Food and Drink For Members

Is the Wiener Schnitzel really from Vienna?

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
Is the Wiener Schnitzel really from Vienna?
A famous Wiener Schnitzel made from veal escalope. Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

One of the most famous dishes in Vienna is the one carrying the name of the city itself - Wiener Schnitzel. But even though this dish is connected with Vienna for most of us, is it really originally from there?


Eating Wiener Schnitzel has for a long time been associated with Austrian culture and cuisine, and most of us might think the breaded meat is originally from Vienna.

However, claims actually exist that tell a different story. In other words the origin of the Wiener Schnitzel is still a hot topic of debate.

Does the schnitzel have Italian origins?


Some sources say that the Wiener Schnitzel has its origins in a Jewish dish from Byzantium, which came to Spain with the Moors during the medieval era and then made its way to Austria via Italy.  

Others stories tell that the Wiener Schnitzel came from Italy as "cotoletta alle Milanese," though the original recipe used a thicker cut of meat and was cooked with the bone in.

The same legend tells the story of Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky and how he discovered the recipe in Milan in 1857 and brought it back to the Viennese court chef under the Habsburg rule.

It later became a great success, and the schnitzel quickly became popular in Vienna. However, this version is questionable, especially in Austria, and also according to another anecdote which tells of a diary section of the then 12-year-old Archduke Ferdinand Max who in 1844 apparently wrote: "On the way to Linz we stopped in Lambach to eat schnitzel with potatoes and broth".

Austrians had already enjoyed breaded calf feet and ears for a long time

Despite the different stories about the origin of the Wiener Schnitzel, breading meat was something common for the Viennese even before it became a common dish in Austria.

Baked chicken and breaded calf's feet and ears had been enjoyed at the dining table for a long time. When the term "Wiener Schnitzel" appeared in the cooking book for the first time in 1831 "Allerneuersten Allgemeine Kochbuch" by Maria Anna Neudecker, it was probably not to many people's surprise.

How to make wiener schnitzel

Making Wiener Schnitzel at home is easy and a common practice for most Austrians. The dish is simple, delicious and made out of a piece of breaded and fried veal which traditionally is served with potatoes and a slice of lemon.

To prepare this you need to pound the meat to an even thickness and dip it in flour, followed by egg and breadcrumbs. Then you fry the meat until it is golden brown and serve it together with boiled potatoes, a slice of lemon and maybe some cranberry sauce on the side.

Here is a more detailed and popular recipe.

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Home cooking for my girlfriend. Schnitzel bubbeling in pure fat. Photo by Piet Althoff on Unsplash


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