This country's food is the ultimate comfort, influenced by its neighbors Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
Once the core of an empire, Vienna became a city where different cultures met and shared their fantastic food. This article will walk you through the best Austrian foods – a blend of flavors and traditions that make up the unique Austrian food and drink scene.
1. Wiener Schnitzel
Wiener Schnitzel has to take the number one spot as it's arguably the most famous Austrian food. This dish, a staple in Austrian cuisine, starts with a tender veal cutlet. It's tenderized to perfection, coated with a golden breadcrumb crust, and then fried until it reaches a delightful crispiness. Found on nearly every menu in Vienna, this simple dish wins over everyone, adults and kids alike.
Wiener Schnitzel is pure joy on a plate, garnished with a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. It's commonly paired with a light salad dressed in vinaigrette, a tangy Austrian potato salad, or the comforting sides of steamed potatoes or French fries.
To complete this culinary delight, serve it with a chilled Austrian lager or a glass of the celebrated Gruner Veltliner white wine, the preferred choice for an authentic dining experience.
2. Tyrolean Gröstl
At the top of any Austrian food list, Tyrolean Gröstl is a heartwarming meal that exemplifies the resourceful spirit of Austria's culinary traditions.
This dish, which comes from the state of Tyrol, is a savory mix of fried potatoes, onions, and meat (often bacon) with a fried egg. It's a beloved creation made from leftovers, serving as a delicious example of the no-waste philosophy in Austrian kitchens. Simple, filling, and best served right from the pan.
3. Viennese Apfelstrudel
The Viennese Apfelstrudel is a testament to the art of Austrian pastry, a dessert that's as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the palate.
Wrapped in a delicate, paper-thin dough, the combination of tangy apples, sweet raisins, and warming cinnamon comes together in a traditional creation that speaks to the heart of Austrian food culture.
The skill lies in rolling the dough so thin that it's nearly translucent without tearing, a challenge that requires patience and a gentle hand. Though the ingredients are straightforward, the perfect Apfelstrudel balances flavors and textures. While it's a delight on its own, many prefer it, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which complements the strudel's warm spices and fruity filling.
Tafelspitz, a typical Austrian food, graces many tables across Austria and is renowned for its comforting simplicity and rich flavors.
This classic Austrian dish consists of beef tenderly boiled in a broth teeming with a mixture of vegetables and aromatic spices. Once cooked to perfection, the beef is traditionally accompanied by a tangy apple and horseradish mix or a creamy chive-infused sour cream, offering a contrast that tickles the palate.
The dish is more than just a meal; it's a nod to the country's rustic, agrarian roots. The term ‘Tafelspitz' specifically denotes a prime beef cut, and it's fascinating how its meaning shifts from the buzz of a market to a restaurant setting.
Goulash is a famous Austrian food with Hungarian roots that has found a warm home in Vienna.
It's a beef stew that marries the earthiness of tomatoes and onions with the sweet spice of paprika. Its Austrian rendition is commonly served with Semmelknödel, a type of bread dumpling that soaks up the stew's rich flavors. This dish embodies comfort and is ideal for keeping off the chill of a winter's day.
To complement its hearty nature, Austrians enjoy goulash with a bold beer or a glass of Zweigelt, a spicy and rich Austrian red wine that stands up to the stew's intense flavors.
6. Linzer torte
The classic Austrian food, Linzer torte, carries the name of its birthplace, Linz, in Northern Austria.
It's a dish that boasts a crumbly shortcrust base rich with ground nuts, crowned by a tangy layer of red currant jam and a distinctive lattice that is as decorative as it is delicious.
The creation of the torte is a careful blend of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and a mixture of ground nuts, cinnamon, and cloves. While red currant jam is the traditional choice, apricot or raspberry can add a twist to the classic. The jam, becoming delightfully sticky when baked, infuses the pastry with deep, fruity flavors.
The smaller counterpart, Linzer Augen, mirrors the torte's flavors in a bite-sized sandwich cookie form, with cutouts revealing the jam with powdered sugar on top.
Käsespätzle represents the epitome of Austrian home cooking. This dish unites tender Spätzle, egg noodles that carry a satisfying chew, with a lusciously creamy sauce of Emmentaler cheese, culminating in a rich flavor experience.
Caramelized onions, buttery and sweet, add a crowning touch of indulgence. While its roots lie in Germany's Swabian region, Käsespätzle has carved out its niche in Austria, often gracing tables as a side dish or a standalone entree. It's a common meal in alpine huts, where its heartiness complements the rugged surroundings. The dish stands is a favorite among Austrians and tourists and is a meal that satisfies hunger and warms the soul.
The key to this traditional Austrian food flavor lies in the humble potato, onions, and savory gravy, a trio vegetarians love.
It was originally from Hungary, yet it has been adapted across Austria, with each kitchen adding its signature touch. While some versions include beef, simmered until the gravy reaches a rich, thick consistency, others opt for smoked sausage to infuse more flavor.
For the vegan version, the secret lies in a bold sprinkle of smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, which together create a tapestry of taste that rivals the traditional, meaty version.
Fleischlaberln, a cornerstone of Austrian food culture, is enjoyed across Austria.
These tasty mixed meat patties, combining pork and beef, are seasoned with the essentials: salt, pepper, garlic, onions, and parsley. The mix includes bread cubes soaked in milk, which binds the flavors and adds body to the patties.
Additional spices can be sprinkled to taste for those who enjoy a bit more zest. Fleischlaberln is a favored Austrian dish, commonly paired with smooth mashed potatoes, particularly on cold winter days.
Sachertorte is a must-try when listing Austrian foods to try.
This chocolate cake tastes amazing and is a piece of culinary history. Created in Vienna in 1832, it was a young apprentice's solution to a challenge for an impressive dessert. Today, it's world-famous for its rich flavor. The cake features two solid layers of chocolate sponge with a thin spread of apricot jam in the middle. A dark chocolate icing wraps the cake, typically served with plain whipped cream. Often, a chocolate medallion sits on top, adding to its classic look.
Cremeschnitte is one of the best Austrian foods to try. It's a pastry that comes straight from Vienna's famous baking scene.
Imagine two crispy layers of puff pastry with just a bit of apricot jam in between. Then, there's a big helping of vanilla pastry cream. That cream is what makes the Cremeschnitte stand out – it's sweet, it's creamy, it's the star of the show.
Each place that bakes these has their secret way of doing it. If you're going to try this at home, you start with the puff pastry. You can make it from scratch or buy it from a shop. Roll it out, slice it up, and get it in the oven. While that's going, you take vanilla seeds, egg yolks, more eggs, sugar, a special vanilla sugar, a dash of rum, and a pinch of salt.
Mix all that on top of boiling water (the bain-marie part) until it's all light and fluffy. Next, stir some gelatine and fold in whipped cream to get that airy, vanilla-flavored cream.
Once it's all done, you build your Cremeschnitte with the baked puff pastry and that excellent cream, and there you have it – a slice of Vienna on your plate.
Frittatensuppe is a must-try dish that warms you up from the inside. It's a soup with a twist – rich, strong beef broth bubbling away with root veggies, onions, and beef bones.
Then comes the ‘frittaten' – a fancy word for thin strips of crepe-like pancakes. You make a simple batter, cook it till it's just right, then slice it into ribbons. Those ribbons go into the soup, and together, they make this classic starter you'll find all over Austria, especially when it's cold outside. Restaurants and inns serve it up, so it's easy to find a spot to dive into a bowl of this traditional comfort food so put this on your list of Austrian foods to try.
Backhendl is a classic dish that's a big part of authentic Austrian food. It dates back to the 1700s when it was a dish served to rich people and is still famous in Vienna today. It's chicken, but not just any chicken. You take a whole one, chop it into pieces with the bone still in, then spice those pieces up, coat them in breadcrumbs, and fry them. You're aiming for that perfect crispy golden crunch.
When you get this dish at a restaurant, they keep it simple – usually just a slice of lemon on the side to give it a zesty kick.
Martinigans is a special meal that's a big part of food in Austria, especially when St. Martin's Day rolls around. It's a stuffed goose, and people in Austria have their unique way of making it.
Most of the time, they stuff it with chestnuts and dried plums, then roast it until it's just right. To make it even tastier, they whip up some gravy using the drippings from the pan and some stock and pour that right over the top of the goose.
Mondseer is a cheese from Austria, and its name comes from Mondsee.
It's made with milk from cows that's been pasteurized. This cheese is semi-hard and has a pale yellow look. Its rind gets washed, which gives it a unique touch. When you cut into Mondseer, you'll notice it's creamy, smooth, and holds its shape; plus, it has a pretty strong smell. They make Mondseer by adding red cultures and soaking it in salty water, which gives it a taste that's both sweet and a little bit spicy.
Erdäpfelsalat is a potato salad you'll find in Austria. They use waxy potatoes that hold up well when cooked, and after boiling these potatoes whole with their skins on, they're peeled and cut into pieces. This potato salad is a common side dish for meaty mains, and you'll spot it on many restaurant menus all over Austria.
To make it, once the potatoes are boiled and sliced, onions get chopped up and cooked in butter until they're soft. Then, vinegar is poured in to mix with the onions. A bit of broth is tossed in and boiled for a short while. This hot mix gets poured over the potatoes allowed to cool a bit. The salad gets its kick from mustard, oil, and a dash of salt. It's left to sit for about half an hour, so the potatoes take in all those flavors.
Erdäpfelsalat can be eaten warm or after it's cooled down, and it's often garnished with chopped parsley to add a fresh touch. It's a classic Austrian food that's simple but very tasty.
Whether wandering the streets of Vienna or venturing elsewhere in Austria, you'll find dishes steeped in tradition and comfort. Many of the country's Austrian food specialties echo the warmth of home cooking, and you'll find that restaurants and inns offer meals that capture the essence of authentic Austrian flavors.
Have we missed what you believe are some of the best Austrian foods? Please let us know in the comments below.
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