Iconic Australian Foods & Cuisine

Here’s our one-page guide to Australian cuisines and food culture. Traditional Australian foods are derived from Australia’s English heritage, and of course, from its native indigenous culture. Being a country populated mostly through immigration, it enjoys a wide range of cuisines, many of which have been ‘Australianised’ over the years.

Iconic Australian Foods

IMG: : Stephen Mitchell/Flickr


A yeast extract with spices and other additives including Vitamin B. Popular with locals but its bitter salty taste is usually not so well-liked by visitors! It’s normally spread on buttered toast for breakfast, or for a quick snack, and sometimes on dry biscuits.

IMG: Irene/Flickr

Meat Pie

The meat pie, can be found just about everywhere, but it seems to have a special home at the stadiums hosting the nation’s favourite game, AFL (Australian League Football). Consisting of a meat gravy in a pastry shell, it also has many variants including the Steak and Kidney pie, Egg and Bacon Pie, Shepards Pie (peas, gravy, mashed potato), Chicken Pie, Curry Pie and many more.

IMG: Zeitgeistlondon/Wikipedia


The lamington is an old favourite, a dessert cake best enjoyed while sitting with a cuppa (cup of tea).

A lamington starts with basic vanilla sponge cake and the magic happens when each cube-shaped piece is rolled first in a thick layer of creamy chocolate icing, then coconut flakes or desiccated coconut. Some versions are layered with a jam spread in the centre.

There are debates about who truly invented this chocolate-coated coconut confection. Some credit Queensland cook Emma Warren, while others say it was named after Baron Lamington, a Governor of Queensland in the 1890s.

IMG: PicPick


The pavlova originated sometime in the 1920s, named after a famous ballet dancer. The dessert is unique to Australia and New Zealand.

 This light-as-air meringue base is topped with whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit, most commonly kiwifruit, strawberries and passionfruit.

IMG: Author

Anzac Biscuits

The Anzac biscuit is a delicious chewy biscuit made with rolled oats and golden syrup. Having a long shelf life, it was perfect to send overseas to the Anzac (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) during the war years.

IMG: Malcolm Murdoch/Flickr


Invented by an Australian in the 1920s, it was almost a staple of kids growing up in the 80s and 90s. The wheat biscuit is eaten in a bowl of milk and sometimes topped with banana, honey, sugar, strawberry or other fruit.

Bush Tucker

Bush tucker is the term often used to describe native food sources for survival in the outback as per the traditions of the Australian Aboriginal people that have thrived off the land for thousands of years. This traditional cuisine relies on native plants and animals that are uniquely adapted to the continent’s varied environments.

Kangaroo, emu and wallaby provide lean proteins that were hunted or trapped. Smaller morsels like goanna, possum and witchetty grubs supplemented the diet with coastal communities enjoying shellfish and fresh fish caught in the inland waterways.

Distinct regional varieties of bush tucker also exist. In arid central Australia, bush tomatoes and bush bananas thrive while the tropical north is home to finger limes and bush mangoes. There are reportedly over 350 indigenous plant species that provide nutrition including seeds, leaves, roots and fruits such as bush berries like riberry and a native cranberry. Some of these are added to the staple indigenous bread known as damper.

Damper is a style of bread made from flour and water and cooked straight on top of coals drawn out from the campfire.

In the Australian Home

What you are likely to find on the menu at an Australian home? It’s as diverse as the national itself and here’s what you’ll find at a typical “Aussie” home


Australians love their breakfast and here you’ll find oat porridge; Weetbix and cereals; toast with spreads such as Vegemite, jam, or peanut butter; and occasionally, bacon and eggs that are often served with toast, sausages, grilled tomato or salad.


Sandwiches, Australians love a good sanga’! Simply, two pieces of buttered bread filled with any number of combinations of salads, meats and sauces. A derivative of the sanga, the toastie, is simply a sandwich slapped on the frying pan, browned on each side with a little butter and you are good to go. The number one toastie version is filled with ham, cheese and tomato.

Salads are a popular lunch menu addition or even as a main. There are any number of combinations of ingredients. Potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, or simple lettuce and tomato salad are all popular.


Traditionally, dinner in the Australian family home is a time to come together and sit down for a family meal although, the demands of modern life have seen that become a more fluid event with family members eating to their own schedule.

The traditional Australian dinnertime meal is meat and vegetables. Either roasted or pan-fried, beef or lamb are set beside steamed or roasted vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and potatoes. Lamb, peas, mash potato, and gravy is a popular combo.

The menu of the contemporary Australian household is fairly diverse these days, curry dishes have a special place, as does pasta, and stir-fries.

The Barbecue

IMG: Rawpixel

The ‘barbie’ as it is affectionately known is wildly popular irrespective of class. Australia’s beautiful climate lends itself well to cooking outdoors and that is taken full advantage of, particularly on weekends.

The weekend BBQ involves a trip to the butcher to buy sausages, beef steak, lamb chops, and kebabs while at home, a range of salads will be prepared which may include garden salad or potato salad.

A trip will also be made to the local bottleshop to buy, at the least, beer if it’s a social gathering of friends and family. No barbecue gathering seems complete in Australia without alcohol, undoubtedly with someone who drinks a bit too much and makes an absolute clown of themselves 🙂

Cafe Culture

IMG: Jakub Kapusnak

Cafe culture took off several decades ago in Australia and the country has become one of the most highly renowned for coffee culture and cafe experiences. Walking down any bustling high street, you’ll find cafes teeming with patrons from morning to mid-afternoon. More than just a place to grab a quick coffee, cafes have become social hubs where people congregate to work, chat and relax over hearty breakfast and lunch options.

Many cafes take pride in sourcing ingredients from local farms and food producers to set themselves apart from competitors. You’ll find regional specialties like avocado smashes and personal favourites like fried halloumi and spinach pies.

In terms of aesthetics, cafes run the gamut from sleek industrial spaces to quaint corner shops. One thing uniting them is an emphasis on natural light and comfortable furniture that extends an invitation to just sit and stay. Some even host live music, poetry nights and art exhibitions connecting to larger community cultural themes.

The average price of a Latte in Melbourne for example, often held as the pinnacle of coffee in Australia and perhaps globally, is $6 AUD by averaging 4 of the top coffee houses. It’s near impossible to find simple avocado on toast in any urban area, nowadays it’s “smashed avocado on sourdough toast with fetta cheese, with fresh basil.. etc.” costing anywhere from $15-20 AUD.

Australian Fast Food

Many decades ago, Australian fast food was typified by some local cultural icons that were available at the local “takeaway”. Those iconic foods included dimmies (Dim Sims) an Australian version of a Chinese Dim Sum dumpling and Chiko Rolls which were a massively upscaled version of the Chinese spring roll. As kids, we’d often get the trifecta, a couple of dim sims, a chiko roll, and a potato cake. The potato cake is another icon, quite simply a large oval slice of potato that is battered and deep-fried. In some parts, they are called potato scallops.

The most common variety of take-out found in any town or city, is the fish and chip shop, which will likely have a menu including hamburgers, dim sims, potato cakes, scollops and lots of deep-fried goodies along with fish that can be offered battered and fried, crumbed or grilled. Many of the traditional fish ‘n’ chip shops today are evolving and adding coffee to the menu and some outside chairs, to embrace Australia’s shift to cafe culture. That said, the Chinese and Indian takeaway stores remain as popular as ever.

And, as for the traditional Australian takeaway stores, in densely populated urban areas and to a lesser extent in regional areas, they have mostly been replaced by fast food chains.

The franchise store typifies Australian fast food today, the most popular is Subway closely followed by McDonalds. Other big names seen across the country include Dominos Pizza, KFC, Hungry Jacks (the Australian Burger King), Red Rooster (a local version of KFC), Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria, Opporto, Nandos, and Pizza Hut. For an example of fast food prices in Australia, as of 2024, a medium Big Mac Meal (with fries and coke) is $15 AUD.

Casual Dining

Being an ‘immigration nation’, if you like, most cuisines from across the world are well represented. You won’t go far to find Chinese, Italian, Mexican and the larger the city the more international the offerings will be. Most of the international cuisines in the fast food arena will be tailored to Australian tastes, and in many cases, much different to that of its origin country.

Shopping mall food courts are popular and feature a diverse range of options mostly from franchised fast food stores with a healthy tilt such as juice bars, and fresh sandwich bars along with burgers and the ever-popular cuisines of Thailand, Chinese, India and many more.

Casual dining in Australia ranges from $30-80 AUD per person. Highly rated restaurants in exclusive areas can reach $150+.

Fine Dining

All the major cities in Australia are a food lover’s dream, offering a diverse range of styles, drawing on Australia’s bountiful supplies of fresh produce. In any capital city, the fine dining experiences on offer are often combined with waterfront views, city views, or even offered on harbour cruises.

Typically, fine dining in Australia ranges from $90-150 AUD per person plus drinks with a prevailing theme of beef and seafood, with the occasional Asian twist. Some of the most renowned restaurants in Australia are

Landscape Restaurant

Located in Hobart’s Hunter Street waterfront precinct.

Menu: landscaperestaurant.com.au

Zin House

Located in Mudgee, northeast of Sydney, the restaurant overlooks the Lowe vineyard and farm.

Menu: lowefamilywineco.com.au


Located by the scenic wharf area in Port Douglas, Melaleuca is a consistent award winner.

Menu: lowefamilywineco.com.au

The Gates Restaurant

Located on the grounds of the Leogate Estate in Pokolbin, northeast of Sydney in the beautiful Hunter Valley region.

Menu: leogate.com.au

That wraps up our list (that became an article!) of iconic Australian foods. We hope it was informative and if you felt like we missed something then please shout out. Otherwise, happy feasting!