With the beautiful Swiss Alps, vast crystal-clear lakes, and intriguing cultural history, Switzerland is easily one of the top destinations in the world. Add to that tasty traditional dishes and you have the recipe for a perfectly memorable and equally gastronomical vacation. Here’s a list of the best food in Switzerland can’t miss while touring around the country…
Food in Switzerland You NEED To Try
No visit to Switzerland will be complete without sampling some of this alpine country’s great cheeses. You’ll find it in every form and flavour, but the most iconic way to have cheese in Switzerland is in cheese fondue. It’s a great communal dish to share among friends, typically mixed with wine (or Kirsch) and garlic. You’ll find it everywhere, especially in ski resorts and popular restaurants.
You can bring your Swiss Fondue experience up a notch by taking the Zurich Fondue Tram. The tram makes a loop around the city of Zurich taking in historic sights giving you a cool way to see the city. During the ride, guests are served unlimited Swiss Fondue with all the perks and tasty drinks to go with it. Just remember, sometimes too much cheese is a bad thing! Of all the famous food in Switzerland, this is by far most people’s favourite.
Another cheesy treat you should have is Raclette. This dish originated from the Canton of Valais, made with melted raclette cheese and scraping it onto any kind of dish you wish. It’s traditionally used to cover potatoes, vegetables and meat. It’s another fun way to consume great-tasting cheese and is a very popular dish across Switzerland.
Many families have their specially designed raclette grills to heat individual slices of cheese. It’s a very comforting dish best consumed after a day of hitting the slopes. For those lucky enough heading off to Zermatt, many ski resorts offer this dish and some even serve all-you-can-eat raclette on certain days.
This Bern original is now a popular dish you can find all across Switzerland and is regarded as a national treasure. In fact, the border between the French and German speaking parts is even commonly known as the “Röstgraben”, albeit as a bit of a joke. The Rösti is a Swiss-style hashbrown often eaten as a side dish to many traditional Swiss dishes. Typically, it’s made of fried grated potato that are pre-boiled and cooled overnight.
There are many variations to this, however, and you’ll find other ingredients thrown on top such as cheese (of course), bacon, onions, and apples. Can’t go past the cheese and bacon variation myself, although I am sure my doctor won’t approve! When it comes to delicious, homely winter food in Switzerland, the Rosti wins every time! I especially loved in on those long, cool nights in Lauterbrunnen. The perfect dish after a long hike too!
Photo by Walter Schärer
With all the food fads around the world of late, I would not be surprised if you already eat this for breakfast. And yes, it’s another dish that was created in Zurich Switzerland, about 100 years ago. And the great news is, that it’s perhaps a little more healthy than a liquid bowl of cheese. What is in this bad boy? Basically, it’s oats, often soaked overnight in milk, combined with yogurt, fruit and anything else (hopefully healthy) you think goes with it. Here’s a tasty recipe to get you started.
This is a sweet nut tart also known as the nusstorte. It’s a very popular dessert or snack you will find throughout the country. As with many Swiss dishes, different bakeries in each canton (the Swiss version of state) have their own particular recipes and will swear by it.
Typically, it consists of a short crust pastry, cream, caramelized sugar, and chopped walnuts. No matter where you find it in Switzerland, give it a shot! You won’t regret it
Älplermagronen is an interesting take on a traditional mac and cheese, that many a ski restaurant will have to help power you for an afternoon of skiing. It originated from the German-speaking region of Switzerland and was commonly known as herdsman’s macaroni. Which makes sense, because it is created with ingredients that these people can easily find around them on the Alpine pastures.
The dish includes pasta, cream, cheese, potatoes and onions. It can be eaten on its own, but it’s typically served with stewed apples and onion rings. It’s a great dish to have all year round, but it’s particularly filling during cold winter days.
This Basel sweet treat goes back nearly 600 years when local spice merchants created it during the Basel Council. It was historically consumed by ecclesiastical members, but is now a popular treat during Christmas time. Fortunately for us, it’s still available all year round. It’s typically made with hazelnut, almonds, honey, fruit and Kirsch, then glazed with sugar cream that gives it its Yuletide look.
This dish from the Zurich region is an iconic national dish and a common wintertime lunch. It’s made with small strips of meat, often veal or beef, which is sautéed in a very hot pan with butter, onion, white wine, cream and mushrooms. Of course, there are dozens of variations of this, and each restaurant will have its own. While it hailed from the German-speaking city of Zurich, it has become an old-school favorite around the country. However, as someone who lives in the Zurich region, I high recommend you try it in a restaurant here to get the “real” version! Or, you can try making it yourself.
When in the southern Ticino region of Switzerland, the first dish you should absolutely try is Polenta. This Italian-speaking part of the country has been stirring their own polenta for centuries. It’s a dish made with cornmeal and cooked into porridge, traditionally cooked in a copper cauldron over a fire. It’s thick and hearty and another staple dish side dish.
There are so many variations of this, it’s hard to name just one. In fact, just last week I had a “trio” of Polenta as a side, and it was delicious. It’s also great paired with any kind of meat and especially with a nice and thick sauce! Every had couscous? It’s very similar.
Roger is an Aussie expat living in Switzerland who spends as much time as he can traveling and visiting every corner of this amazing country. You can find him blogging about it here or on Twitter here.