17 Classic Polish Recipes to Make for Wigilia

Cook Up a Special Christmas Eve Feast

Polish Beet Soup

The Spruce

Wigilia—derived from the Latin term "vigil"—is the traditional Christmas Eve supper in Poland. Also known as the Star Supper, Wigilia is the main focus of Polish Christmas celebrations. The meal begins after the first star appears in the sky on the evening of December 24th and is always meatless to honor the animals that kept Jesus warm when he was born. Fish is served as the main course at this holiday dinner, with a variety of traditional Polish recipes—including much-loved pierogi dumplings—making up the other courses.

  • 01 of 17

    Creamed Herring Salad

    Creamed Herring Salad

    Barbara Rolek

    When Eastern Europeans enjoy herring, it is almost always pickled. This classic creamy pickled herring salad includes boiled potatoes, hard-cooked eggs, chopped tart apples, onion, and dill pickle, all mixed in a tangy sour cream and vinegar dressing.

  • 02 of 17

    Polish Rolled Herring (Rolmopsy)

    Pickle herring for polish rollmops recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Wrap store-bought pickled herring fillets around dill pickles, pickled mushrooms, or pickled onions, to make this traditional Polish dish often served as a starter course at Wigilia celebrations.

  • 03 of 17

    Polish Pickled Beets

    Polish Pickled Beets

    Barbara Rolek

    Pickled beets are an important component of Polish Christmas Eve dinners, when they are served with other pickled field vegetables on relish trays (an appetizer sampler featuring raw and brined vegetables). Try this quick pickle recipe to "put up" a bounty of beets in less than an hour.

  • 04 of 17

    Polish Kolaczki Cookies

    Polish Kolaczki

    The Spruce

    Sometimes called Polish foldovers, kolaczki are filled cookies that are popular at holiday time in Poland. Use a cream cheese dough, with apricot preserves as the filling, to make these cookies. To prepare ahead, fill and freeze unbaked cookies, then bake them straight from the freezer, adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.

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  • 05 of 17

    Polish Christmas Cooked Wheat Pudding

    Polish Christmas Cooked Wheat Pudding

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    Sweet, chewy, soft, and crunchy all at once, Christmas cooked wheat pudding is usually the first course served at a traditional Wigilia supper. To make it, toss cooked wheat berries with raisins, nuts, figs, dates, poppy seeds, lemon zest, honey, and vanilla, for a tasty bowlful that tastes somewhat like a sweet, fruit-filled oatmeal.

  • 06 of 17

    Polish Beet Soup

    Polish Beet Soup

    The Spruce

    Don't mistake this soup for Russian beet borscht. While its Soviet cousin is thick and filled with chunky vegetables, Polish red beet soup (or "barszcz") is more broth-like. The clear, ruby-red liquid gets the desired note of sourness from lemon juice or vinegar and is typically served hot for Wigilia, often with mushroom dumplings (uszka) floating in the bowls.

  • 07 of 17

    Polish Honey-Spiced Vodka

    Polish Honey-Spiced Vodka

    The Spruce

    Honey-spiced vodka is typically the alcoholic beverage of choice at a Wigilia feast. Mix up a batch of this heady concoction by combining vodka and honey with a fragrant, spice-infused simple syrup including vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorns, and aniseed.

  • 08 of 17

    Polish Mushroom Soup

    Polish Mushroom Soup

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    Poles consider this sour mushroom soup a national treasure and for good reason. It is hearty, savory, and loaded with great flavor. Combine the soaking liquid from reconstituted dried mushrooms with vegetable stock, to create the broth for this meatless soup, adding pearl barley and sour cream for tanginess and texture. It's even better with kluski noodles, which you can make from scratch, using the recipe below.

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  • 09 of 17

    Polish Kluski Noodles

    Polish Kluski Noodles

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    Thin kluski noodles are a joy to discover in your bowl of soup. Most Americans are familiar with this type of noodle, as it is similar to one found in a popular brand of canned chicken noodle soup. Make kluski easily in your own kitchen, with the classic recipe that requires only four ingredients.

  • 10 of 17

    Brown Butter Trout

    Brown Butter Trout

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    Freshwater fish, such as trout, are the typical main course at a meat-free Polish Christmas Eve supper. Dress boneless trout fillets in a simple, delicious lemon-brown butter sauce, before cooking them quickly under the broiler, for an easy entree. Serve topped with extra butter sauce, and fresh snipped parsley.

  • 11 of 17

    Polish Fish in the Greek Style

    Polish Fish in the Greek Style

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    While it goes by the name "Greek style," this traditional fish and tomatoes recipe is Polish through and through. Quickly pan-fry white fish fillets until golden-brown and crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Then smother the fish in a zesty tomato-vegetable sauce and serve hot.

  • 12 of 17

    Lemon Garlic Tilapia

    Lemon Garlic Tilapia

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    Lemon garlic tilapia takes only 20 minutes to prepare and bake, making this a quick and easy dish to serve at your holiday dinner. Rub tilapia fillets with a delicious spice mixture, including lemon-pepper seasoning, paprika, dill, garlic and onion powders, before baking the fish to perfection in your oven.

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  • 13 of 17

    Polish Noodles with Poppy Seeds

    Polish noodles with poppy seeds recipe

    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

    Polish egg noodles in a warm, buttery sauce with ground poppy seeds, honey, raisins, nuts, and candied orange peel are a special favorite at Wigilia time. You can make this classic recipe in 30 minutes, but do allow time for soaking poppy seeds overnight in milk.

  • 14 of 17

    Light Rye Bread With Caraway Seeds

    Light Rye Bread With Caraway Seeds

    Steven Mark Needham/Getty Images

    In Poland, most every meal is accompanied by rye bread and Christmas Eve dinner is no exception. Bake up a tasty, tangy, caraway-seed flecked loaf with this no-bread machine recipe that adds whole-wheat flour to rye flour, for a lighter-tasting bread.

  • 15 of 17

    Polish Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi

    Polish Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi

    Neil Farrin/AWL Images/Getty Images

    Sauerkraut and mushrooms are a popular combination in Poland. They make a tasty, meatless filling for the traditional boiled pierogi dumplings enjoyed as a savory side dish at holiday meals and throughout the year. Serve hot with sour cream and melted butter.

  • 16 of 17

    Polish Poppy Seed Roll

    Polish Poppy Seed Roll

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    No Eastern European dessert table would be complete without a sweet treat made with poppy seeds. Learn how to prepare the classic sweet, yeasty Polish poppy seed strudel that makes a comforting Christmas Eve dessert and a great snack with tea or coffee the next day.

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  • 17 of 17

    Polish Dried Fruit Compote

    Polish Dried Fruit Compote

    The Spruce

    Stewed, spiced fruits are enjoyed year-round in Eastern Europe and are a typical Wigilia dessert. Reconstitute dried fruits in simmering water, nicely-spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest, for serving warm. If you like a boozier version, replace some or all of the water in the recipe with brandy.