With fresh ingredients, robust flavor, and a commitment to quality, the cuisine of Austria is beyond compare. Those who experience the tastes of this country will be introduced to a world of culinary delight that they have never before known. Although traditional dishes are simple, they are rooted in history, regional ingredients, and ties to neighboring countries. In previous times, Austrians were accustomed to having their larger meal at midday and eating lighter in the evening. However, due to the work schedules of most, the midday meal tends to be smaller, with the main meal eaten later in the day. Here is all that you need to know about the cuisine of Austria so that you can unleash your inner foodie and enjoy every taste and flavor that the country has to offer.
Starting the Day in Austria
Breakfast in Austria is usually of the continental type, as a typical Austrian breakfast is small. Along with the traditional coffees, teas, and juices, you’ll find yourself enjoying a spread of bread rolls with either butter and jam or cold meats or cheese. Austrians enjoy a sweet breakfast, and the most popular type of bread you’ll see is “Schwarzbrot”, a black bread made of rye and wheat flour. Bite into other bread rolls like “Kornspitz” or “Semmel” for a continental breakfast you won’t soon forget.
If you visit Austria on a weekend, you’ll likely find yourself in a coffee house for breakfast. Here, you’ll likely find “Wiener Frühstück”, which means “Viennese Breakfast”. It consists of coffee or tea, a bread roll or croissant, and butter, honey or jam.
You’ll find different variations of an Austrian favorite, clear soups. In Austria, the locals enjoy clear soups with solid ingredients that can vary by region. The broth usually consists of basic ingredients such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, leeks, and celeriac, while the addition of ingredients such as semolina balls, liver dumplings, bacon dumplings, strips of pancake, soup pearls, and egg puffs are what makes the soup extra special. You’ll find a clear soup on just about every table in Austria.
As one would expect, Wiener Schnitzel is one of the most popular foods that you will find in Austria. A type of schnitzel made from a thin veal cutlet that is breaded and pan-fried, this food is most often found in the city of Vienna. It represents the love and deliciousness of fried food and is a must-have while in Austria.
The traditional version is not the only version that you can get while in Austria, and you are encouraged to try different types. Schnitzel in cornflakes batter is quite delicious, as is the Cordon Bleu, two filets filled with ham and cheese and then fried in bread crumb batter. When you order a schnitzel at a restaurant in Austria, be prepared. Make sure you are hungry because it is usually bigger than the plate!
No trip to Austria would be complete without first trying the goulash. A flavorful soup that is made of beef and vegetables, it is also known as “Wiener Saftgulasch” due to the thickness of the broth. It’s a comforting dish loved by Austrians and visitors alike. Almost like a stew, the dish is fragrant and nourishing. Those who try it can attest to the fact that the mention of it will leave your mouth watering.
The interesting spin that is put on this Austrian dish is that it is served with bread dumplings rather than the traditional potato type. Made from a chunk of beef boiled in a vegetable broth until it is tender and soft, and served with root vegetables and a mix of chopped apples and horseradish, the dish is simple and straightforward, yet delicious. One thing is for sure. Tafelspitz represents some of the best Austrian cooking that you can possibly have.
During your trip to Austria, you’ll surely make your way to the countryside and into the mountains of the Austrian Alps, where you will find an item called Brettljause. In Austrian, “Jause” refers to a snack eaten between meals, and “Brettl” is the wooden board that snacks of this type are served on. What you’ll typically find when you order this specialty is a board covered in fresh cold cuts and cheese, an array of spreads, pickled vegetables, and bread. This traditional Austrian farmer’s plate is one of the most delightful snacks you will find in Austria and one that is best enjoyed with a group of friends and lighthearted conversation.
Save room for one of the sweetest parts of Austria’s cuisine, the desserts! Austria is known for being home to some of the best desserts in the world. While visiting some of the cafes and patisseries that line the streets, there are some delectable treats that every foodie should try.
Similar to the American bundt cake, Guglehupf is usually made with yeast dough, raisins, almonds, and kirschwasser. Usually served with afternoon tea or Sunday breakfast, this dessert has different variations. It can be made with dried orange peels for a burst of flavor or made as a marble cake. Dating back to the 15th century, Guglehupf is still one of the most popular desserts in the country.
This Austrian classic is so delicious, you may want to splurge and order two! Apfelstrudel is translated to “apple strudel”, and is made from a puff pastry filled with apples, often served warm with ice cream, vanilla sauce, and fresh whipped cream. Locals think of this dessert as a “marvel dish” and one bite will have you think the same.
A square-shaped pastry filled with cheese curd, the Topfengolatsche is usually eaten with afternoon tea. Don’t let its simple appearance fool you. This pastry is so scrumptious you’ll want to savor every bite. The first Topfengolatsche was baked in the 17th century, they have been a classic ever since.
All of these dishes and desserts represent the history and culture of Austria. Along with plenty of Almdudler, an Austrian soft drink with an herbal taste and the slight flavor of elderflower, as well as coffee and tea, and you’ll understand why the classic recipes have been deep-rooted in Austria’s tradition for centuries.