If you’re planning a culinary tour of Switzerland, the first three words that come to mind are likely cheese, cheese and cheese. And with literally hundreds of types to choose from, trying all the cheese is indeed a must! But Swiss food has even more to offer. Nestled between the borders of Germany, France and Italy, Switzerland combines the culinary heritage of all three countries into something entirely its own.
Whether you prefer savory or sweet, healthy or heavy, Swiss restaurants will never leave you unsatisfied. It can be a bit overwhelming to figure out where to start, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite traditional Swiss foods. Our advice? Make sure to try as many of them as you can. En Guete!
- Zürcher Geschnetzeltes
- Roasted flour soup
- Cheese fondue
- Vacherin Mont D’Or
1. Zürcher Geschnetzeltes
Also known as Zurich Ragout, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes combines the traditional Germanic flavors of lemon zest and parsley with mushrooms in a white-wine sauce. Served with rösti (a classic Swiss potato dish, which we’ll revisit in a moment) and white wine, this veal-based delicacy is an absolute staple of Swiss cuisine.
Like many other celebrated dishes around the world, polenta was once considered peasant food. But this humble (and hearty) dish of slow-cooked corn meal has shed its modest reputation and established itself as a staple in Switzerland and Italy. Part of that owes to its versatility; polenta can be eaten hot and cold and with sweet or savory toppings. Our tip: Try it with braised beef!
Many traditional Swiss dishes revolve around the famous Swiss cheeses, and tartiflette is no exception. Tartiflette combines local Reblochon cheese with potatoes, bacon and caramelized onions. Given the hearty nature of this combination, it comes as no surprise that tartiflette is popular in ski resorts across Switzerland.
Preparing for a hike around the Swiss mountains? Make sure you pack yourself some good snacks — including landjäger. The hearty mix of spices in this dried sausage will surely provide you with the energy to climb any mountain.
5. Roasted flour soup
According to the legend, roasted flour soup was created when a distracted cook left flour cooking in a pot until it browned. The result? One of Basel’s finest food exports. As the name suggests, this soup is made from roasted flour combined with butter, onion, beef stock and Gruyère, resulting in creamy Swiss deliciousness.
If you like potatoes, you will absolutely love rösti. One of the most famous Swiss dishes, it’s made from potatoes grated and pan-fried into golden brown pieces. Rösti’s impressive versatility means that it can be combined with many other Swiss foods. Try it with your Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, and you’ll never want to leave Switzerland again!
7. Cheese fondue
Although cheese can absolutely not be avoided when in Switzerland, fondue brings it to the next level: cheese melted in a pot over an open flame. Served with bread and other foods for dipping, this simple but decadent classic is an absolute must-try!
Raclette is a world-renowned Swiss cheese that lends its name to this (similarly world-renowned) dish. Similar to fondue, Raclette combines melted cheese with pretty much any other food of your choice. The cheese goes into a small pan and is heated in a special Raclette grill. Vegetables or meats can be added to the grill, too, though the cheese has the spotlight all to itself in the pan. Raclette is best enjoyed with a group of friends over the course of several hours, so plan accordingly.
Any meal is improved by a delicious dessert at the end, and Leckerli offers you just that. These gingerbread-spiced cookies are topped with chocolate and make for a classic treat around Christmas Time.
10. Vacherin Mont D’Or
Yet another cheese-based Swiss specialty to sample, Vacherin Mont D’Or is flavored with white wine and garlic. It’s a seasonal classic, typically eaten in the winter months between September and April.
Müsli is a breakfast staple in many households around the world, but did you know that it was invented in Switzerland? Bichermüsli combines flaked oats, fruits and nuts with milk or yogurt. It may seem simple, but one bowl of this stuff provides the energy you need for a whole day of exploring Switzerland.
What macaroni and cheese is for Americans, Äplermagronen is for the Swiss. Translated to Alpine macaroni, Äplermagronen is exactly that: Pasta topped with cheese, onions and potatoes. Many variations exist around Switzerland, so don’t hesitate to try them at different places!
If you’re the type to start off your meal of Swiss cheese with some Swiss cheese, Malakoff should check all your boxes. These fried cheese balls are found in abundance around Lake Geneva, and they’re typically is usually eaten as a starter combined with pickles and mustard as a starter.
Cheese in all its glory!
Cheese and more is what you can expect when coming to Switzerland, which probably explains why so many people visit this small country in the Alps. One thing is for sure: Switzerland will not leave you hungry — or craving dairy, for that matter. And if you’re into pairing meals with local wines, few countries do it better. So pour a glass, melt some cheese and enjoy the full Swiss experience!