Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Austrian Foods


Fresh fluid milk is often served boiled rather than cold as a beverage. Sweetened condensed milk is widely used but skim milk and dried milk powder are not favored. Cheeses of all types, sour milk, and thick sour cream are used a great deal. Sweetened, whipped cream is so popular as almost to be classed as a daily staple.


A wide range of seasonal fruits are used fresh or pre-pared as cold fruit soups, compotes, and other desserts, or are used as filling in baked goods. Some imported and canned fruits are consumed. Recently, citrus fruits and citrus juices are used regularly. This coincides with an increasing awareness of good nutrition.

Seasonal vegetables are purchased fresh and pre-pared with care as salads, pickles, well-cooked, or well-garnished, never plain. Winter staples include red and green cabbage, potatoes (prepared in an end-less variety of ways), beets, sauerkraut, and pickles.


Pork, veal, and chicken are the favored meats; very little fish is consumed. Beef and lamb are usually served well-cooked and accompanied with rich gravies and sauces. Meats are used as main dishes but also form an important part of many snacks, which are often smoked, pickled, or cured meats or many types of sausages.

Eggs are most often eaten boiled, or hard-cooked as appetizers, as a garnish or as an ingredient in other dishes. Legumes are of little importance and used only occasionally in soups and sometimes as a side dish. Nuts are used only as garnish or part of rich desserts or candies.


Dried breakfast cereals served cold with milk or hot, cooked porridges have no place at the Austrian table. Many types of plain or sweet rolls with hot milk, tea, or coffee is a common breakfast. To the Austrian, grains do not comprise the morning meal, but are to be found as flour in the great array of breads of all kinds, dark and light, rolls, buns made with every combination of wheat and rye flours, sweet and soured dough. Bread is present in some form at every meal and often is part of snacks as well.


Since sour cream, whipped cream, and eggs are very important in so many dishes, they also contribute a great amount of fats to the Austrian diet. Lard, oil, butter, and margarine are all used in cooking and baking.


The Austrian sweet tooth is not easily satisfied. It begins with preserves and crisp rolls for breakfast, and requires refueling at almost any time of day in the form of chocolates and candies, sweetened coffee and occasionally tea (there is even a preference for sweet rather than dry wines), and of course, the almost legendary consumption of incredibly rich and tempting pastries and desserts, to which the true Austrian will often unabashedly add a generous dollop of schlagobers (sweetened whipped cream).


Most typical are paprika, caraway seeds, onions, and garlic, but there is also a judicious use of herbs and spices. Chocolate is the favorite dessert flavor, also vanilla and freshly zested rind of oranges and lemons. Wine and sour cream, sweet cream, and fresh butter are also typical flavors.


There is some consumption of fresh milk, by children, and some sipping of sweetened tea, but coffee in many varieties (flavored with chocolate, vanilla, or served with cream or whipped cream) is still most popular. When Austrians serve wine with a meal it will inevitably be a rich, fruity Rhine wine. This white wine is preferred no matter what the main course. Beer is considered a more casual beverage and more favored by men.

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