A major part of travelling for me is trying out the local cuisine. If you like hearty, flavoursome, and sweet dishes with plenty of potatoes, meat and pastry then you are going to love Austria. But if you are on a carbohydrate free diet you might be in trouble!
Here is my short list of sweet and savoury Austrian foods to try whilst you’re visiting.
Goulash is a slow cooked tasty stew or soup and is one of Austria’s popular comfort foods. As a soup it’s usually served with fresh, crusty bread and as a main it is usually accompanied by Spätzle (soft egg noodle) or potato dumplings.
Semmel Knödel and Kartoffel Knödel
The savoury Knödels are large dumplings made of either potato or bread which have been boiled or poached. Some are stuffed with leftover meat such as roast or sausage. The true dumplings are the big, large round ones and have a lot of flavour. However, a lot of places will serve up bread dumplings which are simply pieces of white bread steamed. Whilst it is tasty, it’s a little flavourless and not the best type of dumplings you can try.
The Weiner Schnitzel is a national dish of Austria and is found on pretty much every menu. The actual term Weiner Schnitzel is actually protected by law! It is traditionally made of veal, which is then crumbed and fried in oil with a serving of potato salad, pomme frits or boiled potatoes in butter and parsley.
Rindsuppe, a clear beef broth, is one of the most popular Austrian foods and it is pretty cheap. It is often served with clear, thin noodles or with a large dumpling sitting in the middle of the dish. It can look pretty plain, but it is super tasty.
You can’t travel to Austria without trying one of the many varieties of sausages and if you are on a budget then you might be eating a few of them. There are Würstelstand stands everywhere and you can get a sausage with a bun for about €3. Some of the most popular sausages include frankfurter (typical hot dog), kaskrainer (pork and cheese), Bratwurst (skinny pork & veal), Waldviertler (dark, smokey beef and pork), burenwurst (thick mixed meat) and a bosna (bratwurst with curry, mustard and onions).
Apple Strudel is arguably Austria’s most famous dessert. Traditionally the thin layers of pastry encase apple with cinnamon and raisins. Today though you will find almost anything inside a strudel from chocolate and berries to cheese and meats.
The Gugelhopf bundt cake is often served with tea or at breakfast and was originally the cake of the poor. It’s really just a sponge cake served with caster sugar sprinkled on top, but the addition of dried orange peel in the dough gives it a subtle fresh taste. You will also find variations such as marble cake with chocolate dough blended with the original light dough.
If you are going to try the savoury dumplings, then you need to give the sweet Germknödel a go. They are basically a steamed soft yeast dumpling with a little surprise inside of plum butter. They are served warm with either melted butter or a creamy vanilla sauce and finished with a dusting of poppy seed and sugar.
Bauernkrapfen is traditional German, known as Knieküchle, and is a fried dough pastry tasting like a giant doughnut. In fact Bauerunkrapfen literally translates to ‘farmer’s doughnuts’ in German. There is no hole in these beauties though, just a dent as they shape the dough thicker on the outer rim and slightly thinner in the centre. The Bauernkrapfen will be finished with a generous dusting of confectionary sugar and often with a little dollop of apricot marmalade.
If you are going to try Austrian food on your travels you might need to give the diet a rest for a couple of days. The traditional cuisine doesn’t tick the boxes of being the healthiest, the servings are big and there are so many sweets to tantalise your taste buds.