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Culinary delights

Every festivity has its traditional delicacies: Christmas recipes from Tirol, SalzburgerLand and Upper Austria.

When Austrians join together to sing “Silent Night! Holy Night!” on Christmas Eve, tantalizing aromas of such classic dishes as sausage soup, carp or the sweet “Reindling” cake waft from many kitchens. 

Austria often draws inspiration for its cuisine from tradition – the result are delicious new dishes based on old recipes and fresh interpretations of popular classics.

It is no different with the many Christmas dishes, of which every Austrian province has its favourite. Passed on from one generation to the next, these dishes have over time become the ones typically served each year on Christmas Eve. And because December 24th was long considered a day of fasting, a very simple meal was commonly served at midday, such as the famous Salzburg sausage soup.

Christmas classic from SalzburgerLand

Buchteln (Jam-Filled Sweet Buns)* (makes about 15-20 buns)

“Buchteln” used to be served in SalzburgerLand as a special holiday meal on Christmas Eve – spread with a mixture of honey, milk and butter. They taste best when still warm from the oven. But in case some are left over – which is rarely the case – they can also be enjoyed for breakfast.

1 cup tepid milk
2.5oz butter
1lb wheat flour
2 tablespoons fresh yeast
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg
Peel of one organic lemon, grated
1 dash of rum (as desired)
1 handful of sugar
Jam as desired (such as plum, blackcurrant or apricot), for filling
4.5oz butter

Slowly warm the milk in a saucepan and melt the butter in it. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, a bit of sugar and the milk-butter mixture – the result is what the Austrians call a “Dampfel” (a starter dough or leaven). Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Add the salt, egg, grated lemon peel, rum and sugar and beat the dough – best done with a wooden spoon – until smooth and supple (the dough hooks of a hand mixer can also be used). Dust the dough with a bit of flour, cover with a dishtowel and let rise until doubled in size.

Use a tablespoon to cut out egg-sized pieces, place on a floured board and press flat. Place a spoonful of jam in the middle of each piece of dough, folding up firmly to seal in the jam.

Preheat the oven to 175°C (325°F). Melt 4.5oz butter in an oven-proof pan or shallow baking tin. Roll each bun in the butter and place with the seam side down in the pan or tin. One layer of buns should cover the bottom of the baking form.

Let the buns rise again for 10 minutes and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Serve warm with hot vanilla sauce.

This recipe is from the baking book “Köstliches von der Müllerin”, by Monika Drax and Franziska Lipp. It has been reprinted here with the kind permission of the authors.

  • Advent © Österreich Werbung / Harald Eisenberger Advent © Österreich Werbung / Harald Eisenberger

Christmas classic from Tirol

Sausage Soup with Lovage, Noodles, Root Vegetables and Beef (for 4 servings)

4.4lb meaty beef bones, from the shoulder blade
Viennese sausages, as desired
1 small celeriac
2 carrots
2 yellow carrots
1 small stick celery
1 leek
3 blackened onions
1 bunch lovage, chopped
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro) seeds
Chives, chopped, to garnish

Blanch the beef bones, immerse in cold water, and then place in a large pot with fresh, cold water. Bring to the boil. Halve the onions and brown in a pan until very dark. Wash and peel the root vegetables, leaving them whole. Halve the celeriac and add everything to the pot with the spices. Continue cooking until the meat is done. Cook the noodles and add along with the Vienna sausages (whole or sliced). Finely chop the chives and sprinkle over the soup.

This recipe is from chef Erwin Werlbacher from the Winterstellgut restaurant in Annaberg.

Favourite dishes on Christmas Eve in Austria

  • Burgenland: The classic Burgenland dish – roasted goose with red cabbage and potato dumplings.

  • Carinthia: Carinthian “Reindling” cake with raisins – a sweet dish that can also be combined with savory foods.

  • Lower Austria and Vienna: Carp, roasted or fried, as a fillet or whole.

  • Upper Austria: Bratwurst with potato salad and sauerkraut, and after Midnight Mass the “Schnittlsuppe”, a bread soup with boiled pork.
  • SalzburgerLand: the famous Christmas sausage soup consists of beef broth with Vienna sausages, veal sausages or beef/pork sausages and is a traditional favorite in SalzburgerLand.

  • Styria: Roasted goose or fried carp – in Styria both dishes are equally beloved.

  • Tirol: Noodle soup with sausages, blood sausage, roast pork or a cold platter – in Tirol, simple as well as elaborate dishes have Christmas traditions.

  • Vorarlberg: Veal bratwurst and beef/pork sausages with sauerkraut and mayonnaise salad – these are the favorite Christmas meals of the Vorarlbergers.

Christmas classic from Upper Austria

Advent Duck with Fir Honey

1 farm-raised duck
Duck bones, chopped
Root vegetables (carrots, celeriac, parsley root), diced
Orange peel
Cinnamon stick
Dried apple
Small fir sprig
Walnut schnapps
Red wine
Duck stock (or water)

Separate the legs and breast, with the bones, from the raw duck and season with salt, caraway and marjoram. In a large pot, sear briefly in a bit of fat and remove. Brown the chopped duck bones in the same pot until golden brown, then add the diced root vegetables, shallots, chestnuts, orange peel, cinnamon stick, allspice, cloves, prunes, dried apple and the fresh fir sprig. Stir in the walnut schnapps and red wine, then add the duck stock or water. Place the duck meat in the pot, cover and simmer over low heat. When the meat is tender, remove it along with the vegetables, prunes and dried apple.

Reduce the sauce, strain and season to taste. Brush the meat with this “fir honey” and brown a bit under the broiler.

Place the pieces of duck on the vegetables, garnish with the dried apple and prunes and drizzle the sauce over the top.

  • Christmas cookies © Steiermark Tourismus / Christmas cookies © Steiermark Tourismus /

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