Wiener schnitzel (/ˈvnər ˈʃnɪtsəl/ VEE-nər SHNIT-səl; German: Wiener Schnitzel [ˈviːnɐ ˈʃnɪtsl̩] , 'Viennese cutlet'), sometimes spelled Wienerschnitzel, is a type of schnitzel made of a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet served without sauce.

Wiener schnitzel, a traditional Austrian dish

It is one of the best known specialities of Viennese cuisine, and one of the national dishes of Austria.[1][2][3]

History and etymology

A Wiener schnitzel served at a restaurant in Carinthia, Austria

The designation Wiener Schnitzel first appeared in the 19th century, with the first known mention in a cookbook from 1831.[4] In the popular southern German cookbook by Katharina Prato, it was mentioned as eingebröselte Kalbsschnitzchen (roughly, "breaded veal cutlets").[5]

According to a tale, Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz brought the recipe from Italy to Vienna in 1857. In 2007, linguist Heinz-Dieter Pohl could prove that this story had been invented.[6] According to Pohl, the dish is first mentioned in connection with Radetzky in 1869 in an Italian gastronomy book (Guida gastronomica d'Italia), which was published in German in 1871 as Italien tafelt, and it is claimed that the story instead concerned the cotoletta alla milanese. Before this time, the story was unknown in Austria. The Radetzky legend is however based on this book, which claims that a Count Attems, an adjutant to the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria gave a notice from Radetzky about the situation in Lombardy and mentioned a tasty veal steak in a margin note. After Radetzky had returned, the emperor personally requested the recipe from him.[5]

Pohl relates this anecdote with the words: "This story is scientifically meaningless, it does not cite any sources and it is not mentioned […] in the literature about Radetzky. No such Count Attems appears in any biographical work about the Austrian monarchy, which would have corresponded to this time and position."[5]

Pohl doubts that Wiener schnitzel came from Italy at all, with the basis that in the other "imported dishes" in Austrian cuisine, the original concept is mentioned, even if in Germanised form, such as in goulash or palatschinke, and the schnitzel does not appear even in specialised cookbooks about Italian cuisine.[7]

Pohl hints that there had been other dishes in Austrian cuisine, before the Schnitzel, that were breaded and deep fried, such as the popular Backhendl, which was first mentioned in a cookbook from 1719. The Schnitzel was then mentioned in the 19th century as Wiener Schnitzel analogically to the Wiener Backhendl.[5]

In 1887, E. F. Knight wrote of a Wiener schnitzel ordered in a Rotterdam cafe, "as far as I could make out, the lowest layer of a Wienerschnitzel consists of juicy veal steaks and slices of lemon peel; the next layer is composed of sardines; then come sliced gherkins, capers, and diverse mysteries; a delicate sauce flavours the whole, and the result is a gastronomic dream."[8]


Whereas the original Austrian Wiener schnitzel only includes lemon and parsley as garnishes, in the Nordic countries it is typically also garnished with a slice of anchovy and capers.[9]

The dish is prepared from veal slices, butterfly cut, about 4 mm (316 in) in thickness and lightly pounded flat, slightly salted, and rolled in flour, whipped eggs, and bread crumbs. The bread crumbs must not be pressed into the meat, so that they stay dry and can be "souffléd". Finally the Schnitzel is fried in a good proportion of lard or clarified butter at a temperature of 160–170 °C (320–340 °F) until it is golden yellow. The Schnitzel must swim in the fat, otherwise it will not cook evenly: the fat cools too much and intrudes into the bread crumbs, moistening them. During the frying the Schnitzel is repeatedly slightly tossed around the pan. Also during the frying, fat can be scooped from the pan with a spoon and poured onto the meat. The Schnitzel is cooked after it turns golden yellow or brown.[10]

The dish was traditionally served in Austria covered in a mushroom or mustard based sauce, with butterhead lettuce tossed with a sweetened vinaigrette dressing, optionally with chopped chives or onions, potato salad, cucumber salad, or parsley potatoes. In recent times french fries and rice have become more common.[11]

In the early 20th century, the garnish consisted of capers and anchovies,[12] nowadays a lemon slice, lingonberry jam,[1] and parsley are more common.[13][11]

Similar dishes

Pork schnitzel variation stuffed with fried mushrooms and onions (Fuhrmann Schnitzel vom Schwein), served with mashed potato and side salad

A popular variation is made with pork instead of veal, because pork is cheaper than veal (usually about half the price). To avoid confusion, Austrian law requires that Wiener Schnitzel be made of veal.[14] A schnitzel made of pork can be called Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein[14][15] ('Wiener schnitzel from pork') or Schnitzel Wiener Art ('Viennese style schnitzel').

Similar dishes to Wiener schnitzel include Surschnitzel (from cured meat), and breaded turkey or chicken steaks. Similarly prepared dishes include cotoletta alla milanese, schnitzel cordon bleu filled with ham and cheese[16] and Pariser Schnitzel. The American chicken-fried steak is often said to be closely related to Wiener schnitzel, the result of the adaptation of the recipe by German or Austrian immigrants to the Texas Hill Country to locally available ingredients.[17]

Tonkatsu is a similar, fried pork cutlet from Japanese cuisine, thicker than its European counterparts.

In the Southern Cone, particularly in Argentina and Uruguay, a similar dish is milanesa. It is often served with french fries or mashed potatoes.

In Israel, schnitzel is popular, first introduced by European Jews who immigrated to Israel during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Owing to food shortages at that time and the high cost of meat and veal, and due to kashrut laws that forbid eating pork, the local version was made of chicken breast, which was less expensive. To this day, Israeli schnitzel is made of chicken.[18] Kashrut laws also forbid using milk, butter or similar dairy products with meat, so kosher schnitzel is prepared with cooking oil. Schnitzel has become so popular that it is regularly described as one of Israel's "national dishes."[19][20]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Wiener Schnitzel – Austria's National Food". All Things Austria. 13 December 2010. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Wiener Schnitzel". Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Top 10 National Dishes -- National Geographic". Travel. 2011-09-13. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved 2020-08-08.
  4. ^ Neudecker, Maria Anna (1831). Allerneuestes allgemeines Kochbuch. Prague.
  5. ^ a b c d Pohl, Heinz Dieter (2007). Die österreichische Küchensprache. Ein Lexikon der typisch österreichischen kulinarischen Besonderheiten (mit sprachwissenschaftlichen Erläuterungen) (in German). Vienna: Praesens-Verlag. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-3-7069-0452-0.
  6. ^ "Rund ums Wiener Schnitzel – ein Beitrag zur Sach- und Wortgeschichte" (PDF). Heinz Pohl Personal Homepage (in German). Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  7. ^ Pohl, Heinz Dieter: Zur bairisch-österreichischen Küchensprache (PDF)
  8. ^ Knight, E. F. (1888). The "Falcon" On the Baltic: A Coasting Voyage From Hammersmith to Copenhagen in a Three-Ton Yacht. p. 76.
  9. ^ Wieninleike resepit ja ohje (in Finnish): Ja muualla kuin Itävallassa, saa wieninleike usein seurakseen myös anjovista ja kapriksia, josta muodostuukin kerrassaan herkullinen yhdistelmä! ("And outside Austria, the Wienerschnitzel is often accompanied by anchovy and capers which make a delicious combination!")
  10. ^ "Wiener Schnitzel – Tips for Preparing a Wiener Schnitzel". German Food Guide. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  11. ^ a b admin (2012-10-28). "Beilagen - was darf Begleiten?". Wiener Schnitzel (in German). Retrieved 2024-03-21.
  12. ^ Hampel, Friedrich - executive chef of the imperial court (1915). "Recipe No. 147". Lucullus. Handbuch der Wiener Kochkunst. Vienna.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ Banzer, M.C./Friebel, Carl: Die Hotel- und Restaurationskücke, 3rd edition, Gießen 1950, p. 160
  14. ^ a b Muckerman, Anna (6 August 2019). "Does this schnitzel define Vienna?". BBC Travel.
  15. ^ "Urteil: Schweineschnitzel darf weiterhin "Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein" heißen". 10 November 2009. Archived from the original on 2019-09-17.
  16. ^ Cordon bleu Archived 2013-07-28 at the Wayback Machine, Verein Kulinarisches Erbe der Schweiz. Accessed on 27 December 2008.
  17. ^ Weaver, Bobby. "Chicken-Fried Steak". Oklahoma Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  18. ^ Guttman, Vered (30 January 2017). "How to Make Schnitzel Like an Israeli". Haaretz. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Foods of Israel: Schnitzel". The Forward. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Schnitzel Conquers the World". Taablet Magazine. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2020.

Further reading

  • Haslinger, Ingrid: Entwicklungsstationen einiger typischer Gerichte der Wiener Küche. In: Dannielczyk, Julia; Wasner-Peter, Isabella (ed.): "Heut' muß der Tisch sich völlig bieg'n". Wiener Küche und ihre Kochbücher, Mandelbaum-Verlag, vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-85476-246-1, pp. 11–48
  • Zahnhausen, Richard: Das Wiener Schnitzel. Struktur und Geschichte einer alltäglichen Speise. In: Wiener Geschichtsblätter, issue 2/2001, pp. 132–146. ISSN 0043-5317.