What Is Schnitzel?

This classic European dish can transform any meat cutlet into an impressive meal.

With a crispy coating and tender fillet of meat, it's no wonder that schnitzel is a popular dish in a lot of parts of the world. But what exactly is this hearty dish? And where did it come from? Read on to learn more:

What Is Schnitzel Made From?

In its most basic form, schnitzel is a slice of meat, often pounded until fairly thin, then breaded and fried. The dish's name actually comes from the German word schnitt, which translates to "cut." The most popular type of meat for schnitzel is veal (wiener-schnitzel) or pork (schweine-schnitzel), but you also see varieties made with chicken (hänchen-schnitzel), or turkey (puten-schnitzel). The breading is typically an easy coating of flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs. Schnitzel is not typically highly seasoned, relying instead on bold toppings such as fresh lemon wedges, mushroom sauce, or cream sauce to add a boost of flavor.

Schnitzel on a black plate with lemon slices

Where Did Schnitzel Originate?

The origins of schnitzel are typically attributed to Eastern Europe. Today, it's particularly popular in Germany and Austria, though it's served everywhere from Finland to Hungary, too. Though the idea of a crispy breaded cutlet of thinly pounded meat isn't distinctly European, looking at other countries' dishes, like the Japanese tonkatsu or America's chicken fried steak, and you'll see that every region seems to love a good schnitzel-esque meal.

How to Make Schnitzel at Home

Schnitzel is very easy to make at home. Simply pound out a cut of your preferred meat, give it a quick coating, and fry until golden brown. If you don't know where to start, we recommend looking through the list of Our Best Schnitzel Recipes to get you started. Once the schnitzel is cooked, you can smother it in bold mushroom sauce, drizzle on a mustard cream sauce, or simply plate it with wedges of fresh lemon. For a traditional Austrian- or German-inspired meal, serve your schnitzel alongside something carby-like spaetzle, warm potato salad, or even just a handful of fries to round out the plate.

Was this page helpful?
You’ll Also Love