Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Carne Diem
Origin: Austrian, European
Method: StovetopJump to Recipe
I remember my father talking about how much he loved eating wiener schnitzel when he was stationed in Germany. When I made my first trip to Germany and Austria, I knew I had to try this popular culinary treat. As a result, it was one of the very first foods that I sought out to eat in Europe.
Over the years I have eaten a lot of schnitzel with its multiple variations, but my favorite still remains traditional, light and crispy wiener schnitzel, fried in lard and with an airy golden breading. Schnitzel is a simple dish that has withstood the test of time, and a great meal for even the pickiest of eaters.
What is Weiner Schnitzel?
Translating to Viennese Schnitzel, Weiner schnitzel is a thin cutlet of meat that is breaded and then fried. Schnitzel is one of the most popular dishes in Austria and Germany and can be widely found in both countries. The term Wiener Schnitzel is protected in both Austria and Germany and must be made with veal.
While some believe that the dish may have been inspired in the 19th century by the Italian Pork Milanese, cookbooks with recipes for the breaded cutlets predate this.
What Type of Meat is Typically Used to Make Schnitzel?
Authentic Austrian Wiener Schnitzel is always made with veal. While other types of schnitzel may be made with pork, beef, game and even chicken, veal and pork tend to be the most common. Authentic Wiener Schnitzel made of veal is more commonly found in Austria, while German Schnitzel is more likely to be made with pork cutlets.
Making Authentic Austrian Wiener Schnitzel
Prepare the meat
We have found it easiest to use veal scallopini as it is already thin, and we can skip the step of pounding out the meat. If you are using pork or thicker cuts of veal, you will want to cover the meat with parchment paper and pound it very thin. Pat the veal cutlets dry and place on a plate.
Next, lightly season both sides of the veal with salt and some fresh cracked pepper. This is a fairly simple dish, so don't overdo it with the salt and pepper.
Breading the veal
For the coating of the wiener schnitzel you will need plates or bowls of beaten eggs, all purpose flour, and bread crumbs. Plain bread crumbs work well but our favorite versions have used Panko that are briefly chopped in a food processor to make the consistency a bit finer. If desired you can add additional seasoning to the breadcrumbs.
To coat the veal, dredge the meat through the flour, making sure it is fully covered. Shake off any excess flour.
Next dip the meat into the beaten eggs and let the excess drip off before coating the meat in the breadcrumb mixture.
You do not want to press the breadcrumbs into the meat or the finished texture will not be right. Just get a nice even coating. This is key to getting the appropriate airy texture.
Once breaded, place the Austrian breaded cutlet on a pan of wire rack and repeat the process with the remaining meat.
Frying the wiener schnitzel
Traditionally authentic wiener schnitzel is fried in either lard or clarified butter such as Ghee. We like to use a combination of the two to add an extra layer of flavor. For those hesitant to use lard, you can substitute an oil of your choosing.
Heat the lard and butter over medium heat. We like a 50/50 ratio. The amount you need will depend on the size of the skillet you are using but you will want a good ¼ inch to fry in. Melt the lard/butter in a skillet and bring to about 350 degrees (medium heat).
After you have finished breading all of the veal, fry it in the butter/lard. Cook it for about 3 minutes, flip and then cook for an additional 3 minutes. The breading should be a nice golden-brown. If you are using a meat thermometer, the finished temp should be about 145-150 degrees for veal. If you used pork aim for a finished temp of 140-145. Whenever we are frying, we like to cook a single piece first to make sure it is cooking correctly in case we need to make any adjustments before cooking the rest.
Finishing the Austrian Style Wiener Schnitzel
Remove the meat to a paper towel lined plate and let rest for a couple minutes before serving. Give a brief squeeze of lemon to the breaded veal schnitzel just prior to serving.
What to serve with Schnitzel
Traditional sides for wiener schnitzel include spaetzle, potato salad, potato dumplings, fried potatoes leafy salads or sauerkraut.
For dessert serve up a slice of German Black Forest Cheesecake or strudel.
If you are looking for more German and Austrian inspired dishes check out our growing list of authentic recipes:
- German Beer Pretzels
- Smoked German Beer Cheese Sauce
- German Sauerbraten
- German Beef Rouladen
- Authentic Schwenkbraten: German Swinging Pork
- Sous Vide Tafelspitz: Austrian Tri Tip Roast
Variations of Schnitzel
In Austria the most common way to serve Wienerschnitzel is plain with a little lemon juice or lemon slices. In Germany, however, you may find a variety of different ways to serve schnitzel.
Jagerschnitzel: Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce
Served with a homemade mushroom gravy, Jager Schnitzel is one of our favorites. Also known as Hunter Schnitzel this version is popular throughout Bavaria.
Zigeuner schnitzel: Gypsy schnitzel
Also called Balkanschnitzel this slightly spicy pork schnitzel is served with a flavorful bell pepper and tomato sauce and is one of the most popular versions of the dish in Germany.
Rahmschnitzel: Schnitzel with Cream Sauce
Schnitzel with a simple cream sauce is a more basic, but no less fantastic version of making the Bavarian breaded pork cutlets. Similar to Jagerschnitzel, the sauce may contain mushrooms, but is more of a cream-based sauce where the Hunter sauce is more of a brown gravy.
Frankfurter Style Schnitzel
This region favorite is covered in a fantastic green sauce known as Grüne Soße and consists of a variety of herbs local to the Frankfurt area. Typically, the sauce consists of parsley, chervil, borage, sorrel, chive, cress and lemon balm.
Take a look at some of the best recipes to make for your Oktoberfest party this year.
Other less common sauces for schnitzel include mustard sauce, horseradish sauce, and brown butter sauce.
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Authentic Austrian Weiner Schnitzel
- food processor
- 4-6 Veal Cutlets (about 1 pound) preferably veal scallopini
- 2 Eggs beaten
- ½ Cup All Purpose Flour
- ½ Cup Panko pulsed briefly in a food processor
- Clarified Butter (Ghee)
- Salt to taste
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
- Lemon Wedges/Slices for serving
- We have found it easiest to use veal scallopini as it is already thin, and we can skip the step of pounding out the meat. If you are using pork or thicker cuts of veal you will want to cover the meat with parchment paper and pound it very thin.
- Make sure the thin pieces of meat are dry and then season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste.
- For the coating of the wiener schnitzel you will need plates or bowls of beaten eggs, all purpose flour, and bread crumbs.
- To coat the veal, dredge the meat through the flour, making sure it is fully covered. Next dip the meat into the egg and let the excess drip off before coating the meat in the breadcrumb mixture. You do not want to press the breadcrumbs into the meat, just get a nice even coating.
- Heat the lard and butter over medium heat. Ideally the frying mixture should be at about 350 degrees for frying the meat.
- Fry the breaded veal for about 3 minutes and then flip the meat and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until the breading is nicely golden-brown. If you are using a meat thermometer, the finished temp should be about 145-150 degrees.
- Remove the meat to a paper towel lined plate and let rest for a couple minutes before serving. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon to each piece of meat and enjoy.