Zapiekanka – Polish Open-Face Sandwich

Zapiekanka (derived from zapiekać – “to scorch”, “to roast”) is a Polish halved baguette or bread topped mainly with mushrooms and cheese, also ham or other types of meat, and vegetables. Beside some basic versions there are several recipes like Zapiekanka na ostro, Zapiekanka z miesem, most popular is the “Student’s Zapiekanka”. They are usually placed in an oven until the cheese melts and the baguette or bread is crispy. It is served scalloped and usually topped with dressings like ketchup and chives. It’s a very popular fast food in Poland.

A very popular type of Zapiekanka is a “student’s zapiekanka”, sometimes also called “whatever zapiekanka”. It is made of whatever is at home at the moment, and the only compulsory ingredients are bread and cheese. It’s very commonly served (as an alternative to sandwiches) to unexpected guests if the host has nothing else to serve. It’s also a quick dish for students, sometimes taking even less time to make than an instant soup. As it can be stored in the fridge before baking, many students prepare a full plate of them at the weekend so that they have something quick and nutritious to eat for the whole week.


Zapiekanka - Polish Open-Face Sandwich
Polish open-face sandwiches (also known as French-bread pizzas) are popular street food in the bigger cities of Poland. They're known as zapiekanki (plural) or zapiekanka, which is singular. Zapiekanka comes from zapiekac, which means "to bake," and is the culinary term for a casserole. Most zapiekanki sandwiches start with French bread, sauteed mushrooms, cheese and ketchup, but there are Hawaiian-style zapiekanki with pineapple, and Greek style with olives and feta cheese. Of course, the beverage of choice with a zapiekanka is Polish piwo (beer)!
Cuisine: Polish
Recipe type: Sandwiches
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 long loaf French bread, cut in half and then cut in half horizontally to yield 4 pieces
  • thinly sliced ham or luncheon meat of choice (optional)
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • raw or cooked vegetables of choice (optional)
  • mayonnaise (optional)
  • grated melting cheese of choice
  • ketchup
  • chopped chives (optional)
  1. If the bread is very long, cut it into 3 pieces and halve each horizontally, otherwise, cut it into 2 pieces. Layer meat, sauteed mushrooms and cheese on each slice of bread and toast in a hot oven until the bread is crispy and the cheese has melted. Drizzle with ketchup and serve hot.
Although the traditional zapiekanka consists of mushrooms, cheese and ketchup, newer versions include ham, salami, vegetables, fried onion or chive on the top, spinach instead of mushrooms, and smoked oscypek cheese instead of the melting cheese. The variations are limitless.

Video – How to make Polish Open-Face Sandwich – Zapiekanka

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