National German cuisine – what to eat in Germany

Traditional German Cuisine Blog

Traditional German cuisine is far from dietary. Culinary traditions of the country began to form in the period of ancient Rome, but the active development of German cuisine falls in the postwar years, when traditions in cooking were influenced by the cultures of neighboring countries.


On One Man’s Ability to Influence Culinary Traditions


As history clearly demonstrates, monarchs are able to influence not only the politics and culture of a country but also the culinary preferences and traditions of their people. Germany is such a historical example. King Kaiser Wilhelm II had a stern temper and austerity. During his reign, he imposed a strict prohibition on talking during meals and discussing food and products in public. Talking about it was considered shameful. In addition, the king had a negative attitude toward culinary delights, so people – common and aristocrats – had to eat very simple and bland food. The only “dye” that was allowed to be served was flour sauce.


National German cuisine


At the end of World War I, the king abdicated the throne and the people of Germany, who were not engaged in the development of national cuisine, began to starve. It was not until 1948 that cooking shows appeared on local television, and recipe books appeared in bookstores. In addition, Germans began to actively travel and bring various recipes of dishes. Thus, the German cuisine has passed a difficult, thorny path before becoming what it is known today in the world – nutritious, hearty, apparently, in this way the Germans are trying to forget about the unleavened and hungry years in the history of the country.


National German cuisine – traditions and preferences


National German cuisine


Despite the fact that culinary traditions in Germany began to form relatively recently, the country has already developed a distinct food culture, and many national dishes of German cuisine are known and loved in many countries.

Perhaps the most popular and favorite dishes in Germany are pork, and the meat is used to make sausages, frankfurters, and pâtés. There are about one and a half thousand sausages alone on the national menu, and this is not surprising, because each region of the country comes up with an author’s recipe.

An important addition to the meat delicacies are bread and pastries. In Germany, there are no less than three hundred varieties of bread, and how many baked desserts – almost impossible to count.

Bread Museum in Germany
Bread Museum in Germany

In the city of Ulm built Bread Museum, which describes in detail all varieties of bread in Germany.

The most common and well-known side dish to meat is sauerkraut, Germans also love and know how to cook potatoes, they are fried, boiled, stewed, baked, fried fritters.

What is eaten for breakfast in Germany? First of all, this meal is dense and hearty, usually eating bread with several varieties of ham, bread with jam, honey, yogurt and rolls. At lunch Germans necessarily eat soup, for the second course – meat with a side dish, finish the meal with dessert, for dinner – salad and cold cuts. It is customary to eat in Germany at least five times a day.


Interesting facts about traditional German cuisine


  1. Tourists are likely to notice that in every German city there are a huge number of outlets  selling sausages and sausage, they are inexpensive and attract attention with their flavor. These delicacies are served with potato salad or as hot dogs.
  2. At home, people of Germany rarely cook German national dishes, which are characterized by calories and fat content. But such treats are ordered with pleasure by tourists, so there are many institutions where the menu offers traditional German cuisine.
  3. On weekends after dinner Germans pamper themselves with delicious additions, for example serving coffee with cakes and dessert varies depending on the season.
  4. In Germany it is not customary to invite “for dinner”, they invite “for coffee”.
  5. The main meal is breakfast. Germans do not usually leave home without a hearty meal.
  6. All cafes of Germany offer a wide range of dishes for breakfast and serve them from morning till 15-00.
  7. Features of German cuisine vary from region to region. For example, in the northern regions they prefer potatoes and eat a lot of them, while in the south they drink tea instead of coffee, in the Alps they traditionally drink milk and eat a lot of cheese.


What to try in Germany


It is no accident that many tourists associate Germany with sausages and beer, indeed, these two products can be cooked and combined masterfully here. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assess the national dishes of German cuisine only by meat delicacies and foamy drinks, because each region has its own personal treats and uses unique culinary techniques. In the southwest, French traditions are followed. The calling card of Bavaria is sausages, stewed cabbage, and sweet mustard. In Rheinland they prefer pancakes of potatoes with marinated beef, and in Hamburg they do an excellent job with seafood. Once in Cologne, be sure to try the almond cookies.

Germans prefer to eat nourishing and tasty, proof of this is a varied national menu with a large selection of both simple and complex culinary masterpieces.


Main dishes


Weisswurst White Sausages

The name of the sausage means boiled veal sausage. The recipe mixes in equal proportions of ground pork and ground beef, spices, onions, protein, and a spicy freshness is given by lemon peel.Weisswurst White Sausages

Interestingly, the traditional dish appeared in 1857, and the recipe for sausages remains unchanged. Locals eat weisswurts only until 12 noon and do not order sausages afternoon.

The meat delicacy is served in the pot where the sausages were stewed, with a side dish of salted pretzel, mustard.


Beef rolls

Beef rolls


This traditional German dish is served on Sundays in many families. Especially in cold weather, rolls become especially popular. The meat is stuffed with chopped pickles, bacon, fried onions and mustard.

Beef rolls are served with a sauce made of meat broth, red wine, and vegetables. The best side dish is dumplings with stewed cabbage or potatoes.





The name of the traditional German dish means dumplings, the recipe is as follows – knead dough, prepare a filling of minced meat, bacon, pork, and spices. Then the stuffing is wrapped in small envelopes, which are boiled in meat broth.

This dish was invented by monks from the Maulbonna Monastery, when meat cannot be eaten, they make envelopes with a lean filling of greens.


Berlin style knuckle

Berlin style knuckle


This traditional dish is common in eastern Germany. The preparation requires a pork shank, which is boiled in beer, then baked. Juniper berries, garlic and a bouquet of spices are added for a special aroma and rich flavor. In local restaurants the knuckle is served with mashed peas and sauerkraut.

The knuckle has a glossy, shiny crust, which is why the name of the German dish “Eisbein” translates as an ice leg.





A soup of herring, meat, potatoes, beets, pickles, onions. Local fishermen call the national first course – fish soup. Outwardly the soup does not look too attractive, but it tastes quite original. The soup was first cooked by Baltic sailors, combining all the products that were on hand.


Koenigsberg Clops

Koenigsberg Clops


Boiled meatballs have been served in Germany since the 19th century. The recipe is made with ground veal, eggs, bread, anchovies, lemon juice, mustard, and white wine.

The treat is sold in stores in the form of semi-finished products, but the real dish, cooked according to a traditional recipe, you can try in a restaurant or cafe.


Fake Hare

Fake Hare


Despite the mysterious and original name, the traditional dish is a meat casserole with onions and potatoes. Whole boiled eggs are added inside.

The dish appeared on the national menu at the end of World War II. After the fighting there was a shortage of food in the country, there were almost no animals left in the forests, so the women came up with a treat that looked like a hare’s back.





The name of the national dish is undoubtedly familiar to everyone, but do you know the technology behind schnitzel? In every region of Germany, the treat is fried according to an author’s recipe. In Hamburg, it is a cutlet with scrambled eggs; there is also the Holsten-style schnitzel – meat with scrambled eggs, capers and anchovies. The simplest Viennese dish is a simple pork cutlet.

All schnitzels have one thing in common: they are coated in breadcrumbs before roasting, and after cooking, before serving, they are drizzled with lemon juice.






The famous sauerkraut, which is considered an indigenous German dish. In Germany it is called Krauts. The shredded cabbage is fermented with vinegar and salt. In general, the traditional recipe is similar to our native, but with one difference – they do not add carrots and apples. Ready sauerkraut is stewed or fried and served as a side dish to meat.

Traditionally, German housewives sauerkraut for six weeks, a jar of the snack can be purchased at any store in Germany.

Germans enjoy eating sauerkraut as a beer snack.



Remarkably, the potato was initially received in Germany without enthusiasm, moreover, the locals Knedley refused to grow and consume it. Why this was the case, historical documents are silent; perhaps people did not believe that potatoes were enough to eat. The situation changed two centuries later, and the reason for this was a poor harvest of vegetables and fruit, which forced the local population to pay attention to tubers. Since then, the Germans have mastered not only the cultivation of the potato, but also a huge number of recipes made from it.

German linguists even connect the name “potato” with two German words – kraft – power and troifel – devil.

The most common potato dishes:

Knedley – boiled balls of potatoes, served with meat and sauce;

Potato salad – it is impossible to name a single recipe for this traditional dish, because each region cooks it in its own way;

Potato pizza, popular in Swabian cuisine;

Mecklenburg has potato soup with baked plums and ham;potato fritters

Potato sausage is made from potatoes, minced meat, and pork intestines with a whole bouquet of spices;

Potato fritters – there are many recipes for this treat all over Germany; they are made with or without flour, with or without raisins, milk and yeast

Mashed potatoes with the addition of mashed apples, by the way, in Mecklenburg instead of apple mashed pears are used.


Schwarzwald cake or the Black Forest Schwarzwald cake

The recipe for this famous national dessert appeared in 1915. A Bavarian confectioner used chocolate cakes and decorated them with cream and cherries. Since then, the treat became popular throughout Germany, and a decade and a half later, the recipe spread around the world. Today, the recipe for the cake looks as follows – the sponge cake is soaked in liquor (cherry syrup), smeared with whipped cream, layered with cherries (cherry jelly), and the top is decorated with grated bitter chocolate.

Interestingly, the traditional dessert gets its name from its coloring – a combination of black, brown and white – the colors of the national dress of the inhabitants of the mountain Schwarzwald


Cupcake Stollen

Cupcake Stollen


The cupcake contains a large amount of spices, spices. Raisins, nuts, candied fruits. On top, the treat is generously sprinkled with powdered sugar, so that the cake resembles a newborn baby Jesus wrapped in a white diaper.

This dish was first cooked in 1329, the recipe caused a lot of criticism, because the plain taste of the dough made of oats, water and flour did not impress the demanding Germans. Then it was decided to add butter to the dough.

According to one legend, the author of the dessert was the court baker Heinrich Dresnach of Torgau.

Today in Germany, cupcakes are made with a variety of fillings, but the most popular and traditional is the Dresden Stollen – the name patented for the Christmas cake. Stollen used to be called streusel, which is why the Christmas market in Dresden is called the Stritzelmarkt – the market where streusels are sold. The main feature of this treat is that it takes two weeks after baking for the cupcake to taste its best.


Bretsel or bretzel



A traditional German bretzel common in the southern regions of Germany. The treat has been made since the 13th century and is always baked with special attention and care. In this case, the recipe and shape of the bretzel are strictly regulated. The shape of a bretzel resembles hands folded on the chest while praying. It is customary to sprinkle the bretzel with large salt crystals. There are many recipes – with sausage, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, and grated cheese.

Just before baking, the bretzel is dipped in a solution of sodium lye, which sounds like laugen in German, which is why the bretzel is also called laugenbrezzel.


What to try in Germany from street food

Germans do not disdain quick, light snacks, street food presented in small vans, which are in every German city.

What they eat in Germany from street food:


  • Bratwurst – a sausage in a bun using a secret ingredient;
  • Currywurst – sliced sausages seasoned with curry sauce, served with french fries;
  • Leberkese – spicy meat in a wheat bun;
  • Herring in a bun – wheat bread with
    pickled herring, pickles, onions, and lettuce.



Of course, Germany is primarily associated with beer of excellent quality. For many centuries, local brewers have adhered to a recipe that was legalized in 1871. According to the law, traditional beer can only contain hops, malt, water and yeast.

There are more than 1,200 breweries in Germany, not counting private breweries.

BeerIt is customary to serve beer with a thick foam, a sign of quality. In addition to foamy beverage,  Germany actively develops winemaking, as well as making delicious schnapps, mulled wine and cider. Among the variety of alcoholic beverages Germans prefer tea and coffee.

Be sure to try the bionade, a carbonated beverage that is made using brewing technology, and is a lemonade with different flavors.

So, in Germany love to eat hearty and tasty food, so the portions in restaurants and cafes are large. At first glance, the national German cuisine may seem a little crazy, but just try them and you realize that the culinary preferences of Germans are largely similar to ours.

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