Guten Tag, fellow food lovers! Are you ready to take a delicious journey through Germany with our mouthwatering list of the best traditional German foods to try? From hearty bratwursts and the comforting taste of schnitzels to warm pretzels and Flammekuechen, these are the names of the country’s most popular dishes not to miss. So, put on your lederhosen (or dirndl), and pick your favorites of the cuisine. Guten Appetit!
Popular German Foods Bucket List with Names of the Best Traditional Dishes
Apfelstrudel (or apple strudel) is a popular treat in Germany, especially during the winter months, and has a long history dating back to the 17th century. This delicious dessert consists of a thin pastry dough filled with sliced apples, raisins, cinnamon, sugar, and sometimes nuts or breadcrumbs. It is usually baked until golden and crispy, and served warm with whipped cream, vanilla sauce, or ice cream.
Recipe: Apple Strudel by Amy
Translating to “farmer’s bread” in German, Bauernbrot is a type of German bread that is robust, crusty, and delicious. It is a staple in many rural households, made with rye flour, sourdough starter, and various seeds and grains. Because of its robust texture and flavor, it is perfect for sandwiches, soups, cheese boards, or just slathering with butter and jam.
A traditional winter and Christmas treat, Bratapfel is a German dish of baked apples that are cored and stuffed with butter, sugar, nuts, raisins and sometimes marzipan, often served with vanilla sauce or ice cream. Bratapfel is usually made with an apple variety called Belle de Boskoop, which is tart and firm.
If you’re looking for a hearty and comforting German meal that is easy to make and enjoy, you can’t go wrong with Bratkartoffeln. Also known as ‘German fried potatoes,’ this traditional dish is made with boiled potatoes that are thinly sliced and pan-fried until crispy and golden. It is then mixed in with other ingredients like bacon, onions, and herbs. You can serve this one as a side dish or as a main course with eggs, pickles, or salad.
The bratwurst is probably one of the most iconic German cuisines in the world. This German sausage is made from finely chopped pork, beef, or veal and then seasoned with marjoram, nutmeg, and white pepper. It is often pan-fried or grilled after being poached. Bratwurst is also a popular fast food in Germany and can be served with bread, mustard, sauerkraut, or potato salad.
Known as “butter cheese,” Butterkase is a type of cheese that originated in Germany and Austria. And as you may have guessed from the name, it has a buttery flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. It is made from cow’s milk and has a high fat content of about 50%.
Butterkase is often used for melting, as it can enhance dishes like grilled cheese, fondue, mac and cheese, or pizza. It can also be enjoyed on its own with crackers or bread.
Currywurst is a beloved German snack that you can find at many street stands, made of pork sausage that is steamed, fried, and cut into pieces. It is usually covered with a tomato-based curry sauce, often garnished with a sprinkle of more curry powder for an extra kick. The sausage pairs well with some fries or bread rolls.
If you love cake and chocolate, you might want to try Donauwelle. Drawing inspiration from the Danube River’s waves, Donauwelle showcases alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla sponge cake, with sour cherries in between (which sink to the bottom while baking, causing a wavy pattern inside). The top is then covered with buttercream and chocolate glaze. Because of its colors, it is also sometimes referred to as ‘Snow White’ cake.
9. Döner kebab
Hailing from Turkish origins, Döner kebab has become a German fast food and street food staple with its affordable price and large portions. It features slices of lamb, beef, or chicken shaved from a rotating spit, enveloped in a flatbread alongside a medley of veggies and tantalizing sauces, giving a flavorsome and convenient meal option especially after a night out.
Aptly named “one pot,” Eintopf embodies the heartwarming tradition of German home cooking. It’s a soup or stew that has meat, vegetables, and sometimes grains or legumes, all cooked in a single pot (hence the name.) Some people also like to add lemon juice or white vinegar to make it more tasty.
Because of its versatility when it comes to its ingredients, you’ll find different versions of the dish in various regions of Germany, like Pichelsteiner and Linseneintopf.
A Fischbrötchen, which translates to “fish roll” in German, is something you might want to try if you’re in Northern Germany. This seaside delight is a sandwich made with fish (often herring, salmon, or mackerel) and other stuff like onions, pickles, and sauces. It’s quite a popular street food that you can get from fast-food stands near the sea. It’s simple but tasty!
Flammekuechen (also known as tarte flambée) is a dish similar to pizza that comes from Alsace, a border region between France and Germany. It is a thin, crispy flatbread usually topped with crème fraîche, bacon, and onions. Other ingredients like cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, or even fruits can also be added. It is baked quickly in a hot oven, giving it a crispy and smoky flavor.
13. Frankfurter Grüne Sauce
Frankfurter Grüne Sauce is a traditional cold herb sauce from Frankfurt, Germany. It is made with sour cream, boiled eggs, spices, and seven fresh herbs: borage, chervil, cress, parsley, salad burnet, sorrel, and chives.
The sauce is served with boiled potatoes and hard-cooked eggs, and sometimes with meat or fish. It is a popular dish in springtime, especially on Maundy Thursday, which is called Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday) in German.
14. German Potato Salad
German potato salad is a delicious side dish that can be served hot or cold. It is made with boiled potatoes, bacon, onion, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Some versions also add parsley, dill, or other herbs.
Unlike American potato salad, German potato salad uses a vinegar-based dressing instead of mayonnaise, which gives it a tangy and sweet flavor that goes well with sausages, schnitzel, or other meat dishes. It is also fairly easy to make and can be enjoyed any time of the year.
A classic German game dish, Hasenpfeffer (or hare pepper) features marinated and slow-cooked rabbit meat, often in a rich wine-based sauce, accompanied by aromatic spices, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish that embodies rustic German culinary traditions. It is usually served with dumplings, noodles, or potatoes and makes for a hearty and tasty meal for those cold winter days.
16. Himmel un ääd
Himmel un ääd is a simple but satisfying German dish that dates back to the 18th century. The name translates to “heaven and earth,” and is made with mashed potatoes (earth) and applesauce (heaven) along with slices of black pudding. Sometimes, it is also served with fried onions and blood sausage.
Kartoffelklöße (or kartoffelknödel) are large potato dumplings that you can eat with different kinds of sauces or meats. They are made with potatoes, eggs, and some starch and spices, and is often served as a side dish, absorbing the savory essence of accompanying gravies and sauces. For added texture and taste, bread cubes or bacon bits can be included.
Kartoffelpuffer are crispy potato pancakes made from finely grated raw potatoes mixed with egg, onion, flour, and seasonings. They are fried in oil until crispy and golden and can be served sweet or savory. You can enjoy it with a dollop of apple sauce, sour cream, powdered sugar, or yogurt-herb sauce.
Käsekuchen, or “cheesecake,” is a traditional German dessert that is made with quark, a fresh and creamy cheese similar to yogurt. The quark gives the cheesecake a light and fluffy texture, while eggs, cream and sugar add sweetness and richness. Käsekuchen usually has a simple crust made with butter and flour, and sometimes it is topped with powdered sugar or fruit.
If you love cheese and pasta, you should definitely try Käsespätzle! This traditional German food consists of homemade egg noodles called spätzle, layered with shredded Swiss cheese, such as Emmentaler or Gruyere, and topped with caramelized onions. The pasta is then baked in the oven until the cheese melts and forms a gooey sauce.
Kassler features cured and smoked pork, similar to gammon. It can be made from different cuts of pork, such as necks, loins, ribs, shoulders or bellies. It is usually smoked with alder or beechwood and served with sauerkraut and potatoes. No one really knows where it got its name from, but one thing is certain: it is a warm and comforting food you’ll surely be craving for.
22. Königsberger klopse
This dish from East Prussia offers a balance of flavors and textures that’s both satisfying and refined. Königsberger Klopse are tender meatballs made from ground meats (usually veal, beef, or pork) mixed with bread crumbs, eggs, onion and anchovy paste.
The meatballs are simmered in beef (or vegetable) broth with bay leaves and onions. The (used) broth is also used to make the sweet-and-sour sauce/gravy, which usually consists of butter, flour, sour cream, lemon juice, egg yolk, and most importantly, capers.
Hailing from Northern Germany, Labskaus is a maritime specialty that combines corned beef, potatoes, beetroot, and onions into a hearty mixture, often topped with a fried egg, pickles, or rollmops (which are pickled herring fillets). Aside from being delicious, it is also said to be a good cure for hangovers and as a warm meal for cold days.
Maultaschen are a kind of German stuffed pasta that look like big ravioli. They come from the Swabian region of Germany and have an anecdotal story of being eaten during Lent to hide the meat from God. The filling is usually made with ground beef, pork, spinach, onions, and spices. You can eat them in broth, fried with butter and onions, or with eggs and herbs.
25. Pfannkuchen or Eierkuchen
Looking for a delicious and easy breakfast? Then you should definitely have a taste of Pfannkuchen or Eierkuchen. These are the names for German pancakes, which are thin and large, similar to French crêpes. They are made with simple ingredients like flour, milk, eggs, salt, and sometimes sparkling water or baking powder for extra fluffiness. You can enjoy them with sweet or savory fillings such as jam, Nutella, fruit, cheese, or ham.
26. Pinkel mit grünkohl
If you’re looking for a hearty winter dish from Germany, you might want to try Pinkel mit grünkohl. It’s a combination of cooked kale (Grünkohl), mustard, bacon, and a special sausage called Pinkel, which is made with oats, bacon, pork, and spices like allspice and cloves.
Traditionally, Germans would go on Kohl-und-Pinkel-Touren (“kale and pinkel trips”) to celebrate winter, which involves going on a hike and eating the dish with some schnapps afterwards.
Another German icon, the knot-shaped pretzel showcases a twisted, salted dough that’s baked to a golden brown. Pretzels can be soft or hard, salty or sweet, and sometimes have toppings like cheese, chocolate, or nuts. You can also enjoy them with a variety of dips like jalapeno cheese and mustard.
Pumpernickel is a dense, dark rye bread known for its rich flavor and dense texture. This German bread is made from rye flour and has a slightly sour and nutty flavor that comes from the long baking process. Pumpernickel is often sliced thinly and eaten with various toppings, from cheese to butter to cold cuts.
Rinderroulade is a classic German dish that consists of thin slices of beef rolled up with bacon, onion, mustard and pickles. The rolls are then browned and simmered in a broth or wine sauce until tender. And to round off the dish, a rich gravy is poured over the meat. Popular sides for rinderroulade include pickled red cabbage, mashed potatoes, potato dumplings, and spätzle (German egg noodles.)
The rollmop: where tangy meets twirl. This German appetizer presents herring fillets rolled around pickles and onions, often marinated in vinegar and herbs. All of these combined offer a unique blend of flavors and textures that’s both refreshing and appetizing. They are usually held together by a cocktail skewer and served cold with bread. It is also a popular side dish for labskaus, another German dish.
Considered to be a national dish of Germany, sauerbraten consists of a roast meat marinated in a sour and spicy mixture of vinegar, wine, herbs and spices. It is then slow-cooked until tender and served with a rich gravy made from the marinade. Different kinds of meat can be used for the dish, such as beef, venison, lamb, pork or horse. It pairs well with sides like potato dumplings, potato pancakes, and spätzle.
Sauerkraut has made a name for itself as a tangy and probiotic-rich dish that’s become a staple in various culinary traditions worldwide. It is made from finely cut raw cabbage fermented by different lactic acid bacteria. Its unique fermentation process not only enhances its flavor but also offers potential health benefits, making it a must-try item for those seeking both culinary adventure and wellness.
A fun fact about sauerkraut is that although it is a German word, it is believed to have originated elsewhere, most likely in Europe during the period of the Western Roman Empire.
Like many countries worldwide, Germany also has its fair share of weird dishes. One of the best examples of this is saumagen, a traditional meat dish from the Palatinate region of Germany which translates to “sow’s stomach.” It features a mixture of potatoes, pork, onions and spices stuffed in a pig’s stomach casing, which is then fried or roasted, making it crispy.
Saumagen is usually served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, and paired with dry white wine or beer. Although it might be off-putting, this quirky culinary delight deserves a spot on your bucket list.
Recipe: Saumagen recipe by Cookipedia
The sausage is probably one of the most diverse and delicious meat products in Germany that have long been a staple of its cuisine and culture. They are typically made from pork, beef, or veal, and seasoned with various spices and herbs, and can be cooked in various ways.
With over 1,200 to 1,500 varieties of German sausages, you’ll have plenty of options to savor on your epicurean journey. Some of the most popular ones are bratwurst, bockwurst, knockwurst, mettwurst, and braunschweiger.
This German classic is a masterclass in culinary simplicity. It is a thin slice of meat (usually pork or veal) coated with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, then fried until golden and crispy.
Schnitzel is usually eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice or with side dishes like potato salad and fries. The contrast between the tender meat, crunchy crust, and the tangy flavor of the lemon juice makes for a satisfying meal that will surely make you ask for seconds.
36. Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte
When it comes to German cakes, Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte is probably one of the best. This famous German dessert consists of layers of chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, and cherries soaked in kirsch brandy (Kirschwasser.) The cake is then decorated with more whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh or candied cherries.
Schweinshaxe is a German dish that consists of a roasted ham hock or pork knuckle. It is a classic peasant food that requires a lengthy and slow cooking process to make the tough cut of meat more palatable.
This results in a meat that is tender and juicy and a skin that is crispy and crackling. Schweinshaxe is especially popular in Bavaria, where it is served with potato dumplings, red cabbage, sauerkraut, or potatoes.
Though the name sounds like it should be on our Italian Food Bucket List, Spaghettieis is actually a delightful ice cream dessert. It was created by Dario Fontanella, an ice cream maker in Mannheim, in 1969.
Vanilla ice cream is pressed through a potato ricer or a spaetzle press to resemble pasta, then topped with strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings or coconut flakes for “parmesan.” Spaghettieis is a well-loved and fun dessert in Germany, but not very common outside the country.
Spanferkel is a festive German dish of roasted suckling pig. It is usually prepared for festive or special occasions, and can be cooked whole or cut into pieces. The piglet is seasoned with spices such as salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, and paprika, and then roasted over coals or in an oven until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender and juicy. It is best served with some dumplings, vegetables, or salads.
Spargel is the German word for asparagus, but it’s not just any asparagus. It’s white, tender, and delicious, and it’s a seasonal delicacy that Germans look forward to every spring.
Spargel is usually harvested by hand and peeled before cooking. It can be served with butter, hollandaise sauce, ham, potatoes, or eggs. Some people even like to eat it with schnitzel or salmon.
Stollen is a German bread that is usually eaten during the Christmas season. It is made with yeast, flour, water, and various fruits, nuts, and spices. Some versions also have a filling of marzipan or almond paste. This cake-like fruit bread boasts a rich, buttery taste with a dense, moist texture. It is often sprinkled with powdered sugar or glazed with icing.
This German whole grain loaf is a hearty testament to rustic flavor, made with whole rye grains and sourdough starter. It is dark, dense, and rich in fiber and nutrients, not to mention its long shelf life (up to a month when properly packed and stored in the refrigerator.) Vollkornbrot is often sliced thinly and eaten with cheese, ham, or jam.
Weisswurst (which literally means “white sausage” because of its pale color) is a type of German sausage made from minced veal and pork. It is a classic dish from Bavaria, especially Munich, where it was first invented in the 19th century.
Weisswurst is cooked in simmering water for about 10 minutes and eaten without the skin. It is usually eaten for breakfast or brunch with sweet mustard, pretzels and wheat beer.
Recipe: WEISSWURST SAUSAGE by HANK SHAW
44. Wurst and Sauerkraut
One of the most popular German dishes is Wurst and Sauerkraut. Wurst is a type of sausage that can be made from different kinds of meat, such as pork, beef, or veal, while sauerkraut is fermented cabbage.
The savory richness of the wurst harmonizes with the tangy depth of sauerkraut, creating a culinary masterpiece that beckons from your bucket list. They are often served together with bread, mustard, and beer.
Zwiebelkuchen is a yummy German onion pie that you can find in the wine regions, especially in the Fall. It has a crust with lots of cooked onions, bacon, cream, and caraway seeds on top. It’s kind of like a pizza and a quiche had a baby. You can enjoy it with some new wine or grape juice. It’s super tasty, but watch out for the onion breath!
Immersing yourself in the world of German food is not just about savoring the delicious flavors of the cuisine, but also about embracing the history and culture of each dish. With every bite of bratwurst or schnitzel, you’re connecting with traditions that have stood the test of time.
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