The Foods eaten by the people of Hungary

Hungarian cuisine has a rich history influenced by various cultures, including Turkic, Austrian, and Slavic, among others. Over the last 500 years, this cuisine has evolved into a unique combination of simple peasant food and sophisticated culinary techniques. Here's an overview of foods and influences commonly found in Hungary over this period:

Turkish Influence:

  • Peppers: The introduction of peppers, including paprika, significantly influenced Hungarian cuisine.
  • Coffee: Turkish-style coffee was introduced during the period of Ottoman rule in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Austrian and German Influence:

  • Pastries: Influences from Austrian and German baking can be seen in Hungarian strudels and various breads.
  • Meats: Methods of smoking and curing meats are similar to those found in Germanic cuisines.

Indigenous and Peasant Foods:

  • Potatoes: Used in a variety of dishes, including "rakott krumpli," a layered potato dish.
  • Pork, Beef, and Chicken: Staple meats often used in stews, roasts, and sausages.
  • Fish: Particularly carp and catfish, often featured in dishes like "halászlé," a spicy fisherman's soup.
  • Cabbage: Used in stews, salads, and rolls.

Traditional Hungarian Dishes:

  • Gulyás (Goulash): A hearty stew made with meat, vegetables, and seasoned primarily with paprika.
  • Pörkölt: A paprika-based stew usually made from pork, beef, or chicken.
  • Lecsó: A vegetable stew with peppers, tomatoes, and sometimes sausage or eggs.
  • Töltött Káposzta: Cabbage rolls filled with a mixture of meat and rice, seasoned with paprika.
  • Hortobágyi Palacsinta: Pancakes filled with meat, usually veal, which is then folded and served with a sauce.

Sweets and Desserts:

  • Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács): A spit cake made from sweet, yeast dough.
  • Somlói Galuska: A trifle made from sponge cake, cream, and chocolate sauce.
  • Mákos Guba: A dessert made from poppy seeds and bread or pastry.


  • Sour Cream: Used as a topping or ingredient in many dishes.
  • Cheeses: Like "Pannonia," "Liptauer," and "Trappista," are commonly consumed.


  • Pálinka: A traditional fruit brandy.
  • Unicum: A herbal liqueur.
  • Wine: Particularly Tokaji, a sweet dessert wine, and Egri Bikavér, a red wine also known as Bull's Blood.

Historical Overview:

  • Medieval Period: A diet rich in game and fish, seasoned with expensive spices like saffron and black pepper.
  • Ottoman Rule: Introduction of new ingredients like paprika and coffee.
  • Habsburg Rule: Influence from Austrian and German cuisines, introducing pastries and refined cooking techniques.
  • 19th–20th Century: A rise in nationalism led to an emphasis on traditional Hungarian dishes, both in fine dining and in homes.

Today, Hungarian cuisine continues to be characterized by its use of paprika, sour cream, and a variety of meats and vegetables. It remains a blend of traditional recipes passed down through generations, with influences from the various cultures that have interacted with Hungary over the past centuries.

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