Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (2024)


Jennifer McGavin

Jennifer McGavin learned to cook German food while living in Germany for 11 years and has worked in the food industry for many years.

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Updated on 03/6/23

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Diana Rattray

Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (1)

Tested byDiana Rattray

Southern-cuisine expert and cookbook author Diana Rattray has created more than 5,000 recipes and articles in her 20 years as a food writer.

Learn about The Spruce Eats'Editorial Process

Prep: 15 mins

Cook: 18 mins

Total: 33 mins

Servings: 4 servings

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Wiener schnitzel means "Viennese cutlet" in German, and it is one of Austria's most traditional and representative dishes. So much so, in fact, that its definition is fiercely protected by Austrian law. It must be made of veal; when made with any other type of meat, it cannot technically be called Wiener schnitzel.

To make Wiener schnitzel from scratch, thinly pounded veal is dredged in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, traditionally in lard or clarified butter. Although it is deep-fried, it should be a light, tender, and delicate dish. Several steps are key to this result: Beating the eggs thoroughly, pounding the meat thinly, frying it in enough oil and at a hot temperature, and lightly coating it with breadcrumbs (making sure not to press them into the meat) are all important factors.

Wiener schnitzel is almost always served with a wedge of lemon. Common Wiener schnitzel side dishes include cucumber salad, potato salad, and fries.

Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (2)

"The cooking time depends on whether or not you can fit them all in the pan. I made mine with pork that was pounded to about 1/4-inch thick and it was done after a total of 5 minutes cooking time. This was an excellent meal and preparation was fast and easy." —Diana Rattray

Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (3)

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (4)

  2. Place the cutlets between sheets of plastic wrap, and use a heavy, flat-surfaced pan, rollling pin or meat mallet to pound the meat evenly to 1/4-inch thickness.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (5)

  3. To bread the schnitzels,set up 3 shallow dishes: Mix the flour and salt in the first dish, the beaten eggs in the second dish, and the breadcrumbs in the third dish.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (6)

  4. In a large skillet, heat at least 1/4-inch of oil to 350 F. This takes about 8 minutes and the oil will just start to shimmer and smoke a bit.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (7)

  5. Working one at a time, dredge cutlets first in flour until the surface is completely dry.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (8)

  6. Dip in egg to coat, allow the excess to drip off for a few seconds.

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  7. Then roll quickly in the breadcrumbs until coated. Do not press the breadcrumbs into the meat, as this will moisten them and not make for a crispy coating. The crust should not adhere completelybut form a loose shell around the schnitzel.

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  8. Immediately place meat in the pan with the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook the schnitzel in batches, if necessary. Fry the schnitzel for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, until golden brown. Make sure the breaded meat “swims” in fat. Contrary to instinct, the breading will take on less oil than if the meat is sticking to the pan. Also, the breadcrumb topping has a chance to puff up a little, and your cleanup is easier. You may want to swish them around a little with your fork to make sure they are not sticking to the pan.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (11)

  9. Turn them over once and fry an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the meat registers an internal temperature of 145 F. Remove from pan and allow the oil to drain off. Serve in the traditional manner with lemon slices.

    Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (12)


  • As with many simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients is what will make or break your experience. Buy the best quality meat and ingredients that you can afford.
  • Even if you can buy or cut a very thin cutlet, it's important to pound your meat before breading. In addition to making meat thinner, pounding meat also tenderizes it.
  • Avoid old oil or less-than-perfect meat and watch your schnitzel carefully to avoid burning.
  • While Wiener schnitzel is a dish best eaten right after cooking, many people enjoy turning leftover cutlets into a sandwich. Once cool to room temperature, refrigerate the schnitzel in an airtight container; reheat gently and eat it within three days.

Recipe Variations

  • Some people choose to refrain from eating veal due to its cost or animal welfare concerns. Either chicken or pork cutlets can be used in this recipe and should also be pounded until thin.
  • Those seeking a vegetarian option have several substitutions available, including TVP (textured vegetable protein), seitan, and tofu.
  • For a gluten-free alternative, use gluten-free breadcrumbs and flour. Homemade breadcrumbs are easy to make from gluten-free bread. In a pinch, cornstarch will also work as a flour substitute; it will make the cutlet crispier.

What's the Difference Between Schnitzel and Wiener Schnitzel?

Schnitzel describes a "cutlet" of meat that's breaded and fried, and it's used for several dishes with German and Austrian origins. Wiener schnitzel can only be made with veal. Schweineschnitzel uses pork and is traditionally made with pork chops in Germany (in the U.S., pork tenderloin is common). Schnitzel made with chicken breasts is called hähnchenschnitzel, and it's also a favorite in Israel. While jägerschnitzel (hunter's cutlet) often uses pork as well, it was originally made with venison or wild boar. Other types of schnitzels add various gravies.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
36g Fat
61g Carbs
32g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g46%
Saturated Fat 6g29%
Cholesterol 227mg76%
Sodium 691mg30%
Total Carbohydrate 61g22%
Dietary Fiber 4g13%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 4mg19%
Calcium 136mg10%
Iron 5mg28%
Potassium 400mg9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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Traditional Wiener Schnitzel or Viennese Cutlet Recipe (2024)


What is a Wiener Schnitzel traditionally made of? ›

Traditionally, a Wiener Schnitzel is a cutlet of veal pounded thin by a meat tenderizer, then dipped in flour, egg and breadcrumbs (in that order), and fried until golden. Wiener means “Viennese” in German, but the concept behind the Wiener Schnitzel likely first appeared elsewhere (I've read in Milan, Italy).

What is Viennese style schnitzel? ›

When it says Wiener Schnitzel on the menu, it refers to a veal escalope that is fried out in clarified butter. Before breading, the meat is carefully pounded, seasoned and moistened, then dredged in flour, egg and finally breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are not pressed down so that they souffle when they are baked.

What's the difference between Wiener Schnitzel and schnitzel? ›

Basically, all schnitzels are breaded and fried thin pieces of meat, but only wiener schnitzel is made with veal. Cooking term: Schnitzel is a cooking term used to describe any meat pounded thin, then breaded and fried. Key ingredient: Schnitzel is made with pork, chicken, beef, or veal.

What is the difference between a cutlet and a schnitzel? ›

In Germany, the term Schnitzel means cutlets in general, not just breaded, fried ones. Schnitzel Wiener Art ('Viennese style schnitzel') is a pounded, breaded and fried cutlet, more often made of pork than of veal.

What is special about Wiener Schnitzel? ›

A traditional wiener schnitzel is made using a veal cutlet, pounded flat until it's 4mm thick. Other versions of schnitzel use pork, chicken or even plant-based ingredients such as seitan, but these can't rightly be described as 'wiener' ('Viennese').

What country is Wiener Schnitzel from? ›

Wiener schnitzel means "Viennese cutlet" in German, and it is one of Austria's most traditional and representative dishes. So much so, in fact, that its definition is fiercely protected by Austrian law. It must be made of veal; when made with any other type of meat, it cannot technically be called Wiener schnitzel.

What is schnitzel called in America? ›

schnitzel, a thin meat cutlet, pounded until tender and then breaded and fried, that is a culinary staple in German-speaking countries and communities. The Americanized version of the dish is chicken-fried steak.

Why do Jews eat schnitzel? ›

After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and during the period of national rationing that followed (known as the tzena), the new Ministry of Absorption taught housewives how to prepare dishes that utilized ingredients that were both inexpensive and readily available, of which one such dish was chicken or ...

What does Wiener mean in Wiener Schnitzel? ›

Because of course a Wienerschnitzel isn't a kind of hot dog — Wiener doesn't mean “hot dog;” it means “from Vienna” — it's a thin, breaded, fried cutlet traditionally made from veal.

Why is schnitzel so expensive? ›

The costs for the investment of separate transport, slaughtering, butchering and distribution to the shops are relatively high.

What cut of beef is Wiener Schnitzel? ›

Schnitzel. One of the most versatile cuts around, schnitzel is a thin slice of meat achieved by pounding it with a meat tenderiser. This boneless cut is sliced thinly and typically comes from the thick flank.

Is Wiener Schnitzel veal or pork? ›

Wiener schnitzel is a German dish of thin veal cutlets that are breaded and pan-fried.

What does scallopini mean in Italian? ›

Chicken Scallopini comes from the Italian word “scaloppine,” which translates to “small scallops” but has now taken on the meaning of a piece of thinly...

Is scallopini the same as schnitzel? ›

Schnitzel is a German term, scallopini is an Italian term and cutlet is a term used in the UK. All refer to a thin, tenderised piece of meat, typically crumbed and then cooked.

What is the French version of schnitzel? ›

Pariser schnitzel (from German Pariser Schnitzel 'Parisian cutlet') is a schnitzel variation from French cuisine. Unlike Wiener schnitzel, it does not incorporate bread crumbs.

What is real German schnitzel made of? ›

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).

What is the difference between German and Austrian schnitzel? ›

The two most popular types of schnitzel are the German schweineschnitzel, usually made from pork, and the Austrian wiener schnitzel, which is always made from veal.

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