When you mention traditional German food to a group of people, the first thing that would come to their mind is sauerkraut, beer, and sausage. Sausages and wieners are national symbols, and cabbage is the basis for everything in German cuisine. Tourists from all over the world flock to the annual Oktoberfest beer festival to have a taste of the delicious beer. However, German food contains more than just these few things.
German food recipes has advanced over the years as a national cuisine through centuries of political and social change. It is essential to note that each region in Germany has its own traditional foods that will excite gourmets with their variety, consistency, and deliciousness.
For example, Hamburg is commonly known for fish dishes while the South is popular for all kinds of foods prepared from pork. These different German dishes share unique heartiness and richness that is difficult to find elsewhere.
The History of German Food
Food has always played an important role in German culture. Between 1712 and 1786, King Frederick introduced potatoes in German meals. The king provided his people with seed potatoes and taught them how to grow the food. Following World War I, an influx of Italian ice cream makers arrived in Germany, bringing dishes such as pizza and pasta, which have since become staples of the German diet. In the 1960s, newcomers from Turkey, China, Vietnam, Greece, and the former Soviet Union began to leave their mark on German cuisine.
After the Second World War, Germany was split into West and East Germany. The division led to the development of different cooking styles. West Germans maintained the traditional German food while East Germany took on the Russian cooking style. Northern and Southern Germany also have different cooking styles.
Germany’s northern and southern cooking styles are close to the United States’ cooking styles. In Berlin and Hamburg, restaurants can serve eel soup (aalsuppe) or eintopf in the North (seafood stew). White bean soup (Weisse bohnensuppe) and other dried bean soups are also common. Cereals and bread made with buckwheat and rye flour are also present on menus around the world. Birnen, Bohnen, and Speck are favorite dishes (bacon, green beans, and pears). Spargel (asparagus), particularly white asparagus, and rich, heavy pumpernickel bread are popular in Wesphalia, a region near the Netherlands in the middle of the world. Westphalian ham, eaten with spicy mustard, is a favorite of Germans all over the world.
Wustchen is a sausage made in Frankfurt, Germany, in the south. The sausage resembles a hot dog in the United States, and people refer to it as a “frankfurter” after the German region. Potatoes, bacon, onions, and apples are combined in a mystical dish known as Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth) in the south. The southern part of Bavaria is home to rugged mountains and the well-known Black Forest.
This region is famous for its Black Forest cherry cake and tortes and a clear cherry brandy called Kirschwasser. Lebkuchen is a spicy cookie served during holidays. In the early 1990s, East and West Germany reunited. Germans still cook differently depending on their area.
Traditional German Food Cooking and Foods
German cuisine was most likely bland during prehistoric times. Unlike in Mediterranean countries, the growing season restricted people to early forms of barley, wheat, and pasture land for livestock. People used cows, goats, and sheep to produce milk, butter, cheese, and meat items during feasts. Parsley, celery, and dill were among the first spices used in German cooking. The Romans introduced grapevines and fruit tree production. As farming practices advanced, they also introduced oats and rye. Because of its position and reputation as a trading city, Cologne’s areas were particularly rich in fragrant spices and food.
Modern German Food Cooking and Foods
Germans continue to honor their rich heritage by serving wild game, beef, pork, and lamb, as well as their accompanying side dishes in a variety of old and new ways. Juniper, horseradish, and mustard, and berries, are common spices found in the Luneburg Heath. On the other hand, modern German chefs have begun to develop younger, lighter fare while still integrating traditional foods into their menus.
As mentioned earlier, beer is listed among traditional German food. Locals and tourists agree that German beer is the most popular beverage. Germans drink it out of neat glasses or large one-liter mugs, but most importantly, they savor and appreciate every sip.
More About Traditional German Food
You do not have to look hard in Germany for restaurants that serve traditional German cuisine. Many restaurants and pubs serve it, both in touristy areas and in local neighborhoods. The only difference is in price.
Traditional German cuisine has a simple appearance and is not overly complicated to prepare. However, some traditional dishes take a long time to prepare, so you can consider yourself fortunate if you get to eat a true home-cooked meal.
The history of German cuisine is extensive and regional. All regions share a passion for meat, and many dishes contain some meat. In German food recipes, potatoes hold a special position, and Germans are masters of various potato preparation techniques. The most common meats are pork, poultry, and beef.
Lunch was traditionally the main meal of the day, with dinner being a smaller meal. This has changed in the past 50 years or so, with dinner and lunch switching places.
Meal Structure in Germany
Breakfast: In Germany, breakfast is known as Frühstück, and it involves a hot beverage such as tea or coffee. Breakfast in Germany is usually hearty, beginning with bread or rolls spread with butter, jelly, or marmalade.
Lunch: Mittagessen is the German word for lunch, and it is usually eaten between 12 and 2 p.m. Lunch, rather than dinner, is the common time for Germans to eat their main cooked meal. After a starter such as a potato salad, lunch is often served.
Dinner: Abendessen or Abendbrot is the name for the evening meal in Germany; the latter is more akin to supper and translates to “evening bread.” Following a hearty lunch, Germans usually have a lighter dinner, including bread, hams, sausages, cheeses, and pickles.
What Are Some Popular Foods In Germany?
1. Königsberger klopse. This tasty dish of meatballs in a creamy white sauce with capers is beloved by families in Germany.
2. Maultaschen. They are a lot like ravioli but bigger. They are typically palm-sized, square pockets of dough with fillings that run the gamut from savory to sweet and meaty to vegetarian.
3. Sausages. There are countless cured, smoked and other varieties available across wurst-loving Germany. Some of the best German street food sausages is bratwurst, or fried sausages.
4. Currywurst. It is commonly attributed to a Berlin woman who in 1949 managed to obtain ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers, mixed them up and served the result over grilled sausage, instantly creating a German street food classic.
5. Döner Kebab. From its humble Berlin beginnings when a döner kebab only contained meat, onions and a bit of salad, it developed into a dish with abundant salad, vegetables (sometimes grilled), and a selection of sauces from which to choose.
6. Schnitzel. The German version is made with tenderized pork or turkey and has become a staple of most traditional restaurants.
7. Käsespätzle. Spätzle is essentially a sort of pasta, the noodles are a simple combination of eggs, flour, salt and often a splash of fizzy water to fluff up the dough. Traditionally served as a side to meat dishes or dropped into soups, it can be spiced up by adding cheese: the käsespätzle variant is an extremely popular dish in southern Germany.
8. Rouladen. It is a delicious blend of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped together in sliced beef or veal. This is a staple of family dinners and special occasions. They are usually served with potato dumplings, mashed potatoes and pickled red cabbage.
9. Sauerbraten. It is regarded as one Germany’s national dishes. This pot roast takes quite a while to prepare, but the results, often served as Sunday family dinner, are truly worth the work.
10. Saumagen. Somewhat resembling Scottish haggis, it is prepared by using the stomach of a pig (or an artificial one) as a casing for the stuffing made from pork, potatoes, carrots, onions, marjoram, nutmeg and white pepper.
11. Spargel. White asparagus that is boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil. It comes wrapped in bacon or heaped upon schnitzel; as asparagus soup, fried asparagus, pancakes with herbs and asparagus, asparagus with scrambled eggs or asparagus with young potatoes.
12. Kartoffelpuffer. Homemade authentic German potato pancakes. Nutmeg is the secret ingredient, adding a nutty kick to these potato pancakes. Potatoes and onions are grated and mixed with the remaining ingredients before fried until crispy and golden brown.
Are There German Desserts That Are Popular?
1. Cookies Galore.
– Linzer Cookies – Buttery shortbread and filling with a sweet and tart jam
– Authentic German Lebkuchen – With a high fruit and nut ratio, these cookies are spiced, nutty, and sweet.
– Pfeffernusse – Peppernut Cookies are great when cooled, with a crisp edge and chewy middle.
– Zimtsterne – German Cinnamon Star Cookies is sweetened just a touch with a meringue glaze.
2. Schwarzwälder Kirschtortes. Germany has a vast variety of cakes, but among the most popular is the Schwarzwälder kirschtorte or Black Forest gateau. The cake is named after the speciality liquor of the region distilled from tart cherries.
3. Käsekuchens. German cheesecake does not use fruit, and the base is surely not made from crackers but freshly made dough, or even without a base. The filling is made with low-fat quark instead of cream cheese and egg foam is added to give it more fluff, plus lemon and vanilla for some extra freshness.
4. Spaghettieis. It is an ice cream dish made to look like a plate of spaghetti. Vanilla ice cream is pressed through a modified noodle press or potato ricer, giving it the appearance of spaghetti. It is then placed over whipped cream and topped with strawberry sauce representing the tomato sauce and white chocolate shavings for the parmesan.
5. Apfelstrudel. German Apple Strudel is encased in a thin, hand-stretched dough. This thin dough gets loaded with apple, cinnamon, and golden raisins, before being rolled up into a strudel log.
6. Peach Kuchen. This sweet tart has a wonderful buttery shortbread base. You’ll bake the base with sliced peaches for about 15 minutes. The custard is as simple as whisking egg yolks and cream. This gets poured in the hot tart and baked for 30 minutes until set.
7. German Chocolate Cupcakes. This recipe will give you rich and moist chocolate cupcakes every time. The coconut and pecan topping is out of this world.
8. Kirschmichel – Cherry Dessert. This recipe is a modern twist on the cherry bread classic. Instead of using bread, this recipe calls for semolina. When the cake is mixed, stir through your cherries and bake until golden and puffy.
9. Heidelbeerkuchen. Filled with blueberries then the fruit is topped with a creamy sweet cheesecake filling, and it all fits nicely into a cake crust that’s somewhere between a pie shell and cake.
10. Kokosmakronen. German Coconut Macaroons. These macaroons are super easy to make, using just coconut, egg whites, sugar and some flour.
11. Rumkugeln. German Rum Balls. No-bake rum balls are such a fun and simple way to get your chocolate fix.
12. Streuselkuchen. German Crumb Cake. The base is a fluffy yellow cake that gets topped with apricot jam, which will bubble and seep into the sponge for extra moisture and sweetness. The top is a simple crumble topping made with flour, butter, and sugar.
24 Traditional German Food Recipes and German Cuisine
1. Königsberger Klopse (German Meatballs) – German Cuisine
A classic! Authentic Königsberger Klopse are made from equal amounts of ground veal, beef, and pork. This is a very, very traditional German comfort food, and very, very easy to make.
2. Linzer Cookies – German Food Recipes
The five-ingredient dough is simple and delicious. Be sure not to over-mix, though. You’ll want it short and crumbly. Though I prefer the traditional raspberry filling, I think any jam would be great. For a little twist, why not try striping with some dark chocolate?
3. Homemade German Bratwurst – Traditional German Food
4. Schwarzwälder Kirschtortes (Black Forest Cake) – German Cuisine
It's the perfect combination of sweet and sour. Perfect for crowds because everyone loves it!
Due to the whipped cream, the cake is really light and airy. You can serve it for all occasions.
5. Beer Glazed Brats and Sauerkraut – German Food Recipes
Served on potato rolls with spicy hot German mustard, Swiss cheese, and ice cold beer on the side.
6. Käsekuchens (German Cheesecake) – Traditional German Food
7. Currywurst – German Cuisine
This delicious recipe is so quick to make at home in the air fryer, oven, or stovetop. Ready to serve in less than 20 minutes, you can recreate this Berlin street food classic easily with a few simple ingredients. The curry ketchup is out of this world.
8. Spaghettieis (German Ice Cream) – German Food Recipes
The original method called for pressing vanilla ice cream through a spaetzle press, pressing ice cream through a potato ricer creates "noodles", strawberry sauce looks like tomato sauce, and coconut or white chocolate shavings play the Parmesan cheese role.
9. Döner Kebab – Traditional German Food
Döner kebabs are especially popular in Germany, which has a significant Turkish population. Although the shaved meat can be served on a platter with rice and cooked vegetables, it's most popular as a sandwich eaten as street food.
You might find tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, cucumbers, or pickles inside the pita, and the sauce might be a yogurt-based tzatziki or tahini.
10. Apfelstrudel (German Apple Strudel) – German Cuisine
It’s simpler than you might think. This apfelstrudel recipe will walk you through the process.
11. German Schnitzel – German Food Recipes
12. Peach Kuchen (Tart) – Traditional German Food
13. Käsespätzle (German Cheese Spaetzel) – German Cuisine
If you love pasta and cheese and caramelized onions you will definitely LOVE this Kasespatzle! Chewy homemade German egg noodles oozing with Swiss cheese and topped with butter caramelized onions.
14. Heidelbeerkuchen (Blueberry Cheesecake) – German Food Recipes
Honestly, this cake is quite delicious. The fruit is topped with a creamy sweet cheesecake filling, and it all fits nicely into a cake crust that’s somewhere between a pie shell and cake.
15. Rouladen – Traditional German Food
Most German dinners are served with a side of Rotkohl (red cabbage), homemade sauerkraut, or cooked vegetables. I love Rouladen served in a traditional style with cooked potatoes or Spätzel, vegetables and a thick gravy on top.
16. Kirschmichel (Cherry Dessert) – German Cuisine
Best when served warm, fresh from the oven. Serve with some vanilla sauce, whipped cream or ice cream. Comfort food. Wunderbar!
17. Sauerbraten – German Food Recipes
Sauerbraten is one of the national dishes of Germany and this version is as authentic as I can possibly make it. The flavor is absolutely amazing and it tastes just like the sauerbraten I ate in Germany.
18. Bienenstich Kuchen (Bee Sting Cake) – Traditional German Food
German Bee Sting Cake is one of the best desserts in Germany and you can easily make it at home. This is one of those German desserts that looks complicated and impressive but it’s actually very easy to prepare.
19. Saumagen – German Cuisine
Germans usually serve Saumagen as fried slices with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes as well as some German mustard for dipping. The stomach of a pig only serves as a casing for the dish, ergo, the name.
20. Kokosmakronen (German Coconut Macaroons) – German Food Recipes
21. Spargel (White Asparagus) – Traditional German Food
The most popular asparagus recipe is this simple one: boiled white asparagus served with a Hollandaise sauce, boiled potatoes and ham.
22. Rumkugeln (German Rum Balls) – German Cuisine
You can roll your German Rum Balls in chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder. You could also use chopped hazelnuts, powdered sugar or mini chocolate chips.
23. Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes) – German Food Recipes
The shredded potatoes are wrung out in a clean dish towel and then mixed with egg, finely grated onion and flour and then fried to light golden. The end result is a crispy exterior and soft interior.
24. Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake) – Traditional German Food
It's an easy recipe that's ready to go into the oven in less than 20 minutes. Serve it with whipped cream, a side of vanilla ice cream - or both!
25. Maultaschen (German Dumplings) – Traditional German Food
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