The Difference Between Schnitzel And Wienerschnitzel

Schnitzel and wienerschnitzel are both beloved Germanic classics. Either crunchy entree on a plate with some sauerkraut and warm potato salad followed by some black forest cake (schwarzwälder kirschtorte) comprise a dinner menu so German, your guests would have to say danke instead of thank you.

Fast food restaurant Holy Schnitzel, says both dishes hail from what is now Germany in the middle ages. My German Recipes describe a perfect schnitzel as airy and crisp on the outside, and juicy on the inside, and to achieve this they suggest cooking the schnitzel in clarified butter. In a similar fashion, an expertly prepared wiener schnitzel traps air within its crust to maintain the meat's juiciness, explains The Guardian. Those are just some ways in which the two dishes have much more in common than that which differentiates them — in fact, what really sets them apart is all about what's inside.

A finer point of schnitzel etiquette

Essentially, all wiener schnitzels are schnitzels, but not all schnitzels are wiener schnitzels. As Kitchn explains, schnitzel is a broad term for any meat cutlet that is thin-sliced then breaded and fried. Only schnitzel that is made of veal; meat from a calf, can be called wiener schnitzel, though. In fact, schnitzel is a more appropriate term for the cooking method than the dish, Kitchn says.

If you label another kind of schnitzel-prepared meat wiener schnitzel, most people in most places probably won't take the offense too seriously. However, in Austria and Germany, mislabeling your cuts of other meats as wiener schnitzel can actually get you into trouble. As the BBC points out, in both countries there are actual regulations about what restaurants can legally sell as wiener schnitzel. To pass muster in Austria, the BBC says, it has to be a cut of veal. Any other meat must bear a different name on menus.

If you'd like to get a taste of wiener schnitzel and compare it to other schnitzel meats, Roamilicious has a list of the best German restaurants in the United States. If you'd prefer to steer clear of veal, chicken and pork schnitzels provide great alternatives according to Craft Beering. Just be sure to not refer to them as wiener schnitzels.