Traditional Food in Switzerland (Not Counting Fondue)


Stunning Switzerland is famous for many things. Among its calling cards, one can name the stunning Alpin landscapes, excellent ski resorts, fabulous spas, and luxury watches, albeit renowned culinary traditions are not on the list. Everyone knows about the mouthwatering chocolate and delicious Fondue, but Switzerland cuisine is not exactly widespread. And this is an omission that needs to be corrected, as the remarkable country has as much to offer as Germany, Italy, or any other country with prominent food culture! So, let’s see what foods you should try during your unforgettable Switzerland getaway to get to know the country better.

Best of Traditional Switzerland Cuisine


Raclette are perfect for Winter times in Switzerland
Raclette, traditional cheese dish

The idea of this dish is pretty similar to Fondue, but it’s not right to equate them. For Raclette they use a semi-hard cheese made from the Alpine cow milk, thickly sliced and melted. Serve with potatoes, cocktail gherkins, onions, and pickled fruit. Even if you have never been to Switzerland, the dish might be familiar to you, as it’s also highly popular in France. However, make no mistake, the Raclette is as Swiss as they come. 

The first mention of a very similar dish dates back to the 13th-century texts from Swiss convents! But the universal recognition came a bit later. Initially, it was a food of cow-herders, who would often take some cheese slices and roast over a campfire in the evening. When the cheese was soft enough, it was spread over a piece of bread, making an easy-to-make and very delicious snack.  


Traditional Swiss cuisine worth trying during your Switzerland getaway

This rustic dish is one of the traditional Switzerland foods somewhat deceptive in its simplicity. It seems that something prepared out of a few basic ingredients couldn’t taste as good as it actually does! Its name literally means “the Alpine macaroni”. However, to say that it’s typical Italian pasta is quite an overstretch. The Älplermagronen gained popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. Its key ingredients are nothing out of the ordinary and are readily available for everyone – pasta, cheese, onions, potatoes, and a stewed apple, served on the side of the plate. The resulting hearty dish was perfect for feeding herders who had to spend a whole day outside, keeping an eye on their cows. 

Today, stockmen are not the only ones who get to enjoy the filling specialty. The  Älplermagronen is very easy to find in restaurants around the country (lucky for us!). There are multiple variations of the classic recipe, so make sure to try at least a few versions to fuller explore the delicious possibilities. 


Traditional food in Switzerland, Rosti, is very popular among locals

If you are a potato lover, don’t miss a chance to treat yourself to a serving of Rösti, a classic Swiss dish made almost entirely of potatoes (and you thought that Älplermagronen is minimalistic). As in most cases, when it comes to the traditional cuisine of Switzerland, the recipe originated as a food of farmers, so Rösti is the ultimate comfort food – delicious, simple to make, and very filling. Essentially, the specialty is a big potato pancake, fried in a large amount of butter till perfectly golden. Your perfect Rösti shall have a delicious crispy crust while staying very gentle on the inside. This is a sign of a top-notch cooking. The secret is in the special frying technic, but you will have to ask a local to learn this particular way. 

Zürcher Geschnetzeltes

Who doesn’t love a big bowl of hearty stew from time to time? Traditional cuisine in Switzerland known as peasant food, and Zurich Ragout is an excellent example. It’s all about big pieces of veal spiced to perfection and cooked on low heat for hours, so they melt in your mouth. The rich sauce is made out of fat cream, demiglace sauce, and white wine. Despite the classic French sauce being one of the main ingredients, the spices are classic of German culinary school and include parsley and lemon zest. So the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes is a beautiful collaboration of two different cooking traditions. 

As it’s usually the case, there is no right recipe, although there is an original one dating back to 1947. Today, chefs all over Switzerland offer their interpretations of the earliest version, and you can encounter recipes featuring kidneys and mushrooms. But one thing stays the same regardless of the interpretation, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes is best when paired with Rösti and a glass of local white wine. 

Gâteau du Vully

Take advantage of trying this pie during your Switzerland vacation
Gâteau du Vully

This famous tart can be both a savory apperceive and a delicious dessert. Original Vully Tart is with bacon and cumin and clearly not a sweet course. Luckily, with time sugar became much more available to the public, and a new sweet version called Salée au Sucre is now the equal analog of the dish. The distinguishing characteristic of the tart is puits d’amour, literally translated as the wells of love. It looks like dozens of small holes on the top of the pastry where cream, butter, and sugar blend together and accumulate during baking.

The sweet specialty is available in most good bakeries around Switzerland. But nothing is alike a freshly baked homemade tart. All families have their treasured recipe, passed down from generation to generation. As a rule, the Vully Tart recipe features simple ingredients (as is always the case with classic Switzerland dishes), but the technic is very precise. 

As you can see, the traditional cuisine of Switzerland is beautifully diverse and delightfully simple. Despite being strongly influenced by its close neighbors, such as Italy, Germany, and France, Switzerland preserved and stayed true to its authentic approach to cooking. The country’s classic dishes are all about taking a few simple ingredients and getting the maximum flavor. And one of the most amazing things is that the varieties of classic recipes differ from region to region! Unlike McDonald’s Big Mac that tastes the same wherever you are, traditional Switzerland dishes are nuanced, and every corner of the country brings a bit of its soul in the classic recipes. So don’t linger in one place for long. Go and explore. Switzerland has a lot to offer, and revealing all its secrets is a job of a lifetime. 

by Ksenia Zaiceva