Browse through our collection of best Lithuanian desserts and try some of these classic sweet treats featuring Šakotis, Blynai, and more!
When we talk about European desserts, we often think of the buttery bread dishes, creamy pastries, and sweet confections of France, Italy, Belgium, or the United Kingdom.
However, if you want something more unique for your next homemade dessert course, why not try out the dishes from this beautiful European country of Lithuania?
Lithuanian cuisine can be described as a combined product of the country’s diverse geography, available food staples, shared influence from Baltic and Northern European countries, generally cold and humid climate, and rich historical traditions passed on from one generation to the next.
They are primarily known for their main dishes, but Lithuania also has an equally interesting and diverse range of desserts and sweets.
From the cute mushroom-like cookies known as Grybukai, to the equally soft and tangy curd cheese crepes known as Lietiniai Blynai Su Varske, to the religious and holiday staples such as the Spurgos, and Žagarėliai, there are so many of these that you could discover in this country, or even create at the comfort of your own home.
Here are 21 Lithuanian desserts worth trying out for yourself!
Poppy seeds often bring a smoky, earthy flavor and aroma to the already sweet and delicate bread and pastries.
This ingredient is more widely used in European cuisines, such as in Lithuania, where it is used as a primary ingredient in certain snacks, including these soft and chewy poppy seed cookies known as Aguonų Sausainiukai.
Lithuanians consider these cookies popular daily and even special holiday snacks for youngsters and elders alike.
These are also easy to prepare as these can be done for only 20 to 25 minutes, so you don’t have to complicate the process when it comes to this local favorite.
Blynai, the local version of the pancake, is not actually a typical Lithuanian dish.
In fact, it is known to be adopted from the Russian pancake known as “blini,” where the blynai’s name came from.
Nonetheless, their pancakes contain fermented milk, bringing a tangy flavor to this classic dish.
However, while most of us consume pancakes during breakfast and snack time, the blynai is particularly popular during the Užgavėnės or the seventh week before Easter, a Lithuanian religious observance similar to Shrove Tuesday.
Šakotis, also known as Tree Cake, is a popular and traditional Lithuanian dessert that’s made with layers of an egg-rich batter.
The appearance of the cake is akin to the branches of a tree, which explains why it’s called a tree cake.
It’s then decorated with fresh flowers on top or at its base; you can eat cake pieces as is or along with fresh fruit and melted chocolate.
Do you know that there are more than 400 edible mushrooms that you can find in Lithuania?
In fact, mushrooms, grybai as they call it, are also part of the traditional Lithuanian dining table.
However, we’ll not be talking about actual mushrooms; instead, let’s look into these cute mushroom cookies known as Grybukai.
The name of this snack may fool you, but these cookies are not made from actual mushrooms.
Instead, these sweet treats are made of dough and molded to be mushroom-shaped.
Whether you make this a snack or a unique holiday delicacy, these mushroom cookies will surely put a smile on everyone’s faces.
Kuciukai and Agounų Pienas are both famed Christmas treats, particularly for children and those with a sweet tooth.
In this case, Kiciukai is a round-shaped baked bread with poppy seeds that is often consumed as an edible treat in itself.
These poppy seed bread treats are often hard-biting and are traditionally known as ritual bread during the holidays.
However, this bread delicacy is often paired with Agounų Pienas or poppy seed milk, which adds another layer of sweetness and smoky aroma to the famed Christmas bread.
Are you down for some Lithuanian crepes?
Lietiniai Blynai Su Varške can be roughly translated as “crepes filled with cottage cheese.”
Indeed, these crepes are filled with cottage cheese or, more specifically, varškės sūris or Quark curd cheese.
These crepes are best consumed with raspberry, blueberry, and similar berry jams in the market.
Lithuanians have several classic bread and pastries for the holidays, and this one is no exception.
In this case, this bread dish features poppy seeds and raisins scattered on the bread loaves, giving a sweet, mildly tangy, and aromatic treat for Christmas celebrations.
Lithuanian Honey Cake, locally known as Medutis, is historically adopted from the similar recipe known as Medovik, a layered cake famous among then-Soviet States.
However, the Medutis is considered one of Lithuania’s well-preserved pastry recipes, although variations of the recipe have been practiced over time.
As a classic dish, this sponge cake is the kind of snack served at any time of the day, but you could also make this one to impress your loved ones during special gatherings.
Napoleon cake is not exactly a Lithuanian original dish.
The exact history of the Napoleon cake has been disputed, but it is known in France as “Mille-feuille” (which translates to “a thousand layers”) and in Russia and eventually Soviet States, where it is more known as the “Napoleon,” in commemoration with the country’s victory against the French under Napoleon Bonaparte.
In this case, the Lithuanian version of the Napoleon closely follows the Russian recipe, having alternating layers of puff pastries and cream and fruit jams such as apricots.
Lithuanians have many famed bread and cakes with certain fruits, including the Obuolių Pyragas, their version of the Apple cake.
This apple cake dish is widely known among Lithuanians, with their recipe and culinary tradition transferred from one generation to the next.
Like the Christmas Bread, Lithuanians have another well-known raisin bread dish for Easter.
For those who are unaware, Easter is a primarily Christian observance celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the dead, marking the end of Lent.
Being a primarily Catholic nation, Lithuania holds Easter in high regard, with this raisin bread and other dishes a sight on every dining table during this day.
Rye bread is one if not the most popular bread staple among Northern, Central and Eastern European countries, including Lithuania.
In this case, the Ruginė Duona or Lithuanian black rye bread has a meticulous process before you could consume the final product.
This includes phases where you have to mix rye flour, sour culture, rye malt, sponge, scald, and other sweeteners and leavening agents to achieve a certain quality for this rye bread.
Can’t get enough poppy seeds on your bread?
Šimtalapis means “A Hundred Leaves,” and this is what you will be getting with every slice of this bread dish.
Well, not really a hundred leaves, but you’ll have a slice of bread rolls with layers of poppy seeds, giving you a combined sweet, smokey, and earthy sensation.
A classic Easter staple, Šimtalapis can also be served as a breakfast meal or snack and paired with coffee, milk, tea, and other beverages of your choice.
Have you heard of an “anthill cake”?
Lithuania’s anthill cake dessert is locally known as Skruzdėlynas.
This recipe calls for small, thin sheets of dough to be fried and dipped in a honey-sour cream-butter mixture before placing on top of each other while drizzled in poppy seeds.
Given the meticulous preparation of this dish, Skruzdėlynas is often reserved for holidays and special occasions.
However, waiting to have these greasy dessert snacks is worth it once you already have them on your plate.
Whether it is Christmas or a regular afternoon, your gustatory experience will not be complete without some sweet and syrupy puddings.
In this case, Lithuanians have their pudding delicacy through the Spanguolių drebučiai or cranberry pudding.
Cranberries have a tart, tangy flavor, which complements the soft and delicate texture and mild taste of the pudding, making this a very sought-after dish for kids and adults alike.
Spurgos is one if not the most famous Lithuanian pastry out there and is particularly popular as a doughnut treat during Užgavėnės.
Some Spurgos are akin to the Polish doughnut Pączki, a popular pre-Lent meal.
Meanwhile, many Lithuanian Spurgos are made of curd cheese and are referred to as Varškės spurgos.
However, other Spurgos recipes exist, utilizing fruits, fruit jams, and other ingredients and fillings.
Tinginys has a fascinating story.
Initially, people combine cookies or biscuits with cocoa, condensed milk, sugar, and butter before leaving them in the refrigerator through a plastic casing.
This has led to its namesake, Tinginys, which means lazy.
However, a woman was said to accidentally create a modernized version of this sweet treat after adding biscuits to the syrup mixture of chocolate and excess sugar, creating the Tinginys that Lithuanians know and love today.
Currently, these choco biscuit bars come in various sizes for everyone to enjoy.
Yes, Lithuanians also love having their curd cheese on their pancakes.
This is especially evident through these relatively small but chewy and tasty Varškėčiai or curd cheese pancakes.
Using curd cheese as batter makes these pancakes uniquely palatable to Lithuanians and will impress your loved ones who want a different spin on this breakfast classic.
With Lithuania producing its brand of cottage cheeses, particularly with varškės sūris, it’s no wonder these Lithuanian doughnuts will be made with their cheese.
For those who don’t know, varškės sūris is the Lithuanian version of Quark cheese.
Hence, it offers a distinct smokey, tangy, and creamy flavor to these doughnuts and other known Lithuanian pastries.
Angel Wings are famous fried pastries in European countries, as it is commonly consumed during the period before Lent.
Predominantly Catholic European countries mainly consume this on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before the following week’s Ash Thursday.
In Lithuania, people create these deep-fried sticks known as Žagarėliai, which are somewhat related to Skruzdėlynas as the deep-fried pieces of the anthill cake are considered Angel Wings.
Let’s cap this list off with the Zefyrai, a soft confectionery named after Zephir, the Greek God of the west wind.
Zefyrai is adapted from Russian sweets that are similarly named Zefir.
At first glance, you’ll immediately mistake this with merengues, which have a similar appearance.
However, unlike meringues with a crisp exterior and soft insides, the Zefyrai is soft as marshmallows.
Given this, the Zefyrai is a perfect snack and sides for many pastries, adding another layer of aesthetics to Lithuania’s colorful cakes and pastries.
The bottom line
If you look into the commonalities between these desserts from Lithuania, it’s that all of these use the same ingredients—poppy seeds, potatoes, curd cheese, and others.
For other desserts, it is that it has shared influence from and with fellow Baltic and post-Soviet Nations, particularly Russia.
These things show Lithuania’s enduring culinary tradition, not just on their desserts alone but also in their main and side dishes.
This is why we should appreciate, discover and try out their mouth-watering dishes, as these are our window to the country that is Lithuania.
- Aguonų Sausainiukai (Poppy Seed Cookies)
- Blynai (Pancakes)
- Šakotis (Tree Cake)
- Grybukai ("Mushroom" Cookies)
- Kuciukai & Agounų Pienas
- Lietiniai Blynai Su Varške (Curd-Filled Crepes)
- Lithuanian Christmas Bread
- Medutis (Honey Cake)
- Napoleon Torte (Napoleon Cake)
- Obuolių Pyragas (Apple Cake)
- Pyragas Su razinomis (Raisin Bread)
- Ruginė Duona (Black Rye Bread)
- Šimtalapis (A Hundred Layer Cake / Poppy Seed Roll)
- Skruzdėlynas (Anthill Cake)
- Spanguolių Drebučiai (Cranberry Pudding)
- Spurgos (Lithuanian Donuts)
- Tinginys ("Lazy Cake")
- Varškėčiai (Curd Cheese Pancakes)
- Varškės Spurgos (Curd Cheese Doughnuts)
- Žagarėliai / Žagarėlis (Angel Wings)
- Skim through our Lithuanian Desserts list.
- Select the recipe you’re looking for.
- Prep the ingredients as instructed.
- Spill your thoughts on our Facebook page!