Switzerland is renowned for its breathtaking Alpine landscape, expensive timepieces, and world-famous Swiss food including chocolates. It also has some of the most picturesque lakes, historic cities, and world-class ski resorts.
With landmarks in Switzerland like Lake Geneva, the largest lake in the country, and the Swiss mountain range including the Matterhorn – stunning landscapes and natural beauty is what the country is proud to host.
However, what also makes Switzerland one of the best countries to travel to, is the Swiss food you can enjoy while absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery the world knows. It simply has everything!
What Makes Traditional Swiss Food So Unique And Special?
Cheese and Swiss chocolate! There is something for everyone’s taste when it comes to Swiss food and cheese – from mild Emmental to delicious Gruyère and Appenzeller.
Swiss chocolate is also famous across the world for its high quality and craftsmanship. Switzerland boasts a major role in the world’s chocolate business, with notable brands such as Lindt, Toblerone, and Sprüngli.
Aside from cheese and chocolate, raclette and fondue are traditional Swiss foods that are commonly consumed and are an important part of socializing and connecting with people. Regional specialties, fresh ingredients, and influences from neighboring nations distinguish Swiss cuisine.
Switzerland is proud of its culinary heritage and places a high value on quality and authenticity in the production of all its products.
Most Famous Swiss Food
Fondue Bourguignonne (Melted Cheese Dipping Dish)
Despite the name sounding French, fondue Bourguignonne is one of the most popular Swiss foods. It began with field laborers who didn’t have time to return home for lunch. During their break, they began carrying pots of oil to the field to cook pieces of meat (beef brought from Burgundy, France, hence the name).
Today, beef is the most typical option for this Swiss food, although mixed meat fondues are also popular, using meats such as hog, chicken, and liver, as well as vegetables. It is critical to use a robust fondue pot to avoid hot oil-related incidents. Because cheese plays an important part in the national cuisine, fondue in Switzerland is especially popular.
Fondue is a national dish of Switzerland and a melting pot of many flavors and fragrances, much like the country itself. It was initially mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as a blend of goat cheese, flour, and wine, and its name originates from the French word “fondre,” which means “to melt.”
Swiss Food: Popular Main Dishes
Aelplermagronen (Traditional Swiss Macaroni)
Älplermagronen, an authentic Swiss cuisine invented in the 1930s, can be translated as Alpine macaroni, although it is more generally known as herdsman’s macaroni.
Although there are several variations on this staple Swiss food, the main components are macaroni pasta (typically hörnli – a tiny, curved, tubular noodle kind), cheese, onions, and potatoes. This dish is most often traditionally served with applesauce on the side, which gives it that authentic Swiss taste!
Herdsmen keeping an eye on their cows grazing in the Alpine pastures have access to all of the components needed in the recipe, and thus the origin of this traditional Swiss food was born.
The simplest version is made by stacking cooked pasta and potatoes with cheese and cream, then baking the mixture and topping it with onion rings, applesauce, and bacon.
Papet Vaudois (One-Pot Dish With Sausage, Potato, And Leeks)
Papet Vaudois is a much-loved Swiss food from the canton of Vaud (one of the 26 districts of the Swiss Confederation). It consists mostly of leeks and potatoes and is supplemented with sausages.
Papet Vaudois is a traditional Swiss food made in a one-pot style that is quite simple to prepare. The smoked pig (and beef) sausage is served with creamy leeks and potatoes.
This comforting meal is highly popular during the winter season. As one of Switzerland’s characteristic meals, it is deeply established in the culture of Vaud and Swiss cuisine.
Cordon Bleu (Swiss Schnitzel)
Cordon bleu is a renowned worldwide cuisine that originated in Switzerland and is considered a local favorite. In its most basic form, it is a beef cutlet that is breaded and deep-fried in hot oil, shallow-fried in a skillet, or baked in an oven.
As a popular Swiss dinner choice, you can find these delectable crunchy schnitzels in restaurants and other eateries around the country.
The meal is often made with two meat scallops stacked on top of each other, with ham and cheese sandwiched in between. There are several variations of this Swiss food available today, including veal cordon bleu, chicken cordon bleu, and cordon bleu with mushroom sauce.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Sliced Meat/Veal In A Creamy Wine Sauce)
Zürich-style veal – popularly known as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes – first appeared in cookbooks in 1947, but it is now considered one of the classic Swiss dishes with origins in the Zürich region.
The delectable dish features a bunch of quality ingredients such as sliced veal strips, white wine, beef stock, cream, mushrooms. Spices and seasonings like pepper, paprika, lemon juice and salt are used to further enhance the flavor.
This traditional Swiss food goes particularly well with a crispy potato rösti. However, other dishes such as rice, mashed potatoes, or tagliatelle pasta can also be used to soak up all that delicious sauce. If you’re looking for a hearty, delicious, and out-of-this-world dinner choice, you can’t go wrong with this magnificent Swiss food.
Berner Platte (Buffet/Festive Food Platter)
The Berner platte is a classic Swiss food, often considered a festive meal, from Bern (the capital of Switzerland). It consists of a big platter loaded with sauerkraut, beef, offal, potatoes, and green beans. All of the meat, veggies, and side dishes are made individually and presented on the same platter.
The beef is frequently boiled with onions and bay leaves; green beans are sautéed in butter, potatoes are boiled and fried with butter and chives, and sauerkraut is prepared in white wine with currants and bacon. This traditional Swiss food is often served as an open buffet, allowing each individual to select what they want to eat.
Traditionally, the feasting started after combat and battle many centuries ago. The townsfolk and farmers brought forth whatever they had stored in their storehouses during the winter and with typical Swiss efficiency.
On the tray, there were Bernese sausages, smoked pig, tongue, and other delicious meats, as well as potatoes, sauerkraut, and dried green beans. And many believe this is the origin story of the Berner Platte!
Tartiflette Reblochon (Creamy Bacon And Potato Casserole)
Tartiflette is one of the most sumptuous traditional Swiss foods. Crunchy potatoes may be found buried in creamy cheese, with a kick from cracked pepper and smoky bacon. It’s better served as the main course, rather than as a side dish – and is a favorite Swiss dinner for many locals and travelers alike!
Tartiflette is a delicacy from Savoy in the French Alps that was first referenced in François Massialot’s 1705 book, ‘Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois’. Although originally made by the French, the Swiss have fully embraced this delicious dish, and it has become an important part of Swiss cuisine.
The St. Galler Bratwurst, commonly known as the Olma Bratwurst, is a sausage made in Northeastern Switzerland and a famous Swiss food.
The Butchers’ Guild of St. Gallen’s 1438 laws states that this banger must be made using veal, bacon, spices, and fresh milk. Since then, the formula has remained unchanged – It is now secured by an IGP label. It’s safe to say St. Galler Bratwurst is one of the most iconic traditional Swiss foods you can find. It’s also extremely delicious!
It is frequently consumed as street cuisine, with simple bread and mustard as accompaniments. However, it is also used in a variety of Swiss foods, one of which is rösti with veal sausage and onion sauce. Veal sausages, notably the St. Galler, are the most popular grilled sausages in Switzerland.
Fleischvögel (Veal/Beef Buns Wrapped In Bacon, Breadcrumbs, And Onions)
In historical recipes, this Swiss food is defined as a chunk of beef fashioned to look like a bird. The stuffed and rolled beef is appropriately named “Fleischvogel” due to its similar form and size. This is most likely where the name “Fleischvogel” (meat bird) came from.
Traditional fillings in Switzerland include parsley, bacon, white bread crumbs, and onions. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, and spices can be added depending on your preferred taste. In sections of Germany, this traditional Swiss food is incomplete without a ground beef filling, but in parts of Switzerland, a spinach filling is often required.
Fleischvogel’s side dishes are not restricted to typical choice: Various types of cabbage, spaghetti, spätzle, potatoes, or anything else that tastes nice, goes well with Fleischvogel. Different sauces, of course, compliment the beef or lamb Fleischvogel well. So, if you want to make Fleischvogel, just follow your instincts!
Best Cheese And Bread In Swiss Food
Emmentaler (Iconic Swiss Cheese)
Emmentaler is a semi-hard Swiss cheese that originated in the Emmental region of Switzerland’s canton of Bern. It is categorized as a Swiss or Alpine cheese. Emmental was believed to be first mentioned in 1293, although it did not get its current name until 1542.
It is prepared from raw cow’s milk – and it must be aged for at least 4 months, while certain kinds can be stored for longer. The pale yellow color, silky texture, and marble-sized holes that emerge during maturity distinguish the cheese.
Emmentaler is generally served sliced or cubed, but it also blends nicely into a variety of recipes and is one of the most commonly used cheese kinds in fondue. In Swiss cuisine, this is a considered heroic ingredient!
Raclette (Semi-Hard Traditional Swiss Cheese)
Raclette is considered a national dish of Switzerland that is named after a somewhat nutty Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk.
An extremely popular treat in the ski area Valais and other parts of the Swiss Alps, Raclette was developed by Swiss mountain shepherds who used to congregate around a fire while roasting potatoes. In Swiss cuisine, the full gastronomic experience is important when it comes to this cheese.
Historically, when the shepherds left some cheese near the fire, it began to melt, so they scraped it over the potatoes, and thus raclette was created. The dish is named after the French term “racler”, which means “to scrape.”
Since few people nowadays have a fireplace, you will now see fancy gadgets like raclette grill used to melt and serve up this delightful and much-loved Swiss food.
Gruyère (Hard Swiss Cheese)
Gruyère is a raw cow’s milk cheese that has been boiled and pressed. The cheese has a grainy yellow to brown rind on the outside and an ivory to light yellow inside.
The Swiss variety (AOP), a hard cheese with a salty and nutty flavor, normally does not have holes, although the French version (IGP) must have them, varying in size from a pea to a cherry.
Gruyère must be aged in cellars for at least 120 days to create subtle smells of caramelized hazelnuts, apples, and brown butter. It melts wonderfully, making it suitable for traditional Swiss foods like fondues or sliced and served on its own with a glass of mild red wine.
Zopf (Traditional Plaited Bread)
Zopf is a type of traditional Swiss bread made with wheat, butter, yeast, milk, and eggs. It has a distinctive visuals with braiding that makes it easily identifiable. The appealing, soft texture is also comparable to that of the Jewish bread challah.
Back in the days, Zopf is made on weekends and eaten on Sundays, generally with butter and fruit jams. Today, they continue to be a popular Swiss breakfast food option.
Zopf is said to have been created in the first half of the 15th century and is an important part of traditional Swiss food.
Hundreds of years ago, widows would cut their hair and bury the braid with their late husbands. Later, instead of hair, they cooked Zopf and buried loaves of bread. The term Zopf means “braid,” alluding to the bread’s form.
Hefekranz (Sweet Braided Bread)
Hefekranz is a wreath-shaped, somewhat sweet bread packed with raisins and flavored with lemon zest. It is popular in Swiss cuisine, particularly during the Easter and Christmas seasons, when it is typically produced in many households and bakeries around the country.
The German variation is called Hefezopf, and it is frequently braided rather than formed into a wreath. The first Hefekranz is thought to have been baked in 1256 by the first Bakers’ Union in Switzerland. So it’s not surprising how important this Swiss food is to the food culture of the country.
Swiss Desserts And Sweet Treats
This is a sweet, airy, featherlight delicacy prepared with a few ingredients such as egg whites, sugar, and the most vital component – air.
Meringue is highly adaptable and is usually used to transform Swiss desserts into works of art: it may be whipped into cake frostings, spooned over pies, incorporated into cakes to make them fluffy, or blended with chocolate, fruits, and crushed almonds for added flavor.
The origins of meringue are not particularly clear. Some believed it was invented by a Swiss pastry chef, while others traces it back to Poland claiming that the name “meringue” comes from the Polish word “marzynka.”
Meringue is frequently used as a basis for dessert frostings. You can commonly see them on pavlovas or pies; there are even pure meringue cookies which are incredibly light. If you’re looking for a popular dessert food in Swiss cuisine, meringue is one of the best!
Swiss chocolate is world-famous and manufactured in Switzerland. While cacao beans and other components like sugar cane are grown outside of the country, the chocolate must be made in Switzerland.
With numerous prominent worldwide chocolate companies, Switzerland’s chocolates have established an international reputation for exceptional quality.
Switzerland is especially well-known for its milk chocolate. In 1875, Daniel Peter, a Swiss confectioner, created the first solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, which had been manufactured by Henri Nestlé, Peter’s neighbor in Vevey.
Aside from milk, the most popular chocolate bars contain a wide range of ingredients other than cocoa. Among them are nuts, mainly hazelnuts and almonds, and dried fruits like raisins. While chocolate is not a food in Swiss cuisine, but rather a dessert, it is still an integral part of the country’s food culture.
Rodolphe Lindt, a great chocolate pioneer, established the Lindt chocolate empire in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1845. The Swiss chocolate brand has since become a household name and is currently accessible in over 100 countries.
Basler Läckerli (Traditional Swiss Honey And Nut Biscuits)
Basler Läckerli is a traditional spicy biscuit baked with honey, almonds, and candied fruits in Basel, Northwestern Switzerland. They are one of the most loved and coveted types of Swiss desserts, and any local will tell you how great these little treats are, any time of day.
Basler läckerli is usually made with almonds, hazelnuts, candied fruit peels, honey, and Kirsch (a type of brandy). These cookies are a specialty of Basel, where they are said to have been made since the Middle Ages, and have long been a part of food in Swiss culture. The biscuits are usually sliced into rectangular pieces after baking and covered with a sugar glaze.
They are commonly consumed around the holidays, especially Christmas time, but they may be purchased or cooked at any time of year. They’re truly a special part of Swiss cuisine, and you’ll most likely find them in many homes around Switzerland.
Engadiner Nusstorte (Nut-Filled Tart)
Engadiner Nusstorte (also known as Büdner Nusstorte) originates in the Swiss canton (or district) of Graubünden. It’s a classic tart with a caramel and nut filling. Generally, walnuts are used for the filling, although other nuts are used on occasion, but extremely seldom.
The tart was invented in the 1920s, but there are numerous stories on how the original recipe for this Nusstorte came to be. While typically served as a dessert, Engadiner Nusstorte is at the heart of food in Swiss cuisine.
These Swiss desserts are made using shortcrust pastry and a filling of chopped walnuts, cream, and honey from the picturesque Swiss area of Engadine (a region in Graubünden). The tart will remain fresh for a long time after it is created, which is why it is currently delivered all over the world from Switzerland.
Swiss Chocolate Truffles
The Swiss chocolate truffle is a variant of the original chocolate truffle that involves heating a mixture of dairy cream and butter to the boiling point, adding in melted chocolate, and lastly pouring the resultant mixture into molds (traditionally circular ones).
When it comes to dessert and food in Swiss cuisine, chocolate truffles have become a very popular and loved delicacy.
The chocolate truffles, like the French truffles, are rolled in cocoa powder once they have set. Because of the freshness of the materials used in the manufacture of chocolate truffles, these delicious confections do degrade faster than other truffle variations.
In case you get confused with the term “truffle” which commonly refers to the exquisite fungus, this has nothing much to do with it taste-wise.
The chocolate truffle name basically comes from their resemblance to truffles. However, these delicious Swiss desserts are anything but a mushroom! They typically have a delish chocolate ganache center that is then further coated in a layer of chocolate, cocoa or even nuts.
Swiss Food: Snacks And Side Dishes
Capuns (Swiss Chard Wraps)
Capuns are essentially dumplings covered in greens and cooked in milk or cream. People have been wrapping their meals in leaves since the beginning of time. Capuns is a traditional Swiss food prepared mostly in the canton of Graubünden’s eastern region.
They are formed with Spätzle dough and rolled in a chard leaf with chunks of dried meat, such as Bündnerfleisch and/or Salsiz. Then, they are simmered in a bouillon, milk, and water gravy and topped with grated cheese.
Originally a Swiss food eaten by peasants – today it is a specialty offered in restaurants around the region and enjoyed by both visitors and residents.
Rösti (Crunchy Swiss Potato Pancakes)
Rösti is a crunchy coated potato pancake with an appetizing golden color that is a simple, buttery, and aromatic national dish of Switzerland.
Potatoes for rösti are cooked, peeled, cooled, and shredded into long strips. They are then fried in butter, oil, salt, and often bacon grease. Herbs, onions, gammon, or grated cheese can also be added to the recipe to improve and add to the flavors.
Birnbrot (Fruit Bread)
Another name for this delicious Swiss food is birnweggen. The filling is usually made with raisins, figs, walnuts, and a variety of traditional seasonings. And the result is absolutely delicious!
Originally, it was a peasant bread that was made to help save on the use of wheat. Dried fruit was used in replacement since it was cheaper than wheat at the time. Local variants of the dish in Graubünden involve a bigger volume of bread dough and are not cased in yeast dough.
It is now a popular traditional Swiss food eaten during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and there are several rituals associated with it. In Engadin, for example, on December 26th, females present their favorite classmate a Birnbrot, and are then taken on a sleigh ride.
Swiss Food: Soups And Stews
Bündner Gerstensuppe (Swiss Barley Soup)
This filling Swiss barley soup hails from the beautiful mountainous region of Graubünden. Potatoes, pearl barley, celery, carrots, white cabbage, leeks, dried or smoked meat, and cream are all traditional ingredients in this delicious Swiss food.
Although the soup is not difficult to make, it does take some time to bring out all of the flavors. This traditional Swiss food is also considered the national soup of Switzerland.
Bündner Gerstensuppe is a favorite lunch option for skiers in the Alps and is much loved by locals and tourists alike. It’s nearly always on the buffet, it’s one of the cheapest options, and it fills you up without making you feel like you need to nap!
Heusuppe (Hay Soup)
Heusuppe is a unique, authentic Swiss food that originated in Alpine chalets. The soup, which directly translates as “hay soup,” is created with mountain flowers and herbs simmered in bouillon with the addition of hay that is separated from the broth before serving. It may sound strange, but you must try this traditional Swiss food before deciding hay is only for cows!
It takes around 2 Kg’s of hay to create 1 liter of hay soup, and it is sometimes made with extra ingredients such as cream and butter.
Basler Mehlsuppe (Creamy Swiss Flour Soup)
A substantial, savory soup prepared with browned flour, beef stock, onions, and occasionally red wine – is Basel’s hallmark meal and a staple in Swiss cuisine.
Basler Mehlsuppe is traditionally seasoned with peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg, or allspice, and topped with a liberal grating of Swiss cheese like Sbrinz or Gruyère.
Mehlsuppe is a national favorite that is accessible all year, not only in Basel but across Switzerland.
The most famous origin myth of this Swiss food involves a talkative cook who accidentally burns the flour for the soup while preparing it. Instead of beginning over, the error was included in the meal, which was a huge success!
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering The Wonderful World Of Swiss Cuisine
Exploring the exciting tastes and foods of a country is always a beautiful thing. Whether you’re a traveler trying to learn about the regional varieties before arriving or simply looking to introduce new flavors into your home, food in Swiss culture is one filled with wonder and history.
From traditional Swiss food like Fondue Bourguignonne to the more contemporary Swiss desserts like chocolate truffles, you’re sure to find something out-of-this-world! The delicious food scene is one of the most exciting facts about Switzerland for foodies.