Forget that “toss a shrimp on the Barbie” pitch …
Australian foods are so much more than the much touted Aussie Barbecue – yes, we do BBQ as well but we have more to offer in the culinary space than you may think! Here are 20 Favourite Australian foods you really must try when you’re Down Under.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Early settlers originated from England, Greece, Italy and many other countries as well as our nearby Asian neighbours and have influenced our food with delicious flavours from their homelands.
We’re proud of our multi-cultural heritage and love the foods that have become firm Australian favourites.
Favourite Australian Foods
Aussies are predominately meat and seafood eaters. Rich soils and fertile farming lands mean that our cattle and sheep grow fat and, with the differing climates in Australia, we are able to grow an abundance of quality fruit and vegetables.
Surprisingly, we don’t have a particular food culture, our foods are an eclectic mix of delicious tastes from around the world.
Don’t be surprised to be wowed with delicious treats when you dine Down Under! Expect to enjoy exotic Thai curries, delicious fried rice, char-grilled lobster, delicious Greek treats, juicy steaks and so much more.
Widely known as the only country known to serve up it’s Coat of Arms on a dinner plate, kangaroo and emu are frequently found in top-notch restaurants around Australia.
An Aussie BBQ
Nothing is more Australian than getting friends or family together for a barbecue.
A typical Aussie BBQ is loaded with meats and seafood, rich with marinades and traditionally cooked by the man in the household. 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. Usually served with a selection of salads and other sides, a barbecue is a popular choice when inviting friends for dinner.
A Barbecue is one meal where many of Australian favourite foods are served!
Why not eat the national animal? Aboriginal people have hunted and lived on Kangaroo for centuries and only now is it becoming more available in restaurants around the country.
Kangaroo is at it’s best served rare as it has a tendency to dry out if overcooked but also delicious when slow cooked in a flavorsome marinade. Low in fat, ‘roo is full of flavour when cooked perfectly.
Kangaroo meat is complemented with garlic, pepper, juniper, rosemary and fruity flavors such as plum, red currant and orange. Don’t shy away from tasting this tender game meat, it’s part of the Aussie experience!
The best family dinners are roasts!
Roast lamb with all the seasonings or a roast pork with crackling are the most popular roasts on any family dinner table. Accompanied with crispy roast potatoes, roast pumpkin and a serve of green peas and carrots will put a smile on every face around the table.
Known as pie connoisseurs, Aussies love their meat pies and 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 it’s all in the pastry. A good savoury pastry and a good selection of meat flavours to choose from will hit the mark 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.
Beware! A true Aussie hamburger will come with a slice of beetroot on top a beef pattie. 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!
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. Try buying a serve of battered fish & some fresh cut chips and sit along the beach front watching the waves roll in. There’s nothing like it!
If you have choices, opt for freshly battered snapper, flake or mackerel and make sure you get some fresh lemon to squeeze over it. It really is the best!
Australians are keen fishermen (and women) and given that most Aussies live around the coastline or rivers, it stands to reason 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 farmed in Tasmania its delicate pink colour and firm texture makes salmon one of the most popular fish choices.
You’ll often see the much sought after Barramundi on menus, Try it if you have an opportunity.
Barramundi gets its name from the Aboriginal language meaning “large-scaled river fish.” ‘Barra’ is served in restaurants across the country. Best pan-fried or seared skin-side first lightly dressed in a lemon butter sauce.
Barramundi are a popular fish to catch amongst anglers. Found in the northern parts of Australia, they can grow over a metre long and usually found in saltwater estuaries. Expect a strong fight, these Barramundi are known to be a cunning fish to catch, they often slip the lure just when you think you have exhausted its run.
Sydney is well-known for its rock oysters, and the oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia are reputed to be some of 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!
Be sure to try the Mudcrab and 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.
Someone I knew grew up in a fishing town by the beach, and would frequently take a mudcrab nipper to school for his morning tea (little lunch).
These hard shelled crabs live in the tropical parts of Australia but can be found in restaurants specialising in seafood. Restaurants will usually serve them with the shells already cracked so all you have to do is … enjoy!
Australia is famous for its southern rock lobsters.
Found more frequently in the southern states, rock lobsters are popular for their subtle delicate flavour. Enjoy them cooked in a variety of ways they are a ‘must try’ if you have the opportunity. For me, nothing beats a simple char grilled lobster with lemon and garlic butter.
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. Taste them all!
A left-over heritage from our lads going to war, these biscuits are quick to make and remain everyone’s favourite. (ANZAC stands for Australian, New Zealand Army Corps). Check out our recipe and whip up a batch of Anzac Biscuits for your friends.
Damper & Billy Tea
This iconic, cheap Australian food was the staple of most Australians in days gone by. Originally it was the simplest of recipes. The soda bread is made from flour, water and a pinch of salt, and baked in the coals of a campfire and paired nicely with billy tea.
Today it is often a little more fancy – made with milk and self-raising flour, and eaten as an accompaniment to dunk in a hearty stew or soup.
Billy tea is tea brewed over the coals of a campfire which has a delicious smokey ember flavour. Many historical tours will offer Billy Tea with their meals.
The lamington is often referred to as the “National Cake of Australia.” The National Trust of Queensland even named the lamington one of Australia’s favorite icons.
This square-shaped sponge cake is coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut. It sometimes comes in two halves with a layer of cream or jam in the middle. Found commonly in bakeries or cafes, it’s a perfect accompaniment to tea and coffee.
These popular biscuits are made by Arnott’s Biscuits (originally an Aussie company) who claim that 35 million packets are sold each year.
The much-loved chocolate biscuit is made up of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and coated in melted chocolate. Now available in many flavours and in supermarkets around the world.
The infamous Pavlova
The long-running rivalry between Australia and New Zealand remains unresolved. Both countries claim to have invented the dish in honor of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova when she visited Australasia in the 1920s.
It’s a simple desert of delicate meringue baked slowly to present a crisp lightly toasted shell with a soft marshmallow centre and topped with fresh cream and strawberries or any other fruits of choice.
Truly one of the most favourite of our Australian foods!
Australia’s oldest chocolate bar is still one the most popular chocolate snack bars available. The Cherry Ripe consists of coconut and cherries smothered in dark chocolate. Definitely not for sharing!
This is as Australian as it gets. There won’t be many Aussies who haven’t had a vegemite sandwich or vegemite on their toast for breakfast at least some time in their childhood.
A thick black paste with a strong smell and an interesting yeasty taste. The ingredients are much debated, but it is made from yeast extract. The tip with vegemite is to make sure you don’t plaster it too thick when spreading it on your toast.
We try to ‘encourage’ visitors to taste where possible. Be warned – the vegemite may not be what you think
As a child the advertisements sang out “Happy little vegemites enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and tea”. For the record – I’m not a fan!
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 kangaroo … or perhaps a Tim Tam?
If nothing else, you must try a slice of Pavlova!
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What Favourite Australian foods did you taste when you visited us Down Under? Anything that I’ve not included in this summary? I’d love you to let me know in the comments below!