Germany is famous for its hearty and flavorful cuisine. Traditional German dishes are known for their strong flavors and generous portions, and are often enjoyed with a refreshing beer or a glass of wine. From savory sausages to sweet desserts, Germany offers a wide range of culinary delights that are sure to satisfy any taste bud. In this article, we’ll explore the national German cuisine and what to eat in Germany.
Germany’s National Dishes – Traditions and Benefits
German cuisine has a rich history and is deeply rooted in traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Traditional German dishes are known for their use of fresh, local ingredients, and their hearty portions. Many German dishes are made with meat, potatoes, and cabbage, as these were the staples of the German diet for centuries. These ingredients are often paired with herbs and spices to create delicious and flavorful dishes.
What is Eaten for Breakfast in Germany?
In Germany, breakfast is often a simple affair consisting of bread, butter, and jam, accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea. Some Germans prefer to start their day with a more substantial breakfast, which may include cold cuts, cheese, and eggs.
Interesting Facts About Traditional German Cuisine
Did you know that the world-famous dish of hamburgers was actually invented in Hamburg, Germany? Or that the traditional German dish of sauerbraten was originally made with horse meat? German cuisine is full of interesting and surprising facts like these.
German Cuisine is Regional
One interesting fact about traditional German cuisine is that it varies greatly by region. Each region has its own unique specialties and cooking techniques that reflect the local culture and history. For example, in the north, seafood is a popular ingredient, while in the south, hearty meat dishes are more common.
Beer is Considered a Food
Beer is a staple of German culture and is often consumed with meals. In fact, it is considered a food and is subject to the same purity laws as other food products. The Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, was first enacted in 1516 and stipulates that beer can only be made with water, hops, and malt.
Breakfast is a Big Deal
Breakfast is an important meal in Germany and is often a substantial affair. A typical German breakfast may include bread, cheese, cold cuts, and boiled eggs. Muesli, a cereal made with oats, nuts, and dried fruit, is also a popular breakfast food in Germany.
Sausages are King
Sausages, or Wurst, are a quintessential part of German cuisine. There are over 1,500 different types of sausages in Germany, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some of the most popular types of sausages include Bratwurst, Weisswurst, and Currywurst.
Potatoes are Everywhere
Potatoes are another staple of German cuisine and are used in a variety of dishes. Some of the most popular potato dishes include Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), and Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup). In fact, Germany is the largest producer of potatoes in Europe.
German Cuisine Has Influenced Other Countries
German cuisine has had a significant impact on the food of other countries, particularly in Europe and the Americas. For example, many of the sausages and meat dishes found in American cuisine have their origins in Germany. German immigrants also brought their culinary traditions to countries such as Brazil and Argentina.
What to Try in Germany from the Food
If you’re visiting Germany, there are a few dishes that you simply must try. Here are some of the most popular:
White Sausages (Weisswurst)
White sausages, or Weisswurst in German, are a type of traditional Bavarian sausage that is made from veal and pork. The sausages are typically seasoned with parsley, lemon, cardamom, and other spices, giving them a distinctive flavor that is both savory and slightly sweet.
Weisswurst is typically served as a breakfast or mid-morning snack in Bavaria, and is traditionally eaten with a soft pretzel, sweet mustard, and a glass of wheat beer. In fact, there is even a specific protocol for eating Weisswurst – the sausages are cut into small pieces with a knife and fork, and the skin is peeled away before eating.
The origin of Weisswurst can be traced back to Munich in the mid-19th century. Legend has it that the sausages were created by a local butcher who was looking for a way to use up leftover meat scraps. The sausages became popular quickly and are now a beloved part of Bavarian cuisine. Today, Weisswurst is enjoyed not just in Bavaria, but throughout Germany and beyond.
Beef Rolls (Rinderrouladen)
Beef Rolls, also known as Rinderrouladen in German, are a classic dish in German cuisine. They are made by rolling thinly sliced beef around a filling of onions, bacon, and pickles, and then braising the rolls in a rich, flavorful sauce made from beef broth, red wine, and vegetables.
The beef used in Rinderrouladen is typically a lean cut such as top round, which is pounded thin to create an even thickness for rolling. The filling is made from finely chopped onions, diced bacon, and sliced pickles, which are spread over the beef before rolling.
Once the beef rolls are prepared, they are typically browned in a pan and then simmered in the sauce for several hours until the meat is tender and flavorful. The sauce is often thickened with flour or cornstarch to create a rich, gravy-like consistency.
Beef Rolls are often served with traditional German side dishes such as boiled potatoes or Spätzle (a type of egg noodle), red cabbage, and green beans. They are a comforting and satisfying dish that is perfect for cold winter nights or special occasions.
Maultaschen are a traditional German dish that originated in the region of Swabia, in the southwest of the country. They are a type of pasta dish that is similar to Italian ravioli or dumplings, and are made from a mixture of minced meat, bread crumbs, and spices that is wrapped in pasta dough.
Maultaschen are often described as Swabian “pasta pockets” and are usually served in a clear broth or with a side of potato salad. They can also be pan-fried or baked and served with a variety of sauces or toppings.
According to legend, Maultaschen were created by Swabian monks during the fasting period of Lent. The monks were not allowed to eat meat during this time, so they created Maultaschen as a way to sneak meat into their meals without breaking their religious rules. Today, Maultaschen are enjoyed year-round and are a popular dish throughout Germany.
Beef Knuckle in Berlin (Eisbein)
Beef Knuckle in Berlin, also known as Eisbein, is a traditional German dish that originated in Berlin. It is a hearty and flavorful meal made from a pork or beef knuckle that has been cured and then slowly simmered until it is tender and falling off the bone. The dish is typically served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, and mustard.
Eisbein is a popular dish in Berlin and is often enjoyed with a cold beer. It is also a common dish in other parts of Germany and is sometimes referred to as Haxen or Schweinshaxe, depending on the region.
To prepare Eisbein, the pork or beef knuckle is first cured in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices. The knuckle is then rinsed and simmered in a pot of water or beer for several hours until it is tender. The dish is then typically served with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, and mustard.
Eisbein is a hearty and filling meal that is perfect for cold winter nights. It is also a great example of traditional German cuisine and is a must-try for anyone visiting Berlin or Germany.
Laubskaus, also known as Labskaus or Lapskaus, is a traditional dish from the Northern coastal regions of Germany, particularly in Hamburg and Bremen. It is a hearty meat dish made from salted beef or corned beef, onions, potatoes, and beetroot.
The ingredients are typically cooked together until they are soft and then mashed or pureed to create a thick, chunky stew-like consistency. Some variations of Laubskaus may also include pickles, capers, or herring. The dish is usually served with boiled potatoes and pickled gherkins, and sometimes topped with a fried egg or rollmops (pickled herring fillet).
Laubskaus is a popular dish in the region, particularly among sailors and fishermen, and is often served in local pubs and restaurants.
Königsberg Klops, also known as Königsberger Klopse, is a traditional German meatball dish that originated in the city of Königsberg, which is now known as Kaliningrad and located in Russia. The dish consists of small meatballs made from ground veal or beef mixed with onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, and spices, typically nutmeg, allspice, and pepper. The meatballs are then boiled in a broth made with beef stock, white wine, capers, and lemon juice.
Once the meatballs are cooked, they are typically served with a creamy white sauce made from the cooking broth, sour cream, and egg yolks. The dish is often served with boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes and garnished with chopped parsley.
Königsberg Klops is considered a classic dish in German cuisine and is enjoyed by many as a comfort food. While it originated in Königsberg, it is now popular throughout Germany and can be found on the menus of many traditional German restaurants.
False Hare (Falscher Hase)
False Hare, or “Falscher Hase” in German, is a traditional German meat dish that is similar to meatloaf or a large meatball. The name “False Hare” comes from the fact that the dish is shaped like a hare or rabbit, but is made from ground beef instead.
The dish typically consists of ground beef, bread crumbs, onions, eggs, and spices, and is formed into a large, oblong shape before being baked or simmered in a flavorful sauce. Some variations of the recipe include bacon or sausage as additional ingredients.
False Hare is a popular comfort food in Germany, and is often served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. It is also commonly found in German restaurants and can be purchased pre-made at many supermarkets and specialty stores.
Schnitzel is a popular dish in German cuisine that consists of a thin slice of meat that is breaded and fried until crispy.
The most common type of meat used for schnitzel is veal, but pork and chicken can also be used. The meat is typically pounded flat to create a thin, even layer before it is breaded with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. The schnitzel is then fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy on the outside, while still tender and juicy on the inside. It is often served with a variety of garnishes, such as lemon wedges, lingonberry jam, and potato salad.
Schnitzel is a beloved comfort food in Germany and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Sauerkraut is a traditional German dish made from finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. The name “sauerkraut” literally translates to “sour cabbage” in German.
To make sauerkraut, the cabbage is sliced thinly and mixed with salt, which draws out the moisture and helps to create an environment that is conducive to fermentation. The mixture is then packed tightly into a container, such as a crock or jar, and left to ferment for several weeks to several months. During the fermentation process, the naturally occurring bacteria convert the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which gives the sauerkraut its tangy flavor and helps to preserve it.
Sauerkraut is a popular accompaniment to sausages, pork, and other meats, and is also used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, and salads. It is also known for its health benefits, as it is high in fiber and vitamin C and contains beneficial bacteria that can promote gut health
A staple in German cuisine and often served as a side dish or garnish.
The Most Common Potato Dishes:
- Dumplings (Kartoffelknödel) – A type of German dumpling made with potatoes and flour.
- Potato Salad (Kartoffelsalat) – A refreshing salad made with potatoes, onions, and a vinegar dressing.
- Potato Pizza (Kartoffelpizza) – A pizza topped with thinly sliced potatoes and cheese.
- Potato Soup (Kartoffelsuppe) – A creamy soup made with potatoes, onions, and bacon.
- Potato Sausage (Kartoffelwurst) – A sausage made with potatoes and meat.
- Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) – A type of German pancake made with grated potatoes and served with applesauce.
- Mashed Potatoes (Kartoffelpüree) – A creamy potato dish that is often served as a side dish.
No meal is complete without a sweet treat
Black Forest Cake or Black Forest (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
Black Forest Cake, also known as Black Forest or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German, is a rich and decadent dessert that originated in the Black Forest region of Germany. It is made with layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream, and cherries, and is often decorated with chocolate shavings and more cherries on top.
The cake is named after the Schwarzwald, or Black Forest, region in southwestern Germany where it was first created in the early 20th century. It is said that the cake was inspired by the traditional costume of the women in the region, which features a black skirt, white blouse, and a hat decorated with red pompoms, just like the colors of the cake.
The traditional recipe for Black Forest Cake calls for a chocolate sponge cake that is soaked in kirsch, a type of cherry brandy. The cake layers are then filled with a mixture of whipped cream and cherries, and the whole cake is covered in whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Black Forest Cake has become a popular dessert all over the world, and variations of the original recipe can be found in many countries. Some versions use different types of cake, such as chocolate sponge or chocolate ganache, and some use different types of fruit, such as raspberries or strawberries.
Stollen cake, or simply Stollen, is a traditional German Christmas bread that originated in Dresden, Germany. It is typically made with yeast dough that is enriched with butter, sugar, dried fruit, and nuts. The dough is shaped into a long oval and then folded in half, with the edges pressed together to form a characteristic “hump” shape. The cake is then baked until golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar.
Stollen is often referred to as a fruitcake, but it differs from the typical fruitcake in several ways. It is denser and moister than a fruitcake, and it is not soaked in alcohol. The traditional ingredients used in Stollen include raisins, candied orange peel, and almonds, although variations can include other dried fruits, nuts, and spices.
Stollen is a popular Christmas treat in Germany and is often served with coffee or tea. It is also exported to other countries and can be found in many German and European specialty food shops.
Brezel or Bretzel
Brezel or Bretzel (also known as pretzel in English) is a type of baked bread product that is typically twisted into a knot-like shape.
It is a popular snack in Germany and other European countries, and is often served with mustard or cheese. The dough for Brezels is usually made from wheat flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and water, and is boiled briefly in water with baking soda before being baked in an oven. This process gives the Brezels their distinctive chewy texture and slightly browned exterior.
In Germany, Brezels are often enjoyed as a snack with a cold beer, and are also commonly sold by street vendors. They can be found in many different sizes and shapes, ranging from small bite-sized snacks to large, soft pretzels that are perfect for sharing.
What to Try in Germany from Street Food
Germany is also famous for its street food. Here are some of the most popular street foods that you should try:
- Bratwurst – A grilled sausage that is often served with mustard and sauerkraut.
- Karrivust – A type of currywurst that is served with a spicy tomato sauce.
- Leberkese – A type of meatloaf that is sliced and served on a bun.
- Herring in a Bun – A type of fish sandwich that is popular in northern Germany.
Germany is famous for its beer, and there are many different types and styles to choose from. Some of the most popular German beers include Pilsner, Weissbier, and Dunkel.
In addition to beer, Germany has a wide variety of popular beverages that are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Some of the most popular non-alcoholic drinks in Germany include:
- Mineral Water: Mineral water, or Mineralwasser in German, is a popular non-alcoholic beverage that is consumed in large quantities in Germany. The country has a long tradition of mineral water production, and many different brands and types are available.
- Apfelschorle: Apfelschorle is a refreshing drink made from apple juice and carbonated water. It is a popular alternative to soft drinks and is often served in restaurants and cafes.
- Spezi: Spezi is a soft drink made by mixing cola with orange soda. It is a popular beverage in Germany and is often consumed with meals.
- Kaffee: Coffee is a popular beverage in Germany, and there are many different types of coffee drinks available, including espresso, cappuccino, and latte.
- Tee: Tea is also a popular beverage in Germany, and there are many different types of tea available, including black tea, green tea, and herbal teas.
In addition to these non-alcoholic drinks, Germany also has a long tradition of wine production, and there are many different types of German wines available. Some of the most popular types of German wines include Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Gewürztraminer.
Germany has a rich and diverse culinary culture that is sure to please any food lover. From hearty main dishes to sweet desserts and refreshing drinks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So next time you’re in Germany, be sure to try some of the traditional dishes and street foods that make this country so unique and delicious.