Cuisine of Estonia

Cuisine of Estonia

The traditional cuisine of Estonia uses meat and potatoes varieties, which today is influenced by many countries. Today it includes many typical international foods. The most typical foods in Estonia are black bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products. [ [,8 Eesti Toit infoserver v2.0.3.0 ] ] Estonian food preference have historically depended heavily on seasons.

The Cold Table

The first course in the traditional Estonian cuisine are cold dishes, selection of meats and sausages served with potato salad or "Rosolje", one of Estonian signature dishes based on beetroot, meat and herring [ Estonia By Michael Spilling] ] . Small pies called "pirukas" filled with either meat, cabbage or carrots are also popular.
Herring is common among other fish as a part of the Estonian Cold Table. Rare smoked or marinated Anguillidae, lobster dishes and imported crabs, shrimps are considered delicatessens. Estonia has national fish, "räim" (Baltic small herring). Sprat, flounder and perch are also popular.


Soups are traditionally eaten before the main course and most often are made of chicken bouillon mixed with variety of vegetables. Soups are also bland with creamy dishes with sour cream, milk and yogurt.

The Main Course

Meat and potatoes variety covered with a rich gravy and often served with Sauerkraut has been the treaditional Estonian main course. Pork is the most important meat and it's eaten as roasted, cured, bacon, ham, or in pies and sausages.


Specific desserts include kissel, curd snack and kama. Of pastries, rhubarb pies have been popular.

Black Bread

Black rye bread accompanies almost every food in Estonia. Instead of wishing "bon appetite" Estonians sometimes say "jätku leiba" ("may your bread last"). Historically, the bread has had almost sacred status - if a piece of bread was dropped on the floor, it had to be kissed after picking up. If Estonians go abroad they often say that they miss black bread the most.


Most typical drink is milk. Traditionally popular drink is also kali. Estonians are also proud of their beer.


Summer and Spring

Traditionally in summer and spring, Estonians like to eat everything fresh - berries, herbs, vegetables and everything else that comes straight from the garden. Hunting and fishing have also been very common, although nowadays hunting and fishing are more of popular hobbies. Today it is also very popular to grill outside in summer.

Winter and Christmas

Traditionally in winter jams, preserves and pickles are brought to the table. Estonia has been through rough times in the past and thus gathering and conserving fruits, mushrooms and vegetables for winter has always been essential. Today gathering and conserving is not that common because everything can be bought from stores, but preparing food for winter is still very popular in countryside and still has somewhat ritual significance.
Blood sausage ( _et. verivorst), jellied meat ( _et. sült) and sauerkraut ( _et. hapukapsas) have been part of the traditional Estonian menu that nowadays are mostly Christmas specialties. Also, typical Christmas treats have been apples, mandarins and gingerbread.

Notes and references

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