20 Famous Moldovan Dishes and Traditional Foods

Moldovan dishes are a blend of neighboring cuisines, featuring hearty meats, vegetables, and renowned wines.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Moldovan Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Meat, fish, flour, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, wine.

Common Cooking Methods

Baking, Boiling, Deep-frying.


Main Course, Dessert, Appetizer.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Key Taste

Sweet, Savory

Eating Etiquette

Arrive on time for meals; eat with forks and knives; place bread in the tablecloth next to the plate.

Meal Presentation

Serve food in large portions; simple meal presentation; focus on the ingredients rather than on elaborate garnishes.

Culinary Festivals

Christmas, Fuesent (Carnival), Easter.

Influence and Fusion

Luxembourg dishes are strongly influenced by the cuisines of France, Belgium, and Germany.
Origin and Region

Moldovan Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Western Europe
Moldova Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Moldovan Food

  • Cakes and pastries

    In Moldova, this category includes a variety of baked goods that range from sweet, layered cakes filled with cream or fruit, to savory pastries often filled with cheese or potatoes.

  • Fried dishes

    Moldovan cuisine features fried dishes that highlight the rich, savory flavors of meats and vegetables, often coated in breadcrumbs or batter for a crispy exterior.

    This cooking method is popular for both main courses and appetizers, showcasing the country’s love for hearty, comforting foods.

  • Soups

    Soups in Moldova are typically hearty and flavorful, made with a base of meat or vegetables, and often enriched with noodles or dumplings.

    They serve as a staple in Moldovan meals.

  • Desserts

    Moldovan desserts are diverse, featuring sweet treats that range from creamy, layered cakes to fried doughnuts and pastries filled with jam or cheese.

    These desserts often incorporate local fruits and dairy products.

Moldovan dishes are specialties that combine Romanian traditions with influences coming from Greek specialties , Polish specialties, Ukrainian culinary creations, and Russian fares. These culinary creations include meats, potatoes, cabbage, and cereal grains.

Also, vegetables play a significant role, appearing in salads, sauces, or as pickled (murături). On traditional holiday occasions, fare includes stuffed cabbage rolls (sarmale) and various baked goods.

Moldova’s fertile lands also contribute to its renowned wine production, including the famous sparkling wines from Cricova. This rich culinary tradition showcases Moldova’s agricultural bounty and cultural intersections.

Getting to know about traditional Moldovan food offers a journey through a cuisine that brings together the richness of the land with the diversity of its cultural influences. Here’s a glimpse into what makes Moldovan culinary tradition stand out:

  • Corn and Grains: The backbone of many dishes, providing a versatile base for both savory and sweet recipes.
  • Dairy Products: Essential for adding depth and flavor, from creamy to tangy profiles.
  • Meats: Varied use of pork, beef, lamb, and poultry, often highlighted in stews and grilled dishes.
  • Vegetables and Legumes: Integral for their freshness and preservation techniques, enriching the cuisine’s palette.
  • Soups: Characterized by their sour taste, a testament to the inventive use of local ingredients to flavor broths.
  • Festive Foods: A reflection of the country’s traditions, where food plays a central role in celebrations and holidays.
  • Influence of Neighbors: A culinary crossroads that incorporates elements from Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, and Ottoman kitchens.

To follow that up, you should take a look at the popularity of Moldova food, further cementing these dishes in the world.

Generally, Moldovan dishes offer a rich mix of cultural influences and traditional dishes. In countries with Moldovan immigrant communities, such as the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe, there is likely to be a greater awareness and appreciation of Moldovan food.

These communities often bring their culinary traditions with them, introducing Moldovan dishes to a broader audience through restaurants, cultural festivals, and family gatherings.

Yet, outside these communities, Moldovan cuisine remains relatively niche, awaiting discovery by the global food community.

To uncover more about Moldovan food, I suggest taking a look at the health aspect of these food options.

Moldovan cuisine is considered healthy due to several key factors inherent in its traditional cooking methods and ingredients:

  • Fresh, Seasonal Produce: The emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables ensures meals are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Lean Proteins: Incorporation of lean meats like poultry, fish, and the traditional use of legumes provide high-quality protein with lower levels of saturated fats.
  • Fermented Foods: The use of fermented products like brined cheese and pickled vegetables introduces probiotics, supporting gut health.
  • Herbs and Spices: Generous use of herbs and spices not only enhances flavor without relying on salt but also adds antioxidants to the diet.
  • Moderation in Fats and Portions: Moldovan cooking practices moderate use of fats and emphasizes balanced portion sizes, contributing to a diet that supports heart health and weight management.

Now you’re ready to learn more about Moldovan dishes, let’s find out the 20 popular options to add to your next meal.

20 Popular Moldovan Dishes

Let’s jump into the specialties of Moldova by making full use of the filter system to see these dishes in alphabetical order, ingredients, dish types, cooking methods, taste, and global popularity.

To add to that, discover some most popular, traditional, and national specialties of Moldova:

  • These encompass the heart of Moldovan cuisine, often found in households and restaurants throughout the country.
  • They embody the essence of Moldova’s rich culinary landscape, frequently chosen for both everyday meals and special occasions due to their beloved flavors.
  • These represent the historical and cultural heritage of Moldova, passed down through generations and deeply embedded in the nation’s identity.
  • Recipes and cooking techniques characterize these dishes.
  • Often prepared during traditional festivities and family gatherings, symbolizing the continuity of Moldovan culture.
Salata de Boeuf

Salată de Boeuf

  • Traditional

Salată de boeuf was inspired by a Russian delicacy called salat Olivje or Olivier salad. This traditional beef salad is a combination of root vegetables with finely diced beef and mayonnaise.

The salad is frequently served on important occasions such as Easter or Christmas. The term boeuf means beef, the main ingredient of the dish.

However, you can replace it with poultry meat like chicken or turkey.

For serving, the tanginess from the pickled veggies makes it the perfect dish to serve alongside fried meats.



  • Traditional

Răcitură is a traditional cold jelly dish from Moldova and Romania, consisting of boiled meat and vegetables encased in a gelatinous broth.

Commonly made with pig’s trotter, turkey, or chicken and infused with garlic, it is traditionally served during Epiphany, a significant Christian feast day.



  • Traditional

Tochitură is a dish of Moldova that involves slow-cooking meat in fat”. This traditional stew calls for cooking small pork cubes over low heat in their own fat, making them more tender and flavorful.

People often pair it with mămăligă (maize flour polenta), sunny-side-up eggs, cheese, and perhaps a glass of wine. You can also choose whatever kinds of meat like beef, chicken, or lamb.



  • Traditional

Zeamă is a Moldovan creation of chicken soup, usually used as a hangover remedy. Eaten at any time of the day, it is most commonly served at lunch with some cornbread or sour cream.

In terms of ingredients, this sour and savory chicken soup has onions, sweet peppers, and various veggies and herbs. Some even add thin egg noodles to it.

The sourness comes from borș acru (fermented wheat bran juice). But since this ingredient is relatively inaccessible, people sometimes use sauerkraut juice or lemon juice instead.



  • Traditional

Pârjoale is a meatball of Moldova created using minced pork and beef (occasionally lamb or chicken). The meat will be mixed with eggs, soaked bread slices, potatoes, and chopped onions.

Once coated in breadcrumbs, people will fry pârjoale. In Moldova, the locals usually eat them with whole-grain mustard on a slice of rye bread.



  • Traditional

Chiftele are deep-fried meatballs, boasting a flat and round shape. These flavorful meatballs are often paired with mashed potatoes, creating a dish called chiftele cu piure (meatballs with mashed potatoes).

Additionally, chiftele and pilaf mixed rice is also an excellent food combo. Alternatively, the rice is sometimes mixed directly into the meatballs to create perişoare used in a sour soup.

Peste Prajit

Pește Prăjit

  • Traditional

Pește prăjit is a deep-fried fish dish that is probably one of Moldovan cuisine’s most delectable seafood dishes.

Any fish type is fit for making pește prăjit. However, the locals often go for Crucian carp, a nutrient-rich river fish.

The fried fish dish tastes best when paired with mămăliga and mujdei (traditional garlic, vinegar, and oil sauce).



  • National
  • Traditional

Mămăligă is a traditional porridge of Moldova and Romania made by peasants in the olden days as a way to keep their families fed.

Often comes in blocks, mămăligă is all about cooking cornmeal with a bit of water in a round-bottomed kettle. It’s then cut into smaller pieces by a string and acts as a bread substitute for those who couldn’t afford it.

Nowadays, mămăligă is enjoyed with butter, sour cream, cheese, or even meat. Cornmeal is still an essential ingredient since it gives the dish the signature bright yellow color.



  • Traditional

Sarmale is a popular cabbage-rolled dish made by wrapping minced meat, rice, and herbs in a cabbage leaf. These rolls will then be cooked in tomato sauce and topped with a bit of sour cream.

The dish is an irreplaceable part of the everyday life of the Moldovan people, ideal for serving with mămăligă. Sarmale even makes its appearance during major parties and celebrations in this nation.

Ardei Umpluti

Ardei Umpluți

  • Traditional

Ardei umpluți is a well-loved dish by the Moldovans made by stuffing bell pepper with a mixture of rice, vegetables, and meat for serving with sour cream.

With another name of chiperi umpluți, the dish is translated as filled or stuffed peppers. Aside from bell pepper, this stuffed dish is easily customizable by swapping the types of veggies and fillings.

Beetroot Soup


  • Traditional

Borscht is the famous Moldovan beetroot soup that holds an important place in other Eastern European countries. Plus, the soup is even considered a staple home-cooked specialty in the country.

Different from other countries’ beetroot soup, the Moldovan version comes with wheat bran called broș for a tangy and sour touch to the broth. For serving, borscht still goes with sour cream to adjust the flavor profile.



  • Traditional

Sfințișori, also known as mucenici moldovenești (Moldavian martyrs), is a dessert pastry topped with honey and almonds. This sweet creation offers a crispy and sticky exterior and a light and fluffy interior.

The remarkable thing about Sfințișori is that it’s shaped like an eight, referring to March 8th, the day before the Christian feast of the 40 Martyrs. During this traditional holiday, people often bake 40 pieces of bread and enjoy them with added honey and walnuts.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Plăcinte is a Moldovan dessert, often enjoyed as a breakfast item for many locals. In fact, plăcinte is so popular that you can easily find them at every restaurant or bakery across the country.

The sweet fillings of this dessert consist of pumpkin, apple, cheese (urdă), and cherry, while the savory adaptation features cottage cheese, potatoes, or cabbage. Ideally, these pastries come in a round or square shape.



  • Traditional

Smetannik is a sweet cake in Moldova that has an origin in Russia. The delicate and luscious multi-layer cake is filled with sour cream and topped with tangy white icing.

Commonly, locals sweeten the cake with sour cream and flavor it with vanilla.

The locals love to enjoy this treat during birthdays and wedding parties.

Cusma lui Guguta

Cușma lui Guguță’

Cușma lui guguță’ is a dish from Moldova consisting of multiple layered crepes to form the shape of the cap of Guguță, a famous folktale character in the country.

Besides the fascinating backstory, this dessert boasts layers of sour cherries and whipping cream for a perfect balance between sweet and sour. Finally, the dark chocolate flakes sprinkled on top also add a nice touch.



  • Traditional

Colac is a traditional braided bread from Moldova and Romania, specially prepared for holidays and significant occasions. The term “colac” derives from Slavic languages, meaning “circle” or “wheel,” which reflects the bread’s circular shape.

In Moldova, colac includes a wide range of braided bread, ranging from plain to savory or sweet options. For the sweet bread, colac usually features nuts and fruits over the bread surface.



  • Traditional

Cozonac is a bread traditionally made for Easter and other significant festivals in Moldova and Romania. This Easter bread varies differently depending on the region.

While the Moldavians like to add lemon zest to the dough, the people from other countries opt for raisins, shredded orange, or hazelnuts. This citrus-scented sweet dough is wrapped around a nutty filling and baked into a spiral form.

Besides Easter, cozonac is also the go-to dish for major holidays like Christmas, Good Friday, and New Year’s Eve.



  • Traditional

Pască is a bread popular in Moldova made with the same dough as cozonac, but it has sweet cheese and raisins filled within. Therefore, pască’s flavor is like a cross between a cheesecake and a panettone, with a soft exterior and a creamy interior.

The is also a staple of Moldovan Easter celebrations. The swirl of yellow and white inside the bread is associated with Christian symbolism, with the yellow swirl representing Jesus’s resurrection, while the white represents the Holy Spirit.



  • Traditional

Papanași is a dessert that means “meal for youngsters” in Moldova with cheesy donuts topped with sour cream, cottage cheese, and jam all match so well with the crunchy texture of the dough balls.

In Moldova and Romania, the locals usually pair these donuts with fruity jam, the most popular one being currant or blueberry jam. Aside from the fried version, boiled papanași is another way to enjoy this treat.



  • Traditional

Cornulețe is another traditional Moldovan sweet treat, coming in a crescent shape loaded with jam, Turkish delight, chocolate, or walnuts. These pastries are often made during the Christmas season as well as other special events.

But these delights are also available at the local bakeries year-round, so be sure to grab some when you can.

What Moldovan Dishes to Pair with Drinks?

To pair Moldovan dishes with drinks, here are some pairing suggestions to brighten up your meal:

  • Divin (Moldovan Brandy): Pair with hearty meat dishes such as friptură (lamb or goat stew) or roasted pork. The strong flavors of the brandy complement the richness of the meat.
  • Beer: Goes well with casual, less formal dishes like mămăligă with sour cream, or with grilled meats and sausages.
  • Local White and Red Wines: Moldova’s wines, made from grapes, can be paired with a variety of dishes. White wines complement lighter dishes such as chicken or fish soups, while red wines pair well with heavier, meat-based dishes like sarmale.
  • Sparkling Wines: Moldova is renowned for its sparkling wines, which are perfect for celebrations and pair beautifully with appetizers, light salads, and desserts. The effervescence and acidity of sparkling wines like those from Cricova winery can cut through the richness of dishes, making them a versatile pairing option.

Also, do you have any further questions about Moldovan foods and cuisine? Let me know in the comment section below. Thank you for reading and make sure to share these specialties of Moldova with others.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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