Cultural Influences on Hill Country Cooking

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Have you ever wondered where certain dishes common in Hill Country cooking come from? The truth is likely not one culture contributed to the iconic dishes of this portion of the state. If you think about Texas history, you’ll realize how many different groups came to the Hill Country to influence the cuisine of this part of the state.


Hill Country Cooking Chicken Fried Steak

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Germans have one of the biggest influences on culture and Texas Hill Country cooking of those who came to the state. Today, sauerkraut, sausages, and potato salads area still frequently served at Hill Country events, though these may not be found as frequently in other parts of the state. It’s perhaps the German dish of wiener schnitzel that chicken fried steak comes from. Instead of using veal, as the traditional recipe does, Texans often substitute tougher cuts of beef, which when cut thinly, pounded, battered, and pan-fried become much more palatable.


Hill Country Cooking Though Texans call it a kolache this is actually a klobasnek.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Though Czech cooking has stronger influences just to the east of the Hill Country, one aspect of this cuisine remains strong throughout the state. Were it not for Czech immigrants, Texans might not enjoy kolaches for breakfast. Though, of course, Hill Country cooking adds a twist to the traditional fruit-filled pastries by wrapping the dough around a sausage instead. Though the proper term for this savory treat is a klobasnek, Texans still call them kolaches. With so many doughnut shops selling these, they’ve fully become integrated into Texas Hill Country cooking.


Hill Country Cooking Tex Mex Food

Photo: Flickr/Wesley Fryer

Mexican food comes from our neighbors to the south. For years, Texas was a part of New Spain, then part of Mexico. Though the only settlements were military outposts, civilians have come across the border in greater numbers since the area began to be settled by non-military personnel. Unlike traditional Mexican food, Tex-Mex incorporates creamy cheeses, flour tortillas, and milder flavors, which better appeal to the Anglos. There would be no Tex-Mex were it not for the strong Mexican influence on Texas Hill Country cooking.

American Southern

Hill Country Cooking A Southern Breakfast with Grits, Bacon, Eggs, and Toast

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Settlers coming from the American South with the Austin colony also brought their cooking tradition. It explains why almost every restaurant in the Hill Country has grits on the breakfast menu, and why greens are also popular. Though many Southern dishes that use pork are more prevalent in East Texas, the Hill Country often substitutes beef. For instance, in barbecue. Because many cattle drives ran through Texas, beef was much more common than pork, which resulted in Texans using that meat for their barbecues.