Talking about food is always fun. Especially when you can try out different dishes from all over the world. Have you thought about trying some Hungarian dishes before? If not, now is the time to really think about it. Hungarian Dishes are versatile, with plenty of meat for all the meat lovers, soups, desserts and more. I’ve included 10 famous Hungarian dishes below.
I have a story with almost all of these dishes, of why they are extra special to me. Living in England has made me miss these dishes sometimes. When you are at home and your mom makes you a nice Chicken Paprikash with Noodles, you cannot say no to that. At any point. A personal favourite for many are Hungarian Christmas Dishes. You might need some digestive pills in case you are not used to eating these types of foods. Let’s just see what these Hungarian Dishes are about.
1. Chicken Paprikash, Famous Hungarian Dish
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Csirke Paparikás) is an all-time favourite and quite famous in Hungary and also Romania. You can serve this dish with either noodles (nokedli) or mashed potatoes (krumplipüré). There are several ways of making a delicious Chicken Paprikash. The secret is really in the paprika-infused creamy sauce you pour over the chicken. The ingredients list is quite short. All you need is chicken, onion, garlic, water, paprika, salt, pepper and cream. When we talk about paprika, we refer to the ground paprika as that will give the cream that rich colour and flavourful taste. You will see in this article the many Hungarian paprika dishes. It is truly used in almost every traditional dish.
This was definitely a staple in our household. My mother would make it probably 2-3 times a month. It’s so easy, quite quick as the only thing you are waiting for is the chicken to cook properly. You can serve it up with quite a few side dishes, like polenta, noodle and mashed potatoes. Let us know if you have tried this Hungarian Dish Chicken Paprikash.
2. Stuffed Cabbage, Traditional Hungarian Dish
The Hungarian Cabbage Rolls (Töltött káposzta) is an all-around the year type of Hungarian dish. It is a very popular Hungarian Christmas dish, which can be cooked in different ways. Of course, there is always that one authentic Stuffed Cabbage recipe, however, you can really customize it for your own liking. Normally the cabbage is sour and you mix ground pork and ground beef together. In the cabbage leaves, you also mix the rice in there. Now, the way I like it is with sweet tomato sauce. This is normally made from a sweeter cabbage, so it won’t have that sour taste.
The Cabbage roles are also popular Hungarian dishes served during weddings. Honestly, if you go to any traditional Hungarian wedding, especially in Transylvania and there is no Töltött káposzta, is it really a Hungarian wedding? The best part of this Hungarian Cabbage Dish is when you put the cream on it. I know that many countries don’t have the same type of cream (tejföl) that we have, so you might want to buy it from a local deli if you’re preparing this at home. The cream and some proper homemade bread will make you feel satisfied.
3. Hungarian Layered Potatoes
Layered potatoes, also known as Rakott Krumpli in Hungarian. Also is called as Hungarian Potato Casserole. Again, a very versatile Hungarian dish. The main ingredients are drumrolls…potatoes! The next ingredients are eggs and some good Hungarian sausage. You layer the ingredients in a pan, so first boil potatoes, boiled eggs, and sausages, don’t forget to season! Some salt and pepper and I recommend some vegetable seasoning.
My mother also likes to add cheese and cream (tejföl) in each layer. Do you see the pattern? Three dishes and all 3 of them had the cream included. This cream is sort of like the UK version of Crème Fraîche. I couldn’t find an exact match, as this sour cream has a typical taste, which also depends on the percentage of fat it has. If you can’t find anything like that, just go to a local Romanian/Hungarian/Polish store and you’ll find one there.
The reason why I like Hungarian dishes so much is that each household does them differently. Sure, the main recipe is the same, however, two mothers won’t do a rakott krumpli the same way. For example, mine likes to grate the boiled potatoes and eggs and layer them that way. When you cook it in the oven, you should leave it until it all blends together and the top is all crispy. Writing this article really makes me hungry and crave these famous Hungarian dishes!
4. Halászé, Hungarian Fish Dish
Fisherman’s soup (Halászlé) is a true delicacy in Hungary. Originating from the fishermen along the banks of the Danube and Tisza Rivers, Fisherman’s soup is really one of the best Hungarian dishes. It is most popular during Christmas due to its spiciness which will warm you from the inside during cold winters. The original recipe would use carp, perch or pike. The rest of the ingredients are quite simple. Remember how I talked about Hungarian paprika dishes? Although it’s not a key ingredient, the ground paprika definitely is a staple in this famous Hungarian dish. Don’t forget to include some hearty vegetables, like onions, green and red peppers.
Hungarians really do like bread as well, so do serve some well-made bread on the side. I don’t know about you, but this one is a bit weird for me. I do like fish, however, the idea of a fish in a soup sounds rather interesting, don’t you think? Regardless of this, there are hundreds of recipes on the internet. You can find multiple videos on Youtube on Hungarian fish dishes such as Halászlé. Why not try it in a Hungarian restaurant and let us know if it’s a dish you’d recommend to your friends?
5. Somlói Galuska, Hungarian Dessert
The Hungarian Trifle (Somlói Galuska) is a classic Hungarian dessert. This is really one of my favourite Hungarian dishes. You might think it doesn’t look like a big deal, however, it’s just pure heaven. Somlói was envisioned in the 1950s and later created in a Gundel restaurant. Since then the creator of Somlói, József Béla Szőcs became an award-winner at the Brussels World’s Fair of 1958. The ingredient’s list is fairly simple, although time-consuming. You need to bake three different flavoured sponge cakes and mix them with pastry cream, walnuts, raisins, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
The reason why Somlói is such a special Hungarian dish for me is due to a memory of mine. When I used to work at a restaurant there was this elderly cook who loved me very much, and I loved her. She would make the best Somlói and knew how much I loved it. Whenever there were few people in the restaurant and the bosses weren’t around, she would just offer me a portion of Somlói and that was a very sweet gesture. She will always remind me of this Hungarian Trifle dessert.
Another National dish of Hungary. Spit cake (Kürtőskalács) might not make a lot of sense to people who never heard of it before. It’s basically sweet bread. Now, this is Hungarian, however, it originates from the Székelysz in Transylvania. Today Kürtőskalács is popular in both Romania and Hungary and I’ve even heard they make it in different countries too. You would think it’s simple to make as it’s pretty much dough covered in granulated sugar. It has a very specific way of making it. The dough is wrapped around a truncated cone-shaped baking spit, hence the name, spit cake.
Nowadays it’s very common to spin the cake into different toppings, such as walnuts, coconut or cinnamon. I even tried one spun into dried raspberries! How cool and creative is that. Sorry to say, you probably won’t be able to prepare this at home. This is best bought from Hungary or Romania, or wherever kürtőskalács is prepared properly. It can also be consumed with cold milk while the dough is freshly taken off the charcoal and it’s nice and hot.
7. Goulash, Hungarian Soup
One of the many traditional Hungarian dishes includes Goulash Stew (Gulyás leves). Goulash can be both a soup and a stew, depending on how thin you make the soup. Gulyás tastes the best when prepared on a cauldron (bogrács). The ingredients are also very simple and can be mixed depending on what one likes. The main ones are of course potatoes, meat (pork, beef, veal or lamb), vegetables and paprika. You can also use the famous sour cream and some proper bread, although the potatoes are filling enough.
When I was still in high school we used to go on these class trips. In Transylvania, it was common to be in the same class with the same people for 4 years, so it was recommended to go on trips together to bond. Whenever we went, one of the guy’s dads was a hunter and he would always send us some meat so we could prepare a tasty Gulyás. I apologize to any vegan and vegetarian reading this.
Turns out, Goulash can be very tasty with deer and horse meat (to be fair, I wasn’t a big fan of the horse meat). The beauty in each of these dishes (or I guess in any dish across the world) is that you can customize it. When we live in a world where ingredients are more accessible than they were hundreds of years ago, you should really just be creative. You can do alternatively the Hungarian bean goulash too!
8. Gundel Pancake
Crépes are definitely my favourite dessert, I mean all-time favourite dessert, not just Hungarian one. For me, crepes are always going to be special as my mother would make them for me and my brother. We got so professional, that we even bought two pans so we could make bigger portions. Simply said, the family would devour the crepes in a day or two.
The Gundel crepes are simple and easy to make. You don’t need many ingredients and they are also very affordable. All you really need to invest in is a good pan for Crépes. As the name says, it was invented by Károly Gundel. The main ingredients are walnuts, raisins, rum, dark chocolate sauce (egg yolks, heavy cream, cocoa). Pretty simple right? The interesting thing about this is that the original recipe is actually a secret and only the Gundel restaurant knows it. The Gundel restaurant is known to sell 25,000 portions annually. That is crazy! In case you are looking for an authentic experience, I suggest you visit the Gundel restaurant in Budapest.
9. Pörkölt, Hungarian National Dish
Here you can find another one of the Hungarian dishes that can be combined with other side dishes. The Hungarian Meat Stew is delicious with noodles, mashed potatoes and polenta. This Pörkölt (Meat Stew) can be made of different types of meat. Typically it is prepared with beef or pork. One of those Hungarian Paprika dishes again. Besides the meat, the rest of the ingredients consist of vegetables.
You see, Hungarian dishes are so simple. All you need is meat, vegetables, paprika and occasionally sour cream. You can create so many variants and also they can be served with a great number of side dishes. Let’s see some of my favourites!
10. Hungarian Side Dishes
Some of the best Hungarian side dishes include anything with potatoes. Mashed potatoes, potato salad, potatoes with parsley, potatoes with paprika and so on. Depending on what type of meat you are having, whether it is creamy or not, you can pair it with some lovely potatoes. Once you have the main course, it is absolutely crucial to have some fermented vegetables. Although pickled cucumbers are not just famous in Hungary, the way our grandparents and parents do it is slightly different from what you would buy in a supermarket.
Another great Hungarian dish is Nokedli or Galuska which is like a noodle type side dish. These are best paired with anything that has sauce. The noodle just gives that saucy dish the perfect balance. Again, don’t forget your fermented cucumbers, or even the famous Hungarian cucumber salad.
Conclusion about the famous Hungarian dishes
There you have most of the famous Hungarian dishes. Everything from hearty meat dishes to delicious desserts. If you haven’t been to Hungary I highly suggest you do so. Not only because it is a beautiful country with culture, great people, but also because of the delicious food. You can find traditional Hungarian dishes that will fill up your belly and heart.
Would you like to have part II of famous Hungarian dishes? Please comment down below if you do, we have many more up our sleeves! For a hint, we’ll be adding to our next article authentic recipes such as the Hungarian chicken soup.