German food is hearty, filling and really good! And we’re not only talking beer, pretzels and bratwurst. There’s so much to look forward to in the world of traditional German food! In fact, German food has been known to be underrated and sometimes misunderstood. But the Germans know something about cooking, the food portions are served in considerable sizes and dishes are always prepared with fresh and local ingredients. We’ve searched, tasted and found those traditional German delights not to be missed. So, if you’re planning to explore Germany, these are the dishes that you can expect to find on menus countrywide.
(We’ve even added some of them to our Ultimate Europe Food Bucket List!)
Bratwurst: Pork sausage
Brätwurst, from brät (finely chopped meat), and Wurst, (sausage). Most bratwursts are made from pork, as the most popular meat enjoyed in Germany, but others are made from beef. It’s a massive favourite in Germany and there’s a speciality in each region.
Fun Fact! More than 1,500 different types of sausages are made in Germany. Bratwurst in Germany dates back to 1313… so they’ve had a lot of time to perfect it.
Just like the sausages, most regions in Germany have their own way to prepare pretzels. Pretzels can be a side dish, to accompany your bratwurst. Or, they can be sliced open and filled like sandwiches. Best way to eat a pretzel? Fresh and warm out of the oven with loads of butter. These dough delights are delicious in any shape and size (and there are many).
Weisswurst: White sausage
These sausages have been referred to as, ‘morning sausages’ because they contain no preservatives. Thus, a fresh batch needs to be made everyday! Weisswurst is usually served for breakfast and the saying goes “you don’t eat it after the noon chime”. The sausage is eaten without the skin, so cut it open and eat the good stuff.
Potatoes can be fried, boiled, mashed or eaten in the skin. But we’re focussing on the famous Bavarian Kartoffelklösse (potato dumplings). These dumplings go well with any course and meal in Germany. The dough (made of potato, bread and flour) is rolled around a crouton in the middle and then boiled, a perfect and filling accompaniment!
Dampfnudle: Bread dumpling
This is a two-in-one dish! Dampfnudle can either be served as a savoury side dish (much-like sauerkraut and salad). Or, it could be served as a dessert, with vanilla custard, boiled fruit or jam.
Hendl: Rotisserie Chicken
A full chicken that is cooked on a stick to ensure all-round roasted goodness! These rotisserie chickens are referred to as ‘Brathähnchen’, or ‘Broiler’ in the eastern part of Germany and ‘Hendl’ in the rest. You can order a full or half chicken – in Germany, it’s the bigger, the better!
As we said before, in Germany size matters. When you order that “bier”, get ready for a big glass and a whole lot of flavour. The German selection of beers reaches far and wide. And they’re experts when it comes to hosting a festival! One word: Oktoberfest.
Fun Fact! Over 6 million litres of beer are consumed at Oktoberfest each year! That definitely says something about that liquid gold.
Sauerkraut: Pickled Cabbage
You will see this side order on most dishes. The renowned salty and sour taste is delicious on its own or with a bite of your main meal. Why did people think to ferment cabbage? Before fridges, frozen foods and cheap transport – food had to last a bit longer! Sauerkraut is also said to have prevented many sailors from getting scurvy – healthy and delicious.
Apfelstrudel: Apple Strudel
A German Christmas vacation should definitely include some form of Apfelstrudel. In fact, what is any German meal that doesn’t end with a sweet treat? This pastry wraps itself around a delicious filling of sweet, cooked apples and syrup.
Schweinshaxe or Eisbein
Depending on where you feast on this traditional meal, it will either be called Eisbein or Schweinshaxe. This cured pork knuckle is usually served with sauerkraut and potatoes. Be sure to be hungry when you order this, as there is no such thing as a small Eisbein!
Schnitzel: Crumbed meat
Last, but definitely not least is the traditional German schnitzel. This crumbed piece of meat is usually thinned using a meat tenderizer. And it sure is tender and delicious! To top it off, you can pour a creamy cheese, mushroom or pepper sauce over it. This is a perfect meal for a cold day.
Whether you’re heading to Germany for the beer (Oktoberfest) or just planning a vacation – the German food will always keep your belly full and your taste-buds satisfied.
Take a look at our German tours and join us as we explore the big tastes of Germany!