Wienerschnitzel (or Wiener Schnitzel), essentially a breaded veal cutlet, is unarguably the best known staple food of Austria. Named after Vienna (literally Vienna Schnitzel), this is a very simple yet very delicious recipe.
It is said that original Wiener Schnitzel is made from veal. It is true that to have the best results, you should use a very lean cut of veal. But don’t worry, your Wiener Schnitzel will taste almost as good if made with pork. Even in Austria, people make their schnitzel often with pork meat, and you can even order it with pork or chicken in restaurants.
In fact there are 3 secrets to making the perfect Wiener schnitzel, let’s see how you can make it easily at home.
- First prepare your veal. Using a meat pounder, tenderize your meat and make sure it is very thin.
- Season you schnitzels with salt and pepper
- Next step is breading your meat. Use the classic flour-egg-breadcrumbs method.
- In a large pan, heat up your oil. Make sure it is at least an inch (2.5 cm) deep. This is deep frying, your schnitzels need to “swim” in the hot oil.
- Put your slices into the hot oil. Make sure not to overload your pan.
- And now the third secret to making the perfect Wienerschnitzel: with a spatula, using careful movements, let the hot oil circulate from besides the meat to the upper side of your schnitzels.
- Your Wienerchnitzels will be ready in no time, using this method. It depends of your stove, I usually need 2 minutes for the first side, than flip it and fry for another minute in the other side. Again, using this circulating movement continuously.
- Your Wienerschnitzel should be golden brown when ready. Take it out of the pan, drain off the oil, and place them in a plate or wire rack.
The first secret to making the perfect Wiener Schnitzel is to use very thin slices of meat. Ideally they are no thicker than about 1/10 inch or 2-3 mm. People say in Austria, that your meat should be so thin you can see through it.
Use one plate or a plastic bag for each of your breading ingredients. Season your eggs with some salt and beat them lightly. There is no need to use any other seasoning when making a classic Wiener schnitzel. Make sure you shake off excess flour.
The second secret to making the perfect Wienerschnitzel is to fry it in very hot oil. This way your meat will be tender and juicy, while the outside gets nice and crispy. Make sure your oil is 355 F or 180 C hot.
Usually an authentic Wienerschnitzel is so big you can deep fry only one at a time.
As a regular schnitzel is quite large, this makes sure that the upper part of your meat won’t cool off and get soggy. Instead, your schnitzel will be ready in no time, and both sides turn out to be nice golden and crispy.
Please take extra care with this step, as your oil is very hot. Make sure you always move the oil away from you, and don’t use sudden movements.
Don’t use a paper towel for draining off your schnitzels as they could get soggy.
How To Serve Your Wiener Schnitzel
The most important thing is, you should serve your Wienerschnitzel warm and fresh.
Make sure to serve them with lemon wedges. People can squeeze some lemon juice over their schnitzels, which is the traditional way of eating this dish.
Also, if you want to serve it the traditional Austrian way, add some nice Austrian potato salad. This is the way you actually get your Wienerschnitzel in most restaurants throughout Vienna.
What’s An Authentic Wienerschnitzel Like?
Legend says this dish is the Austrian version of the famous Italian costoletta milanese or piccata, brought to Austria by general Joseph Radetzky von Radetz.
As with every traditional recipe, there is not really one exact way of making Wienerschnitzel. But this being a traditional recipe, you can be sure it’s not an overcomplicated one.
When looking online for wienerschnitzel recipes, Parmesan cheese, parsley, nutmeg and other spices – yes, Parmesan cheese can be used as a spice – are often added. While some of these ingredients might sound pretty posh, and they can even add some extra taste to your schnitzel, the traditional Austrian method uses only salt and pepper for seasoning.
As far as the cooking fat, the easiest is to use oil. Believe me, most people in Austria use just regular vegetable oil. Some recipes call for ghee (Butterschmalz in German), and you can of course try using it, it sure adds a nice extra flavor. But then again, this is not needed for making an authentic schnitzel.
And the last question: should you use milk or not? Once again, in most Wienerschnitzel recipes outside Austria you can find milk. Either adding it to the egg, or even marinating your meat in milk before breading. Again, I find that in traditional recipes there is no milk. It is kind of a new trend to add milk or even cream to you egg though in Austria, so of course you can make your schnitzels that way also.
Anyhow, use nice thin cutlets, fry them in hot fat and make sure you circulate the oil over your meat. And voila, your wienerchnitzel just will turn out to be perfect and yummy.