg, and polenta gave that away.

If you’re looking for a hearty, savory breakfast that includes all your morning favorites, this is the way to go. 

12. Romanian Pork and Potato Stew

This stew is for anyone and everyone who loves beef stew. It’s very similar; only you’ll make it with pork instead of beef.

Many of the other ingredients, though, stay the same.

You’ll add onions, potatoes, and plenty of herbs and seasonings.

It tastes excellent with the Romanian country bread I listed earlier, but many Romanians eat it with mamaliga instead.

13. White Cabbage Salad

This recipe is for people who love cabbage, cabbage, and more cabbage.

Seriously, the ingredients list is literally cabbage, along with salt, vinegar, pepper, vegetable oil, and parsley.

It’s soft and slightly sweet – an absolute delight in both taste and texture.

It pairs nicely with most main courses, but don’t think of it as American coleslaw. The two are quite different.

14. Mucenici

Mucenici is a special dish in Romania.

People only eat it once a year on March 9th in a religious celebration of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. 

It’s half pasta, half soup, and 100% delicious. It’s naturally vegan-friendly and has a nutty, almost sweet taste to it.  

One of the most fun parts of this dish is that you’ll get to make and shape the pasta yourself.

If you have children in your home, they’ll love helping you with this part.

Whether you serve it for dinner or dessert, mucenici is sure to be a hit.

15. Zacusca (Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip)

Zacusca is Romania’s take on salsa, and if you love tomatoes and eggplant, it will become your new favorite salsa.

The main “must-have” ingredients for zacusca is eggplant, red bell peppers (paprika peppers also work), white onions, tomatoes, oil, and a bay leaf.

You can also add jalapeno peppers if you enjoy the heat, plus a tablespoon of honey to sweeten it just a bit, and salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

Additionally, you can substitute tomato sauce for the tomatoes, but only do that as a last resort.

The fresh tomatoes taste so much better and give the zacusca a chunkier, heartier texture.

You can eat it like salsa, with chips, crackers, or pita bread. You can also add it to your bagels or baguettes.

Canning it is another option, so feel free to make a large batch if you prefer.

16. Romanian Meatballs (Chiftele)

A good meatball is hard to find. There are mediocre meatballs everywhere you look, but a truly delicious one… that’s much rarer.

Romanian meatballs, also called chiftele or parjoale, are good meatballs.

They’re thick and juicy and have a wonderful garlic and herb flavor that makes them taste great in anything – or by themselves!

Once you eat one, it’s hard to stop yourself from grabbing a few more. Luckily, you can easily make half a dozen or more in less than an hour.

17. Feta Fry Bread

This thin bread is crispy on the outside and soft, gooey, and supremely cheesy on the inside.

You’ll make the dough from yeast, water, sugar, flour, and salt. 

The filling is pure feta cheese. I guess the closest equivalent to feta fry bread would be a cheese quesadilla, but that’s not exactly right, either.

Just think of it as cheesy fried dough and enjoy it. 

18. Romanian Potato Moussaka

Mmmmm… moussaka. Moussaka is so incredible, and I have no idea why more people don’t know about it and love it. 

If you’ve ever visited a Greek restaurant, you may have seen it on the menu.

Perhaps you’ve even tried it! But Romanian moussaka is a bit different from Grecian moussaka. 

The main difference is in the meat. In Greece, lamb is the moussaka meat of choice.

In Romania, moussaka usually contains beef or pork. The same is true for this recipe.

However, both versions are delicious. After all, you can’t beat meat, potatoes, veggies, and herbs.

19. Tripe Soup

Tripe soup takes some time and effort to make, but if you enjoy creamy soups with rich, bold flavors, you’ll be glad you took the time to make it.

The soup is hearty and just a little bit spicy. 

It’s also beautiful. The bright green parsley looks lovely against the warm yellow of the soup.

If you’re taking the time to make it, you may want to make extra.

Once it cools, you can freeze it, and it’ll stay fresh for up to 4 months. 

20. Romanian Cheese Donuts  

I suddenly realized that I hadn’t added many desserts to this list!

Aside from the cozonac and the mucenici, I really neglected Romania’s sweet treats. 

Let’s rectify that with one of the best Romanian sweet foods there is: Romanian cheese donuts.

These deep-fried donuts have cottage cheese in the batter, and you’ll top them with blueberry jam and smetana, which is a mix between heavy whipping cream and sour cream.

Each bite of these scrumptious donuts will delight your taste buds and melt on your tongue.

You may want to double the recipe, though, because you won’t be able to eat just one.

20 Traditional Romanian Foods


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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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