The 10 Best Foods to Try in Switzerland

Family eating Swiss cheese fondue in the Alps in winter
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Apart from its stunning natural beauty, Switzerland is also a destination for food lovers—especially those with big appetites. Its climate and verdant, mountainous landscapes make it highly suitable for dairy products, which is why cheese and chocolate play such prominent roles in the Swiss culinary identity. And while you definitely need to try both these items—more than once, if possible—there's a lot more to Swiss food than just fondue and chocolate bars.

Take a look at these top foods to try in Switzerland, and some of the best places to try them.

01 of 10

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue
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A ubiquitous part of Swiss cuisine, cheese fondue consists of cheese, white wine or kirsch brandy, and garlic melted together and served with chunks of bread, small boiled potatoes, pickles, and raw vegetables. These items are dipped into the fondue, typically served as a communal dish for two or more people. Fondue recipes will vary depending on the region of Switzerland you're in, and there are strictly adhered rules as to what types of cheese can and can't be used. In Zurich, try it at the cozy Friborg Fonduestübli.

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02 of 10

Chocolate

Chocolates in a Zurich shop window

Elizabeth Heath

Swiss residents eat a stunning 23 pounds of chocolate per year per person on average—and one taste of high-quality Swiss chocolate, and you'll understand why. Experts say that Swiss chocolate wins accolades for two reasons: a blending process that makes it creamier, and dense Alpine milk from cows raised at high altitudes. Some of the top producers to look for include Lindt, Cailler, Sprüngli, and Läderach.

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03 of 10

Raclette

Raclette melted grilled cheese
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Traditional raclette—the French for "to scrape"—involves melting a wheel of cheese near a fire, and scraping off portions of gooey cheese, to be eaten on bread or with pickles, boiled new potatoes, and pickled onions. Once a dish for farmers and herdsmen who carried wheels of cheese with them in the high pastures, raclette is now found all over Switzerland. Restaurant Whymper Stube in Zermatt is a perfect setting for this rustic dish.

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04 of 10

Rösti

Swiss-style Rosti potato pancakes
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What French fries or mashed potatoes are to Americans, rösti is to the Swiss. A typical side dish, rösti is made of grated potatoes seasoned and pan-fried in oil, butter, or animal fat and served as a potato pancake. Despite the French origins of the name, the dish is more closely associated with German-speaking Switzerland—though you can find it just about anywhere. Try a plate-sized version at Wirsthaus Taube in Lucerne.

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05 of 10

Bratwurst

A patron digs into a meter-long sausage in a Zurich restaurant

Elizabeth Heath

Closely associated with German-speaking Switzerland, bratwurst is another common menu item. The country's most prized version hails from St. Gallen, near the border with Lichtenstein. St. Gallen bratwurst contains at least 50 percent beef, as well as pork. The plump sausages are served grilled, fried, or stewed, usually accompanied with a side of rösti. At the historic Zeughauskeller Restaurant in Zurich's old city center, they come in half-meter and meter-long portions!

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06 of 10

Älplermagronen

Älplermagronen (Alpine Macaroni)
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Älplermagronen is Swiss comfort food at its finest. This hearty dish is essentially a macaroni and cheese casserole made of macaroni, potatoes, cheese, cream, and roasted onions, usually served with a side of applesauce for a salty-sweet balance. The recipe developed in the mountain huts of the high Alps, and many say that's the atmosphere where it's best sampled—try it at the Felsenegg chalet, at the top of the Adliswil-Felsenegg cable car outside of Zurich.

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07 of 10

Polenta Ticenese

Ticino-style polenta

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Ticino is the most Italian of Swiss cantons, and that Mediterranean vibe is reflected in its language, culture, and cuisine. Polenta Ticenese is one of the region's most typical dishes—a dense cornmeal mush (that tastes a lot better than it sounds), usually served with a ragu of beef, rabbit, or mushrooms. It's a wintry dish, so you might not see it on menus if you visit the area in the summertime. Try it at Grotto del Cavicc, a Montagnola restaurant that just oozes tradition,

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08 of 10

Birchermüesli

Woman holds a bowl of Bircher muesli in her hand
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Whether you stay at a five-star hotel, a remote mountain hut, or a cozy B&B, don't be surprised to see birchermüesli on the breakfast menu. This hearty, healthy morning dish is made from cut oats, condensed milk or yogurt, grated apples or other fruits, plus lemon juice, and hazelnuts or almonds. It was designed by a physician to be a completely balanced breakfast dish that provides energy for a busy day of hiking, skiing, or exploring. Try it all day long at Zurich's inviting Café Hubertus.

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09 of 10

Biberli

Biberli gingerbread

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Appenzellerland is perhaps the most traditional Swiss canton, where folk-dress and ancient customs are still part of daily life. So is the Appenzeller biberli, a dark gingerbread cookie stamped with folk designs that range from simple to intricate. Try these sweet treats at BÖHLI AG confectionery in Appenzell.

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10 of 10

Tartiflette

Dinner - Tartiflette
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France, Italy, and Switzerland all lay claim to the tartiflette, a savory pie developed in the Haute-Savoie, near the three countries' shared border. Its principal ingredient is Reblochon cheese, a ripened cheese that's a farmer's version of brie. The baked tart is made by layering thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions, and Reblochon cheese. It's as decadent and delicious as it sounds and a favorite of the apres-ski crowd. Taste it with a view at La Remointze, at the top of the Veysonnaz cable car.

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