There are few things I miss about living in Austria, but one of the biggest things is without a doubt the food. Austrian foods are hearty and wholesome and, although rather simple compared to other cuisines, delicious. If you are traveling to Vienna soon you may be wondering which Austrian foods to try during your trip. One thing every tour guide will tell you to try is the famous Wiener Schnitzel. Dang, I miss a good schnitzel, but there are literally dozens of other Austrian dishes I miss even more.
Below we have compiled a list of 35+ Austrian foods that you may try during your visit, including my favorite Austrian desserts, and information on where to get them. For those of you following vegetarian and/or vegan diets, I have written up some helpful information on the bottom.
The traditional Wiener Schnitzel is made from thin veal cutlets, breaded and fried in butter. Because of the prohibitive cost of veal, Schnitzel is also made from pork or chicken. The dish is served piping hot with a garnish of lemon and parsley. It’s best to squeeze a little bit of the lemon over the schnitzel. Popular sides are parsley potatoes, french fries, or pea rice. Rather than ketchup, a popular condiment is lingonberry jam. It may also come with a small mixed salad on the side. You will be able to find Wiener Schnitzel in literally every place, so don’t worry about missing out 😉 Anyway, I promised I wouldn’t talk about schnitzel in this post!
Austrian Foods You Can’t Miss
Austrian cuisine represents Austria’s historic location as a melting pot in the center of Europe better than anything else. While many dishes are Germanic in origin, Austrian cuisine draws a lot of influences from their neighboring countries, particularly from Slavic cultures. So don’t be surprised to see similar dishes being served in Budapest, Prague, or elsewhere 😉
Let’s start off with a starter. Fritattensuppe can roughly be described as a savory pancake soup. Traditionally it was meant to reuse leftover pancakes from the previous day instead of letting them go to waste. The pancakes are sliced up in thin strips and served in a hot clear beef broth garnished with chives.
2. Dumpling Soups
I have to admit I’m a bit of a soup junkie. What I love about them is that they are relatively cheap and quite filling. Oh, and tasty of course! Two of my favorite dumpling soups (and some all-time classics) are Griessnockerlsuppe and Leberknödelsuppe. Griessnockerl are made from semolina and a tasty vegetarian option while Leberknödel are made from liver (usually beef). I must admit I’m usually the last person to recommend any dishes consisting of offal, but these dumplings are just too damn good. My grandmother always makes them for me when I go home; danke Oma ❤
Okay, some of you may recognize this dish as distinctly Hungarian and that’s because it is 😉 The dish dates back to the 9th century when it was eaten by Hungarian shepherds. It consists of slow-cooked beef in a thick gravy of paprika, garlic, and caraway seeds. Today, a few variations of the dish are available. For example, Kartoffelgulasch is made from potatoes and often contains sausages (particularly popular with kids). In Austria, Gulasch is usually served simply with a crisp dinner roll (Semmel).
Some websites will have you know that Tafelspitz is Austria’s National Dish. I’m not exactly sure that is true, but it’s certainly yummy. In keeping with our soup saga, Tafelspitz is a dish of boiled beef, served with sides of apple and horseradish. If you order it in a restaurant it may or may not be actually served in a soup pot in its original broth.
Spätzle are a kind of soft egg noodle and have a chewy texture. In some regions of Austria, they may actually be served as a side dish. However, it can also serve as a main dish as Käsespätzle. The spätzle are then covered in grated melty cheese and topped with crunchy fried onion.
Schweinsbraten (pork roast) is the kind of dish Austrians eat on weekends with their families. The way to identify a great Schweinsbraten is by the crunch of the crackling on top. It’s often served with a side of dumplings, particularly bread dumplings known as Semmelknödel. It also often comes with a thin gravy.
Austrian Snacks & Austrian Street Food
In Austria, there is no such thing as a “light snack” 😛 Austrian snacks and Austrian street food are still very hearty which is why they are often reserved for weekends or after-party snacks. A greasy Austrian sausage is just what you need after a night out 😉
7. Austrian Sausages
Austrian sausages come in dozens of variations, but those eaten as street food are generally eaten hot with a dinner roll (Semmel) and condiments such as mustard and horseradish on the side. The simplest variant is the Frankfurter sausage which is also known as Wiener sausage abroad (Ironic? Yes.). One of the most popular sausages is the Käsekrainer, originally from Slovenia, which consists of pork and cheese. Other favorites include the Debrecener (a spicy Hungarian sausage) and Bosner, similar to a bratwurst.
Leberkäse is a very strange kind of meat, consisting of corned beef, pork, and bacon. The meat is ground up very finely and then baked into a loaf-shape. Austrians almost exclusively eat Leberkäse in a dinner roll (Leberkässemmel) as a late-night snack or quick lunch. They are sold in almost all supermarkets and butcher shops. Alternatively, it can also be eaten fried with spinach and fried eggs.
Schnitzelsemmel is one of my all-time favorite snacks and is nothing more but a schnitzel shoved into a dinner roll (Semmel). Usually, there is also ketchup in the bun. It’s a common Austrian snack to pack on a day out, but it can also be bought in supermarkets and sometimes kiosks and butcher shops.
Anybody growing up in Austria has probably had a Wurstsemmel packed for their school lunch. They are dinner rolls smeared with butter and filled with so-called Extrawurst and sometimes pickles. Extrawurst is a kind of Austrian cold cut made from beef, pork, and spices. A variation of the Extrawurst is the Pikantwurst which also contains finely chopped peppers. By the way, if you have ever seen Inspector Rex, this is the snack Rex used to live on 😉
In Austria, a Brezel always means a kind of soft pretzel. One of the most popular kinds is the Laugenbrezel (lye pretzel) which is topped with salt. You can even buy them as a kind of sandwich, topped with meats or cheese.
Maroni are basically nothing but roasted chestnuts. They are a favorite among Austrians particularly during autumn and winter and can be bought from street vendors on almost every corner.
When Austrians are out and about, they love to stop at traditional taverns for a quick beer and a light snack. Okay, Austrian snacks are really not that light. One of the lighter dishes available is the Brettljause, similar to a plowman’s lunch, which somewhat resembles an Austrian kind of tapas plate. The food is usually served on a wooden board and consists of cold cuts, cheeses, dried sausages, pickles, eggs, traditional spreads (e.g. Liptauer), and various condiments. Along with the platter comes a basket of bread often including dinner rolls and dark sourdough bread.
14. Döner Kebab
Okay, this is a little tongue-in-cheek, but at least it’s in keeping with Austria’s turbulent history 😉 The döner kebab is a Turkish dish where a flatbread is stuffed with grilled meat along with fresh vegetables. It’s almost impossible to miss the döner vendors in Austria today and thousands are eaten every day. Funnily, living in Northern Europe, it’s one of the foods I miss the most.
Austrians are big on desserts. And I mean really big. So big in fact, that Austrian dessert are often served as main dishes. Is that weird? Maybe a little, but once you see how heavy these desserts are, you might not find it quite as strange anymore 🙂
Palatschinken are a kind of Austrian crepe or thin pancake. Traditionally they are filled with apricot jam (Marillenmarmelade) and dusted in powder sugar.
Speaking of apricots, one of the most popular Austrian desserts is, not surprisingly, a kind of dumpling. The dumplings are made of soft dough, usually made from potato, which is embedded with an apricot (Marille) or a plum (Zwetschge). It is then cooked in water before it is covered in breadcrumbs and dusted with powder sugar. There is also another variant stuffed with quark, known as Topfenknödel.
Mohnnudeln is a dish consisting of thick noodles (normally made from potato dough) which are served with melted butter and a heavy dose of poppy seeds. You may not want to do a drug test after eating this treat 😉
Apfelstrudel, or apple strudel, is probably one of the best known Austrian foods abroad. Dating back to the 17th century, it has been an integral part of Austrian cuisine for a long time. Apfelstrudel consists of a very thin sheet of pastry, stuffed with apples, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, and often raisins. It’s usually served on its own but may also come with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Other variants of strudel also exist, including Topfenstrudel (quark strudel), Nussstrudel (nut strudel), and many more.
Kaiserschmarrn is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Basically, it is a scrambled pancake, although the consistency of the dough is much fluffier than a regular pancake. It’s usually served dusted with powder sugar with a side of jam or applesauce.
Buchteln are a kind of sweet bread roll that is baked in a big pan so the individual rolls stick together. Traditionally they are filled with Powidl, a tart plum sauce. Often they also come with a generous helping of warm vanilla sauce.
I’m almost done with the dumplings, promise. The last one is the so-called Germknödel, which is a big yeast dumpling filled with Powidl (plum jam) and served with melted butter and poppy seeds, similar to Mohnnudeln. It may also be served with vanilla sauce.
Austrian love cakes. Indeed, it is not at all considered strange to eat a piece of cake in the morning. There are literally dozens of Austrian cakes, but for the sake of simplicity, I will only mention four of the most important Austrian cakes.
The Sachertorte is the most famous Austrian cake in the world. It’s a semi-sweet chocolate cake with thin layers of tart apricot jam and covered in chocolate icing. It can be bought in nearly all cafes in Vienna, although the proper place to try it is the Cafe Sacher, where it was invented.
The Linzertorte is a kind of tart named after the Austrian city of Linz. It consists primarily of a very crumbly pastry, filled with redcurrant jam and topped with a pretty lattice pattern. There are also cookies which are basically a smaller version of this cake, known as Linzer Augen.
24. Esterhazy Torte
The Esterhazy Torte is an opulent layer cake consisting of cognac-spiced buttercream and almond meringue dough. Although it was invented in Hungary, it is a staple in the Austrian cake scene today. You may also come across the Esterhazy Schnitte which is basically the same thing but in a rectangular shape.
A Punschkrapfen is a small cake strongly flavored with rum and coated in signature pink fondant. They are the signature dish of the popular Viennese cafe franchise Aida but can be found pretty much anywhere.
Now, to wash down all these delicious dishes you’ll probably one of the many Austrian drinks. Austrians love to drink alcohol which is why many of the drinks I have included here are alcoholic. However, other Austrian drinks include traditional Viennese coffee, as well as juices and soft drinks.
26. Austrian Beer
Austrian beers come in a wide variety, although lagers dominate the market. Some of the biggest Austrian beer brands include Stiegl, Ottakringer, Egger Bier, and Puntigamer, although there are dozens more. You can buy them cheaply from the supermarket or order a glass of beer along with your food at the restaurant.
27. Schnapps & Obstler
Schnapps is a strong alcoholic spirit, distilled from either herbs or fruits. One of the best-known kinds of herbal schnapps is without a doubt Jägermeister. Two of the most popular kinds of fruit schnapps are Marillenschnapps (apricot schnapps) and Zwetschgenschnapps (plum schnapps). It’s served in a shot glass and meant to be drank in a single slug. It’s quite common to have a bit of schnapps after a heavy meal to aid with digestion. A variant of the drink is the Obstler, a kind of fruit brandy.
28. Austrian Wine
Although Austrian wine isn’t nearly as well known as French or Italian wine, it’s certainly popular among the locals. Austrian wines are mostly dry white wines, primarily made from the Grüner Veltliner grape. In the summer it may be mixed with soda water to produce a drink known as Spritzer. It’s the perfect drink to have with your Brettljause!
Most is a kind of sweet Austrian cider made from apples. It’s sold in supermarkets from early autumn and a popular drink in Austrian taverns around that time.
If you’re going to have one drink in Austria, make it Almdudler. Almdudler is an Austrian soft drink made from a variety of herbs. Of course, you can buy it in supermarkets or order it at restaurants. Almdudler is quintessentially Austrian and plays an important role in Austrian pop culture.
31. Wiener Melange
Much is to be said about Viennese coffee house culture. More than could ever fit into this article. But if you are going to try only one type of Viennese coffee, you may want to try the Melange. It’s basically a mix of 50% mokka and 50% heated milk. If you want to be a bit more decadent, order a Franziskaner which is basically a Melange topped with whipped cream.
Austrian Chocolate & Austrian Candy
If you need something to munch on in your hotel room or to bring home as a souvenir, there is nothing better than Austrian chocolate and Austrian candy.
Milka is Austria’s biggest chocolate brand. The chocolates are available in dozens of varieties and can be bought in every supermarket. Milka chocolate is particularly sweet.
An alternative to Milka chocolate you could look out for Zotter chocolate instead. Their bars are generally much smaller, but are fairtrade and come in interesting flavors such as apple balsamico, bacon bits, cheese, and dozens and dozens of more traditional flavor combinations.
If anybody has ever brought you a souvenir from Austria, it was probably a pack of Mozartkugeln (Mozart balls). Mozartkugeln consist of pistachio marzipan and nougat, covered in dark chocolate. There are several companies producing the chocolate, although the most common one today is Mirabell.
Manner is basically synonymous with Austria and Vienna. Their most popular product are the so-called Mannerschnitten, a kind of Neapolitan wafers. What stands out is its iconic pink packaging with the St Stephen’s Cathedral as the company logo.
Please don’t put any Pez dispensers on anybody’s legs (Seinfeld reference anyone?), but do buy one of these if you want to be transported back to your childhood. The Pez candy itself is a very simple hard candy, but what makes the company famous is its dispensers which come in various shapes and colors.
Vegetarian Food in Austria
I’ll be honest with you, leading a vegetarian lifestyle in Austria is not easy. as you may have noticed, nearly all traditional main dishes and even starters and snacks are meat-based. Fortunately, you can go native and eat the desserts as main dishes (again, completely normal in Austria). Alternatively, I have compiled a few traditional Austrian vegetarian dishes for you below. It may be worth looking out for these on the menus if you don’t want to live off salad for your entire trip. In the autumn and winter, it’s worth checking out seasonal pumpkin (Kürbis) dishes.
Krautfleckerl are a kind of Austrian pasta dish. The pasta consists of small square pieces. After it’s cooked it is caramelized with cabbage, often simmering away for several hours.
Although most people associate a sweet dish with the word “strudel” it also comes in savory variations. One of the most popular ones is made with spinach (Spinatstrudel). Another variation is the so-called Kartoffelstrudel (potato strudel) which is usually served with a herb-yogurt dip.
39. Gebackener Käse
Gebackener Käse is essentially just deep-fried cheese. It’s a very hearty meal and is often served on a bed of salad and with a side of lingonberry jam. The cheese is usually Emmental or Brie.
40. Knödel mit Ei
This sounds pretty random because Knödel mit Ei means “dumpling with egg”. It is, however, a pretty popular lunch meal. It usually consists of fried bread dumplings with scrambled eggs. It’s topped with fresh chives and very filling. Occasionally it is also served with a mushroom sauce.
Where to Eat Traditional Austrian Food in Vienna
Thankfully Vienna is one of these cities where not all restaurants are out to get you and rip you off as a tourist. Most Austrian restaurants in Vienna will serve a selection of the 35+ dishes I have mentioned above. In order to find a traditional Austrian restaurant keep your eyes open for the word “Gasthaus”. Gasthaus means guesthouse, but it’s really more of a bigger tavern. When I’m in the city during the warmer months, I usually look out for one that has a Biergarten (beer garden). Eating and drinking in a traditional Viennese beer garden is one of the quintessential experiences you should have when visiting Vienna.
Alternatively, you can visit a Heuriger or Buschenschank which is basically a more rustic Austrian tavern. There they offer the famous Brettljause along with a nice glass of Austrian wine. These are mostly located in the outskirts of the city.
Now, what do you think? Have you tried any of these dishes before? Which one’s your favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!