Top 20 Most Popular Swiss Foods
Located in the center of Europe, Switzerland is famous around the world for its lakes, mountains, watches, and, obviously, its chocolate. Switzerland is a country filled with different cultures and traditions. In fact, this beautiful land is split into three areas, each with its own language, celebrations, and religion.
This particularity led to a spectacular panel of dishes, desserts, and drinks. Some such as chocolate and Swiss fondue are famous, yet others are still unknown by the public. With this top 20, you are going to discover some of the most popular foods that Swiss people eat every day and other dishes that you will certainly never have heard of.
Swiss Starters & Main Courses
A famous dish in Switzerland, this is basically sliced potatoes baked in a pan with butter. The starch in the potatoes makes them stick together and form a galette. It is mostly made with leftover potatoes and sometimes with eggs or meat.
A lot a Swiss recipes use leftovers, because there were periods when times were hard in Switzerland and people couldn’t afford to waste food.
This sliced veal with mushrooms is traditionally served with rösti. Typical in Zurich, this meal is high in calories and perfect to eat during cold weather. This dish is famous all around the country because of its simplicity and deliciousness. It is usually cooked with a sauce of cream and white wine.
3. Swiss Fondue
No surprise at all that Swiss fondue is in the top 20. If you know anything about Switzerland, you will certainly have heard of it or even already tasted it. It is incredible popular in Switzerland and, no, it is not a cliché or a stereotype, it’s just that Swiss people really enjoy eating fondue. Fondue recipes vary depending on which area of the country you are in.
Simple and generous, Swiss fondue is made for sharing with friends and family. Simply mix together one or two cheeses, then add garlic and white wine. It is served in a casserole, below which you put a candle to keep the cheese melted. Then using a long fork, you dive in with a piece of bread or potato. Fondue is frequently served with black tea or white wine.
Staying with cheese for the moment, let me introduce you to Swiss fondue’s sister, the equally well-known Raclette. Its name simply explains how a raclette is made; a piece of cheese is placed over a stove and as the cheese melts, you scrape it off onto a plate. You can serve it with different garnitures such as jerked meat, bacon, potatoes, or little onions and pickles. Don’t forget the white wine. You can also drink tea with it as it helps you digest the large amount of cheese and helps avoid stomach pains.
Appreciated throughout the year, raclette is especially eaten during winter. You can even find raclette take-aways at regional events and in almost every ski station.
This dish consists of a mixture of potatoes and leeks cooked in water and white wine cooked with a cabbage sausage. The Vaudois (people of “the land of Vaud”) like to offer this specialty to their foreign guests.
Cabbage sausage also takes center place at New Year’s festivities in some municipalities. The youth of the village go from house to house asking for sausages that will be cooked on New Year’s Eve.
6. La Cuchaule
La cuchaule is a saffron brioche in the shape of a flattened ball. It is one of the sweet foods on the table during the traditional festival of Bénichon. The continuation of this festival means recipes have been passed on for generations. This saffron bread is often eaten for breakfast or as a starter. It is a typical bread and comes from the canton de Fribourg.
All Fribourg residents will have eaten traditional cuchaule toast covered with butter and mustard. As unusual as it sounds, this mix of flavors is simply incomparable and could be a culinary discovery for you.
7. Moutarde de Bénichon (Bénichon Mustard)
Bénichon mustard is a mix of mustard flour, white wine, and fortified wine. Despite its name, this product has little in common with traditional mustard. It is spicy like mustard, but the addition of sweet ingredients and spices makes it a completely original specialty. It is one of the most surprising products of the Bénichon festival in the canton of Fribourg.
Each family or baker has their own recipe, varying the proportions of the various ingredients, but, overall, the ingredients remain the same.
The Malakoff de Vinzel, or de Luins (counties of Canton de Vaud) is a famous meal in Switzerland and there are a lot of different stories talking about its creation.
Here is one version: in 1853, Napoleon III went to war against Russia in what is now known as the Crimean War. As his army passed through Swiss villages, he hired mercenaries to reinforce his troops.
Their first victory, after 14 months of fighting, was the capture of Fort Malakoff. At the end of the war in 1855, Swiss mercenaries returned home in their hundreds every day. Being hungry and needing something simple and sustaining to eat, they came up with the idea of frying balls of cheese naming them after the captured fort.
9. Filets de Perches (Perch Tenders)
Perch is a rare freshwater fish that can be found in Swiss lakes. Vaud Canton, located on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, is best known locally for this dish. Enjoyed on a terrace over looking the lake, they are often served with French fries or boiled potatoes.
Despite their deliciousness, this meal has become very controversial in Switzerland. As perch are rare in Swiss lakes, the fish is sometimes imported from other countries so the dish has lost some of its authenticity.
10. Macaroni du Chalet (or Älpermargronen)
Cornettes are small pasta that the Swiss have adored for about a century. Cornettes are probably one, if not the most favorite pasta in the country. They are shaped like a small curved macaroni and are used in very popular dishes.
The pasta is cooked with cheese and milk—a Swiss version of mac and cheese. Originally eaten by shepherds because it is so filling, the recipe was passed down orally. It is now served with small pieces of bacon and apple sauce.
11. Casimir Rice
While Casimir rice may seem like an exotic dish, it is indeed Swiss made. The Mövenpick brand invention was a huge success from the start. And since 1952, Casimir rice has been on many restaurant menus.
It is a Swiss version of curry rice and is very popular locally. The use of different curry spices has been common in Switzerland ever since spices began to be imported into Europe. The Swiss curry is cooked with veal but you can cook it with chicken or pork too.
The sauce is a mix between cream and curry, but the particularity of this recipe comes from the fact that we add fruits such as cherries and pineapples to the sauce.
12. Pâté Vaudois
While the origins of the pâté are unclear, it is in the canton of Vaud where it’s consumed the most! This meat-based, crispy snack can be enjoyed in just a few bites. Without fixed criteria for production, this specialty is made by butchers and bakers following different recipes.
It is very tasty with a bit of mustard and a glass of white wine. Most often you’ll find it on toast cut into quarters and served as a starter with littles onions, pickles, and dried meat such as jerked beef, bacon, or garlic sausage. Restaurants often provide this as an aperitif; a tactic to get you thirsty and make you drink more white wine.
Traditional Swiss Drinks
Switzerland is also famous for its different drinks, especially white wines and liquors. But there are other drinks that you can only find in this country.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Vaudois vineyard, on the shores of Leman Lake, is a closely guarded secret: it exports less than 1%. Its Chasselas (wine variety), with changing reflections, is simply stunning. This area is known to be one of the most beautiful lake views you can find.
14. Oeil de Perdrix de Neuchâtel
This emblematic rosé comes from the canton of Neuchâtel, which is why this wine is called L’Oeil de Perdrix de Neuchâtel’. Made from lightly vintaged Pinot Noir, Oeil de Perdrix is only cultivated in its home region, Neuchâtel. The winemakers are proud of their wine, the first production of which goes back to the 19th century.
This wine is perfect with a summer meal and for accompanying starters.
15. Absinthe (Wormwood Alcohol)
Used for thousands of years, especially by the Greeks and Romans, the wormwood plant is renowned for its medicinal properties. Already 400 years BC, the famous philosophers Hippocrates and Pythagoras were already benefiting from the virtues of wormwood alcohol, consuming it as an aphrodisiac and stimulant for creativity.
Also known as the green fairy, the original recipe comes from Switzerland and was traditionally distilled by healers. The Val-de-Travers is well-known for crafting this alcohol. Absinthe is very controversial around the world and has been banned in lots of countries.
Please be careful with this one! And, generally, with any kind of alcohol.
Rivella is a soda drink that stands out from all the others because of its basic ingredient: milk serum. The result is a taste and aroma that is rather atypical in the world of soft drinks. Yet Rivella enjoys great support among the Swiss population, which helps to explain the importance of cows and milk in the culture of this country.
Desserts & Sweets
As you can see, Swiss people really enjoy tasty, calorific foods. And desserts are no exception. There are too many to list them all here, so here are the most iconic and most popular Swiss desserts.
The Leckerli from Basel is a small square biscuit made from gingerbread and topped with fine powdered sugar. Unlike other spice breads, the Leckerli is rather hard. It is primarily produced in the Basel area, but it is available throughout Switzerland.
Bonus tip: Leckerli are very tasty enjoyed with a glass of chocolate milk.
La salée au sucre (literally sugar salt) is a sweet round bun topped with a mixture of sugar, cream, and vanilla and/or butter and/or beaten egg. This bun is a specialty of Vaud, although it is known all around the country. It is a treat you can find in any bakery.
Made with a dough composed mainly of hazelnuts and cream, Le Gâteau Payernois is a specialty of the City of Reine Berthe. A crunchy cake, the Payernois is semi-dry and is a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a specialty of the city of Payerne, where it is revered.
20. Swiss Chocolate
We couldn’t finish this list without talking about the famous Swiss chocolate. This treat is famous throughout the country and all round the world. The Swiss used to give chocolate as a gift. Swiss milk chocolate is particularly popular but you can find a lot of different brands and varieties. There are also good quality chocolates for any budget too.
The picture above is of the famous Toblerone, which is a very representative brand of Swiss chocolate. Its distinctive shape represents the famous Swiss mountain Le Cervin or Matterhorn. You can find more information about Swiss chocolate on this website.
There is a spice you will never have heard of before: Aromat.
Is Switzerland the only country with a nation spice? Well this one is the star of every Swiss kitchen and everyone can tell you what it is. We use it on pasta, vegetables, eggs, and sometimes even meat. Aromat is made from marin salt and different dehydrated vegetables such as celery. It is a yellow and salty powder.
Related: 15 Most Popular Swiss Desserts