Famous traditional German dishes

When we talk about European cuisine, Italy and France often steal the spotlight with their fine dining traditions.

However, Germany has a vibrant and diverse food scene that may surprise you.

With a population of over 83 million and a tapestry of culinary traditions, German food is more than just Schnitzel and Bratwurst.

For those who’ve traveled through Germany, ordering meals can sometimes be challenging.

To simplify your dining experiences, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best traditional German dishes.

Additionally, we’ve included links to recipes so you can recreate these culinary delights at home.

Most German dishes are made with a combination of rich and hearty ingredients, making them relatively straightforward to prepare.

Traditional German Food: Exploring Culinary Riches The Best German Dishes When we think of traditional German cuisine, images of hearty, meat-centric dishes with creamy sauces often come to mind.

This is particularly prominent in Bavaria and the mountainous regions, but German food extends beyond this stereotype.

To delve deeper into the world of German cuisine, read our Essential Guide to Germany’s Romantic Road.

We’ve curated a list of the most beloved German foods that cater to all types of palates.

Whether you’re craving an authentic German dessert or a more innovative creation, here are 20 German dishes you can savor today.

Bratwurst (Grilled Sausage)

Bratwurst, a staple of traditional German food, is synonymous with German cuisine.

These sausages are crafted from ground pork, veal, or beef, and then expertly pan-fried or roasted to a delightful crispiness.

Bratwurst pairs perfectly with mustard and is often enjoyed in pubs alongside sauerkraut or potato salad. These sausages are also a popular fast food option.

Schnitzel (Breaded Cutlet)

Schnitzel, a beloved German classic, consists of thinly pounded meat slices coated in breadcrumbs and fried to perfection.

While pork is the preferred meat choice in Germany, variations can include veal or other alternatives.

Wiener Schnitzel, a slightly different Austrian version, features a cutlet layered with ham and cheese, breaded, and pan-fried.

Schnitzel is often served with fried potatoes and creamy sauces. Try making Weiner Schnitzel at home with this recipe.

Brezeln (Pretzel)

Known as Brezel in German, this pastry is more commonly recognized in English as a pretzel.

It’s crafted from wheat dough, carefully twisted into a knot, and baked to achieve a soft and chewy texture.

German pretzels can be savory with sea salt and grated cheese or sweet with a dusting of cinnamon sugar or nuts.

Braised Cabbage

Braised cabbage is a prominent dish in German cuisine, and recipes may vary, but they typically involve combining cabbage with broth and vegetables to enhance the flavor.

This dish may acquire an acquired taste due to the addition of apple cider vinegar, which can be overpowering.

However, it complements smoky and savory foods like bratwurst beautifully. Find a quick and easy recipe for Braised Cabbage here.


Labskaus is a unique beef dish with origins dating back to the 18th century, initially popular among German sailors before gaining popularity among land dwellers.

It features a combination of salted beef, onions, and potatoes mashed together and mixed with gherkins and other ingredients, including pickled beets.

The result is a somewhat unusual-looking pink mash, making it an excellent choice for using leftover ingredients creatively.

German Potato Salad

Potatoes are a quintessential ingredient in German cuisine, especially in the southern regions that are conducive to potato cultivation.

German potato salad sets itself apart with the inclusion of bacon, sugar, and white vinegar, imparting a unique flavor profile that balances saltiness and richness.

This potato salad pairs harmoniously with a range of German main dishes. For an Americanized version, you can find recipes for German-style potato salad online.

Bratkartoffeln (Fried Potatoes)

Bratkartoffeln, also known as German fries, lives up to its name as it involves frying chopped potatoes alongside bacon and onions in butter until they achieve a delightful crispiness.

Some enjoy these potatoes with fried eggs or a light salad to create a satisfying meal.

Kartoffelknödel (Potato Dumplings)

Kartoffelknödel, or potato dumplings in German, feature a base of potatoes that can be combined with various seasonings and croutons according to your preference.

After shaping the dumplings, they are boiled and can be served with additional croutons or your favorite sauce. Try making them at home using this recipe.

Reibekuchen (Potato Pancake)

Reibekuchen, also known as German potato patties or pancakes, bears a striking resemblance to latkes for those familiar with Jewish cuisine.

The preparation involves grating potatoes, combining them with eggs and flour, forming patties, and pan-frying them until they achieve a crispy texture.

Reibekuchen can serve as a side dish, enjoyed with accompaniments such as apple sauce or minced meat. Find the full recipe here.

Maultaschen (Meat Dumplings)

For those seeking dumplings without potatoes, Maultaschen is an excellent choice.

Originating from Swabia in southwestern Germany, this dish exhibits Italian influences due to the region’s historical interactions with Italian merchants.

Maultaschen consists of small sheets of pasta filled with a variety of ingredients.

Options range from minced meat to smoked meats like sausages, complemented by additions like onions and herbs.

While some prepare these dumplings by simmering them in broth, others prefer frying them in butter, often accompanied by braised cabbage.

Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut soup offers a milder take on sauerkraut for those who find traditional recipes too intense.

The soup centers around sauerkraut but incorporates bacon, vegetables, and white beans into a chicken-based broth.

This salty yet nourishing soup can be enjoyed with crusty bread or fried potatoes.

Rouladen (Beef Rolls)

Rouladen is a variation of rolled meat dishes, with its German version incorporating thin, wide slices of meat.

These slices are layered with mustard, rolled up, and stuffed with bacon and other fillings.

The secret to a flavorful Rouladen lies in the accompanying gravy, which can be prepared using beef or vegetables.

Pouring the rich gravy over the meat rolls results in a savory and satisfying meal, typically served with mashed potatoes.

The Best of German Food German cuisine offers a rich tapestry of flavors and dishes, extending far beyond the stereotypes of bratwurst and schnitzel.

While potatoes play a significant role, you can also explore a plethora of meat and vegetable-centric creations.

Whether it’s a savory bratwurst or a delightful strudel, German food is a culinary adventure worth experiencing firsthand.

For an authentic German food experience, consider visiting Germany, where you can savor these delectable dishes in their place of origin.

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