Regional specialities

Each region in Switzerland has its own culinary specialities which can vary quite considerably, influenced by their German, French and Italian neighbours. But they have also produced their own specialities, reflecting the diversity of the Swiss landscape and ways of life and the interaction between adjacent language areas.

Various types of food in baskets
Largely influenced by the three surrounding cultures, Swiss cuisine is a melting pot of Italian, German and French culinary traditions. © FDFA

Specialities from German-speaking Switzerland

Spätzli are small dumplings made with flour, eggs and water. They are found throughout German-speaking Switzerland, especially in the canton of Glarus where they are served with the local Schabziger cream cheese seasoned with dried herbs. The city of Basel is proud of its Läckerli biscuits made with honey and candied peel. A well-known Zurich speciality is Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a dish of finely sliced veal fillet in a creamy mushroom sauce served with rösti. A number of specialities are associated with St Nicholas and the Advent season, such as Lebkuchen gingerbread or Biberli, a pastry filled with almonds. Or Grittibänze, which means 'bow-legged Benny' in Swiss German, a kind of sweet doughboy with raisins for eyes.

Specialities from French-speaking Switzerland

Geneva's traditional dish is a longeole pork sausage flavoured with fennel seeds, which is served with potatoes cooked in white wine. Fribourg is famed for its Gruyère cheese ('the Swiss cheese without the holes') and Gruyère double cream. The cuchaule is a type of brioche bread with saffron, traditionally baked in the canton of Fribourg for market festivals and seasonal holidays. Jura has damassine, a spirit distilled from damson plums, and a bread loaf decorated with the canton's coat of arms. Meanwhile, the canton of Neuchâtel has absinthe, a spirit of international renown. Valais is especially famous for its wines and for raclette. Its traditional rye bread is the only Swiss bread to have been awarded the prestigious AOP label (protected designation of origin) to date. In Vaud, the saucisson vaudois is a regional favourite.

Specialities from Italian-speaking Switzerland

Specialities from the canton of Ticino – such as osso bucco, polenta, risotto ticinese and minestrone soup – are heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Ticino is also an important wine-producing region, particularly for Merlot. The canton has its own regional bread, a white loaf made of several smaller loaves, and panettone, a brioche loaf studded with candied peel and raisins. 

Specialities from Graubünden

The best-known Graubünden specialities are Bündnerfleisch (air-dried beef), Engadine walnut cake and barley soup. Other regional dishes include pizokels (buckwheat pasta), capuns (rolls of chard filled with spätzli dough and pieces of meat) and maluns (grated potato mixed with flour and slowly fried in butter). The typical brown bread is made with wheat and rye flour and baked in a ring shape.