What are the most popular Hungarian spices?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “What are the most popular Hungarian spices?” We will also discuss these spices in detail.

What are the most popular Hungarian spices?

Some of the most popular Hungarian spices include paprika, caraway seeds, bay leaves, marjoram, garlic, cumin seeds, and dill. Let us discuss these spices in detail:


It is undeniably one of the most popular spices used in Hungarian cuisines. We can say that paprika is of as much significance to Hungarians as turmeric is to Indians. 

In fact, the word paprika is derived from the Hungarian word for pepper, “papar”. It is often known as the king of Hungarian spices. 

Sweet paprika is also known as Hungarian pepper due to its widespread use in Hungarian culture and cuisines. People love to sprinkle some paprika in every possible dish whether they are sweet or savory.

Hungarian pepper is primarily made by grounding a variety of capsicum peppers also known as Noble Sweet. It provides a  very mild pungent pepper flavor and sweetness so it’s mostly used to garnish and add color to the dishes.

Caraway seeds

Caraway seeds are a member of the Apiaceae family, same as carrot, parsley, and cumin. They are grown all over Europe but primarily in the Balkans region which is near Hungary. They are a versatile spice with a slight licorice flavor that is close to anise and are widely used in Hungarian cuisines.

Some of the Hungarian recipes that use caraway seeds are goulash, fozelek, potato dishes, and the caraway seed soup komenymagos leves. People from Transylvania also love to season their handmade pálinka with roasted caraway seeds mixed with sugar.

Bay leaves

Bay leaves, which are native to the Mediterranean region, have been cultivated and used in Hungary for a very long time. They are a very potent spice with a savory and somewhat bitter flavor and are used especially for their herbal and floral notes. Due to their intense flavors, bay leaves are mostly used sparingly in Hungarian recipes that need to be cooked for a longer time.

Bay leaves are one of the primary ingredients in Hungarian stuffed cabbage leaves which are also known as toltott kaposzta. They are also commonly used in braised recipes. Likewise, bay leaves contribute to the deep braised flavor of the bean soup jokai bableves.


This Mediterranean herb is derived from the leaves of the herbaceous marjoram plant which is a member of the Lamiaceae family, the same as mint. It is widely used in many European recipes including the ones from Hungary. 

Its warm and intense flavor profile with some bitter notes is somewhat similar to the flavors of oregano, so it is often used as the Hungarian version of oregano in many recipes. Tokany, a peppered steak meal, is one of the most popular Hungarian recipes that use marjoram. Besides, some goulash recipes also call for marjoram.

The use of marjoram in Hungary is not just limited to the culinary world, but it also has a huge significance in Hungarian culture. In ancient Greece, marjoram was regarded to be the herb of love and was associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.


Garlic is without any doubt the most popular spice that can be used in almost every type of recipe from every corner of the world and Hungarian cuisines are no exception. It is utilized in most savory Hungarian dishes. It arrived in Hungary in the 1400s and has been cultivated in the country’s warmer regions since then. 

Garlic is an important ingredient for goulash, a dish with filled cabbage leaves in Hungary, as well as the steak dish called brassoi apropecsenye. It is also required for the tomato and pepper stew recipe commonly known as lecso in Hungary.


We cannot miss out on dill when we’re talking about the spices in Hungarian households. Dill not only has a unique and appetizing flavor, but it also has numerous medicinal properties. 

It also serves as a natural preservative so it is widely used while making different pickles in Hungary. It is commonly used in pumpkin pottage or fozelek recipes. Find the recipe for fozelek here.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “What are the most popular Hungarian spices?” We have also discussed these spices in detail.



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