Not many people think of Germany as a country with a rich foodie history. But you might be surprised to find there is definitely a distinctive food culture in Germany with some real delicious dishes to try.
There can be distinctive variations of the traditional German cuisine depending on the region, Bavaria is one such obvious example. Mostly you will find a very similar range of flavors, ingredients and dishes throughout Germany, with a few minor cultural differences.
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Most Popular German Dishes
Traditionally German cuisine is centred around meat, potatoes, vegetables and bread (brot). Pork is one of the most common meats.
There are real similarities with the cuisines of neighboring Eastern European countries in that the main ingredients can be heavy yet hearty and warming. So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try dishes of Germany, along with recipes for you to try yourself.
There are several versions of this dish the most popular being Wiener schnitzel.
The Wiener schnitzel is prepared by covering a thinly sliced piece of veal with egg, flour and bread crumbs. The veal is then deep-fried in butter for a few minutes until it turns brown on the outside.
Other than veal, schnitzel in Germany can be made with tenderized pork, chicken breast, soya meat or turkey.
This tender and crispy meal is very popular everywhere in Germany and is often served with potatoes, sauce and green salad.
Germans are known to love sausages, and one of the most consumed sausages in the country is currywurst.
This sausage is so popular that close 800 million of them are consumed in Germany each year. There is even a museum in Berlin, where this sausage originated from, that gives the history of currywurst.
You can find this street food everywhere you go in Germany. To make currywurst, a chef grills a sausage, usually a pork sausage, then slices it to add curry-flavored ketchup. You can have currywurst with chips or a bread roll.
Blutwurst (or blood sausage) is a type of sausage prepared from pigs blood, milk (sometimes with the addition of cream), fat, onions, salt, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram and cinnamon.
If you crave a slice of pizza while touring Germany, then you must try Flammkuchen which is the German version of pizza.
To make it dough is rolled into a rectangular shape then toppings such as thinly sliced onions, cheese, lardons, mushrooms, vegetables, etc. are added.
The dough is then placed in a wooden oven to bake. This German pizza is delicious and will make you forget about your pizza craving.
In Germany, it is difficult to go for a barbeque and not find bratwurst being served. These beef, pork or veal sausages are usually grilled or pan-fried, put in a bun, then served with ketchup and mustard.
You don’t have to wait to be invited for a German barbeque to taste a bratwurst. This dish is a very popular street food in Germany, so you can try one as you do your sightseeing in German cities.
Spätzle is a vegetarian dish which resembles pasta and is one of the most popular foods in Germany. Ingredients used to make Spätzle include flour, salt, eggs, and fizzy water that fluffs up the dough.
If you like melted cheese can be added to your Spätzle to make what is referred to as German macaroni and cheese.
You can have spätzle alone or order it alongside a meaty dish like schnitzel. You cannot miss spätzle on the menu of most German restaurants so be sure to give it a try.
Bavarian Cream is a custard dessert dish that is enriched with whipped cream, solidified with gelatin and garnished with sweet sauce and fruits. It is considered to be both a German and French dish and was invented in the 1700s where it was considered to be a culinary feat owing to the fact that it was served at a very low temperature in an era before refrigerators existed.
To make this food a thin slice of beef or veal is rolled up with bacon, ham, onions, mustard, and pickles inside, then roasted in a special sauce for a couple of hours using an oven.
This meaty meal is extremely delicious, something that makes up for the time it takes to prepare rouladen.
There are vegetarian options available so you can ask for one of these if you don’t eat meat.
Spargel (White Asparagus)
Visit Germany between April and June and you’ll be surprised by how much Germans love white asparagus. During the 3 month period known as spargelzeit (asparagus time) the average German consumes this vegetable, which is usually boiled or steamed, at least once a day.
Restaurants across the country create special asparagus menus which include meals such as asparagus salad with a vinaigrette and asparagus with butter, ham and hollandaise sauce.
If you find yourself in Germany during spargelzeit make sure you have some spargel, so that you can be part of this German white asparagus craze.
Hackepeter is a raw meat spread made from fresh, finely ground pork which can be flavored with salt, pepper and spices like garlic or caraway. The most popular way to eat Hackepeter is on bread topped with raw onions.
Knockwurst is a sausage made from a blend of ground pork and beef seasoned with spices like garlic, pepper and nutmeg, and encased in natural hog casings. It is typically made by blending ground pork and beef with seasonings and then stuffing the meat into casings which are twisted or tied into sausages.
Schweinebraten is a dish of roasted pork. Classic recipes often include a large cut of pork, vegetables, broth, a marinade and a gravy.
The pork is marinaded for several hours before it is seared or fried. The vegetables are placed into a roasting pan along with the broth and the pork is slow roasted at a low temperature. The drippings are used to make the gravy.
Leberkässemmel (Mit Süßem Senf)
Leberkässe translates as ‘liver cheese’ and looks like it’s just a ham sandwich, but it’s actually not and is a surprisingly delicious little snack. The meat is made out of corned beef, pork and bacon and is simply stuffed into a bread roll.
The best part is that the meat is topped with süßem Senf (sweet mustard) which is absolutely delicious and is a common condiment found particularly throughout Bavaria.
Maultaschen is a Swabian dish made with pasta dough that is stuffed with several ingredients including spinach, beef or pork, onions, and bread crumbs.
The pasta dough which is usually shaped into small squares or rectangles is then boiled or fried. Seasoning is often added to give maultaschen a magical taste.
Weisswurst are white sausages made from minced veal and bacon, seasoned with parsley, lemon, onions, ginger, and cardamom. They are traditionally eaten for breakfast with sweet mustard, pretzels and a beer in Bavaria.
Weisswurst are cooked in water (not boiling so as not to split the skin), and then served in the bowl still full of warm water.
You then take a sausage, split it down the middle to remove the skin and eat with a dollop of sweet mustard and a side of pretzel.
At first the taste is rich and flavorsome, but after two sausages it can quickly become a bit sickly. They are a must-try dish in Bavaria so it makes sense to order these at least once.
Presskopf is one of the more unusual foods eaten in Germany. It is a type of sausage made from the internal organs and meat of a pig or calf, set in a gelatin and sliced.
It is also commonly known as Head Cheese and is typically eaten cold, with a beer or in a sandwich.
Rindsgulasch mit Brezenknödel
Rindsgulasch mit Brezenknödel translates as beef goulash with pretzel dumplings. Goulash is widely popular in Eastern and Central Europe so it’s not unique to Germany by any means, but it is particularly popular in Bavaria and indeed across Germany.
The flavor is rich and aromatic and it goes without saying that restaurants in Munich know how to cook up a good goulash!
Another thing Germany is known for apart from its love for sausages is beer. Germany has a wide variety of quality beers and the Germans drink beer in large quantities too.
So it goes without saying that you cannot go to this European country and leave without having a beer or two.
To sample the different varieties of beers available you can order a beer together with your meals. The two go down well, try a pilsener which is the most popular of the German beers.
Zimtschnecke is a sweet cinnamon bun prepared using flour, cinnamon, sugar and butter. The dish is known by several other names, such as cinnamon roll, cinnamon bun, cinnamon swirl, cinnamon Danish and cinnamon snail. It is popular throughout Scandinavia and other parts of Northern Europe.
Lekach (Honey Cake)
Lekach is a cake that is spiced with nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon and then sweetened with brown sugar and honey. This cake originates in Germany’s Jewish culture, where it is a centerpiece of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, celebrations.
Schweinshaxe (Pork Knuckle)
Schweinshaxe is a dish of pork knuckle seasoned with a spice rub then cooked until tender, usually slow roasted or simmered. The roasted version is well liked for its crispy skin. The spice rub includes caraway if roasted, but bay leaves and cloves if simmering. Most recipes also call for German beer.
Braunschweiger, a variety of liverwurst, is a traditional German sausage made from liver. It is smooth, smoked, and can be spread onto bread or used as a filling in a sandwich.
It will always contain only pork liver, while other types of liverwurst use a variety of different livers such as beef or chicken or by using fat. The liver sausage is traditionally flavored with garlic, salt, and pepper.