Most Popular 24 German Foods (With Pictures!)
German cuisine doesn’t have the international recognition of some of its European counterparts, but German foods are so much more than sauerkraut, sausages and potatoes.
Each German region offers typical dishes with loads of tradition. In the north of Germany, dishes are mainly based on fish and sea food, while in the south of the country, they are mainly of red meat and game. Especially popular are German bakery products, e.g. whole weat bread, Bavarian pretzel, and various kinds of rolls.
Moreover, Germany has many excellent cakes such as bee-sting cake, cheesecake, and poppy-seed cake, which are the absolute classic cakes highly praised by visitors.
Vegetarian dishes are a growing trend in Germany and more and more vegan dishes are finding their way onto many menus. Germany consistently ranks among the most vegan countries worldwide.
Casseroles, soups, potatoes, and pasta are the basics of many delicious meals. And couscous is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient.
We present to you here some of the most popular and renowned German dishes. Many of the traditional dishes from all parts of Germany come in different varieties, with or without meat, soups and stews, baked goods and pastries, as well as vegetarian or vegan dishes.
Particularly prominent are the approximately 200 different kinds of sausages and the large variety of rolls and breads that can rarely be found in any other country.
Best German Dishes
Each part of Germany has its own typical dish, some of which are shaped by tradition. Due to the various regions, federal provinces, and local cultures, Germany offers many regional culinary delicacies.
This dish from Northern Germany is a country-style sausage dish, often served with boiled potatoes and kale on the side. Bregenwurst can be either smoked or unsmoked.
The kale is seasoned with salt, pepper, and onions. As the sausage is only sold from November to February, Braunkohl and Bregenwurst is a typical winter dish.
This dish, Hambuger Labskaus, is a classic of the harbor city Hamburg. Boiled, salted, and riced potatoes, minced onion, and corned beef are stewed and then gherkins and finely sliced beetroot are added, and then it is seasoned with salt, pepper, and allspice.
It is served with a fried egg and, depending in preference, matie, Bismarck herring, or pickled herring.
Another potato dish which is famous in all areas of Germany is potato fritters, aka potato pancakes. To prepare the dish, low-starch potatoes are peeled and grated. Then they are mixed with egg and onion.
Once prepared, the fritters are fried until brown. They are mainly served with apple sauce or apple compote, as they keep their freshness.
For Hamburger Pannfisch, the main ingredient is fish, either coalfish or redfish. In addition, it includes sliced, low-starch potatoes, spring onions, and vegetable stock. This fish dish also has cream and mustard, to give it its special seasoning. Finally, a rasher of bacon is fried in hot oil to give a more intensive taste.
5. Turnip Stew: The Winter Stew
This stew has a long tradition in Germany and is a typical dish in Granma’s kitchen. This hearty stew is mainly consumed in late autumn and winter. In the past, the turnip was considered a poor man’s food, but today it and the stew has regained popularity. Being high in vitamin C, turnips help the immune system.
Sauerkraut is seen as the German vegetable dish, which is why the British often refer to Germans as “Krauts”. The pork knuckle has a large amount of pork flesh, which must be cleaned, spiced, and crisply fried.
To prepare the sauerkraut, white cabbage is cut into thin slices and pickled until tender with spices, pepper, and salt. For a special kick, fruits can be added. Generally, potatoes are served on the side.
Swabian ravioli is mainly offered in the south-west of Germany and is very popular in this region. They resemble the Italian pasta dish of ravioli, and there are many different fillings, meat or vegetarian.
Swabian ravioli is often served with fried onions, which make the taste more intense.
8. Veal Sausage: The Bavarian National Dish
Bavarians love their veal sausage, which has become the national dish of Bavaria. In fact, it is rarely eaten in northern Germany as supermarkets do not sell this type of sausage. The main ingredient is veal, to which is added pretzel and sweet mustard to improve the flavor. They can be steamed, to cook them quicker.
This traditional Gericht from the south-west of Germany is one of the most popular dishes in the entire country. The dish comprises fried potatoes combined with a very special fresh herb cheese. The cheese is often home-made with a variety of herbs.
Those who like a hearty meal should eat it with a glass of Schorle, a fruit juice combined with fizzy water, or a Schorle of wine, diluted with water.
Vegetarians who want to enjoy a lovely roulade should try this vegetarian dish. It comprises two high-grade ingredients: cabbage, with loads of vitamin C, and millet. A little crème frâiche and cheese can be added to the sauce for extra taste. Generally, the dish is eaten with boiled or mashed potatoes, adding to the taste.
11. Döner with Curried Sausage
In Berlin, döner with curried sausage has become a real national dish. Despite its Turkish name, döner was developed in Berlin. What makes this dish unique is that two classic snacks are served together: döner and curried sausage.
The curried sausage is also popular without the döner in the west of the country. It is often served with ketchup or tomato sauce spiced with curry powder.
Saxon mustard meat is a real classic from eastern Germany, and was mainly served on special occasions, as in the GDR period, meat was expensive. Either pork or beef was used and a tasty vegetable broth.
To soak up the juices, potatoes, onions, cucumber, and wholemeal bread, Pumpernickel, is added and it is spiced with hot mustard, cloves, salt, pepper, and caraway.
These meatballs originate in the German town of Königsberg in the east of Germany, which is where they got their name. The traditional dish contains meatballs from minced meat, stale bread, and Welsh onions.
It consists of a white sauce made from broth, cream, eggs, and capers. Though it is not the most attractive looking dish, it is delicious and can be eaten cold as it does not lose its taste.
Tarte flambée is similar to the French onion tart and is prepared in just the same way. The base is a thinly rolled bread dough coated with sour cream.
On top go onions and cubes of bacon, seasoned with salt and pepper. As well as the classic savory tarte flambée, there are alternative sweet versions.
As well as Berlin, curry sausage is a favorite in other towns in western Germany such as Bochum, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, where it is considered a real delicacy. But there are differences in how in is cooked, as the sauce is thinner and hotter and contains a lot of tomato.
The sausage is served with a curry dredged with extra curry powder, depending on preference. Curry sausage in western Germany is served with a roll, not with döner.
The preparation of braised beef Rheinland-style starts with pickling the meat for several days in a marinade of vinegar, oil, wine, onions, and carrots.
There are different versions of this dish, Rheinland-style and Baden-style. Accompaniments are usually potatoes or dumblings, salad or red cabbage.
Typical German Side Dishes and Sauces
To make German dishes even tastier, there are several popular side dishes. Potatoes are undoubtedly the most favorite side dish, used to soak up sauces. As well as the classic jacket potato or boiled potatoes, the following sides are also popular.
17. Butter Noodles
Butterspätzle are a kind of noodle that is mainly consumed in the south-west of Germany. The main ingredients are flour, eggs, and salt and, once cooked, they are dredged with cheese.
They go well with meat dishes with loads of sauce or gravy, such as goulash or roast meat. Vegetarians can eat butter noodles as a meal together with fried onions.
There are several side dishes using potatoes: boiled potatoes, potato fritters, or potato dumplings. The dumplings look like big balls of potato but have a soft texture.
Potato dumplings, also called potato lumps, contain a mixture of boiled potatoes, grated cheese, eggs, and flour. Often parsley is added for a fresher taste.
19. Potato Salad
One of the most popular side dishes is potato salad, which is very popular in all regions of Germany, although it varies. While potato salad is a relatively simple dish, the varieties are endless and it lends itself to creative cooking.
Generally, this salad is made with boiled, sliced potatoes, cucumber, and onions, covered in mayonnaise or a vinaigrette.
A very popular sauce is Frankfurter green sauce, ideal for pouring over potatoes. The main ingredients are green herbs of various sorts without the stems, sour cream and lemon balm, seasoned with salt, pepper, and mustard.
It is generally served with mashed or boiled potatoes or wheat bread.
German Bread is Popular Worldwide
There are many types of German bread, rolls, pastries, and cakes, which are high quality and very well known—and not only in Germany.
Bread and its many varieties have a long history in the country, which is why Deutsche Brotkultur (German Bread Culture) has became an intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. Let’s have a closer look at these famous breads.
Pretzels sprinkled with large salt crystals are a standard bakery product in Bavaria. They are excellent with fresh cheese and chives. There are also butter pretzels, prepared with butter.
The wonderful brown color and unique taste of the pretzel comes from immersing them in a sodium hydroxide solution. This also helps keep them fresh.
Pumpernickel is a traditional wholemeal bread that pretty much fell into oblivion over recent years. The bread has a spicy taste and contains many high-grade ingredients and lasts a long time.
This black bread was first baked in Osnabrück, a German town near the Dutch border in the western region of Lower-Saxony in 1450. Its particular characteristics are that it stays fresh and does not have a crust.
23. (Wholemeal) Rolls from all Regions of Germany
(Wholemeal) rolls are produced in bakeries throughout Germany and are eaten for breakfast and as snacks.
Wheat rolls, wholemeal rolls, whole grain rolls, Germany produces them all and they are eaten as a snack with a vast range of spreads and fillings.
Altogether, 3,200 types of bread are listed in the German bread registry, some of which are real delicacies, making Germany the bread world champion.
From that large variety, Brot des Jahres is very popular and is testament to just how important bread is for Germans. What is more, German bread rates as specially nutritious as, unlike wheat bread, wholemeal bread lasts a long time.
24. German Beer—Simply Amazing
There are 7,500 different sorts of beer in Germany, and enjoyed throughout the world. There is the classic beer with a rather rough taste, Pils, whereas the Hefeweizen is rather sweet.
German Pils is often enjoyed in the north of Germany, whereas Hefeweizen is a traditional beer in the south of the country. Many people drink beer mixed with other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
German beers are brewed based on Deutsche Reinheitsgebot (German order of purity) developed in 1516 in Bavaria. This means that beer brewed in Germany or by German companies must only contain four components: barley malt, hops, barley, water and yeast.
Related: Most Popular German Cookies