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 well but we have so much more to offer than you may think! Here are 20 of my favourite Australian foods to try when you’re visiting 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. Expect to enjoy exotic Thai curries, delicious fried rice, char-grilled lobster, delicious Greek treats, juicy steaks and so much more.
Australia is the only country to serve it’s Coat of Arms on a dinner plate. Kangaroo and emu are frequently found in some of the best 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 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. Usually served with a selection of salads, a barbecue is a popular choice when inviting friends for dinner.
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.
Low in fat, ‘roo is full of flavour when cooked perfectly. Kangaroo is at it’s best served rare but also delicious when slow cooked in a flavorsome marinade. Kangaroo is complemented with the flavours of 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 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.
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, 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!
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.
These hard shelled crabs live in the tropical parts of Australia but are often found in restaurants specialising in seafood. Restaurants will usually serve them with the shells already cracked so all you have to do is … enjoy!
Someone I knew grew up in a fishing town by the beach, and would frequently take a mudcrab nipper to school for his morning snack.
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 family 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 bread is made from flour, water and a pinch of salt and baked in the coals of a campfire. It will often be paired with a cup of billy tea.
Today it is a little more fancy. You will often find fresh damper served 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 considered 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 rolled in desiccated coconut. It sometimes comes in two halves with a layer of cream or jam in the middle. Found in all good bakeries or cafes.
No morning tea is complete without a lamington.
These popular biscuits are made by Arnott’s Biscuits company. Originally an Australian company, Arnott’s claim that 35 million packets of Tim Tams are sold each year.
Tim Tams are a much-loved biscuit with layers of chocolate-malt biscuit, separated by a light chocolate filling and dipped in melted chocolate. Delish!
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.
Pavlova is a delicate meringue desert baked slowly to present a crisp lightly toasted shell with a soft marshmallow centre. Its served 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 the Cherry Ripe and it’s 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!
Vegemite is as about Australian as you can get.
What is vegemite?
Vegemite is a thick black paste with a strong aroma. Most Aussies love it spread on bread and eaten on as a sandwich or have toast with a light spread of vegemite for breakfast.
Aussies will try to encourage overseas visitors to taste this spread just to watch the reaction. The tip is, don’t plaster it too thick when spreading it on your toast.
Vegemite is an acquired taste. 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!
Read next: Planning a trip to Australia
Visiting us soon? Pin this for later.
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!