Filling mains and tempting desserts – 11 dishes to satisfy your appetite in Budapest
Scrumptious soup packed with vegetables and melt-in-your mouth beef
Onions, tomato and green pepper combine with tender, juicy beef to make this hearty paprika soup with a subtle hint of spice. More than enough for a main meal – it’s sometimes made with potatoes or noodles and accompanied by a chunk of fresh bread to soak up every last drop. Hot sauce is also supplied for those who like to kick the heat up a notch.
Local tip: Cooking competitions are often held at festivals and fairs. If you spot one, go along – you might be invited to sample the soup.
A deep, delicious bowl of spicy fisherman’s soup
A fish broth, boiled over an open fire with a blend of green pepper, red onion, tomato and lots of spicy paprika, this blazing soup is red hot in both colour and taste. Thick pieces of mixed fresh-water fish – usually carp, catfish, sturgeon, pike or perch – roe and coral are added a few minutes before serving, with a chunk of bread and a glass of white wine on the side.
A spicy stewed vegetable medley that’s great with almost anything
This hearty vegetable stew combines sweet and spicy peppers, onion, juicy tomato, garlic and plenty of paprika, for a versatile side dish with a fiery kick. Often spooned over tender roasted meat, it can also be scrambled with eggs at breakfast time, eaten with sausage or served up with a thick slice of fresh bread.
A vibrant chicken dish laced with paprika
Chicken is stewed in a slowly simmering sauce of sweet peppers and mild paprika, balanced with a cooling spoonful of sour cream. Lighter than many of Hungary’s other famous dishes, it’s served with a generous portion of dumpling-like noodles and fresh salad for an ideal summertime lunch option.
Local tip: Grab the chicken with your fingers to nibble the last of the juicy meat from the bones – locals won’t look twice.
Satisfying cabbage parcels, packed full with meaty flavour
Pickled cabbage leaves give this dish a mouthwatering acidic tang. Stuffed full with savoury pork, rice, pearl barley and sauerkraut, each roll is covered in cool sour cream before being returned to the pan for a final frying to thicken the soft outer casing. The ultimate comfort food, these chunky cabbage rolls taste just as good the next day, eaten straight from the fridge with a fork.
A plateful of sweet, doughy delights
The perfect example of dessert for dinner, these sweet cheese-curd dumplings are usually eaten as a main course. Doughnut-like in texture, they’re rolled in toasted breadcrumbs and dusted with sweet powdered sugar before being served with a cool dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.
An indulgent street-food flatbread
A deeply satisfying treat that bypasses the stomach and goes straight to the soul. This deep-fried flatbread is drenched in mouthwatering garlic butter, smothered with sour cream – and just when you think it can’t get any better – covered in a thick layer of gooey melted cheese. Wondrous in variety – you’ll also find these plain, or stuffed with ingredients ranging from sausage to spicy peppers.
Local tip: You're most likely to find these at markets or sold by the many street vendors you'll see all around the city.
A layered sponge with a secretive past
Topped with thick shards of caramel glaze, this delicious layer cake stays wonderfully moist. First invented in 1885, five layers of light, fluffy sponge, are sandwiched with a rich chocolate buttercream that was practically unheard of at the time. Causing a sensation throughout Europe, its recipe was a closely guarded secret until its creator’s retirement in 1906.
Moreish, meat-stuffed pancakes
Chunky parcels folded up burrito-style, these thick savoury pancakes are filled with ground veal, chicken, or pork, lightly spiced and stewed with peppers and onions. Soaked in a rich paprika and sour cream sauce, they’re baked and dished-up two or three at a time for a satisfying starter.
A sweet trifle and national treasure
Three layers of sponge cake – one plain, one chocolate and one walnut – are piled on top of each other, sandwiched with sweet vanilla pastry cream and drenched in a rich rum and citrus syrup. Scooped out in balls and scattered with juicy rum-soaked raisins, this tasty trifle is topped with a generous swirl of whipped cream and lashings of chocolate sauce.
Local tip: This delicious dessert was recently voted ‘Hungary’s Favourite Dessert’ – there’s no higher recommendation than that.
A lightly spiced cheese paste for dunking, dipping and spreading
This delicious dip is ideal for snacking, served up with fresh pepper or spread on a chunky slice of bread. ‘Túró’, a soft and strong-flavoured cheese, is mixed with creamy butter, cool sour cream, anise-like caraway seeds and red onion, while a dash of paprika adds a spark of heat. Other ingredients, such as mustard and garlic, are also often included for punchy flavour combinations.