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Savor the delights of one of Central Europe’s most rich and flavorful cuisines with these Austrian foods, energizing and satisfying natives and tourists alike from the coffee shops of Vienna to the rural villages of the Eastern Alps.
In essence, a wild, fresh, and rich combination of classic Viennese cuisine and rural, regional favorites, the foods of Austria are a culinary orchestra for both the senses and the stomach.
The cuisines are defined by tender meat and game and fresh produce from the wild forests, built on a hearty foundation of bread, pastries, and other classic Central Europe staples.
Prepare to discover Austria through 19 of its most popular and traditional foods, and see this beautiful country in a whole new and very delicious way!
Soups & Mains
1 – Rindsuppe mit Einlagen (Beef and Vegetable Soup)
Austria’s national soup, rindsuppe mit einlagen is a rich and hearty beef soup prepared with various vegetables, such as celery, onion, and leek, and frittaten and griesnockerln.
Frittaten are Austrian crepes, made from a batter of eggs, flour, and salt, among other ingredients, and fried in butter. The crepes are then shredded into long pieces and added to the soup to add texture and help balance the saltiness of the broth.
The dish is also served with griesnockerln, rich and hearty dumplings from a batter of milk, eggs, semolina, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Shaped like little boats, these dumplings are a great way to scoop up the piping hot beef broth and enjoy together.
2 – Wiener Schnitzel & Erdäpfelsalat (Wiener Schnitzel and Potato Salad)
One of Austria’s most famous dishes, and very much a Viennese specialty, Wiener schnitzel mit erdäpfelsalat, or Wiener schnitzel and potato salad, pairs Austria’s favorite pan-fried breaded veal cutlet with a thick and wholesome salad of potatoes, red onions, and beef broth.
Traditionally, calf meat is used to get the most tender cut of veal. The meat is coated in flour, egg wash, and fine bread crumbs, known as semmelbrösel, before it is pan-fried until the meat is cooked and a crispy golden-crusted outer layer has formed. The cutlet is often served with a slice of lemon to drizzle a little zest over the top.
Pork is another common meat used in breaded cutlet dishes, and when used, the dish is instead called Schnitzel nach Wiener Art. In Germany, and less commonly Austria, you may find this dish with tunke, a gravy-like dipping sauce.
3 – Tafelspitz (Classic Viennese Boiled Veal)
Especially popular in Vienna, tafelspitz is a simple yet flavorsome dish of tri-tip veal boiled in a broth of root vegetables and various spices until the meat is tender and the juices have melded into it.
For authentic tafelspitz, a tri-tip cut of veal (referred to as beef in Austria), known as bottom sirloin, needs to be used. The cut is renowned for its tenderness and often cheaper price, which is one of the main reasons the dish packs so much flavor despite being a relatively simple meat and vegetable dish.
Traditionally, the dish is served with a combination of horseradish and a minced apple sauce, along with a side of roast or boiled potatoes and sometimes a creamy chive sauce.
You’ll find it very difficult to find a restaurant that doesn’t have tafelspitz on the menu. If you’re in Vienna, look out for restaurants Figglmüller and Plachutta, whose tafelspitz, in particular, is some of the most sought-after in the city.
4 – Rindsrouladen (Beef Rolls)
Popular in Austria, Germany, and other Central European cuisines, rindsrouladen are moist and rich beef rolls, perfect for keeping you warm and full during the cold European winters.
The dish consists of thinly cut slices of beef, coated in horseradish and mustard and layered with various ingredients, such as bacon slices, onion, carrots, pickles, eggs, cornichons, and other vegetables.
Once assembled, the meat is rolled, and often secured with toothpicks or skewers. The dish is then slowly oven-cooked or steamed under the beef is tender and practically melts in your mouth.
The gentle cooking process helps release the flavorful juices from all the ingredients. Once cooked, rindsrouladen can either be eaten as they are or enjoyed with buttery, creamy mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The dish is both delicious when piping hot and eaten cold as leftovers.
5 – Fiaker Gulasch (Traditional Viennese Stew)
Gulasch is a rich meat and vegetable stew that originates from Hungarian cuisine. During the reign of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the beloved dish found its way to Vienna, where the city welcomed it with open arms and made it its own.
Fiaker goulash is a dish of diced beef that is first quickly seared in a pan, to which onions, paprika, garlic, and then vinegar and water are added.
The gulasch is slow-cooked to a rich, thick sauce, and then sausage, cornichons, and other ingredients, depending on preference, are added. Once ready, it is commonly topped with a fried egg.
Bringing both sweet and sour notes, heat, and spice to the foray, Fiaker gulasch is a dish that brims with flavor. Typically it is served with Austrian bread dumplings or garlicky steamed potatoes – perfect for mopping up the sauce!
6 – Zwiebelrostbraten (Onion Roast)
Zwiebelrostbraten is a classic Austrian dish consisting of tender roast beef served with a rich sauce and fried onion piled high on the plate.
The prime cut of beef, sometimes ribeye but commonly other cuts, is first marinated with garlic and mustard, then pan-fried in butter until the edges turn a glorious golden brown.
The roast beef is served with a sauce, which is made by adding beef stock, white wine, butter, and flour to the meat drippings, which thickens to become a sauce with a thick, creamy consistency.
Along with the gravy, the roast beef is topped with a generous mond of thinly cut deep-fried onion slices, which add a satisfying saltiness and crunch to every mouthful of tender, juicy, gravy-soaked meat.
7 – Schweinsbraten & Waldviertler Knödeln & Kraut (Roast Pork with Dumplings and Kraut)
Schweinsbraten mit Waldviertler Knödeln und Kraut is a wholesome dish of roast pork with Waldviertler dumplings and kraut.
Before roasting, the pork skin is rubbed with aromatic spices such as caraway seeds, cumin, and spicy garlic, adding deeper flavor and a delightful crunch to each and every mouthful.
Traditionally, the pork is served with Waldviertler knödeln, hearty dumplings made by mixing equal amounts of boiled and raw potatoes with flour and shaped into hand-sized balls before cooking. This hearty dish is finished with a side of kraut, or sauerkraut, a highly nutritious white cabbage very popular in Central European cooking.
8 – Tiroler Gröstl (Beef, Potatoes, Onions, and Fried Egg)
Tiroler Gröstl is a typical Alpine dish that nourishes the body, heart, and soul, especially after a day hiking the Tyrolian mountains.
It consists of a simple yet truly comforting combination of fried chopped onion, bacon, and thickly sliced potatoes, commonly topped with a fried egg sunny side up.
Traditionally, Tiroler Gröstl was a dish only made from the leftovers of an Austrian Sunday roast, but today is a quick go-to comfort dish for so many Austrians, no matter what time or day it is.
9 – Eiernockerln (Dumplings)
Eiernockerln are wholesome egg dumplings made from a batter of egg, milk, flour, butter, and various seasonings. The dumplings are first cooked in boiling water, then strained, and finally sautéed in a pan with egg and fresh chives and parsely, sometimes with a little nutmeg.
This super simple dish is hugely popular among Austrians from all walks of life. While the dumplings can be eaten alone, they are a popular side for many other dishes such as Paprikahendl and various soups.
10 – Kärntner Kasnudeln (Carinthian Cheese Pasta)
Kärtner Kasnudeln is a traditional dish of Carinthia, situated in the south of Austria, surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains.
Kärtner Kasnudeln is heavily influenced by Italian ravioli. It is a dish of pasta sheets stuffed with various fillings, traditionally cheese and also other ingredients such as minced meat, potatoes, or mushrooms.
This style of pasta is known as gekrendelt, meaning ‘curled,’ where the sheet is folded, sealed, and the ridges crimped to create a beautiful seam. Once cooked, the pasta pockets are drizzled with oil to really bring out those indulgent, cheesy flavors.
11 – Paprikahendl (Chicken Paprika Stew)
Paprikahendl, known as ‘chicken paprikash’ or ‘paprika chicken,’ is a dish with Hungarian roots but hugely popular across Austria.
Traditionally a working-class dish, the stew consists of diced chicken, slowly simmered in a paprika-based sauce, thickened with flour and sour cream.
Once the meat is tender enough to fall apart at the touch of a fork, it is ready to be served hot in a bowl, traditionally with nockerln or dumplings.
Paprikahendl is a beloved family dish and often uses all parts of the chicken, including breast and legs, allowing everyone to choose their favorite cut of meat.
12 – Kaiserschmarrn (Scrambled Pancake)
Austrian desserts are some of the most delicious in Central Europe and are dearly loved by Austrians, who believe there is always time for a little sweetness in your life.
Kaiserschmarrn is a lightly sweetened pancake with juicy rum-soaked raisins, torn into pieces and eaten as a main course and dessert.
The rich batter consists of whipped egg whites, first separated from the yolks and then added to a mixture of yolks, raisins, butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and flour.
As soon as the batter sets in a hot skillet, the pancake is then ripped up in the pan before being served with sugar and a range of other toppings.
Legend has it that the dish came about after the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I accidentally cut up the pancakes of his wife Elizabeth!
13 – Marillenknödeln (Apricot Dumplings)
Marillenknödeln are delicious apricot-filled pastries, originally a seasonal dish when apricots grew in Austria, but in time adapted to include a range of other fillings, including strawberries, chocolate cream, and plums.
True to this, Austrian restaurants typically only serve marillenknödeln during apricot season. Each family has its secret recipe for the batter, but it usually consists of sugar, butter, flour, and eggs.
A sugar cube is often hidden in the heart of the apricot, replacing the pit to give the dish a little extra sweetness. The apricot is then covered in batter and shaped into a ball.
These knödeln are boiled for a few minutes and finally sautéed in a frying pan with breadcrumbs and sugar for a wonderfully sweet and tart bite-sized treat.
14 – Sachertorte (Chocolate Sponge Cake)
An iconic Austrian dessert, Sachertorte is an indulgent chocolate cake consisting of two halves of sponge cake, sealed with a layer of tangy apricot jam and covered in a thick, velvety chocolate glaze. It is commonly enjoyed with hot coffee and whipped cream.
Austria is synonymous with coffee and cake, and Sachertorte is very much the go-to choice when it comes to chilled afternoons in Vienna coffee shops chatting with family, friends, and co-workers.
There are no variations of the Sachertorte, which UNESCO recognizes as part of Austria’s cultural heritage. The original Sachertorte was first made by Franz Sacher when he was still a 16-year-old kitchen apprentice who had to make dessert for the household when the head chef fell ill.
His son Eduard eventually opened the now-famous Hotel Sacher, where to this day, you can still taste this rich, smooth, and mouthwatering cake made according to Sacher’s original recipe.
15 – Linzertorte
Linzertorte dessert is another firm Austrian favorite, hailing from the city of Linz. Usually served at teatime, Linzertorte consists of a buttery shortcake base filled with fruit preserves, topped with an intricate pastry lattice.
Its crust is soft and crumbly and made of butter, flour, egg, sugar, and roasted hazelnuts. Typically, the filling is red currant jam with grated almonds, although you can find various different fruit and nut fillings throughout Austria.
Look out for cakes with the bright red jam filling peeking through the diamond pastry lattices in Austria’s coffee shops, and you’ve found yourself a delicious Linzertorte to try!
16 – Salzburger Nockerln (Salzburg Soufflé)
Salzburger Nockerln is a gorgeous sweet soufflé and a specialty dish made in Salzburg.
The dish is made in separate parts. First, egg yolk, sugar, flour, and vanilla are mixed into a dough. Then, the separated egg whites and sugar are mixed into a meringue.
Finally, the dough and meringue mixture are mixed together with a spatula, and separate dumplings of the mixture, forming those iconic pyramid-like peaks, are dolloped into a baking tray and baked until the ridges turn golden brown.
During the baking process, milk is poured into the pan to keep it soft and moist. Once baked, Salzburger Nockerln is best eaten warm from the oven, with a light dusting of icing sugar.
17 – Powidltascherln (Plum Jam Dumplings)
Powidltascherln are potato-based dumplings filled with a sweet, tangy plum preserve called powidl, hugely popular in Austrian cuisine and Czech cuisine.
The dumplings are made from a dough of mashed boiled potatoes and incorporated with flour, vanilla, and sugar.
The dough is rolled out into thin circles, filled with powidl, and formed into a crescent shape. Cinnamon and rum are sometimes added to the filling. Finally, the filled and shaped tascherl are boiled until tender and sautéed with breadcrumbs and sugar.
18 – Topfenstrudel (Cheese Strudel)
Enjoyed both hot and cold, Topfenstrudel is a simple and decadent dessert you can eat at any time of the day. The star ingredient of this soft, fluffy strudel is a typical Austrian cheese known as topfen, or soft quark cheese.
Topfen is made from cultured buttermilk and is creamy, fresh, and slightly tangy. The dish consists of a mixture of topfen, raisins, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and grated lemon peel, spread generously over layers of thin, flaky dough, and rolled.
Topfenstrudel is baked in the oven and finished with a generous dusting of icing sugar for a wonderfully flaky and creamy dessert with sweet and floral notes.
19 – Palatschinken (Austrian Crepes)
Palatschinken are delicate Austrian crepes that can be eaten as both a sweet or savory dish, depending on their filling.
You’ll commonly find palatschinken filled with apricot jam, nougat crème and bananas, curd and fresh fruit, preserves, or ice cream.
Topped with whipped cream or vanilla sauce, these delicious crepes are so simple to make and are a staple dessert of Austrian cuisine.
Austrian Food Summary
Be you exploring the grand architecture of Vienna or gracing the gorgeous and rugged alpine landscape that runs across the country, great food is abundant in Austria.
The country’s food brings some classic Central European ingredients and dishes to the foray, all with more than a little Austrian magic thrown in for good measure.
Rich, filling soups, juicy, tender meats, and hearty, buttery pastries are just some of the many culinary wonders that lay in wait when you explore everything that Austria has to offer at the dinner table.
These 19 foods are an excellent place to start and capture the essence of Austrian culture and soul beautifully. Beyond these dishes, there’s an entire country’s worth of hearty, comforting, and delightful dishes just waiting for you to try!
You Might Also Like to Read
- Most Popular Austrian Desserts with Recipes
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- Czech Food – 18 Traditional Dishes You Simply Must Try
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Local Insight Contributor: Jasmin Fürbach is an Austrian content creator who writes on a range of both technical and creative topics. She is passionate about Austrian cuisine and culture and is keen to share more of it with the world through her writing.
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