If there’s one thing Germany is famous for, it’s the rich and delightful german food, beer culture and festivals that celebrate their traditional mead. Because the country can get bitterly cold during winters, beer and comforting dishes has been used to help warm and comfort the people during harsh conditions every year.
What’s Special About German Food?
What makes the German dishes, desserts, and cuisine so special is the regional diversity within the country, varying from each city and region. With typical German food like sausage and meat, to bread and baked goods, you can be sure to find so much flavor and so much character within the different food of Germany.
Home to world-famous nightlife cultures and underground music scenes, you will be both delighted and surprised by the quirky character of each city. Especially Berlin! The food scene in each area also reflects the societal culture and history.
Most Famous Traditional German Food
Bratwurst (Grilled Sausage)
Bratwursts are a famous German sausage, often known as “brats”. In Germany, the phrase “bratwurst” refers to all types of sausages: “brat” refers to ground beef, and “wurst” refers to “sausage”.
As an integral part of German cuisine, Bratwursts are commonly prepared with pig and veal, but they can also be made with beef and veal or any other mix of meat. This delicious German food also involves a wide variety of spices, such as marjoram, ginger, paprika, sage, cumin, and caraway.
Bratwurst is usually marketed as a raw, fresh sausage in a natural casing or as a link sausage. They can be served in a stew, on a sandwich, or as a main course with sauerkraut and potato salad. You can also enjoy and serve this traditional German food with ketchup, mustard, relish, slaw, and aioli are common brat condiments.
Popular Traditional German Food Dishes
Schnitzel (Chicken-Fried Steak)
Schnitzel is a thin beef cutlet that is pounded till soft before being breaded and fried and is a culinary staple in German foods and communities across the country. This is one of the famous food of Germany, known and enjoyed throughout the world.
Schnitzel is derived from the German word “schnitten”, which means “to cut.” The meat in schnitzel can originate from any animal, but it is always cut away from the bone and finely sliced. Pork schnitzel is prepared from boneless pork chops, whilst chicken schnitzel is produced from boneless chicken breast. If you’re looking for the best German food choices, you can’t go wrong with Schnitzel.
The thin beef cutlet is crushed to make it even thinner, then breaded and cooked in butter or oil after being coated in flour and dipped in an egg wash. The cutlet is only lightly spiced, but there are many flavor variations available, with sauces ranging from the relatively mild Rahmschnitzel (cutlet with cream sauce) and Jägerschnitzel (mushrooms in brown gravy) to the spicier Zigeunerschnitzel (made with tomatoes, paprika, bell peppers, and onions).
Rouladen (Sliced Beef And Vegetables)
Rouladen is a traditional and popular German food loved throughout the country. The exact history of the dish is uncertain, although it is known that it originated in Europe, and the term “roulade” comes from the French word “rouler,” which means “to roll.” Rouladen was originally thought to be so exquisite that it was only eaten on Sundays or on rare occasions.
They are now a classic dinner option in German cuisine, eaten at any time of the week or year, but notably during the fall and winter months. Rouladen is a favorite relaxed comfort dish during the cold German winters.
Because topside beef is the cheapest cut, it is generally used in most households. The filling is a combination of smoked and cooked pig belly, sliced onions, and chopped pickles that is occasionally supplemented with minced beef, sausage meat, pine nuts, and mustard.
The composition varies by area and is often eaten for supper. This traditional German food is frequently accompanied by red wine.
Schweinshaxe (Roasted German Pork Knuckles)
The consumption of Pork knuckles is extremely old and popular in the history of German food, and there are several cooking styles. It may be poached with herbs or cooked for an extended period of time in the oven.
Schweinshaxe is a part of the traditional German cuisine and originates in the state of Bavaria. Its name changes from time to time, and it is also known as Sauhax or Schweinshaxn.
This is roasted pork knuckle flavored with beer and herbs, also known as pig knuckle, pork shanks, pork hock, and ham hock (for the smoked variant). This cut of pork is also known as Eisbein, Hachse, and Stelze in other areas of Germany.
Germans love a good Pork Knuckle and you’ll find this meat served with many different types of German foods and side dishes. Schweinshaxe is deliciously served in a pool of dark and malty beer gravy and is known for its juicy, lip-smackingly rich flesh on the bone, all covered in a delicious layer of golden crackling that shatters under a knife.
Roasted German Pork Knuckles are traditionally served with potato salad, potato dumplings, or mashed potatoes and sauerkraut; sometimes with red cabbage.
Sauerbraten (A Marinated Beef Roast)
Sauerbraten is a popular German food and is available in most German restaurants in the United States. Considered the national food of Germany, Sauerbraten is a roast (typically beef or deer) that has been marinated in a mixture of vinegar, wine, vegetables, and other spices for 3 to 4 days. This makes the meat beautifully tender and soft.
A substantial cut from the round or rump is marinated in red wine and vinegar with onions, bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, and peppercorns. The meat is then simmered in the strained marinade after being dried and browned.
A Sauerbraten supper is nearly always served with a strong sauce made from the roasting of the meat and goes well with potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer), potato dumplings (Kartoffelklöße), or Spätzle. When thinking about traditional German food, Sauerbraten is something every German is sure to suggest.
Currywurst (Grilled Curried Sausage)
Many have come to recognize Currywurst as an essential part of German foods and a famous Berlin street food. The omnipresent grub has become familiar to everyone, whether as a tourist delight or a late-night snack.
This traditional German food has a far deeper history than you may assume. It’s more than a delicious grab-and-go cuisine – it’s a symbol of Berlin’s postwar tenacity and the nation’s will to succeed.
Arguably, like most things brought into existence in this world, it started with a woman; and her name is Herta Heuwer. She had no idea her creation would become part of the distinctive fabric of German cuisine. There’s even a currywurst museum.
The currywurst sauce, which effectively transforms a bratwurst into a currywurst, is a mixture of tomato puree or ketchup, mild yellow curry, and other spices like sugar, and vinegar.
Hamburg currywurst is frequently accompanied by a mustard or mayonnaise sauce. It is typically served with bread or potatoes and is occasionally topped with fried onions. If you’re looking for a famous food in Germany that is filled with both history and flavor, the Currywurst is your hero!
Best German Desserts And Treats
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)
The confectioner Josef Keller claimed to have invented Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 at the prominent Café Agner in Bad Godesberg, now a suburb of Bonn about 500 km north of the Black Forest.
Consisting of layers of chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, and cherries soaked in kirsch brandy, this decadent treat is one of the best-known German desserts.
A special type of cherry brandy from the Black Forest region, kirschwasser, is used to soak the cherries, moisten the layers of chocolate sponge cake, and flavor the whipped cream. The assembled cake is heavily decorated with the rest of the whipped cream and chocolate shavings and is topped with fresh or candied cherries.
The original Black Forest cake uses Kirsch, a specific sort of cherry schnapps manufactured solely in the Black Forest region from Morello sour cherries. To make a non-alcoholic version of kirsch, use cherry spirit or cherry juice. Because the dessert should not be very sweet, the shavings used for decorating should be dark chocolate.
Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)
In the 19th century, German and Austrian immigrants brought the dish to southern Brazil, where it is now available in most bakeries around the world. It is commonly called Apfelstrudel in German cuisine, but it is also called “Strudel de Maç” (Apple Strudel) or “Folheado de Maç” (Apple Puff) in Portuguese.
Layers of flaky pastry wrap a spiced apple, raisin, and walnut filling in this delicious treat. The malleable pastry dough is traditionally stretched and dropped from shoulder height until it’s thin enough to see through.
While not everyone enjoys apples in their food, if you’re looking for one of the best and most famous German desserts, you can’t go wrong with Apple Strudel.
Served warm and dusted with icing sugar, you can even pair this mouth-watering dessert with a dollop of crème fraîche, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream. Strudel is also delicious with homemade custard.
Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
The honey topping on this classic Bavarian delicacy may have given it its name. According to one tale, this traditional German food got its name because a bee was drawn to the sweet ingredients, and stung the baker who developed the cake.
Another tradition tells the story of 15th-century German bakers who flung beehives at intruders from a neighboring village, successfully repelling them. They then celebrated by producing a variation of this cake named after their achievements.
Authentic German Bee Sting cake, also known as Bienenstich in German, is a two-layer cake often prepared in a rectangular pan (similar to a sheet cake). It consists of two layers of sweet yeast bread filled with vanilla custard and topped with a crunchy almond and honey coating.
As one of the most delicious German desserts, it is unlike any American cake you’ve ever had. It has a more pastry-like texture and is filled with pastry cream and topped with honey-glazed almonds.
An unusual New Year’s custom in Germany is the offering of marzipan pigs for good fortune and luck.
Marzipan became a specialty of German desserts and is common in the Baltic Sea area. Lübeck, in particular, has a long history of producing marzipan. It is commonly made with finely ground blanched (skinless) almonds, confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), egg whites, and almond essence to enhance flavor.
While marzipan is popular all year in Germany and Italy, the sweet confection is a seasonal favorite across the world.
Stollen (Christmas Fruitcake)
In Germany, Christmas stollen is a rich, dense sweet bread packed with dried fruit, candied citrus peel, marzipan or almond paste, and almonds. It originates in Dresden, Germany, where it was initially manufactured in the late 1500s.
Stollen is famous for being sprinkled with a thick layer of powdered sugar, reflecting the snowy German scenery, and baked with spices that transmit the warmth of the Christmas season.
Germans traditionally enjoy a slice of stollen with family and friends on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and it has become one of the most beloved German desserts.
Typical German Appetizers And Side Dishes
Despite the fact that the name “sauerkraut” comes from a German word, the famous complementing garnish did not originate in Germany. Some argue that fermenting cabbage was already practiced during the construction of the Great Wall of China, and that the Tartars likely brought the practice from China to Europe.
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage product. It has been eaten for thousands of years because of its probiotic effects with high vitamins and minerals. It has a tangy flavor and a crunchy texture; plus it’s easy and cheap to prepare at home!
Sauerkraut goes well with sausages, salty meats, and smoked fish, such as hot-smoked salmon. Now known as a traditional German food, it is also loved as a condiment or side dish.
Zwiebelkuchen (Onion And Bacon pie)
“Zwiebelkuchen,” which translates to “onion cake/tart” in German, is a cake/tart made with onion.
This widely loved savory German food is made with steamed onions, sliced bacon, cream, and caraway seeds atop yeast or leavened dough.
Zwiebelkuchen may be found all across Germany’s wine regions, especially during the autumn wine festival season. It’s particularly common in Baden, along the Rhine.
Since this dish is considered a popular traditional German food, it may be found during street festivals in Germany in early October, when the leaves change color and the vintners have finished their harvest.
Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambee)
Flammkuchen is a famous food of Germany and a popular menu dish. Served with crème fraîche, bacon, and onions on top, it’s most often cooked in wood-fired ovens, resulting in a crispy thin crust. This dish is similar to pizza, but so much better!
Flammkuchen, like other traditional German foods, has humble roots. While French cooks were busy making delicacies to dazzle royalty, German chefs were busy feeding the bellies of exhausted laborers.
When bakers used to use wood-fired ovens, they would test the temperature with a little piece of bread. When it was adequately cooked, it was time to begin the day’s batch.
One day, a baker became bored with ordinary bread and topped it with garnishings before baking it. And thus, a star was born!
Obatzda (Cheese Spread)
Obatzda originated in the 1800s, thanks to an innkeeper named Katharina Eisenreich. It’s said she cooked this wonderful German food with leftover ingredients, and it was a huge hit with the visitors at her Bavarian inn.
Obatzda is created from soft, ripe cheese, usually Camembert (spreadable cheese), butter, beer, spices, and onions. It has nuanced, well-balanced flavors that make it absolutely delicious. A bowlful goes a long way as it’s extremely rich in taste! So, it’s no wonder it has become a widely loved traditional German food.
In addition to snacking on crackers, pretzels, veggie sticks, and other dipping snacks, the spread can be put into soup or used as a topping on burgers and sandwiches. Beer cheese may also be used to flavor and moisten baked items such as bread and buns.
Käsespätzle (Cheesy Noodles)
Käsespätzle is a speciality of Germany’s Schwaben area. The dish is like a German’s take on mac and cheese. The noodles of this delicious German dish are a touch more substantial and heavy, and the meal also includes fried onions.
Käsespätzle is a traditional Bavarian dish that may be found on beer garden menus across Germany. The components are simple: flour, egg, and water, and they are generally seasoned with salt and nutmeg. You don’t want to miss out on trying this tasty German food!
Delicious German Chocolates And Candy
Ritter Sport Chocolate
Ritter Sport is one of the most famous German chocolates. Clara Ritter, co-founder of Ritter Sport, recommended making a chocolate bar that would fit nicely in the pocket of a sports jacket (thus the “sport” in Ritter Sport).
This dessert seems more like a cookie than a candy bar due to the combination of a thick buttery biscuit and silky milk chocolate. Yet, it’s still a delicious treat to enjoy. The biscuit is crisp and not too sweet, and the chocolate is as good as any chocolate product you’d get at a high-end grocery store.
Layers of gingerbread, fruit jelly, and persipan (akin to marzipan but made with peach or apricot pits) make up Schulte’s Dominosteine. The layers are coated with milk or dark chocolate, which gives the entire delicacy a rich flavor and velvety texture. These are a favorite choice among the best German chocolates.
The gingerbread used in this candy creates a warm, sweet, and spicy cookie basis. Meanwhile, the fruit jelly and persipan filling add an extra tasty twist to the Dominosteine. This entire dessert is a delicious, bite-sized pleasure thanks to the chocolate covering.
These German chocolates are made with mint, sage, mountain pine, thyme, and natural pear flavoring. The combined ingredients are ideal for soothing a sore throat or having something sweet to suck on during the day.
They may also be dipped into a hot beverage or melted into herbal tea, which sounds perfect for a chilly winter day. You can buy both the original Halsbonbons and a sugar-free version online, so if you like fresh yet sweet-tasting hard candies, you can’t go wrong with these!
Milka Chocolate Bar
Nothing beats a delicious chocolate bar, no matter where you are. What distinguishes the Alpenmilch chocolate bar is that it is extraordinarily creamy and less sweet than traditional American chocolate candy. This is because European chocolate typically contains a larger amount of cacao.
Milka’s Alpenmilch bar shows that you don’t need sophisticated flavors or twists to create something great. It’s creamy, gently sweet, and melts in your mouth. Thus, it has become one of the most popular German chocolates and one you’ve got to try!
Popular German Snacks
A traditional Oktoberfest food, the Bavarian pretzel, has modest and even spiritual roots. Italian monks created the first pretzels from leftover bread dough crumbs around 610 A.D. In the tale, the typical twisted knot is designed to represent folded arms in prayer.
This delicious and world-famous German food is made from wheat flour and yeast. It is then dipped in “Natronlauge” and sprinkled with coarse salt before baking. A ‘Maillard’ reaction occurs while baking, giving the pretzel its unique brown color and flavor.
Pretzels can be troublesome for those with wheat allergies, celiac disease, or wheat intolerances because they are largely made of wheat. You can enjoy this lovely traditional German food with a nice beer and Obatzda (German cheese dip). If you visit Germany, you will notice that Brezeln (German Pretzels) are everywhere.
Döner Kebab (Shawarma)
Turkish immigrants Kadir Nurman and Mehmet Aygun originally brought the döner to Germany in the late 1960s. Now a highly popular food in Germany, it is devoured even more than the typical Bratwurst and Currywurst; and Berlin is reported to have more döner outlets than Istanbul. It’s even considered a common German food and can be found all across the country.
A classic kebab bread is loaded with döner pork shavings (or beef and chicken), lettuce, chopped tomato, and onions, with a variety of sauces such as sauce blanche and mayo-yogurt sauce. Döner kebabs are typically served with french fries, which are frequently inserted within the bread itself.
While there are several comparable dishes (gyro and shawarma, to mention two), döner is one of the most popular and famous German food choices. It is estimated that over 600 tonnes of döner meat are consumed every day and even the most distant communities have a kebab shop (or two).
They can also rather portable, so consider packing one for the road as you explore the famous landmarks in Germany.
Haribo Gold Bears (Gummy Bears)
The name “Haribo” is a syllabic abbreviation formed from Hans Riegel Bonn. The company created the first gummy candy in 1960 in the form of little gummy bears called Gummibärchen.
While browsing the candy aisles of your grocery store, you’ve likely come across golden bags filled with colorful, fruit-flavored gummy bears. More often than not, the candies are a Haribo product.
Since this brand is so popular in the States, it may come as a surprise to find out that Haribo gummy bears are actually a German invention and one of the most famous German snacks. The gummy bears are less sugary, and the fruit flavor of the candy is more prevalent, making for a tastier dessert.
Pommes Frites (French Fries)
During the 19th century, French fries spread to German-speaking countries and other parts of the world. In Germany, they are commonly referred to as pommes frites, or simply Pommes or Fritten. While not a origin food from Germany, it is now found across the entire country and is a popular go-to snack deeply baked into German foods and cuisine.
In an adorable twist, the term for potatoes in German is translated to “earth apples.” Pommes frites are sliced potatoes that have been deep-fried to get crispy and golden brown on the exterior while staying soft and warm on the inside.
Traditionally, pomme frites are served in paper cones with aioli, a creamy Mediterranean-style mayonnaise sauce.
Fischbrötchen (Fish Sandwich)
In Northern Germany, a popular sandwich is the Fischbrötchen. As a go-to German food and delicious snack, it is prepared with fish and a variety of additional toppings such as pickles, remoulade, onions, lettuce, or horseradish.
The ingredients are normally packed in round or elongated bread buns. The type of fish used in the sandwich varies with herring, sprat, salmon, and mackerel being the most regular options.
Fischbrötchen is commonly offered at fast-food kiosks around the country. When it comes to German cuisine, and if you love fish, this dish is a must-try!
This rich, compact meatloaf is created using finely ground corned beef, pork, bacon, and onions and baked until it produces a dark brown crust. It was originally from southern Germany, but can also be found in Austria and Switzerland. While many have an aversion to meatloaf, this is a much-loved German food and can be found in households all across the country.
Leberkäse may contain horse meat, lamb, or game as the primary choice of meat and cut into finger-thick slices, generally served with medium hot mustard or Bavarian sweet mustard.
This traditional German food is usually eaten with eggs in the mornings or as a mid-afternoon snack in a sandwich with a firm wheat bun and spicy mustard. Consider kickstarting your day with this popular German breakfast food.
German Food – Soups And Stews
Gulaschsuppe (Goulash Soup)
Goulash is a traditional German food and can be dated back to the 9th century as stews and soups consumed by Magyar shepherds. They often prepare a portable store of food before heading off with their flocks, by patiently boiling cut-up meats with onions and other flavorings until the liquids were absorbed.
A typical Goulash is a soup or stew made with tender meat and onions seasoned with paprika and other flavorful spices. Many variations include potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, and peppers. Although this beef stew is a Hungarian import, it is strongly rooted in German cuisine culture.
Linsensuppe (Lentil Soup)
As a winter staple in German households, this classic German lentil soup (or Linsensuppe) has lentils, veggies, bacon, and pieces of German sausage. You’ll find yourself wanting more than just one bowl!
This exquisite German food feels like a warm embrace from Grandma, and it’s hard for Germans not to associate the smells and tastes with fond childhood memories. It is a hearty “Oma-style” stew made with lentils, leeks, carrots, and potatoes that will keep you warm even on the coldest and darkest winter days.
The best comfort dish for the cold, which is why it’s probably considered a beloved traditional German food.
Rinder Nudelsuppe (Beef Noodle Soup)
Nudelsuppe is a basic German noodle soup made up of noodles in transparent but flavor-packed liquid. German cuisine would be lacking if there was no mention of this beautifully flavored soup.
The soup is traditionally made with a rich chicken or beef broth with German soup vegetables or soup greens (Suppengrün) such as carrots, parsnips, leeks, celery, onions, and turnips.
From the hot broth to the cozy herbs, everything about this meal is meant to warm you up and is considered one of the best German foods for the cold and bitter winters.
Kartoffelsuppe (Potato Soup)
Kartoffelsuppe is a classic potato soup from Germany, Austria, and Bavaria. It is a traditional German food loaded with sausage and veggies that makes for a fulfilling main course rather than an appetizer.
Regensburg, a short and stubby parboiled pork sausage, is often used for this soup in Germany. This is a common sausage option that is served with different German dishes and side meals. However, you can also replace it with different boiling pork sausages in Kartoffelsuppe.
Aside from bread or dinner rolls, there are several different side dishes that go well with potato soup. Some great selections include beans, salad, corn, gammon, veggies, coleslaw, and sandwiches.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Exploring German Food And Cuisine In Germany
When it comes to gastronomy and cultural cuisine, Germany is a country filled with rich and delicious foods, desserts, and bite-sized snacks. From the staple and popular meaty German cuisine choices to the marvelous and varied world of German desserts – if you’ve never tried German food, now is the time to start!