Traditional Australian Foods you have to try in Australia

Traditional Australian Foods: 13 Dishes You Need to Try!

Chicken parmigiana, meat pies, and barramundi, the best Australian foods are as varied as this continent-sized country is vast. Australians are known for their barbecues, Tim Tams, and Vegemite, and whether you love it or hate it, Vegemite is a national dish of Australia

While typical Australian foods were traditionally rooted in European cooking – chicken parmigiana and fish and chips, for example – increasingly, chefs are turning to the impressive range of native ingredients that have for so long gone under the radar. Kangaroo steaks, wattleseed, and lemon myrtle – visit any fine-dining Australian restaurant today, and you can absorb yourself in Aboriginal flavors. 

With so many great Australian dishes to try, you might not know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to eat in Australia for you. Stick to these iconic Australian foods, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time eating your way around this spectacular part of the world. 

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13 Traditional Australian Foods to Try

1. Meat Pies

Best Foods to Try List in Australia: Meat Pies

Meat pies are one of the most famous Australian dishes you’ll encounter during your travels. Considered a national dish of Australia, the meat pie consists of minced meat, gravy, and onions, all stuffed into a round pastry package. 

Generally speaking, the classic meat pie recipe contains beef, but the all-encompassing “meat” ingredients often consist of a jumble of kangaroo, camel, and even buffalo meat. But pie shops across Australia are also incredibly creative with their recipes. 

As well as the original meat pies, you can try everything from chicken and leek to surf and turf, with takeaway pie shops (which you’ll find in every town in Australia) often stocking an impressive range of flavors. 


2. Chicken Parmigiana 

Traditional Foods to Try in Australia: Chicken Parmigiana

Pop into any pub in Australia and you’ll see chicken parmigiana on the menu. The parmy is a staple of Australian cuisine, but its true origins – a mix of Italian and American influences – are shrouded in mystery.

The standard parmy recipe beloved by Aussies nationwide is prepared by covering a crispy, breaded schnitzel in cheese and tomato sauce (it’s a far cry from the Italian eggplant parmigiana!). The parmy, dripping with mozzarella, is then served with chips and salad (and probably a beer). 


3. Vegemite

Unique Foods to Try in Australia: Vegemite

Vegemite is one of the most iconic Australian foods that you’ll either love or detest. You’ll make your mind up in the first tasting, and if you love it, you’ll wonder where Vegemite has been hiding for your whole life. If you hate it (which many do), you’ll wonder how Australians can consume Vegemite on such a scale as they do. 

With its distinctive yellow and red branding, Vegemite is a dark-brown spread that’s made from leftover yeast extract. It doesn’t sound appetizing at all, but being high in Vitamin B and other nutrients, Vegemite was popularized during the World Wars when food imports were rationed. 

Like Marmite, its British equivalent, Vegemite is best enjoyed spread over a piece of white toast or in a Vegemite sandwich. 


4. Tim Tams

Local Foods to Try List in Australia: Tim Tams

Tim Tams are a typical Australian biscuit, and you can stock up on big multipacks in all good supermarkets before heading off on your next road trip. 

This popular sweet treat consists of two chocolate biscuits stuck together with a creamy chocolate filling, with several alternative varieties, including caramel or mint flavorings. 

Tim Tams are often dunked into a hot beverage. Extreme Tim Tam lovers often brave a Tim Tam Slam, which involves using the biscuit as a straw through which the hot beverage is drunk. 


5. Pavlova

Australia Foods to Try List: Pavlova

Named for a Russian ballerina (Anna Pavlova, who toured the world in the early 20th century), the Pavlova is a timeless Australian dessert that’s made like a meringue. 

Whip up your meringue mix (using egg whites, sugar, lemon juice, and corn flour), bake in the oven, allow it to set overnight, and then decorate with whipped cream and fruit (strawberries are a particularly popular topping for the Pavlova!). 

Pavlovas can be purchased in bakeries and cake shops across Australia, but the best are almost always homemade. They’re typically prepared for special occasions and dinners, including Christmas Day. 


6. Sausage Sizzle

Must Try Foods in Australia: Sausage Sizzle

A sausage sizzle is one of the best traditional Australian foods you can try. A sausage sizzle is simple, consisting of a grilled or barbecued sausage served in a bun or between slices of bread. You might add a few fried onions and a dollop of ketchup or mustard, but this dish doesn’t get any more extravagant than the sauce you add. 

But a sausage sizzle has come to symbolize Aussie values of equality and community. The nationwide hardware store Bunnings, for example, gives away free sausage sizzles to shoppers, while fundraisers and charity events typically sell sausage sizzles to raise money. 

On election days in Australia (where it’s a legal requirement for every citizen to vote), voters are enticed to the polls with a sausage sizzle, which is also known as the “Democracy Sausage.” 


7. Barramundi

What to Eat in Australia: Barramundi

One of the best Australian dishes is the barramundi, a specific species of fish that’s hugely popular in restaurants and fish and chip shops across the country. The name “barramundi” comes from an Aboriginal language in Queensland, meaning “large-scaled river fish.” 

Barramundi is a type of seabass, and given its soft, white texture, it’s an incredibly versatile seafood. Fine dining restaurants will serve barramundi grilled in a lemony sauce, Asian restaurants can prepare seafood curries using chunks of barramundi, and fish and chip shops will batter and fry big filets of barramundi for their customers. 


8. Fish and Chips

Australia Foods to Eat: Fish and Chips

If you love fried fish, then you’ll be happy to know that fish and chips is one of the most popular Australian foods. Although the dish is typically associated with the United Kingdom (where it’s a national dish), Aussies also know how to cook up great fish and chips. 

In fact, the first fish and chip shop in Australia is thought to have opened way back in the 1890s. Given that 90 percent of Australians live along the coast, they’re perfectly placed when it comes to sourcing fresh seafood ingredients. 

This dish consists of a large piece of fish (generally basa or barramundi) deep-fried in a crispy batter and then served with chips, mushy peas, and tartar sauce. 


9. Smashed Avo

Avocados (or avos) are big business in Australia, and you’ll see them on breakfast and brunch menus across the country. One of the most popular brunch dishes is smashed avo, consisting of mashed avocados seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and other spices. 

Smashed avo is typically served on toast (it’s great with sourdough) and may be served as part of a wider breakfast or brunch meal, which might include poached eggs, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, or sausage. 


10. Kanga Bangas

Best Foods to Try List in Australia: Kanga Bangas

Kangaroos are found in the millions across Australia, and while tourists love seeing these unique animals in the wild, it should also come as no surprise that the kangaroo meat industry is thriving.

Visit any supermarket in Australia and you’ll find kangaroo for sale in the meat aisle. Often, it’s sold as kangaroo burgers or steaks, but more popularly, it’s sold as sausages, known as “Kanga Bangas.”

Kangaroo meat is gamey in texture and flavor, and Kanga Bangas are the perfect addition to a barbecue!


11. Barbecue

Best Foods to Try List in Australia: Barbecues

Nothing beats a good old-fashioned Aussie barbecue, and given the hot weather and outdoor lifestyle enjoyed by the locals here, barbecues are a timeless Australian tradition. 

Every Aussie has a gas-fired or coal-fired barbecue ready to go in their garden, while public parks, beaches, and campsites across the country are always kitted out with communal barbecues that are free for anyone to use.

Finding a barbecue is no challenge in Australia – you just need to provide the food to grill. Classic barbecue ingredients include burgers, steaks, prawns, fish, sausage sizzles, and Kanga Bangas, which are grilled and served in buns, with your choice of sides and veg. Just don’t forget the cold beers!


12. Bush Tucker

Traditional Foods to Try in Australia: Bush Tucker

Bush tucker should really be considered the most traditional Australian food because this unique type of cuisine encompasses a broad range of indigenous ingredients and Aboriginal cooking styles. 

Bush tucker fruits and spices like wattleseed, lemon myrtle, and quandongs are becoming increasingly popular among fine dining chefs, and you can often find these ingredients fused with international dishes. 

Bush tucker dishes also include local meats, which are also becoming increasingly popular in mainstream restaurants. You might find crocodile and emu on tasting menus, while kangaroo meat has long been an Australian staple. 


13. ANZAC Biscuits 

Unique Foods to Try in Australia: ANZAC Biscuits 

ANZAC biscuits are a traditional Australian food steeped in history. Named after the ANZACS (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), who fought overseas during the First World War, ANZAC biscuits are baked using a mixture of rolled oats, flour, golden syrup, butter, sugar, and coconut.

The biscuits were prepared at home by the wives and families of soldiers serving abroad. The ingredients were designed to be long-lasting in order to survive the long journeys to the front lines, where they were much welcomed by the soldiers. 

After the war, the ANZACs became an integral part of both Australia and New Zealand’s new nation-building mythologies as they began to define themselves as independent countries. So too have the ANZAC biscuits entered into Australia’s national mythology as well. 

There you have it! The 13 best Australian foods you have to try. What’s your favorite traditional Australian food?


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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