Austria might be the Christmas capital of the world, but its food should also give it the title of ‘Christmas Food Capital of the World.’
Austria is already known as the Christmas capital of the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s home to the largest Christmas market and unique festivals such as those depicting the legend of Krampus, just for good balance. When it comes to the food that can be found throughout the city, its capital, Vienna, is wholly known for being the dessert capital of the world. So, when the holidays come around, the food is bound to be that much better, right?
The answer is an overwhelming ‘yes,’ and this is what travelers have the chance to experience when visiting during the winter. Get those tastebuds ready, because Austria is home to some of the best Christmas foods in the world.
Christmas Market Food
One of the must-do things when visiting Vienna, specifically, for the holidays is to stop at one of its many Christmas markets. This city is home to some of the biggest in the world, and they’re full of handmade items and decorations, but also to some of the best holiday foods. There’s no shortage of scents that will appease any foodie’s nose – and stomach – whilst strolling through the winter wonderland that is a Vienna Christmas market. The best part is that many of its more traditional Christmas-themed foods are easy enough to eat while on the go.
Must-Try Christmas Market Foods
When walking through vendor booths at the markets, it can be a bit overwhelming when all of these sights and smells are floating around. Some things to be on the lookout for when scouting out the best holiday street foods are:
- potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
- Pastry dough filled with either jam or sauerkraut (Krapfen)
- Bread with hot melted cheese poured over the top (raclette)
- Fried eggs topped with bacon with a bed of fried potatoes (Bauerngröstl)
- Sausage that’s stuffed with local cheese (Käsekrainer)
- Traditional Bavarian sausage (bratwurst)
- A biscuit (cookie) flavored with butter and almond flour (Vanillekipferl)
- Fried pancake-like dessert (Kaiserschmarrn)
- Waffles with any number of sweet toppings (waffle)
- Gingerbread-like cookies, usually decorated (Lebkuchen)
- Potatoes that have been pan-fried until crispy (Bratkartoffel)
- Homemade donuts (Bratkartoffeln)
- Roasted chestnuts (maroni)
- Soup that’s served in a homemade bread bowl (Suppen im brotteig)
- fruit strudel
- Pasta with ham added (Schinkenflecker)
For the most part, visitors to the Christmas markets will smell these foods before they actually find them – which is a pretty good way to find them, in general! Some food items, like roasted chestnuts, will be served in a paper cone so that they’re easy to carry around. Fried potatoes are often spiral-cut and served on skewers, while sausages, waffles, and cookies are easy to carry in one hand while shopping with the other.
Traditional Austrian Christmas Dinner
Christmas dinner in Austria usually begins on Christmas Eve and is a very intimate affair. One of the most famous meals that is served for dinner is fried carp, which dates back centuries as the official Christmas dish in the country. The carp is usually fried in butter and served simply with a side of roasted vegetables, and potatoes are usually always on the table in some form. Bread and dumplings are also popular accompaniments to a meal, and they’re called Knodel in Austria. These are quite simple and usually include a bit of nutmeg for festive flavor.
The most popular drink found in Austria during the holidays is glühwein. This beverage starts with a base of red wine, to which cinnamon and sugar are added to create a slightly tangy, sweet, and spicy drink. This is often served for Christmas Eve dinner but can also be found throughout Austria, especially at the Christmas markets. Mocktail versions of glühwein can be found, as well, and some versions also include a bit of fresh vanilla bean. Some other festive Austrian drinks are:
- Hot mulled cider (glühmost)
- Non-alcoholic holiday punch (kinderpunsch)
Christmas Sweets In Austria
There are several major Austrian desserts that are served almost exclusively during the holiday season. Some of these, such as Vanillekipferl and Lebkuchen can be found at Christmas markets, and nearly every bakery will feature both with their own recipe in tow. Another delicious cookie – or, cookie sandwich, rather – is the Linzer cake. This is a cookie that consists of two almond cookies with raspberry jam sandwiched in between. On the top cookie, a cutout is usually made, and the cookies usually sport an easily-recognizable zig-zag circular design.
As far as Christmas cakes go, Austria has one of those, too. Stollen is a traditional cake served for the holidays that is flavored with fruit, marzipan, and liqueur. Similar to a fruit cake but much lighter, this treat can be given as a gift and goes great with a cup of tea or coffee.
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