10 Typical (& Delicious) German Dishes You Must Eat At Least Once 😋

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In this delightful exploration, we’re diving deep into the heart of German cuisine to uncover 10 typical—and utterly delicious—German dishes that promise to tantalize your taste buds and offer a genuine taste of German culinary tradition. Our journey to compile this scrumptious list was guided by a mix of historical significance, popularity, and that special touch of comfort food appeal that makes each dish stand out.

Determining which dishes made the cut involved many meals in Germany (I take this job seriously) and conversations with German friends and family about the quintessence of German cooking. It’s this blend of research and passion for food that has shaped our carefully curated selection, ensuring we highlight the flavors and stories that truly represent Germany’s diverse gastronomy.

10 Typical (& Delicious) German Dishes You Must Eat At Least OncePin

German cuisine, often characterized by its heartiness and depth of flavor, offers more than what meets the eye. Beyond the world-renowned bratwurst and pretzels lies a rich tapestry of dishes influenced by regional specialties and historical events.

From the northern reaches with its seafood delicacies to the hearty, meaty dishes of the south, each recipe tells a story of cultural heritage and culinary innovation.

As we embark on this culinary tour, remember, our aim is to simplify these complex flavors into descriptions that everyone can appreciate. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or new to German cuisine, I invite you to join me on this flavorful journey.

Let’s explore together the tastes that make German dishes so special and, perhaps, inspire your next culinary adventure or dinner menu.

I recommend you bookmark this page and make sure you try all of these foods when you are in Germany.

This is a guide to typical German dishes. To learn more about German food, find our introduction to German food here.

Love Germany? Click here to download your free guide to 25 Incredible Things You Must Do In Germany In Your Lifetime. You won’t want to miss them!

10 Typical German Dishes

1. Sauerbraten


Sauerbraten, often referred to as Germany’s national dish, is a pot roast, usually of beef (but other meats such as lamb, mutton, pork, and traditionally, horse) marinated before slow-cooking as pot roast.

The dish’s origins trace back to the time of the Romans, who carried the method of marinating meat in wine across the regions they conquered, including what is now Germany. This marinating process tenderizes the meat and imparts a deep, tangy flavor.

This dish is typically complemented by a rich gravy made from the marinade, served with red cabbage, potato dumplings, or boiled potatoes.

You can find Sauerbraten across Germany, but there are regional variations. For example, in Rhineland, the marinade is sweetened often with raisins. Whereas in Swabia, Sauerbraten is known for having more vinegar in the marinade which adds a sharper, sour taste.

This gives you the perfect incentive to try Sauerbraten all over Germany.

2. Bratwurst


Bratwurst are German sausages made of pork, beef, or veal. The name derives from the Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, which is finely chopped meat, and Wurst, or sausage.

Though it is popular across Germany, each region has its own version of this culinary staple, with over 40 varieties. Nuremberg, for example, is famous for its smaller, spicier version. These regional variations come from hundreds of years of making bratwurst to local tastes, and available ingredients.

Bratwursts are traditionally grilled or fried and served with mustard and bread or potato salad.

Click here to learn more about German sausages.

3. Pretzels (Brezeln)

Pretzels (Brezeln)Pin
Pretzels (Brezeln)

The pretzel, or Brezel as it’s known in Germany, is a type of baked pastry made from dough that is commonly shaped into a knot. The history of pretzels in Germany dates back to at least the Middle Ages.

Pretzels have been a part of German baking traditions for centuries, often associated with Christian Lent and Easter customs, symbolizing arms crossed in prayer. They also have regional varation in the size, shape, texture, and flavor of the pretzels. For example, pretzels are usually softer in the south and crunicher and smaller in the north.

They’re typically sprinkled with coarse salt but can also be found in sweet variants covered in sugar or chocolate.

Pretzels can be a snack or part of a meal. A pretzel with butter could be your breakfast or eating pretzels with beer is popular.

4. Schnitzel


While Schnitzel is also popular in Austria (Wiener Schnitzel specifically), the German take on Schnitzel encompasses a variety of breaded, fried meats. The most common version in Germany is the Schweineschnitzel, made from pork thanks to its wide availability.

The practice of tenderizing and breading meat before frying it was a culinary method brought to Germany by Italian tradespeople during the Renaissance, which quickly became a staple in German cuisine.

Schnitzel is often served with lemon, creamy mushroom sauce, and accompaniments like potato salad. Depending on where you are in Germany is likely to influence any sauces with your schnitzel.

Click here to learn more about German schnitzel.

5. Sauerkraut


Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, and its history in German cuisine dates back over a thousand years as a method of preserving cabbage through the winter months. It’s a staple in German households, served as a side dish with sausages, pork, or other meats.

The fermentation process gives sauerkraut its distinctive sour flavor, which complements the richness of German meat dishes and offers health benefits due to its probiotic content.

Again, it may be made slightly differently depending on the region in Germany. It is always fermented cabbage but may also be enriched with other ingredients. For example, around the Rhine, apples may be added for sweetness. In Bavaria, beer may be added. It can also be softer in some regions and crunchier in others.

6. Spätzle


Spätzle are soft egg noodles or German-style dumplings native to the southern part of Germany. Considered a specialty of Swabian cuisine, they date back to at least the 18th century.

Made from a simple dough of eggs, flour, and, often, water or milk, Spätzle is pressed through a Spätzle maker into boiling water and cooked until they rise to the surface.

This versatile dish can be served as a side with meat dishes or cheese, making a delicious Cheesespätzle.

Click here to learn more about pasta in German cuisine.

7. Kartoffelsalat (Potato Salad)

Kartoffelsalat Pin

Potato salad in Germany, known as Kartoffelsalat, differs widely across regions. The Southern German version typically includes a broth-based dressing with vinegar, onions, sometimes mustard, fresh herbs and it may have bacon bits to give it a smoky flavor.

In the northern parts of Germany, the sauce may feature a mayonnaise-based dressing, hard boiled eggs and extras like apples or cucumbers.

Different chefs can add their own personal touches like radishes, carrots, or even yogurt or sour cream.

Its roots can be traced to the early 19th century when potatoes became a staple in Germany. It’s a common side dish at picnics and barbecues, reflecting the German knack for creating hearty, comforting dishes.

Click here to read our full guide to Kartoffelsalat.

8. Rouladen


Rouladen is German comfort food consisting of bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef or veal, which is then braised until tender.

It is a traditional dish that varies slightly from region to region and is thought to have originated from the practice of stretching more expensive meats to feed more people during festive or special occasions. Differences between regions can be the use of different meats like pork or veal or variations in the filling

Rouladen is particularly served during the winter months. It’s often served with gravy, potato dumplings (Klöße or Knödel), and red cabbage, embodying the heartiness of German cuisine.

9. Käsespätzle


Käsespätzle is Germany’s answer to macaroni and cheese. It’s made with Spätzle mixed with copious amounts of melted cheese and often topped with crispy fried onions.

This dish is a comfort food staple in the southwestern regions of Germany, particularly in Swabia, Bavaria, and Baden. It combines the simplicity of pasta with the hearty, rich flavors of German cheese, creating a warm, comforting dish perfect for cold days.

It dates back centuries and is a testament to the ingenuity of peasant cuisine, utilizing readily available ingredients—flour, eggs, and cheese—to create a hearty meal.

Click here to read our full guide to Käsespätzle.

10. Apfelstrudel


Apfelstrudel, or apple strudel, is one of Germany’s most popular desserts, though it is also widely associated with Austria. It’s made from thinly rolled dough stuffed with a mixture of tart cooking apples, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and breadcrumbs.

The dessert’s origins are traced back to the Habsburg Empire, and it made its way into German cuisine where it became a beloved treat.

Served warm, often with vanilla sauce, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream, Apfelstrudel provides a sweet finish to any meal.

Click here to read our full guide to Apfelstrudel.

In exploring these 10 typical and delicious German dishes, we’ve journeyed through the rich tapestry of Germany’s culinary landscape. Each dish, with its unique flavors and historic roots, invites us to appreciate the depth and diversity of German cuisine beyond the stereotypes.

From the hearty satisfaction of Sauerbraten to the sweet delight of Apfelstrudel, these dishes offer a taste of Germany’s cultural heritage and culinary genius. German cuisine is about more than just food; it’s about tradition, innovation, and the communal pleasure of sharing a meal.

Whether you’re a seasoned food lover or a curious newcomer to German dishes, there’s no doubt that the flavors and stories behind these ten iconic recipes will inspire a deeper appreciation for Germany’s culinary offerings. Happy exploring, and guten Appetit!

Bread is also taken very seriously in Germany. Find our guide to German bread here.

Looking for more information about food in Germany? Find our guide to the most popular food in Germany here and what Germans eat for breakfast here. You can also find all our food guides to Germany here.

Elsa Meyer

By Elsa Meyer

Elsa was born in Germany before moving to the US as a kid. She spent many summers exploring Germany and hanging out with her grandparents before moving back to Germany for university. Elsa has a degree in German history and language. She enjoys sharing her love of her native country with others who want to explore it too! She particularly loves exploring the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest.

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