When you move to Australia, probably one of the first set of cultural experiences you’ll have is with food. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of 19 iconic Australian foods you need to try when you move down under.
When South Africans, Kiwis, and Aussies move to the UK, they often talk about the ‘Heathrow injection’. It’s the 5-10kgs that seem to appear suddenly out of nowhere around your body, and obviously has nothing to do with you eating all the new sweets, chocolates, ice-creams and other treats you’ve never seen before so of course just HAVE to try.
Australia has lots of brands and foods that as South Africans, we will recognize, but also have heaps of shiny new things we’ve not come across before.
My best advice would be try not to buy them all at the same time! Maybe limit yourself to one or two new treats in your regular food shop, otherwise you’re going to get an ‘Aussie injection’ for sure.
Here are some of what I think are the biggest and most iconic Australian foods you need to try when you move to Australia.
Iconic Australian Foods You Need To Try
This should be the first thing on your list – is there any food more iconic than a Tim Tam? With about a bajillion flavours to choose from, and so many limited edition ones too, you’ll find they’re a bit like Pringles – once you pop you can’t stop.
Another Aussie staple in most homes is Vegemite. Technically similar to Marmite but I believe tastes nothing the same. I’ve somehow managed to survive 7 years in Australia without trying Vegemite – maybe I need to take my own advice and have a taste sometime!
Lemonade Icy Poles
There’s nothing more refreshing on a 40-degree day than an icy pole. Often referred to for all flavours of iced treats (water based ones, not ice creams), the original icy pole is actually a lemonade flavor and the leading brand is Peters. But all supermarkets seem to have their own brand version of icy poles so go forth and find your favourite.
There are very few things I don’t eat, and coconut is one of them. For that reason alone, I’ve not tried a Lamington before. This classic Aussie cake is a butter sponge cake, dipped in melted chocolate and then rolled in coconut – yuck for me, but you might love them.
There’s an age old debate about whether this fruity dessert was invented in Australia or New Zealand, which is ironic given it’s named after a famous Russian ballerina. It’s a staple dessert at most Aussie Christmas gatherings or bbqs – a crisp meringue base topped with fruit and whipped cream. Impossible to avoid for long or you can make your own.
Named after WW1, Anzac biscuits have actually been around since the early 1800s. They’re oaty biscuits that got their current name because families of Aussie and Kiwi soldiers (the ANZACs) made and sent these biscuits to their loved ones as they lasted for long periods without spoiling. You can read more about their history here.
Of all the ice creams I’ve tried so far in Australia, this is my favourite. Toffee and vanilla ice-cream dipped in chocolate and honeycomb biscuits – what more could you want?
Even though it sounds Italian, chicken parmigiana (or chicken parmi as the Aussies call it) was actually created by Italian migrants to Australia and America. It consists of a breaded chicken breast, covered in tomato sauce and cheese (usually mozzarella, parmesan or provolone). Often a slice of bacon or ham is inserted to the breast as well. Most restaurants will have a version of this on their menus.
I only recently discovered these while looking for individually wrapped sweets for one of my digital marketing workshops. They’re pieces of chewy caramel fudge coated in milk chocolate. What’s so cool about these is that the wrappers have movie, TV, and pop culture facts on them – being the massive film nerd that I am, I just love these!
If you’ve not been to Bunnings before you’re clearly missing out. Not just on the entire store but their legendary snags. Of course, as a South African, nothing really matches up to our classic boerie roll but this is about as close as the Aussies come to one of them.
It’s just an Aussie sausage in a bun, but sometimes they don’t even use rolls, they just chuck the sausage into a slice of bread and fold it over! The main thing you’ll notice is the smell though – there’s nothing quite like the smell of a Bunnings sausage sizzle.
This ice cream comes in 3 main flavours – chocolate, banana, and rainbow. Very popular with kids and a true Aussie classic.
A super simple chocolate, this one is just a chocolate frog, but there are 3 kinds to try – plain milk, milky top (which is just a mix of milk and white chocolate), and the strawberry one which is filled with a strawberry creme.
Whenever we have sweets for trick or treaters at Halloween, these are the first to go. Little chocolate koalas filled with caramel – who can blame them?
There are heaps of different savoury crackers to discover, but the most popular ones seem to be Arnott’s Shapes. They come in loads of different flavours like pizza, barbeque, cheddar, and even vegemite and cheese.
These are one of Mr 9’s favourites – they’re super addictive though and you can easily polish a bag off in no time. Still, Ghost Pops are better.
Australia is known for it’s meat pies but honestly I think even the Engen pies at 3am after a night out are better than some of the pies here! At kids parties, you’ll often see mini sausage rolls and mini pies called party pies. They’re basically just beef pies in mini version and you can get them in the frozen aisle in any supermarket.
Freckles come in all shapes and sizes – from mini ones to giant ones as big as your head. It’s a disc of chocolate covered in hundreds and thousands and a true icon of Aussie food. The ones from the Margaret River Chocolate Factory are particularly good.
Now this certainly isn’t my cup of tea, but as they say, when in Rome! All kangaroo meat is from wild kangaroos – none are farmed. It’s also super low in fat making it one of the leanest red meats you can eat. Read more about kangaroo meat here.
The Classic Aussie Burger
A classic Aussie burger on any menu around the world is a beef burger topped with cheese, bacon, pineapple and beetroot. One of my favourite places for burgers is Grill’d where they serve beef, chicken, lamb and veggie burgers of all kinds – you can even mix and match your burgers and toppings. Definitely check it out if you haven’t been – and a meal there won’t break the bank either – once you’ve stopped converting anyway.
And there you have it – 19 iconic Australian foods you need to try when you come to Australia.
How many of them have you tried? And what would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.
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