Czech Food and Drink

A sign in front of a Prague butcher shopTraditional Czech cuisine is not exactly a synonym for healthy cooking. Although Czech eating habits have been shifting towards a healthier lifestyle, traditional recipes are still popular - and those tend to be high in calories, fat, and sugar. Meat is very common, as are various sauces, condiments, and dumplings. There is a similarity to traditional German cooking and some meals that are sometimes thought of as "typically Czech", such as goulash or spaetzle, actually originated in other countries.


Soups

A Czech meal typically starts with soup (polévka). Some popular Czech soups are:

Potato soup (bramborová polévka or bramboračka)
Garlic soup (česneková polévka or česnečka)
Chicken noodle soup (kuřecí polévka s nudlemi)
Beef soup with liver dumplings (hovězí vývar s játrovými knedlíčky)
Sauerkraut soup (zelná polévka or zelňačka)
Dill soup, made from sour milk (koprová polévka or koprovka)




The Main Course

Pork with Dumplings, Ham and Sauce
The main course (hlavní chod) usually consists of meat (maso) and a side dish (příloha). The most popular meats are chicken (kuře) and pork (vepřové), followed by beef (hovězí). Meat is often served with some kind of sauce (omáčka). Fish is not very common although trout (pstruh) or cod (treska) are sometimes served. The mackerel (makrela) is a popular fish to grill over open fire in the summer. Carp (kapr) is traditionally served on Christmas Eve.

Some well-known Czech main dishes are:

Beef goulash with dumplings - a thick beef stew of Hungarian origin (hovězí guláš s knedlíkem)
Beef sirloin with dumplings and vegetable cream sauce (svíčková na smetaně, knedlík)
Roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut (vepřová pečeně, knedlík, zelí or vepřo-knedlo-zelo)
Pork schnitzel - a slice of pork, breaded and fried (smažený vepřový řízek)
Roasted duck with sauerkraut and dumplings (pečená kachna se zelím a knedlíkem)
Fried cheese - a thick slice of cheese, breaded and fried (smažený sýr)
Roasted chicken with potatoes (pečené kuře s brambory)
Stuffed bell peppers with tomato sauce (plněná paprika s rajskou omáčkou)
Breaded and fried mushrooms (smažené žampiony)
Fruit-filled dumplings (fruit wrapped in potato or yeast dough, boiled, and served with sugar, ground poppy seeds, cottage cheese and melted butter): plum, apricot, strawberry, blueberry (kynuté ovocné knedlíky: švestkové, meruňkové, jahodové, borůvkové)


Side Dishes

Mashed potatoes (Šťouchané brambory)The most common Czech side dishes are:

Boiled potatoes (vařené brambory)
Roasted potatoes (opékané brambory)
Mashed potatoes (bramborová kaše - pureed, šťouchané brambory - coarsely mashed)
French fries (bramborové hranolky)
Potato pancakes (bramboráčky)
Rice (rýže)
Bread dumplings (houskové knedlíky)
Potato dumplings (bramborové knedlíky)
Sauerkraut or cabbage (zelí)
Potato salad (bramborový salát)


Desserts

KoláčeDessert (moučník, dezert or zákusek) comes in many varieties. Some are rather fatty due to the use of butter (máslo) and whipped cream (šlehačka), some are light and fluffy. In general, Czech desserts and cakes (dorty) are not overly sweet. Some popular desserts are:

Crepes (palačinky) filled with jam (džem) or fruit (ovoce) such as strawberries (jahody), chocolate (čokoláda), whipped cream (šlehačka) and sometimes nuts (oříšky)
Honey cake called Medovník
Fruit-filled dumplings (ovocné knedlíky)
Apple strudel (jablečný závin)
Cake (dort)
Ice cream sundae (zmrzlinový pohár)


Beverages

As far as drinks (nápoje) go, a Czech meal is often accompanied by the national beverage, which is beer (pivo). If you're not in the mood for beer, you can have mineral water (minerálka), a variety of fruit juices, such as orange juice (pomerančový džus), apple juice (jablečný džus), pear juice (hruškový džus),
lemonade (limonáda) of various flavors, or a soda (specify the kind because soda in Czech means "soda water"). Czechs also like to drink tea (čaj) with sugar (cukr) and lemon (citrón), and coffee (káva) with or without milk (mléko) or cream (smetana).

Taste some good Czech food in one of our recommended Czech restaurants in Prague. Or cook your own Czech meal when you sign up for one of the Prague cooking classes that are offered through our partner.



Czech Cookbooks
"Eating Out" Czech phrases and vocabulary on Local Lingo

The Best of Czech Cooking
Czechoslovak Cookbook