Malta is renowned for many reasons. The beaches, the picturesque views, its rich culture, and vibrant island life.
However, there’s one other thing Malta can boast about. And that is its diverse culinary scene — an integral part of the island’s culture.
So what is Maltese food like?
Like most other local traditions, Maltese food is a direct reflection and blend of its strategic location in the Mediterranean and the diverse cultures that have left their mark on this island nation.
The foundation of the Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean: herbs, olive oils, fresh produce, and a profusion of seafood and meat-based dishes. This includes anything from slow-cooked stews to pastries, with recipes being passed on from generation to generation, resulting in simple yet flavourful cooking techniques.
Tasting the local cuisine is a must during any holiday, so we compiled a list of some of our personal favourite Maltese dishes you need to try during your next visit to Malta.
Pastizzi is one of the most-loved Maltese foods, both by locals and visitors. These flaky, golden pastries are usually filled either with ricotta cheese, or a thick mixture of mushy peas.
You can find pastizzi in most cafès around the island, as well as from what is called a “pastizzeria” — small eateries or shops dedicated to preparing pastizzi and other baked savoury goods.
Pastizzi are definitely a must-try, often enjoyed as a quick snack on the go.
Ftira, a round, rustic bread, is a traditional type of Maltese bread typically topped with a delicious mix of fresh tomatoes, olives, capers, and tuna.
However, the ftira is a versatile kind of bread, so you can find it with different stuffings such as egg and bacon, egg and sausage, and many more.
3. Maltese Hobz Biz-Zejt
Maltese Hobz biz-Zejt (literally translating to “bread with oil”) is one of the island’s most-appreciated dishes.
Similar to the ftira, Hobz biz-Zejt is a sandwich made with crusty Maltese bread, and generously drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
The traditional fillings usually include tomatoes, capers, olives, and local goat cheese (called gbejna) — but given its versatility, you’ll find different stuffings available. A taste of Mediterranean simplicity and pure indulgence.
In Malta, rabbit is a culinary tradition cherished for generations. Whether in savoury stews, marinated and fried, or in a rich tomato-based sauce, it captivates the taste buds.
You may even stumble upon what’s called a “fenkata” — a feast centred around rabbit. Shared among family and friends during special gatherings, fenkata captures the essence of Maltese traditional local life.
Timpana is a savoury dish, made with penne pasta enveloped in a rich, baked pastry shell and filled with a luscious Bolognese sauce.
You can usually find timpana gracing tables during festivities and gatherings, as families and friends gather around this traditional and comforting dish.
However, this cherished pasta dish isn’t confined to special occasions only. Local cafes and pastizzerias offer it regularly too. For carb enthusiasts, experiencing timpana is a must!
Bigilla is a traditional Maltese dip, and a staple in the island’s cuisine. The main ingredients are mashed beans, garlic, and olive oil — making it a simple, yet flavoursome element on any Maltese table.
It’s often enjoyed with crusty Maltese bread, otherwise with a typical type of small, round, or oval-shaped hard biscuits or cracker, called “galletti”.
Lampuki, also known as Dorado fish, is a prized catch in Maltese waters. Its availability is seasonal, particularly during late summer and early autumn.
A versatile delight, lampuki lends itself well to multiple cooking methods such as grilling and frying.
However, a local favourite adaptation is the lampuki pie—a savoury dish where the fish is encased in a golden pastry, creating an authentic experience that embodies the flavours of the Mediterranean.
8. Octopus stew
Traditional Maltese octopus stew is a beloved dish full of Mediterranean flavours.
Tender octopus is slow-cooked to perfection with a blend of garlic, onions, tomatoes, olives, and capers, creating a hearty stew with a rich aroma and savoury taste.
It’s often served with crusty bread, and brings together the island’s love for seafood, and culinary heritage, making it a must-try for seafood enthusiasts.
9. Maltese sausage
Made from a blend of pork, salt, pepper, coriander, and garlic, the typical Maltese sausage boasts a distinctive taste and robust aroma.
Air-dried and cured to perfection, this sausage is a staple in Maltese cuisine. Often enjoyed grilled, fried, or added to stews, it adds a savoury richness to various dishes, reflecting the island’s culinary heritage.
Gbejna is a traditional cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, and an essential part of Maltese cuisine.
Typically small and round, this kind of cheese is seasoned and air-dried to achieve its distinctive flavour.
There are different types of gbejna, ranging from firm to semi-firm textures. You’ll also find it seasoned with different ingredients, most commonly pepper or chilli.
This versatility makes gbejna a dynamic ingredient, enhancing salads, stews, or enjoyed on its own in a traditional Maltese platter.
11. Maltese sweets
Traditional Maltese sweets, a delightful finale to any meal, reflect the island’s sweet-toothed heritage.
Imqaret, a popular choice, features date-filled pastries, deep-fried to golden perfection, offering a sweet and chewy bite.
Kannoli, filled with ricotta and candied fruit, provide a creamy and crunchy experience.
Helwa tat-Tork, a sugary mixture of crushed nuts and sugar syrup, is shaped into discs for a nutty, sweet treat.
These confections often accompany celebrations and festivities, and are part of the island’s culture.
An indulgence in Maltese sweets is a journey through time, preserving age-old recipes and spreading the joy of traditional flavours.
Explore Malta with be.HOTEL
Sampling the island’s culinary delights is an essential part of your stay in Malta — but so is rest.
At be.Hotel, we offer a variety of accommodation options, ranging from Standard Rooms to Superior Sea-view rooms offering breathtaking vistas of St. George’s Bay, as well as spacious Family Rooms and Suites.
Situated in the heart of St. Julian’s, Malta, our hotel provides essential amenities and easy access to an array of exceptional restaurants and bars.