Skip to main content

Famous Hungarian Food

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Cooking, eating, and entertaining... it's why I collect recipes and share them. Plus I'm half Hungarian, which explains a lot.

Try My Hungarian Food Recipes - How adventurous are your tastes?

One of the World's Great Cuisines

If Hungarian recipes are not yet in your cooking repertoire, or this cuisine has not crossed your palate, you are in for a treat when you add the distinctive flavors of Hungary to your own food favorites. You might have already enjoyed some of them, but called them by other names. Some of the most famous dishes are found throughout the region of Eastern Europe, but whatever they are called, let's look at some of the ones make Hungarian cooking such a pleasure to eat.

I hope to include a representation of recipes that will enable readers to create an entire authentic Hungarian meal. Once you try some of these dishes you will understand why Hungarian cuisine ranks as one of the world's best.

Presenting common ingredients in Hungarian cookery, recipes of some of the most famous food, and tips on technique and presentation for an authentic experience of one of the world's great cuisnes.


Collect Recipes

Hungarian cooks might have many similar foods they cook and bake, but the recipes are often given unique variations depending on the cook or the origination. Don't settle for just one -start collecting the great recipes that make life a joy and meals amazing.

Besides the many recipes included here, you might wish to try the most famous of national dishes:

Hungarian Cabbage Rolls, Töltött Káposzta

-with a few tweaks by me

Every Eastern European cook has her favorite recipe for cabbage rolls. I have even come across a Jewish one made with grape jelly! Don't underestimate the appeal of this home cooked meal that is filling and needs only a thick side of homemade bread on the side for a perfect winter repast.

For me, they are the epitome of comfort food, and of course I favor the way my mother and grandmother made them.... but there are many good ways to prepare what can be used as both a main dish or a side dish.

This is the recipe I cook, and have published it on my Hungarian Recipes Facebook page.


Cook Time

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: Long slow cooking

Serves: 6


  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • tastes best with pork and beef mixture
  • Browned bits of bacon could add the pork flavor
  • Salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • and a bit of Worcestershire sauce
  • Chopped onion (finely) cooked til soft
  • Cooked rice
  • 1 egg
  • beaten
  • Head of cabbage
  • Tomato sauce
  • and some V-8 juice if you have it
  • Sauerkraut-drained
  • Paprika
Scroll to Continue


  1. Brown the meat, bacon if you wish, and the onion; season. Mix with the rice and the egg to make the filling.
  2. Core the cabbage, blanch the leaves, remove the large veins.
  3. Spoon in filling onto softened leaves, roll up.
  4. Place on bed of sauerkraut in 9x13 pan. Cover with tomato sauce and juice. Sprinkle with additional paprika. Bake in a moderate oven for a couple hours, or ( if you have time) in a slow oven for a long time. Be sure the rolls are covered, either add juice as it evaporates or seal pan with cover.

Culture And Food

Buy this beautiful kitchen still life at Allposters. It will decorate your kitchen with its beautiful colors of just picked peppers, scallions, and fresh herbs. All favorites of the Magyars.

Buy this beautiful kitchen still life at Allposters. It will decorate your kitchen with its beautiful colors of just picked peppers, scallions, and fresh herbs. All favorites of the Magyars.

The One Essential Spice

Genuine Hungarian

It cannot be stressed enough that the flavor of sweet Hungarian paprika is one of the most characteristic of the Hungarian cuisine.

People might be tempted to substitute a regular (usually Spanish) grocery store spice simply labeled paprika, but once you taste the real thing you will never go back to a substitute for Real Hungarian Paprika!

Types of Hungarian Paprika

* Special Quality : The mildest and brightest red of all Hungarian paprikas, with excellent aroma.

* Delicate : Ranging from light to dark red, a mild paprika with a rich flavor.

* Exquisite Delicate : Similar to Delicate, but more pungent.

* Pungent Exquisite Delicate : A yet more pungent Delicate.

* Rose : Pale Red in color with strong aroma and mild pungency.

* Noble Sweet: The most commonly exported paprika; bright red and slightly pungent.

* Half-Sweet : A blend of mild and pungent paprikas; medium pungency.

* Hot : Light brown in color, this is the hottest of all the paprikas.

Sauerkraut Salad

  • large jar of sauerkraut
  • rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. vinegar
  • 1/2 c. chopped celery
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped peppers and/or carrots
  • sugar to taste ( scant spoonful)


  1. Cook sauerkraut for 10 minutes, rinse and drain again. Mix with other ingredients and refrigerate. Best if served the next day.

Hungarian Culinary Pride

Cookbooks, spices, implements... a great world cuisine has signature spices, certain foods and combined flavors that set it apart from the food of other cultures in the world. A few of these will give those unique accents to your meals.

Pork is given pride of place.


Hungarian Harvest Festival Grill - Sutni Szalonna -Roast Bacon

Americans are with Hungarians on this point: Bacon tastes delicious!

"If you like the flavor of a good BLT, you will probably enjoy this"

The harvest time is very important in Hungarian culture. A favorite memory of my mother was the Harvest Festival of her father's Hungarian church. Food, dancing, and good times. Try this outdoor grill at the end of summer, when your garden produce is overflowing.

Szalonna is Hungarian bacon

Cook Time

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Total Time: 1-2 hours

Serves: 12


  • 4 -6 pieces of szalonna about 4 to 5 inches long by 3 to 4 inches wide
  • Copious amounts of:
  • sliced tomatoes
  • red onion
  • cucumber
  • green pepper
  • Fresh bakery rye bread (the best you can find- with seeds or without)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Obtain long skewers or sticks. Place a dozen or more slices of rye bread on a large, long cookie sheet. Pierce each szalonna chunk through, and place each on its own stick, making certain that it is secure. Warm the fat over a hot fire until it begins to drip; drip the fat liberally and evenly over the bread. When saturated to taste, cover each slice of bread with the desired selection of vegetables. Return to the fire, and continue to drip fat over the vegetables for a minute or two. Eat immediately. Time to feast -- and then repeat. We usually plan on at least 2 to 3 servings per person.

Customizable Binder For All Your Recipes

Cookbook binder with a Kalocsa design on Zazzle. Keep all your printed recipes in an organized notebook binder. Use inserts to collect and file each of your favorite recipes.

Cookbook binder with a Kalocsa design on Zazzle. Keep all your printed recipes in an organized notebook binder. Use inserts to collect and file each of your favorite recipes.

Hungarian Asparagus - Delicious Sidedish

This recipe can also be used for cauliflower (my grandmother loved to make the cauliflower version casserole!)

Cook Time

Prep Time: Minimal

Total Time: Very Quick- don't overcook asparagus

Serves: 6


  • 2 1/2 c. asparagus
  • cut in pieces
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. buttered breadcrumbs


  1. If you wish, roll asparagus in extra breadcrumbs, if not simply lay, single layer, in buttered casserole dish. Cover with breadcrumbs, and dot top with sour cream. Bake in 350 moderate oven until crumbs are golden brown. This may take about 20 minutes.

The Right Pot For Blanching and Boiling

Stockpot is the right size for making the noodles, dumplings, soups, and stews that are the staple of  famous Hungarian food. A large pot like this is essential for many of the dishes.

Stockpot is the right size for making the noodles, dumplings, soups, and stews that are the staple of famous Hungarian food. A large pot like this is essential for many of the dishes.

Turos Gombocz - Cheese Balls

Something like a large dumpling, this is a Hungarian favorite. Use a roomy stockpot to cook the dumplings.


  • 1 lb dry cottage cheese
  • 3 Tbl. bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbl. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbl. sugar (opt)
  • pinch salt

Cook Time

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6


  1. Beat eggs slightly, add to cottage cheese, bread crumbs, and flour. Let set 1 hour. Make dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  2. Drop balls into boiling salted water. Let float to top but do not stir. Boil gently for 5 min. Remove from water but do not rinse. Roll in buttered breadcrumbs.
  3. Buttered breadcrumbs: brown 2 c. bread crumbs in 1 stick butter.

Hungarian Food Poll - Hungarian Cooks Want To Know


Cooking Methods and Spices

Every cuisine has its signatures

Hungarian cuisine is famous for its signature spice of Paprika.

Hungarian paprika has a sweet full flavor that is very different from the Spanish type. When cooking the recipes it is important to have the right paprika. That is not to say that all Hungarian paprika is the same. Today, it is common to find several types ranging from mild and sweet to hot and spicy on the grocery shelves in a store near you- or simply through the internet. The right paprika is truly one of the secrets of the recipes that call for it.

Fresh peppers are used and eaten as a snack, as well.

Many of the recipes are slow cooked and that is part of their flavor balance, the melding of the spices and ingredients. Such dishes are perfect for Sunday dinner or crockpot cooking.

Sour cream is liberally called for in many recipes. Hungarian cuisine is rich. This may prove a problem for certain diets, but experimentation with the substitution of yogurt can reduce the calories. There are variations that allow for the exclusion of the sour cream altogether.

Cabbage and root vegetables play a big part in some of the most famous recipes, which make them great winter comfort foods.

Braising chopped or sliced onion is basic to many of the entrees and soups.

Many dishes call for fruit, or dried fruits. Prunes, apples, and cherries are favorites. Apricots and figs are also well-loved ingredients. Not limited to those, but those are the most common fruits used in Hungarian cooking and baking.

Hungarians have been master bakers and those are some of the most loved of their cuisine: all the cakes, strudels (Rétes), breads, and cookies that are so delightful.

Hungarian baking has many yeast breads and rolls. Yeast is a popular baking method leavening used in many Hungarian recipes.

Yummy Poppyseed and Nut Rolls, Beigli


How To Make Beigli (Makowiec)

Common Flavors You Will Find In Hungarian Cooking

Poppyseed is a favorite in everything from the sweet poppy seed rolls to the addition in noodle dishes.

Caraway is often called for in Eastern European dishes, and Hungarian cuisine makes good use of it in breads, stews and with meats. My mother even described a special caraway gravy made simply with the spice and a white sauce base, but I don't remember ever eating it myself.

Pork is a common ingredient in many dishes. And the pork fat, or bacon grease was often used to give flavor. In the interest of healthier cooking,

I've substituted olive oil in my own preparations and like it just as well, but it is traditional to use lard, pork fat, chicken fat, and bacon grease.

Everything Is Decorated

From the furniture to the plates to the cookies themselves...Hungarians like it decorated.

From the furniture to the plates to the cookies themselves...Hungarians like it decorated.


Using beautiful linens, colorful serveware, and making a nice presentation is very important in this culture. For us, Sunday dinners were semi-formal even for the family. My grandmother liked to have a lace tablecloth, full silverware service, first course soup, and pretty table napkins. She had a lovely tureen which held center place on the table for the hot chicken soup.

Hungarians are known for the high quality of their table linens and embroidered fabric arts. Surprisingly affordable, they dress up a table and show the hospitality of the house.

The motifs from the embroidery crafts find their way onto painted surfaces, holiday gingerbread cookies, cakes, ceramics and on buildings!

Scour listings on eBay to get embroidered tablecloths, painted dishes, and other decorative wares to present your dishes. It adds to the ambiance and makes the meal an event. Hungarians know that, and I'm sharing the secret.

Kifli Meaning

Legend: the Ottoman Turks stormed a Hungarian city. Bakers, working early, raised the alarm and helped defeat the enemy. To symbolize the victory, they created puff pastry shaped as Turkish crescent moon symbols. The word Kifli was first recorded in 1785, and is of Austrian German origin: Kipfel.

Kifli, "Little Horns"


My Favorite Kifli - the best kifli recipe ever

Kifli cookies are always top on the Hungarian cooks list of cookies. delicate dough with a number of yummy fillings. This one uses ground nuts, but preserves or purees can be just as delicious.

There are a wide variety of different recipes for them. I say: collect them all and be the best cook on the block!

I have begun a collection of my favorite Hungarian recipes, some of which originally appeared on this page. If you would like more than just a sampling of my family recipes, they are collected along with the Kifli recipe below.


Recipe For Traditional Kifli Cookies

Some Well Known Dishes

  • Dobosh Torte (my aunt made this very complicated bakery confection) thin layers of light cake with chocolate fillings and spun sugar topping.
  • Nokedli AKA spaetzle noodles
  • Hideg meggyleves -cherry soup (my grandfather's favorite for breakfast)
  • Húsleves -Chicken soup (my grandmother never served a holiday meal without this first course- and grandfather insisted it be served HOT, maybe to keep warm through his long prayers before the meal)

Vintage cookbooks may be your best bet when looking for the authentic ingredients and methods for this cuisine. I like Church cookbooks, in particular.

The reason I suggest these old sources is because it is difficult to find ethnic food from this region in today's market. It has fallen out of favor, with so much competition from Asian and Latin flavors. It should be revisited since it holds many of the elements that people look for: great tasting, somewhat novel flavors. It is hearty food, and for those wanting lighter fare, a bit of tweaking might be needed. But the flavor is tops!

Famous Goulash

  • Goulash And Church Cookbook Secrets
    Food choices tell you a lot about a culture and social change. Ethnic recipes are collected, and the favorites show changes in times and tastes throughout the years.

Cake Fit for a King

photo by Mellie on Flickr

photo by Mellie on Flickr

Recipe for Dobosh Torte

Created by Hungarian pastry chef Josef Dobos, this cake has traditionally has seven to eight layers filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. After presentation of this cake at the Hungarian state exhibition in 1885, his pastry shop on Kecskemet street became one of the most famous spots in Budapest. It is definitely a cake to impress company.

This recipe makes a six layer cake.

The cake layers are filled with chocolate buttercream between each layer and topped off with caramel.


  • Cake:
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp of sugar
  • 7 Tbsp of flour
  • Caramel:
  • 7 oz (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Chocolate butter cream:
  • 4 eggs
  • 7 oz (200 g)granulated sugar
  • 3½ oz (100 g) bakers chocolate
  • 2 sticks and 2 Tbsp (250g) unsalted butter


  1. Cake:
  2. Separate the whites, and mix them with sugar for at least 5 minutes or longer, until they are quite stiff.
  3. Keep adding the yolks, one by one, and then gradually add the flour.
  4. Approx 170 ml, measured in a a large measuring cup for each pan; equal amounts of batter into the spring pans, for each of the six layers.
  5. Bake 6 separate layers, in a preheated oven @ 400 F, in a round spring form pans, lined with parchment paper.
  6. Cover each cake layer with a damp paper towel, so they don't dry out; they are fragile.
  7. The last one, you will cut into 16 slices, and separate the slices. *important.
  8. Caramel:
  9. Carmelize the sugar over high heat, when it starts browning remove from heat, stir in butter, and lemon juice. Mix well, and return to heat, to cook until it's nice and dissolved. Pour over the sliced cake layer, and let cool down.
  10. Chocolate buttercream icing:
  11. Use a double boiler pan.
  12. Mix eggs with sugar for 5 minutes, until frothy. Transfer to the inner sauce pan to cook over boiling water (reduce to medium heat). Stir constantly and cook until it starts to thicken. Add chocolate, mix it in well, and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  13. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool down, later put it in the fridge. When completely cooled (it will be quite sticky and thick) add pieces of butter, and mix until you get smooth, silky butter cream.
  14. Later, when you are ready to spread it on cake layers, you will divide the cream into 6 sections, within the bowl. Make sure you have equal amounts for each cake layer.
  15. Now, spread the chocolate buttercream (5 sections of it) over the layers, and layer the cake. Even out the sides.
  16. On the fifth layer, pipe on 16 buttercream flowers in the circle, and that is where you will arrange the sliced caramelized layer, slightly angling the slices as you go. Also pipe some buttercream in the middle, where the slices meet, it will look better.
  17. Modified from recipe by

Cooling Racks for Cake Layers Or Cookies

Obviously Complicated

Because many Hungarian specialties were baked for Royalty, they are obviously quite complicated. But it is their balance of textures and flavors that make them so worthwhile for the home cook.

Do not be afraid of the time and effort involved in the Dobosh torte. It is SO worth it. a truly special cake for the highlighted events of your year: Christmas, New Years, and Birthdays.

I do recommend that it be made one or twice before serving at an important event ( but that is true of any dessert or cake that you wish to be presented in top form).

Csöröge - Hungarian Fattigman

My mother would make these as a special treat- they were my favorite. This is Mary Tugers recipe.

It is very close to the Norwegian 'Fattigman' recipe for a similar fried cookie.


  • 12 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour(approx.)
  • pinch cinnamon and 2 tsp.sugar
  • small glass wine or brandy
  • enough sour cream to make soft dough


  1. Combine ingredients. Roll out 1/2 inch thick
  2. Cut into rectangles or diamonds with piecrust wheel
  3. Cut slit in center of each,pull one end through
  4. Fry in deep fat,and drain on paper towels
  5. When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Szegedi Cake

This is a not-too-sweet apple cake. It is one of my favorites and guests love it.

I posted it on the "" site. The ingredients are representative of many of the types of cakes and goodies that have apples and nuts included. Also, it is a beautiful cake to serve for a wide range of occasions.

Cake Baking - Celebrated Hungarian Baked Goods

Bake great cakes- to celebrate an occasion or just the joy of it.

Diós Torta - Nut Torte - A Hungarian Delight

Hungarian cookbooks often have several recipes for this favorite. Try this one. It may not be exactly the same one, but my mother used to make this walnut torte for special occasions, and it was always my favorite.


  • 7 separated eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbl. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. ground walnuts


  1. Beat egg yolks with sugar until thick and lemon colored.
  2. Sift dry ingredients. Add water to yolk mixture. Slowly blend in dry ingredients.
  3. Add ground nuts and vanilla.
  4. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into greased and floured cake pans.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes in 350° oven.
  6. When cool, spread with the following icing:

Torta Frosting

  1. 1 c. flour
  2. 3 Tbl. flour
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/2 lb butter
  5. 8 Tbl. powdered sugar
  6. 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine first four ingredients. Cook until thick. Cool. Cream and add butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat thoroughly. If more frosting desired add more powdered sugar.

Little stories from my family's kitchen - and being Hungarian, probably more...

My grandparents My grandmother loved to cook and my grandfather loved her cooking!

My grandparents My grandmother loved to cook and my grandfather loved her cooking!

This is for my little stories, things I remember about the food and love of a Hungarian kitchen.

My grandmother often made her own baked goods, but being a busy pastor's wife she also bought baked goods at the many "fairs" that were part of the Church fundraising. She also had a friend, Mary Tuger, who was renowned among even the Hungarian women for her baking prowess. We always were sure of a supply of poppyseed and nutroll for breakfast when we went to Grandmother's house. Mary Tuger's were the best.

My Hungarian grandfather insisted that each meal start with soup and that the soup be hot when served. He was a Reformed pastor and the meal began with a rather long grace being said beforehand. I have wondered if that was why the temperature of the soup needed to be hot when served... to keep warm through the rather windy premeal prayer!

Grandfather also enjoyed cold cherry soup for breakfast.

Since my grandmother was very busy on Sunday, playing the organ for the services, teaching Sunday school, etc. she often would have cabbage rolls baking slowly in the oven for the Sunday meal. I liked it with the thick slices of buttered bread on the side to soak up the juices.

My Favorite Cuisine

© 2011 Ilona E

Sprinkle this food hubpage with your comments - Hungarians like sweet words :)

anonymous on January 15, 2013:

Can you please put the recipe on here for the poppyseed rolls? I love those!

Paul from Montreal on October 26, 2012:

Those poppyseed rolls are the best!

santadelcobre on September 27, 2012:

I need to try one of those Dobosh tortes! Thank you for a delicious lens.

eternisemoi on August 27, 2012:

Thanks for the great list of Hungarian recipes. In particular, I want to try chicken paprikash, and turos gombocz.

ICanDoThis LM on August 01, 2012:

and what about lecso? is it popular? is it hungarian?

I know it from my mom's kitchen (Poland) and I always thought it comes from Hungary, but you never mentioned it

I wrote my recipe here:

Einar A on May 14, 2012:

I grew up on cabbage rolls. Great recipes you've got here!

biminibahamas on April 15, 2012:

I am drooling just thinking about the goulash! I make mine with the scharf Hungarian paprika and it is "killer"! It even makes my eyebrows sweat, LOL.

almawad on December 06, 2011:

Cooking in Hungarian style is the most common in my kitchen since I am Hungarian .

The base of the good flavors are : home made paprika from Kalocsa area and onions with strong aroma ... green peppers also help ...I prefer the rural style cooking ...Budapest is not the best place to discover the greatness of the Magyar cuisine .. .but rather go to the countryside's cooking festivals ..

WriterJanis2 on November 21, 2011:

I'm trying to find a great home made ghoulash recipe. Great lens with wonderful ideas. You've made me anting Hungarian food.

Jeanette from Australia on November 18, 2011:

I had to laugh. Just last night I cooked Chicken Paprikash but it had a different name on my recipe (and I substituted beef for the chicken because I didn't have any!) It was delicious. Now I know it's Hungarian, I must try some more :-)

traveller27 on November 05, 2011:

Very nice introduction to Hungarian cuisine. Blessed by a travelling angel.

OldStones LM on October 29, 2011:

Wow all of your Hugarian recipes sound delicious. Sutni Szalonna -Roast Bacon sound absolutely amazing!!! mmmm' Bacon. Great recipes I will surely have to try them all. Thank you for sharing.

Mark Falco from Reno, Nevada on October 19, 2011:

I don't think I have ever eaten any Hungarian food but some of these dishes look delicious!

dahlia369 on October 03, 2011:

Nicely done lens & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** :)

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on September 15, 2011:

@wayne_luvinlife: That is what good food shared is all about -great memories and good times :) Glad you are haunted by such a happy memory.

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on September 15, 2011:

@anonymous: Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment :) Hungarians are Magyar and not Slavic, but we share the same great taste in food!

wayne_luvinlife on July 11, 2011:

One of my guitar players mom, from my first band after high school, was from Germany and his granfather was from Hungary. She love fo cook for us and it was the first time I had German-Hungarian potato salad and krauts...OMGoodness it was so good...Haunts me to this day!!! Wanted to marry her!

MasterPsycho from Earth on June 20, 2011:

i consider food to be the most important thing in the world...i cannot stay without food...for more than 3 hours.. i get crazy....i always like to taste and try different foods from all over the world

i will try some of those recipes.....i am interested in the chicken with paprika......if you have some more recipes with meat please post them too.....thank you

Delia on June 18, 2011:

Yummm, I love Hungarian food, my mom used to make most of these recipes listed here, and we are from Germany...I think there are a lot of related recipes between these mouth watered looking at the Poppyseed cake rolls

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on June 01, 2011:

@anonymous: Sauerkraut isn't in fashion right now- but it really livens up many dishes and makes a great sidedish.Thanks for visiting and taking time to comment :)

anonymous on June 01, 2011:

My Mom uses to make that sauerkraut salad and it is delicious! Another deliciously wonderful presentation.

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on March 07, 2011:

@almawad: thanks for your insights!

Related Articles