Slovenia may be a small and entirely unknown country, but it surely deserves to be renowned for its high-quality products and ethnic traditional foods. Slovenia even counts up to 1200 traditional and national dishes. Since 2018, 24 Slovenian dishes and food products are listed as European Union Heritage, such as Piran’s salt or Slovenian honey.
The Slovene culinary culture is vibrant, cosmopolitan, and diverse, as it is influenced by its Hungarian, Italian and Croatian neighbors. Slovenians enjoy plentiful food that includes a lot of meat and fish but also numerous dairy products and local fruits. They mostly care for homegrown products and sauce dishes.
Let’s find out why Slovenian food is at the origin of the famous saying “love goes through the stomach” and discover who are the Slovenian people according to what they eat.
For stews, hotpots, and sauce dishes lovers as Slovenians, there is nothing more logical than their passion for soups. Every typical Slovene lunch starts with a soup, no matter how hot it gets. They are particularly important in the Sunday lunch and feast days and holidays, where creamy mushroom soups or beef soups with noodles are especially appreciated.
The traditional beef soup, also named goveja Juha, is the prime example of the Slovenian soup. It is a family recipe known by every household in the country. It is made with beef bones, carrots, and quenelles, or noodles.
If soups are not an old tradition in Slovenia, it is now an inescapable step through your Slovenia food journey. There are about a hundred different traditional soup recipes in the country, and it is definitely the most popular starter. You will be able to find at least three or four options in every traditional restaurant, named gostilna in Slovene.
Original Slovene soups are, for example, the clear ones made with Močnik, but one of the most popular remains a straightforward one, paradižnikova Juha, an easy-to-make tomato soup.
But those famous soups also come from international influences. For example, the typical Italian soup from Trieste, Prežganka, is very popular in Slovenia. It is made of roasted and browned flour where you add salt, water, and scrambled eggs.
Slovenian National Main Courses
Slovenia’s main ingredients are very invigorating, as beef and pork meats, but the Slovene culinary culture also includes different fishes and a significant number of vegetables. You will find many potatoes, paprika, polenta, onion, and garlic in this traditional food.
Slovenian meat dishes are particularly revealing of the numerous Hungarian and Austrian influences on the countries specialties. The most popular dishes in Slovenia are then directly inspired by it.
The goulash, a pork or beef sauce dish, has become an authentic national dish, often served with potatoes or polenta. We can also list the borrowing of the Hungarian Paprikash, a kind of chicken-based goulash, but also the dunajski zrezek, a Viennese schnitzel served with french fries.
Poland also inspired the traditional Slovene dishes, especially with its Kranjska klobasa, a pork sausage made with bacon bits, garlic, salt, and pepper.
However, there is also a lot of typical Slovenian dishes that are appreciated in the country. The most famous ones are often made with buckwheat flour, which is remarkably widespread and used in Slovenia, like ajdovi žganci, that also includes pigskin fried in pig fat, salt, and pepper.
A lot of typical meat dishes are based on pieces of ravioli with bacon bits, but also savory pastries as the traditional börek often made with minced meat.
Slovenian people are meat lovers: that’s why they manage to eat enormous portions of a pig, just as in Zgornjesavinjski Želodec: it consists of a stuffed pig’s stomach that has been left dry from 5 to 6 months.
Slovenia is a country where locals love to use homegrown products. It seems logical that they eat much fish since Slovenia counts about 320 lakes and numerous rivers that encourage freshwater fishery.
Ribe na žaru is then the most popular fish dish, made of grilled fish especially made with species from the Bohinj or Bled lakes. The Soča Valley, that provides the best rivers, also offers the best trouts. It is especially recommended in Slovenia, whereas it is fried with cornflour or buckwheat or served with pršut and cherries.
Slovenian people are renowned for their passion for dairy products and numerous cheese and cheese-based products. Even if Slovenian food includes many meat-based dishes like various stews or sauce dishes, it also offers a great variety of products for vegetable lovers.
Even some hot pots like the famous Celery one can be vegetarian. Šelinka, the traditional dish from Kras and the Vipava Valley, is made of celery, potato, rice, and beans, but also dry wine or vinegar. Other versions can be more hearty stews or thick soups.
Vegetables and herbs are fresh and appreciated by Slovenians, which often have some garden but also town balconies and terraces to make them grow. They are mostly used in several vegetable soups. Cereals, especially buckwheat, and potatoes constitute the base of the Slovenian’s alimentation.
Also, Slovenian people are big fans of dairy products like kefir (a kind of white cheese, the most popular Slovene one) and smetana (fresh cream) used in numerous dishes like the popular polenta, and that sometimes replace meat or fish even in the main courses.
For example, some of the most popular versions of the savory börek do not include meat but spinach or cheese and are just as delicious and enjoyed by Slovenians. Those who are not fond of meat can easily find their heart’s desire amongst the numerous meat-free dishes.
This way, Slovenians and vegetarian tourists can thank the Italian influences for its vegetarian offer: Slovene people love to eat cheese or vegetarian pizzas, pieces of ravioli from Idrija like zlikrofi, but also diverse kinds of risottos and the famous Italian njoki, some potatoes dumplings.
Slovenians love to season their dishes with different local herbs or seasonings. The most original and popular one remains the pumpkin seeds oil, which is used to season every kind of salad, but most Slovenian people also enjoy some local olive oil. Garlic and onion, as well as salt and paper, are also inescapable in traditional Slovene dishes.
Sweet Teeth Treats
Slovenian people have the chance to live in a country with an abundance of excellent pastries and cream cakes that will make your mouth water. Sweets are probably the most renowned parts of the Slovene culinary culture, and they are definitely worth the try.
One of the most popular ones is Prekmurska gibanica. This is a very complicated layered cake, really representative of the Slovene tradition. It is composed of apple, poppy seeds, local white cheese (skuta), and nuts between layers of flaky pastry. It is not easy to balance, but it remains one of the Slovenians favorite treats.
Its only real competition is the most emblematic Slovene cake, potica. Its tradition dates back to 1575 and has been reinforced by a Church local tradition before it became the national Easter and Christmas holiday cake.
There are about 80 versions of the traditional potica, even if the original one remains the Orehova potica, made with nuts. Slovenians love the different tarragon, fresh cheese, walnuts, honey, or again chocolate.
However, there is still a lot of delicious Slovene cakes and snacks that are worth the try. Slovenians would probably also convince you to try Kremnsita, the famous cream cake from Lake Bled. Even if it is an enormous tourist attraction with 500 000 pieces sold each year, this sweet whipped cream and vanilla treat will not disappoint you.
Slovenian Best Drinks
It is difficult to talk about Slovenian food without mentioning the delicious Slovenian drinks that sublimate them so well.
To accompany their traditional dishes, Slovenian people usually choose to have a glass of milk or a Kéfir, but they also consume a lot of fruit juice. Even if our usual orange or apple juice is quite unsatisfactory in Slovenia, locals enjoy the fresh elderberry juice.
They also drink a lot of peaches, apricot, blackcurrant, and blackberry juices. I also recommend you try their local Coca-Cola, named Cockta, or some Shabeso, a very appreciated lemonade brand.
Slovenians are huge coffee (kava) lovers, and it is deeply rooted in the Slovene tradition. The Turk coffee culture is significant in Slovenia since the Ottoman occupation, and the proximity with Italy also guarantees Slovenians to have great coffee and cafés.
Coffee is often consumed with a Turk baklava, and always with a glass of water. Slovenians also love to have a black or Russian tea, or again a glass of hot milk without cocoa.
Local Alcoholic Drinks
If you come to Slovenia, you will notice that many locals are used to drinking a beer or a glass of wine while eating. These two beverages are very prevalent in the country, outplacing cider, and the numerous Slovenian schnapps.
In a nutshell, Slovenians are proud of their national culinary culture. Their local dishes and cakes represent the diversity and the complexity of Slovenian food and tradition and are an emblematic part of the national heritage.
Now that you have found out more about the Slovene eating habits and customs, do not hesitate to imitate them by coming here to try by yourself. If you plan a trip to Slovenia and are looking forward to discovering more of its culinary culture, I wish you Dober Tek!