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Forget the “toss a shrimp on the Barbie” pitch …
Are you wondering what foods will be served Down Under? Here’s some of our favourite Australian traditional foods you must try when visiting Down Under.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Early settlers originated from England, Greece, Italy as well as our nearby Asian neighbours. Each influencing our taste-buds with delicious flavours from their homelands.
We’re proud of our multi-cultural heritage and love the traditional foods that have become our Australian favourites.
What are traditional favourite Australian foods?
Aussies are predominately meat and seafood eaters.
Rich soils and fertile farming lands mean that our cattle and sheep grow fat. We’re also well-known for our delicious fruit and fresh vegetables and consider our country as the land of plenty.
Our favourite foods are an eclectic mix of delicious cuisines from around the world. You can expect to enjoy exotic Thai and Indian curries, char-grilled seafood, juicy steaks, luscious Greek and Italian desserts and so much more.
Australia is a Meat lovers heaven
Roast dinners are firm favourites in Australia. Nothing beats a perfectly roast lamb with mint sauce and all the trimmings on any dinner table.
Traditional accompaniments such as crispy roast potatoes, roast pumpkin and a serving of fresh garden peas, carrots and a splash of gravy will put a smile on every face around the dinner table.
What will you eat at an Aussie barbecue
Nothing is more Australian than getting friends or family together for a backyard barbecue. A typical Aussie BBQ is loaded with meats and seafood, rich with marinades and traditionally cooked by the man of the house.
It’s common to see a nice thick fillet steak, juicy lamb cutlets, and pork sausages sizzling together on the hotplate with onions lightly caramelizing beside them. Served with a selection of salads, a barbecue is a popular choice when inviting friends home for dinner.
Hamburgers and Rissoles
Beware! A true Aussie hamburger will come with a slice of beetroot on top a beef pattie – and no pickle! Many of our visitors find the beetroot slice a bit challenging but we Aussies believe that a burger is not complete without a slice of beetroot.
Give it a go, you just may grow to like it!
A variation of hamburgers is to serve them without the bun. Often we’ll serve rissoles with an onion gravy. Have you heard of rissoles before? Rissoles are a meat pattie, cooked gently in a frypan with a rich onion gravy poured over them. Usually served with fresh peas and mashed potato. Every Aussie loves this dish!
Meat pies are a tradition
Known as pie connoisseurs, Aussies love their meat pies. You will find they often drive miles to a bakery in the next suburb for the ‘best’ meat pie for lunch.
The meat pie has many gourmet variations, but I like to keep it simple – a steak pie for me anytime!
What makes a good meat pie? It’s widely believed that the secret is all in the pastry. A good savoury pastry and a selection of delicious flavours will win every time. A good pie shop will have number of choices available including variations of beef with cheese, onion or mushrooms, chicken or curry pies. Try them all.
Low in fat and cholesterol, kangaroo is full of flavour. Best served rare, Kangaroo is also delicious when slow cooked in a flavorsome marinade. Kangaroo is often complemented with the flavours of garlic, pepper, juniper, rosemary and fruity flavors such as plum, red currant and orange.
Aboriginal people have lived on kangaroo for centuries and it’s now offered in many Australian restaurants. Don’t shy away from tasting this tender meat, it’s part of the Aussie experience!
Do you love fresh Seafood?
Australians are keen fishermen (and women) and given that most Aussies live around the coastline or rivers, it’s no surprise that we love our seafood.
Reef fish is popular so be sure to try red emperor, snapper or coral trout if you’re visiting North Queensland. My favourite estuary fish are whiting and flathead. Atlantic Salmon is found more in Tasmania. It’s delicate pink colour and firm texture makes salmon one of the most popular fish choices for most Southerners.
Fish and Chips
Australia has some of the best seafood in the world and that means you’re guaranteed fresh fish wherever you go across the country.
Remember, you have choices!
At a fish ‘n chips shop: Buy a serve of battered fish & some fresh cut chips and sit along the beach front watching the waves roll in. Choose freshly battered snapper, flake or mackerel and squeeze some fresh lemon over it.
In a restaurant: Choose pan-fried Red Emperor, Snapper, Blue Eye or Barramundi. These are best served with a first lightly dressed in a lemon butter sauce. Do try it if you have an opportunity.
Sydney is well-known for its rock oysters, but make sure you try the oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia as they are reputed to be the best flavoured oysters in the world.
Mostly served Natural or Kilpatrick (grilled with bacon and a smokey BBQ sauce) but you may see them with many other dressing options. For something different try an Oyster Shooter!
Prawns, sometimes called shrimps in other countries, can be bought fresh from the trawler or are available from local fish shops.
Most restaurants will have at least one dish with Australian prawns so make sure you try a prawn curry or delicious seafood stir-fry when you visit. Alternatively buy cooked prawns to use in salads or make fresh prawn sandwiches.
Australians love their prawns and there’s nothing that beats that ‘fresh out of the sea’ taste!
Mudcrab is a delicacy
If you get a chance, be sure to try the Mudcrab.
Although the name doesn’t sound very appealing, this crab is a feast on its own. A mudcrab is around 6 inches across the main shell and it’s big chunky nippers are usually choc-a-block full of crab meat.
These hard-shell crabs live in the tropical parts of Australia and are likely on the menu in restaurants specialising in seafood. Restaurants will usually serve them with the shells pre-cracked so all you have to do is … enjoy!
Someone I once knew grew up in a small fishing town, and would take a mudcrab nipper to school for his morning snack.
Rock Lobster or Crayfish tails
Australia is famous for its southern rock lobsters and crayfish tails.
Rock lobsters and painted crayfish are popular for their subtle delicate flavour. Enjoy them cooked in a variety of ways if you have the opportunity. For me, nothing beats a simple char grilled crayfish with lemon and garlic butter. Delicious!
An abundance of Tropical Fruits
Tropical Fruits are grown in the warmest climates of Australia.
You will find a great selection of tropical fruits such as Mango, Pineapple, Dragon Fruit (above), Papaya and Passionfruit and many others throughout Australia. Rare tropical fruits such as Rambutan, Lychee and Mangosteen are grown in the tropical northern regions of Australia.
Make sure you taste them all!
Learn more about tropical fruit including recipes.
The Best Desserts in Australia
A left-over heritage from our young men going to WWI & WWII, these biscuits are quick to make and today, remain everyone’s favourite. ANZAC stands for Australian, New Zealand Army Corps.
Check out our family recipe and whip up a batch of Anzac Biscuits for your friends.
Damper & Billy Tea
Damper is a traditional Australian soda bread, historically prepared by swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travellers. This iconic, easy to make bread was a staple in most Australian kitchens in days gone by.
Made from flour, water and a pinch of salt, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven. Damper is usually served as an accompaniment to a hearty stew or soup.
Many historical tours will offer Billy Tea and Damper with their meals. Billy tea is brewed over the coals of a campfire imparting a delicious smokey ember flavour.
Long considered Australia’s favourite cake, a lamington .
A sponge cake, coated in a thin layer of chocolate icing and covered in desiccated coconut. You will find Lamington’s in all good bakeries or cafes everywhere.
No morning tea is complete without a lamington!
Tim Tams are an all time favourite chocolate biscuit. Two chocolate-malt biscuits with a layer of creamy chocolate sandwiched in between, and then dipped in melted chocolate. Today’s flavour choices are endless and include mint chocolate, iced coffee, white chocolate and more.
For a truly transcendental experience, try the Tim Tam Slam. Bite the diagonal corners off the cookie and use it as a straw to sip on coffee or hot chocolate. Delish!
The infamous Pavlova
A delicious dessert named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. The Pavlova is a delicate meringue with a thin crisp shell and soft, marshmallow centre, served with fruit and whipped cream.
Both Australia and New Zealand claim to have created the dish when Anna Pavlova toured Australasia in the 1920s. The long-running rivalry between Australia and New Zealand remains unresolved.
The Pav remains one of Australia’s favourite desserts. Make sure you try this!
A Cherry Ripe is one of Australia’s most popular chocolate bars.
It’s a delicious snack bar of coconut and cherry fondant smothered in glossy dark chocolate. Definitely not for sharing!
Vegemite is a thick black spread extracted from vegetable and yeast products. It has a strong aroma and a salty flavour. Vegemite is an acquired taste. The tip is, do not spread it too thickly.
Most Aussies love it spread on bread and eaten as a sandwich or have toast and a light spread of Vegemite for breakfast.
Aussies will try to encourage overseas visitors to taste this spread just to watch their reaction. For the record – I’m not a fan!
Visiting Australia soon? Try our traditional Australian favourite foods.
Aussies really do have a few quirky favourite foods
Have you tried toast with Vegemite for breakfast? What about a mango smoothie, a snag on the barbie or try the kangaroo … or perhaps a Tim Tam?
If nothing else, you must try a slice of Pavlova!
Read a few of our favourite posts.
- Australian Travel Tips – Things to know before you go
- Foodie Paradise: the Best Restaurants in Darwin
- Best Australian Wines Under $30 a bottle
- Best Pubs in Darwin to spend Beer O’Clock
- ANZAC biscuits – everyone’s favourite recipe
Which Australian foods did you taste when you visited us Down Under? Did you discover any favourites? I’d love you to let me know in the comments below!