The Origin Story of Schnitzel

There’s no doubt about it: schnitzel is the most famous dish we have on our menu. It’s our namesake, after all. But where exactly did this delicious food come from? It’s said to hail from Germany, and other sources have stated that its roots may be in Austria. That being said, this tasty dish is found in several countries throughout Europe, where it remains a staple to this day. Curious to know how exactly this food originated? Let’s find out.

What Exactly is Schnitzel?

Schnitzel is a dish that uses a very thin boneless cutlet from meat such as veal, pork, beef or chicken. The meat can be breaded and then deep fried or it can also be pan fried and then be used as breading or just be consumed without the bread. Schnitzels also come in a variety of forms across different countries, but the recipe remains the same. If there’s one schnitzel that’s famous –  it would be the Wienerschnitzel, which is from Austria. Traditionally, this dish is made out of veal and then is breaded by using breadcrumbs, and served with lemon juice.

Schnitzel Throughout the Times

Schnitzel has managed to conquer the taste buds of many people around the world, and you can easily find this dish in most European restaurants nowadays. As far as the origins of schnitzel go, there are many sources dating back in time which mention the process of tenderising pieces of meat by pounding out the slices. The process would then continue with the meat being dredged in breading and then fried. This method of cooking dates as far back as the 1st century BC, and was mainly done in Europe. 

When you fast forward to the Middle Ages, schnitzel by then had managed to become extremely popular. Not only was it well loved in Germanic lands, but also Northern Italy and present day Austria. An important fact to note that the main meat used was veal – also known as wienerschnitzel. In the 1850s, many Germans immigrated to Texas. Beef was more widely available than veal or pork, so German immigrants began incorporating beef in their schnitzels rather than pork or veal. Since beef was not as tender as pork or veal, pounding out beef began to be the new norm when making schnitzel.

How Schnitzel Became Beloved by Jewish People

Originally brought from Europe to Israel by Ashkenazi Jews, schnitzel instantly became a hit. During the early years of the state of Israel, veal was not widely available, so chicken or turkey became a substitute. Nowadays, the meat used is generally chicken or turkey breast to keep it kosher. Another swap to keep up with kashrut was changing butter for oil, which is normally used for wienerschnitzel. Before frying, the schnitzel is coated with a mixture of beaten eggs and bread crumbs, sometimes spiced with paprika or sesame seeds. Despite schnitzel not being a solely Jewish cuisine, it is still beloved in Israeli cuisine today. 

Are you hungry yet? Keep it kosher with us and order one of our delicious schnitzels today!