Yes, New York might have given us the cronut, but when it comes to rich cakes and fluffy pastries that have won over princes and emperors and all manner of “give me ALL your baked goods” fans since time immemorial? There’s no competition. Continue reading for a roundup of our favorite Austrian desserts guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
You’ve probably seen Bundt cake at a holiday dinner (or, at the least, in a holiday movie). But a fun fact I bet you didn’t know: the shape is actually inspired by this traditional cake popular in Austrian cuisine. We came across plenty of variations on our trip, but a couple to start with are ones flavored with mulled wine or marbled with a chocolate swirl and a dusting of confectioners' sugar.
Ever since we had Kaiserschmarren at Gasthaus Auwirt, an adorable inn in the western region of Tirol, I’ve been dreaming of it nonstop. Think of it as a pull-apart, shredded pancake with caramelized sugar and rum raisins. It’s traditionally served with plum or apple compote, but adding a scoop of ice cream—as at Auwirt—is divine. This sweet treat is also incredibly popular in the German state of Bavaria.
Note: You'll occasionally see this dessert spelled differently, without the "e" at the end, as Kaiserschmarrn.
3. Apple Strudel
Apple pie may be firmly entrenched in Americana, but apple strudel (or apfelstrudel) is a distinctly Austrian invention that you’ll find all over the country. The buttery, cinnamon-y apple-raisin filling, folded between layers of whisper-thin pastry dough, might just become your new favorite comfort food. If you're not a fan of apples (or just curious to try other flavors), you can also get strudel with curd cheese or milk-cream, as well as sour cherries, nuts, poppy seed, and other fillings.
4. Linzer Torte
Remember the Linzer cookies from your childhood, the ones with powdered sugar and jam-filled centers that you were told to eat sparingly but couldn’t help but shove in your mouth by the fistful? Now that we’re adults, it’s time to upgrade to the full Linzer torte, which features a distinctive criss-cross lattice of dough on top. It hails from the city of Linz in Upper Austria and is the world’s oldest cake. The dough carries a subtle nutty flavor courtesy of the ground hazelnuts, and the filling is fruity and sweet. Red currants are the traditional filling, but you might find plum, raspberry, applesauce, or apricots as well—some even come topped with quark whipped cream.
This is really a dessert for chocoholics: layers of dense chocolate cake filled with apricot jam and coated with chocolate icing. You can get it at countless cafes across Austria, but you really have to try the Original Sacher-Torte, which was invented by a Viennese confectioner, Franz Sacher, in 1832 for Prince Metternich. Cafe Sacher is one of the capital’s most famous institutions, and the cake itself, decorated with a piece of fondant that looks like a wax seal, is a must-add to your Instagram.
Chocolate lovers can never have just one dessert, right? You can’t leave Salzburg without having tried some Mozart chocolates at Konditorei Fürst. Confectioner Fürst invented the almost golf-ball-sized chocolate pralines in 1890 and named them after Salzburg’s most famous resident. The nougat and marzipan filling melts in your mouth.
Like a lot of Austria’s signature dishes, this one’s a bit hard to pronounce. Luckily, you’ll be doing a lot more eating than talking once you’ve got this donut-meets-croissant revelation in front of you. Eat the best kiachl in Innsbruck, where the dessert originated, and be sure to top it off with jam or sauerkraut. (I know, I know, but trust me: no one thought bacon and donuts would be a thing, and aren’t you so glad we gave that a try?)
8. Salzburger Nockerl
I saved this for last. As the name implies, this ridiculously puffy, meringue-based dessert is a specialty of Salzburg, and it’s shaped like the mountains that surround the city (due to the peaks of egg whites and base of egg yolks). I am pretty much guaranteed to love any dessert recipe with the name soufflé in it, but when it’s kissed with vanilla sugar and singed lightly golden-brown at the tips and made fluffy enough that you will look at your pillow tonight and wonder why you couldn’t be sleeping on a Salzburger Nockerl instead—well, consider me sold.
Other Austrian desserts that deserve notable mentions?
- Palatschinken: Austrian crêpes
- Mohnnudeln: Sweet, poppy seed noodles
- Broselnudeln: Another variety of sweet noodles made with breadcrumbs, cinnamon, and, of course, sugar
- Topfennockerl: Cheese dumplings
- Krapfen: Austrian doughnuts filled with sweet jam, usually apricot, which explains why they're also referred to as "apricot dumplings"
- Buchteln (aka Wuchteln): Sweet yeast buns
Is your interest piqued? This is just the start. Discover more about what Austria has to offer:
- The Journy Guide To Austria
The best of Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck with our insider tips.
- The 12 Best Hotels In Austria To Book For Your Next Trip
Check-in to one of these architectural gems in the heart of Europe.
- Gemütlichkeit Is The New Hygge: The Austrians' Key To Happy Living
Enjoy life the Austrian way.
- 7 Things To Do In Innsbruck Besides Skiing
What to do when you need a break from the snow.
- This European Capital City Has One Of The Most Cult-Worthy Wine Scenes In The World
Hint: It's not in France or Italy.