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Polish Deli Meats: A Complete Guide

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Polish Deli Meat

Are you ready to spice up your deli meat game? If so, then it’s time to try out Polish deli meats. These meats, which include favorites like kielbasa, skwarki, and salceson, have a rich history and were passed down through generations of Polish families.

The traditional methods of preparing these meats were not only a way to preserve them but also a way to make them taste delicious. These traditional methods, combined with natural ingredients, give Polish deli meats their distinct flavor and texture.

The meats are typically made from pork, although beef and poultry are also used. The meats are first seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices and then smoked and cured.

Some deli meats like kielbasa are also cooked before being packaged for sale. The process can take several days or even weeks, depending on the type of meat, but it is well worth the wait.

Here Are Some of the Most Common Polish Deli Meats for You to Try

1. Kiełbasa piaszczańska

Kiełbasa piaszczańska, a little difficult to pronounce yet unique in taste, is a dry, cured pork sausage. It is one of the most popular varieties of Polish deli meat and hails from the village of Piaski Wielkie, a place known for its meat and cured meats, particularly sausages.

The locals, also known as Kijacy, have a special way of marinating the meat in a mixture of rock salt and herb stock, giving kiełbasa piaszczańska its distinct and delicious flavor.

The secret spices used in the marinade include allspice, bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, ground black pepper, and nutmeg. Let’s not forget the smoking process, which gives the kiełbasa its strong smoky flavor and pronounced juniper aftertaste.

While the smoking process used to occur in earthen pits, it now occurs in state-of-the-art smoking chambers. Perfectly paired with a cold beverage, kiełbasa piaszczańska is the ultimate comfort food.

2. Polędwica sopocka

Polędwica sopocka is a steamed and smoked pork loin that is one of Poland’s most popular types of ham. With its beautiful brown peel and pink meat, it is a sight to behold.

The addition of natural spices plus the traditional pork scent will make your mouth water. The time and care that goes into it makes it even better. The curing process takes 5-10 days in a cool place and uses only the best ingredients like curing salt, bay leaf, garlic, and a few grains of allspice.

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Polędwica sopocka is the perfect addition to any salad or sandwich. And while it is widely available in shops, some people take the time to prepare it from scratch, particularly during the holiday season. So, try some for yourself!

Be sure to check out our Guide to Polish Food Terms.

3. Kiełbasa krakowska sucha staropolska

Made with coarsely ground lean pork and a blend of spices, including garlic and nutmeg, Kiełbasa krakowska sucha staropolska is a sausage that is smoke-cured and dried to perfection. The natural casing gives it a dark brown outer color and a shiny, slightly wrinkled surface. The ends are tied or stapled together, giving it a rustic and homemade feel.

One bite of Kiełbasa krakowska sucha staropolska, and you will taste cured meat’s strong, smoky flavor with a hint of pepper. The nutmeg and garlic add a delicate aftertaste that will leave you wanting more. And the best part? This sausage has a long shelf life, so that you can enjoy it anytime the craving strikes.

Next time you are looking for a sausage with some bold flavor, skip the grocery store and opt for Kiełbasa krakowska sucha staropolska. Your taste buds will thank you.

4. Salceson

Salceson is a delicacy that is also known as Polish head cheese. This unique meat product is made from pork, beef, or veal mixed with fat, offal, meat, blood, skins, scraps, and spices. The meat is cooked, seasoned, and then packed into beef bones or pork chops before being cooked again and ironed.

The days are long gone when salceson was considered an inferior meat product. Today, it is a gourmet delicacy that foodies highly want. There are over ten different varieties of salceson, each with its unique shape, seasonings, and main ingredients. Some varieties use pork, while others exclusively use veal.

Regardless of the type, it is usually served as a cold cut and paired with bread and other meat products. If you are looking for a texturally exciting treat and something sweet to eat after, these Jewish cookies are sure to hit the spot.

5. Boczek

Boczek is a meat product eaten with any dish, whether a hearty soup or a comforting casserole. Add it to your bigos, or your golabki, or enjoy it with a slice of rye bread and some mustard. Made with the best cuts of pork belly and rib meat, boczek is cured and smoked bacon.

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But what sets boczek apart from your regular old bacon? For starters, there are countless varieties to choose from. Double-smoked, smoked and cooked, hunter-style, or with ribs on, known as boczek kościa, the options are endless. So next time you want to add some extra flavor to your meal, reach for a little boczek.

6. Skwarki

Skwarki is crispy and savory pork cubes that truly stand out from others. These little nuggets of deliciousness are made by taking pork back fat or fat pork trimmings and cutting them into ¼ inch cubes. The cubes are then slowly fried in a pan until they reach a light brown color, giving them that irresistible crispy texture.

But Skwarki is not just any old pork cube. It is the byproduct of making lard through fat rendering. And let us tell you, fatback is the preferred choice for making Skwarki because it gives a richer and more flavorful bite. In fact, Skwarki with lard has been used as a butter substitute in Europe for centuries.

So, grab a bag of Skwarki and pair it with some bread and raw onions for a truly traditional experience.

If you like skwarki, you might like Lox too!

7. Kiełbasa jałowcowa

Kiełbasa jałowcowa is a true delicacy for any meat lover! Imagine a plump, u-shaped sausage delicately wrinkled to perfection, like a garland of meaty goodness. This sausage is made from the choicest cuts of fattened pigs’ meat with the perfect blend of juniper berries, pepper, and sugar. It is then stuffed into pig intestines and shaped into small or large garlands, ready to be baked and smoked over juniper branches.

But the magic does not end there. The sausages are then dried for up to five days, giving them a dark brown color, piney flavor, and aroma. If you are in the mood for a snack, a cold cut for your sandwich, or just a tasty treat, Kiełbasa jałowcowa is sure to hit the spot. So go ahead, give in to your meaty cravings, and indulge in this Polish delicacy!

Polędwica Wędzona. Smoked Pork Loin (Lunch Meat) part 1/2

The Poledwice Project. Smoked Pork Loin lunchmeat. This is part of a 2 video series. This is the preparation video to be followed by the smoking process video. This is a very common lunchmeat offered in Poland as pork is very prevalent in their culture and diet. An easy to do recipe and so tasty. Look out for the 2nd video…

Polish Deli Meats – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Polish Food Unhealthy?

Many people may assume that Polish food is unhealthy due to its rich, hearty dishes. However, this is not necessarily the case. There are plenty of options within the Polish diet that can benefit weight loss or overall health. It is important to remember that all food can be enjoyed in moderation and balanced with a healthy lifestyle.

Is Polish Beef Good Quality?

Polish beef is known for its unique taste, even though Polish cattle and breeds may not have as much muscle mass compared to other European breeds. Despite this, the taste of Polish beef is highly prized and considered to be of excellent quality.

What Is Polish Meat Made Of?

Polish meat, also called Polish sausage, is typically made from pork or a blend of pork and beef. It is known for its robust garlic flavor and use of spices such as pimentos, cloves, marjoram, and smoke. It is often served alongside sauerkraut and is typically cooked by grilling, searing, or smoking.

What Meat Is Popular in Poland?

Poland is known for its meat consumption, with chicken and pork being the most popular choices. Beef and lamb are also commonly consumed, but not as frequently as chicken and pork.


Polish deli meats are a delicious and diverse addition to any meat lover’s diet. From the savory and smoky Kiełbasa Jałowcowa to the salty and crispy Skwarki, there is much to enjoy. Even tastier is the ever-popular Boczek, which is a Polish staple. These meats are delicious and steeped in tradition and carry cultural significance.

With that said, take the time to try out the best Polish desserts if you have not already done so. There is nothing quite like chowing down on a hearty helping of Polish deli meat and then topping it off with a sweet, sugary treat. It’s a match made in heaven!