Hungary is located in Central Europe and is part of the European Union. The largest city, is Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Hungary has a long history, being established as a state in the late ninth century. Nowadays, it remains a popular European vacation destination, attracting up to 14 million visitors each year. Many of the traditional dishes are made from only a few key ingredients but are packed with flavor and will leave you feeling satiated and warm on a cold winter evening. Most famous is the Hungarian paprika which features prominently in many of the classic dishes. Perhaps one of the best-known dishes is goulash, a meat stew with vegetables and a paprika sauce. If you are in Budapest, you will want to try as many of these well-known dishes as you can. To help you plan your food itinerary, read on to see what we’ve outlined as some of the best traditional foods in Budapest, Hungary.
1. Pörkölt (meat stew)
Pörkölt is a hearty meat stew. It is made with boneless meat, paprika, and vegetables. While similar to goulash, it has less sauce. There are many regional variations, some of which use different meat or vegetables. This flavorful dish is very impressive because it is a relatively simple dish with few ingredients. Another trick to make Pörkölt more flavorful is to fry the onions beforehand. It’s a great dish for a cold night if you are in Budapest during one of the snowy winter months. If you only have time to try one dish, make sure you try this one. You may even want to learn how to make it so you can impress your friends back home.
2. Lángos (fried dough)
Lángos is a deep-fried bread, a specialty of Hungary. The main ingredients include flour, yeast, and salt. Unlike many flatbreads, it is deep fried instead of baked. Some more savory variations also have potatoes, sour cream or grated cheese and even sausages on top. You can even make them with eggplant, cabbage, kefir or jam. An affordable and quick food, you can find it all over town.
3. Túrós Csusza (cheese noodle)
Túrós Csusza is a tasty quark cheese noodle dish. The handmade noodles are small and uneven in size and mixed with butter, crumbled quark cheese, bacon, and sour cream. This is a popular traditional Hungarian dish. The ingredients make it a rich and filling meal popular at family gatherings. For those who want to try their hand and make this at home, it’s a great Hungarian dish to start with.
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4. Lecsó (vegetable stew)
Lecsó is a traditional Hungarian food that is made from yellow peppers, tomatoes, onions, and paprika. This thick vegetable stew is a delicious hot dish to enjoy during the winter months. Many recipes recommend using the Hungarian wax pepper, which is available during the months of August to October. This gives the dish a vibrant color. Accompaniments include rice, potatoes, and nokedli.
5. Kolbász (sausage)
Kolbász is a delicious Hungarian sausage. Popular varieties include gyulai sausage which is slow cooked and made with pork, bacon fat, garlic, pepper, and paprika. Another variety is csabai sausage which is a spicier version of gyulai sausage. Other regional varieties include csemege, cserkesz, debreceni, and lescokolbasz. They are similar in terms of ingredients but vary in the spices used.
6. Gyümölcsleves (chilled fruit soup)
Gyümölcsleves is a unique soup. Served cold, it is a blend of fruit and berries. Sour cherries, quince, apple, red currants, blackberries, and pear is often used. It is rapidly cooked, and cream and spices are added, including cloves, cinnamon, and sugar. It is primarily a regional dish of southwestern Hungary. Seasonal fruit is also used throughout the year, though it is usually served in the summer as a refreshing and light treat.
7. Újházy tyúkhúsleves (chicken soup)
Újházy tyúkhúsleves is a traditional Hungarian homemade chicken soup. It was named after an actor Ede Újházi, who was also a passionate foodie. The recipe includes chicken, carrots, parsley, celery, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, onions, cherry, green peas, and garlic. It is a classic dish that is full of flavor. Be sure to try it if you are ever in Hungary, maybe even learn how to make for yourself. It’s also a great dish to try if you are feeling under the weather.
8. Libamáj (goose liver)
Libamáj is a dish for special occasions, made with goose liver. Traditionally, special Hungarian gooses are raised and well-fed in preparation of Libamáj. Often paired with accompanying sides such as potatoes or other vegetables, it is a filling and tasty meal. If you want a special treat when visiting Hungary, be sure to find a restaurant that can prepare a quality Libamáj.
9. Paprikás Csirke (chicken paprika)
Paprikás Csirke is a classic Hungarian dish. It is most notable for its strong paprika sauce, both vibrant in color and flavor. It is considered one of the pillars of Hungarian cooking. There are very few ingredients so it is important to invest in quality ones such as chicken and spices The flavor is rich, sweet and slightly smokey. It can be served with polenta or potatoes as well. Tomatoes, cream, and sour cream are also included in the sauce.
Traditional Hungarian dishes
Whether you are vegetarian, a meat-lover or have picky eaters in the family, you will be sure to find a dish that is appealing to everyone. Ranging from sausages to vegetable stews and chilled berry soup, there are many unique and memorable foods to try during your visit to Budapest. Hungary is world renowned for its paprika and hearty stews. You may even learn how to make a few of these dishes yourself, or pick up some local spices to take home and share with your friends. Whether you visit during the summer or winter, there will be plenty of seasonal and scrumptious classic dishes to try.
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