Local Specialities in Hungary

Find out about some of the popular soups and main dishes in Hungary...


Soups have long been popular in Hungary and most three-course meals start with one. Favourites include beef soup and fish soup. Goulash, which is a hearty and filling soup based around beef, onions, tomatoes, green peppers and paprika, is probably Hungary's most famous dish. The dish is somewhere between a soup and a stew, but is considered a soup by Hungarians. Most parts of the country have their own way of making goulash; Palóc gulyás has green beans added, while Alföldi gulyás is made with potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Other popular soups include Jókai bean soup, Újházy bean soup and fisherman's soup. Every region of Hungary has its own fish soup recipe.

Hungary is also famous for its cold fruit soup, gyümölcs leves, which is a refreshing way to begin a meal in the summer months. It can be made from apricots, sour cherries or peaches.

Main Dishes

Main dishes in Hungary are typically a meat dish served with potatoes, rice or pasta and a side dish of either pickles or a salad of seasonal vegetables. The most popular meat dishes are pörkölts and paprikás. Pörkölt is a ragout of pork, beef, chicken or mutton with onions and paprika; paprikás are very similar, but have sour cream added to give a creamy sauce. Game dishes, in particular venison and wild boar, are also very popular, as are fried goose livers, or libamáj.

Hungarian cuisine includes a number of speciality pasta dishes not found anywhere else. These include a dish of pasta and cottage cheese known as túrós csusza and káposztás tészta, where the pasta is served with braised cabbage.

Popular vegetable dishes include f?zeléks; vegetables are simmered in either water or stock and then thickened with a roux. Tökf?zelék is made from marrow with dill and sour cream, while mixed vegetables thickened with white sauce are used to make finomf?zelék. These dishes are good options for vegetarians. In a restaurant it is a good idea for vegetarians to check whether meat or meat stock was used in the preparation of a particular f?zeléks, as they are often served with stews or pork chops. Also, smoked meat or sausage is used in the cooking of some f?zeléks, such as babf?zelék.

A popular Hungarian holiday meal that is often served at Christmas or Easter is stuffed cabbage.