Zapiekanka, Polish toasted sandwich

Zapiekanka is a Polish toasted sandwich famously sold as street food. It’s made on a sliced baguette, always served open-faced and toasted in the oven. The basic topping features mushrooms and cheese, but many variations of the Polish open-faced sandwich exist. You can top the basic recipe with virtually anything you wish. Make zapiekanka at home and enjoy some Polish street food for dinner!

If you’ve ever been to Krakow and have visited the Jewish district Kazimierz, you may have spotted someone going around with a big open-faced baguette sandwich. Zapiekanka is a popular and cheap food on the go option and the Kazimierz area in Krakow takes the credits for serving some of the most famous ones in Poland.

Related: Where to eat Polish food in Krakow

Polish open-faced sandwich zapiekanka with mushrooms and cheese.

What is zapiekanka

Zapiekanka ia a toasted open-faced sandwich made on a baguette sliced lengthways and topped with cheese and mushrooms. The name zapiekanka derives from the verb zapiekać which means to toast something in the oven. If it’s not toasted, it’s not zapiekanka. But despite giving it its name, toasting alone is not the only key feature.

Zapiekanka is an open-faced sandwich. Therefore toasting needs to happen in an oven: no toaster or panini press could do the job. Zapiekanka needs to be filled and toasted with all the ingredients on, so that the cheese melts. The oven delivers just that.

As for the toppings, the very basic version calls for grated cheese and sliced mushrooms. Once out of the oven, a zig-zag drizzle of ketchup completes the job. But food stalls that serve zapiekanka usually have a wide menu featuring all kinds of possible toppings to add to the basic version. Think of basic zapiekanka as pizza Margherita, in a way. From there you can only get creative.

Ingredients needed for the recipe.

How to make zapiekanka, Polish toasted sandwich

In this post I am presenting you the basic recipe with mushrooms and cheese. Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • Demi baguettes – any elongated bread shape is to be preferred, and it has to be sliced lengthways.
  • Grated cheese – hard cheese that melts well in the oven preferred, something like gouda. If you have access to Polish cheese, my favourite is ser morski, but that’s difficult to get outside of Poland.
  • Button mushrooms – the common and cheapest mushrooms you can find, to be thinly sliced.
  • Butter – softened, for easier spreading on the bread.
  • Ketchup – this is a signature finish in the original recipe!
  • Minced chives – a little sprinkle of minced chives gives both flavour and colour.
  • Crisp fried onions – optional, but I personally love it so I would never say no to it.

Making a Polish open-faced sandwich is really easy:

  1. Spread the butter on the bread;
  2. Add sliced mushrooms first and then grated cheese so that the whole baguette is evenly topped;
  3. Bake in the oven until the bread is crispy and the cheese has melted.
  4. When out of the oven, squeeze the ketchup all over and add a sprinkle of minced chives and crisp fried onion, if desired.

Toasted mushroom and cheese sandwiches.

Polish zapiekanka toppings

As I said before, zapiekanka stalls in Poland often have a proper menu offering the most diverse topping options. A concept pretty similar to pizza, with basic zapiekanka acting as margherita or marinara and many topping options added to the basic one. For that reason, zapiekanka has been nicknamed “Polish pizza” despite having little to do with actual pizza. Well, apart from the oven part.

Popular toppings include kiełbasa, salami, bacon and pickles, specialties such as Polish mountain cheese, or even classic combos such as feta and olives (Greek zapiekanka) and even ham and pineapple (Hawaiian zapiekanka).

Polish zapiekanka topped with mushrooms and cheese and a drizzle of ketchup.

History of the Polish toasted sandwich

Open-faced sadwiches are a staple in Polish households. I had a fair share of such sandwiches while visiting my grandparents in Poland. Many a dinner featured a slice of bread with margarine, hard cheese, ham and tomato and a cup of tea with lemon. Might sound like a meagre dinner, but I was never very hungry in the evening after feasting on my granma’s chicken livers with onions or snacking on her fabulous honey and semolina cake earlier in the day.

Toasted open-faced sandwiches sold as street food became a real thing in the 1970s. Many family-run small-scale food stalls featured toasted open-faced sandwiches – zapiekanki – along with other Polish dishes. Zapiekanka is simple yet filling, easy to eat on the go, and a cheap way to get a warm meal. This made them very popular throughout the 1980s.

The introduction of large fast food chains in Poland changed the demand for such foods and threatened the small old-school food stalls from the ’70s. Some survived nonetheless, and when street food culture shifted the focus to local food options, zapiekanka gained popularity again. And the old food stalls got back on people’s radar.

Polish zapiekanka served on a pretty plate.

Whether it’s to reminisce of a trip to Poland, or to try something new for dinner, the Polish toasted sandwich will not disappoint. Easy to make with a few ingredients – or with any extra toppings you like.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried a zapiekanka and if it was in Poland or you made your own. If you’re planning on making this recipe, you may want to pin it for later!

Polish toasted sandwich zapiekanka is a popular street food from Poland. Top a sliced baguette with cheese and mushrooms and toast in the oven until the cheese melts and the bread gets crispy. A delicious and cheap food option.

Polish open-faced sandwich zapiekanka with mushrooms and cheese.
5 from 12 votes
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Zapiekanka, Polish toasted sandwich

An open-faced baguette sandwich topped with cheese and mushrooms and toasted in the oven. Finish it with a squeeze of ketchup and some crisp fried onions.

Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Polish
Keyword open-faced sandwich, polish sandwich, toasted sandwich
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 629 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 2 demi baguettes or similar long white sandwich rolls
  • 150 g cheese hard cheese like gouda, cheddar
  • 150 g button mushrooms
  • 50 g butter room temperature
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp chives minced
  • 2 tsp crisp fried onions optional

Instructions

  1. Halve the bread lengthways and place each half with the cut facing up. Spread the butter on all halves.

  2. Thinly slice the mushrooms and top the bread halves with an even layer of mushrooms.

  3. Grate the cheese and add it over the mushrooms making sure to cover the whole length of the bread.

  4. Toast in the preheated oven at 200°C (390°F) for 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the bread gets nicely toasted.

  5. Squeeze the ketchup in a zig-zag pattern over the sandwiches, top with minced chives and crisp fried onions if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Use the oven in conventional heating mode. This ensures a homogeneous distribution of the heat to perfectly toast the bread while melting the cheese. Broil/grill mode may brown the cheese too quickly.
  • The steam created by the melting butter and cheese will cook the thinly sliced mushrooms. This is why we are adding them raw.
  • The nutritional information provided is only an estimate and it is referred to the basic zapiekanka recipe. Additional toppings will increase the calorie tally.
Nutrition Facts
Zapiekanka, Polish toasted sandwich
Amount Per Serving
Calories 629 Calories from Fat 441
% Daily Value*
Fat 49g75%
Saturated Fat 30g188%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 133mg44%
Sodium 1084mg47%
Potassium 444mg13%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 1574IU31%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 620mg62%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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21 Comments

  1. Marta April 14, 2021 at 04:13

    5 stars
    This looks amazing! We’ve never had zapiekanka, but are looking forward to enjoying some this weekend.

    Reply
    1. Eva April 17, 2021 at 21:33

      Hi Marta! It’s such an easy dinner to put together, it’s really worth trying!

      Reply
  2. Newbie In The Kitchen April 14, 2021 at 09:44

    5 stars
    Oh my word! Those open sandwiches look amazing! I love the thought of melted cheese and mushrooms on a sliced open baguette! Street food always looks so tasty!

    Reply
    1. Eva April 17, 2021 at 21:33

      I have to agree with you, street food has something unique!

      Reply
  3. Leslie April 17, 2021 at 18:23

    5 stars
    I have never heard of polish toasted bread. I have a lot of Polish heritage so I’m very surprised to discover something new. How fun!! Thank you for sharing this for me to try!

    Reply
    1. Eva April 17, 2021 at 21:34

      Hi Leslie! Awesome, happy I introduced you to a new Polish recipe to try!

      Reply
  4. Cooking with Carbs April 18, 2021 at 07:34

    5 stars
    I’ve never heard of zapiekanka before, but I’m glad I have now! Thank you for introducing me to this great looking sandwich and also for sharing the history. My family will definitely like these, so we’ll try them this week!

    Reply
    1. Eva April 18, 2021 at 21:55

      You’re very welcome!

      Reply
  5. Adriana Lopez April 18, 2021 at 07:50

    5 stars
    Never heard of zapiekanka but sounds like a fantastic sandwich. It is nice to learn about other cultures and foods. In Mexico, we have something similar but we use only beans and cheese. Cannot wait to try this polish delicacy.

    Reply
    1. Eva April 18, 2021 at 21:55

      Hi Adriana! Now I’m curious about the Mexican version.

      Reply
  6. Elaine April 18, 2021 at 18:05

    5 stars
    My friend told me about zapiekanka before but I have never made it a home. Well, it seems like I am missing out because this recipe is stunning!

    Reply
  7. Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer April 18, 2021 at 20:18

    5 stars
    OMG how have I never heard of or eaten this??? This is my type of food! And KETCHUP!!! YES!!! I’m so crushing hard on this recipe! I cannot wait to have it for lunch tomorow

    Reply
  8. Veronika April 18, 2021 at 21:16

    5 stars
    Looks delicious! It’s easy to make, comforting, and very tasty! Will make it sometime soon 😉

    Reply
  9. Silvia Martinez April 18, 2021 at 23:37

    5 stars
    I’m a big fan of open-faced sandwiches, especially if a baguette is involved. What a wonderful mixture of flavors, this is definitely a keeper.

    Reply
    1. Eva April 21, 2021 at 09:28

      Thank you Silvia! I’m happy to hear you liked the flavour combination!

      Reply
  10. Jen April 19, 2021 at 00:49

    5 stars
    I wish I’d heard about this sandwich sooner because it tasted amazing! I will definitely be making it again

    Reply
    1. Eva April 21, 2021 at 09:30

      Thanks Jen! Better late than never, right?

      Reply
  11. Moop Brown April 19, 2021 at 07:56

    5 stars
    I’d never previously heard of this dish before but your preparation of this toast looks so tasty and delicious!

    Reply
    1. Eva April 21, 2021 at 09:30

      Hi Moop! Thank you for your words!

      Reply
  12. Kamil June 8, 2021 at 16:41

    5 stars
    Best Polish street food around. I actually sauté my onions and mushrooms first before baking it all. But both ways work. Good to see you sharing some of our Polish eats.

    Reply
    1. Eva June 13, 2021 at 11:12

      Hi Kamil! I have tried sautéing the mushrooms myself once, it becomes a little more luxurious indeed. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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