Hungary's famous cuisine

Goulash, pálinka and Dobos torte

Hungary's famous cuisine

Hungarian food is often spicy due to the use of hot paprika and involves a lot of meat. Stews and soups, also cold fruit soups, are very common.

Goulash (gulyás)

Hungary’s Goulash is world famous and often eaten as gulyás stew or gulyásleves soup. It is usually made with meat (beef, veal, pork or lamb), potatoes, other vegetables and seasoned with paprika and other spices. It was developed by herdsmen centuries ago and is now one of the national dishes of Hungary.

The following varieties came up over time:

  • Gulyás à la Székely: Add sauerkraut and sour cream instead of potatoes.
  • Gulyás Hungarian Plain Style: Without the homemade soup pasta (csipetke) and add vegetables.
  • Mock Gulyás: Substitute beef bones for the meat and add vegetables.
  • Bean Gulyás: The potatoes and the caraway seeds are replaced by kidney beans.
  • Csángó Gulyás: Sauerkraut and rice replace pasta and potatoes.
  • Betyár Gulyás: Smoked beef or smoked pork is used as meat.
  • Likócsi Pork Gulyás: Use pork and thin vermicelli in the goulash instead of potato and soup pasta. Flavoured with lemon juice.
  • Mutton Gulyás or Birkagulyás: Made with mutton and red wine for flavour.

Dobos torte (Dobostorta)

Dobos torte (cake) is named after its inventor, the Hungarian confectioner József Dobos. It is a sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and nuts and topped with caramel and usually consists of five layers. Dobos cake is known all around the world today, but it was first unveiled at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885. József Dobos travelled a lot around Europe and introduced the cake wherever he was.


Pálinka is a fruit brandy, which contains a variety of flavours, for example, plum, apricot and cherry. Only a brandy with a minimum alcohol content of 37.5 % is considered to be pálinka. The best way to drink it is at room temperature. Hungarians say pálinka is like a medicine and they used to drink it in the morning. That’s why a traditional Hungarian greeting is “Pálinkás jó reggelt!”, which means “Good morning with pálinka!”.

Fisherman’s soup (halászlé)

Halászlé is a thick fish soup and made of a mixture of different kinds of poached fish, paprika, spices and onion. It tends to be very hot and spicy. This is why you should eat it with bread. The spicier the soup, the more bread is needed. It is traditionally prepared and consumed on an open fire. The recipe is quite simple, but the soup’s taste highly depends on the ratio of ingredients and many people keep their perfect recipe a secret.


Tokaji is a sweet, white wine from the Tokaj wine region in the north-east of Hungary. Only six grape types are officially approved for the production of Tokaji:

  • Furmint
  • Hárslevelű
  • Yellow Muscat
  • Zéta
  • Kövérszőlő
  • Kabar

The nectar of the grapes is even mentioned in the national anthem of the country!

Further reading

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