Wondering what are the must try foods for first timers in Germany?
If this is your first time in Germany you may be wondering which foods are the very best German Food options.
Let me be clear, German food is my all time favorite food and there is no better place to get quality German food than in Germany!!
I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal in Germany. Germans are by nature craftsmen, taking pride and special care in everything they do, and fortunately for our taste buds, that includes their food!
Table of Contents
best German food to try on your next trip to Germany
I love the “when in Rome” approach to travel. I want to know what dishes a place is famous for and I want to try them all! In this article you’ll find some of my top picks for the BEST GERMAN FOOD! Give them a try! Guten Appetit!
Entrees: what to order in a restaurant
Schnitzel will forever be my “favorite go to” in the land of the Deutsche. I can’t seem to get enough of it.
I personally think it is best in its purest form: a cut of meat, usually veal or pork, pounded thin, breaded and fried to golden brown perfection and served with lemon slices.
There are actually many other versions of the schnitzel: a couple of my favorites are
- Jägerschnitzel topped with mushrooms and a brown gravy sauce and
- Rahmschnitzel with a cream sauce. The list goes on, why not try them all!
Rouladen is another very popular German dish. Thin strips of beef are slathered with spicy German mustard then stuffed with bacon, onion and pickles, rolled up, and cooked to perfection in a rich savory brown sauce.
street Food and food on the go
Pommes mit mayo and curry (French Fries with mayo and curry ketchup!)
Pommes, the German name for fries, with the addition of curry ketchup and mayo makes for a popular street food in Germany.
A lot of people I talk to seem to be put off by the thought of mayo on fries. I think it is delicious. Skip the mayo if you must but you simply have to try the spicy curry ketchup.
Don’t want to try either? well then my friend, you are left with just French fries and all together nothing special!
Doners are actually Turkish and not German but regardless you’ll find these little slices of heaven all over Germany (and the rest of Europe.)
Seasoned meat (usually lamb, beef, or chicken) that’s spit roasted until it is incredibly juicy, is shaved thin and then stuffed into soft delicious flatbread. Popular toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, and a delicious tzatziki type sauce.
With the smell of roasting meat permeating the air your nose will efficiently guide you to your new late night craving!
Speckbrot (bacon bread)
Speck is a smoked and cured ham. Speckbrot is an open faced sandwich. This one I got at the Fischunkelalm at Obersee.
It’s a light rye bread, creamy butter, speck and onion, cucumber and peppers. Absolutely delicious! I came home craving it so I made a similar version with prosciutto.
Fischbrötchen (fish roll)
When I was a kid living in northern Germany (we moved a lot) we’d be out somewhere and there would be big cases of these, and they always made my mouth water!
Fischbrötchen is popular in the northern parts of Germany due to their proximity to the North Sea (Nordsee.) It’s usually made with pickled herring and topped with other pickled toppings like onions and pickles. The meat isn’t raw. The vinegar actually cooks the meat (think Ceviche.)
German cold cuts (Aufschnitt)
German Cold cuts are usually processed and different from the cuts of meat you find in the US. They are similar to bologna but better and often have add in’s like ham pieces, mushroom, or other vegetables.
Sometimes add-ins are suspended in a flavored gelatin. Different but you should try it! They are very popular on the breakfast buffet (Frühstücksbuffet) so be sure to book a Gasthaus that offers free breakfast!
German potato salad
There are as many versions of German potato salad as there are days in a month and they are all delicious.
Some are served warm or at room temperature, others cold, some with a sour cream base, others oil or mustard and the list goes on.
I haven’t met a German potato salad I didn’t like yet!
Spätzle / Spaetzle
Spätzle, a favorite in my house, is a tiny egg dumpling. It’s often served with butter and parsley for a simple yet delicious side dish.
Other ways to dress them are with a different sauces such as cheese sauce. Other popular ingredients are bacon, or onion.
kartoffelklöße or kartoffelknödel
Potato balls or dumplings! No description needed but you should probably give them a try!
I prefer the Bavarian version of sauerkraut. It’s milder and sweeter than what you might be used to and often has caraway seeds. It’s a very popular side accompaniment for wurst.
Germans love their white asparagus! Usually available in spring it is often served with a Hollandaise sauce.
everything at the bakery!
There’s something you should know about German desserts. They are less sweet than their American counterparts. I actually prefer them to the uber sweet desserts here in the US.
Apple strudel and the Black Forest cake are two of the most popular but at a German Bäckerei (bakery) you’ll find a large selection of offerings that are a veritable feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds!
Here are some of my favorite bakery items:
apple strudel (Apfelstrudel)
Apples baked in a crispy light pastry, you can’t go wrong!
Check out the CRAZY process of stretching strudel dough till it’s paper thin (or thinner! I have no idea how it doesn’t tear!) The action really gets started at around 3 minutes 30 seconds.
fruit cakes and glazed fruit tarts
Every time I went into the bakery as a kid these colorfully glazed fruity delights were the first thing to grab my attention.
A fruit filled pastry shell, usually with a custard type filling and topped with mouth watering fruit, then glazed to perfection. It’s a MUST try!
black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)
This is my favorite cake, whether I’m in Germany or at home. Spongy chocolate cake with a (often liquor spiked) cream and cherry filling.
Bienenstich Kuchen (bee sting cake)
Spongy cake filled with a light cream/ pudding and topped with a sticky slivered almond and honey layer. It’s what I always ordered for myself as a child.
What about German Chocolate Cake???
Although in my opinion, German Chocolate Cake is not actually German! It actually originated in Texas in 1957.
Wurst is the best!
German Wurst get’s a category all to itself!
Wurst Wurst Wurst! Germans are known for their Wurst as much as their beer or lederhosen. You’ll find it on fancy menus and being sold on the street. Some Wurst I like, some not so much.
If you find one you’re not crazy about just keep trying because with well over 1,000 different types in Germany, there is no shortage of Wurst to choose from.
Everyone has their own regional specialty so make sure you try the local favorites. Wursts are served in a variety of ways. Some examples are with mustard and/or kraut with a side of Brötchen or a pretzel.
note: just a little note on Weisswurst, make sure you peel off the skin. It’s chewy and ruins the taste!
One of my favorite wursts is currywurst.
These huge breakfast buffets are commonly offered to overnight guests at inn’s (Gasthauses, pensions etc.)
Skip the chain hotels for a cozier option and you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of delectable breakfast items.
You’ll find a variety of breads with butter, jams and jellies, sliced meats and cheeses, eggs, Wurst, fruit, quark, granola and more!
For me a cup of hot chocolate makes a nice compliment to this meal but you’ll usually have a selection of juices and of course coffee and tea as well.
Flammkuchen is basically a German pizza with a cracker thin crust. You’ll run across many versions of this popular German dish but I am kind of partial to the traditional version with sour cream, bacon and red onion. Delicious!
Italian ice is NOT gelato and while similar to a sorbet it doesn’t contain any dairy or egg like American sorbet.
Common ingredients are water, sugar and fruit flavors so it is indeed as the name would suggest a flavored “ice.” My favorite flavor is zitrone (lemon)!)
Spaghetti ice may sound a little strange but stay with me here.
Spaghetti ice is vanilla ice cream that has been squeezed through a potato ricer to form long spaghetti like strands and then topped with strawberry sauce and sometimes shaved white chocolate to resemble Parmesan shavings AND IT IS YUMMY!
It’s no mystery why it’s so popular in Germany.
Bread is a huge part of the German diet. Brötchen are small bread rolls that come in a variety of flavors. They are served at breakfast with meats and cheeses or fresh butter and jams.
At lunch they are often an accompaniment for wurst, or various types of sandwich fixings. No matter which way you try them you’re going to love Brötchen!
how to have Brötchen at home tip
Did you love having tasty Brötchen on your trip to Germany and want to bring it home with you? I buy these Bolillo rolls at my local Wal-Mart. I heat them in the oven till the crust crisps up again and presto! Brötchen! It’s very close to the rolls you’ll get in Germany, close enough to kill my craving. Serve them with butter and your favorite jam.
candy and other sweet treats
THESE are the smell of my German childhood! These delicious chocolate wafers with tiny candy sprinkles smell SO good! While their origins may or may not be German, they are popular there…and if you want can’t wait to go to Germany, they call them Snow Caps here in the US!
Fortunately for us, you can get Gummies just about anywhere these days. These chewy, delightfully fruity, treats were invented in Germany.
In Germany the pronunciation is Goooogmy! (like oooh these are good!) NOT GUMmy (like a stick of gum.) And since they were invented in Germany I don’t let any of you American’s correct my pronunciation! ha ha!
Haribo and the Gummie sprung to life in the 1920’s. These are two of my favorite flavors, unless you can find the Fizzy Coke Bottles!
A wafer thin cookie base, soft marshmallow center, and the thinnest chocolate coating. Delicious! It comes in other flavors too like coconut and dark chocolate.
German Lebkuchen is a traditional gingerbread-style cookie that is popular during the Christmas season. It is a soft and chewy cookie that is often made with a variety of spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, and usually decorated with icing. Find some at a German Christmas market near you! (don’t miss my Ultimate Guide to traveling Germany in winter!)
Germany is known for its beer. German beers are some of the finest crafted beers in the world and each region has their own specialty.
Additionally, German is dotted with wine vineyards that produce excellent wine!
I myself prefer the non alcoholic drinks. As with German desserts, sweetened drinks have slightly less sugar as they do in the US. For example, Coke purchased in the US has 39 grams if sugar (12 oz. can) in Germany it’s closer to 37 grams.
Here are some of my favorite non alcoholic drinks you should try when in Germany:
I order Spezi almost every time I sit down for a meal in Germany. It’s a good thing then that I’m walking a zillion or so miles a day when I travel! (careful, it is caffeinated)
Paulander and Mezzo Mix are popular brands of this perfect mix of cola and orange soda! and best of all, they use real orange. It’s mighty tasty and I don’t think I’ve found a restaurant yet that doesn’t serve it.
Spezi is actually a brand name but it’s used universally to order the orange cola drink.
While the canned stuff is pretty good it’s the stuff from the tap that tastes the best!
other soft drinks with real fruit juice
Something I really love about fruit flavored beverages in Germany is that they have real fruit juice in them and that makes a BIG difference! My favorites: the Orangina and just about any flavor of Fanta (REAL JUICE!) but especially the lemon!
This one comes in an alcoholic and non alcoholic version. Glühwein (also known as mulled wine) is a traditional warm beverage that is popular in Germany during the winter months. Hot wine is infused with spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and honey. A popular drink at German Christmas markets, it’s a great way to warm up on a chilly winter day in Germany!
Red Currant Jam (Rote Johannisbeer)
My favorite jam flavor of all time is red currant, and it’s very popular in Germany. This sweet and slightly tart jam is perfect on Brötchen with a big creamy pat of butter!
food tours and tastings
Try the delicious foods in this article and many more on these food tours: (I’ve tried to include examples from each town that offers a food tour, but many of these cities and towns offer even more options. check out Get Your Guide for more!)
- Viktualienmarkt Gourmet Food Tour
- Beer Halls and Breweries
- Bavarian Beer and food culture
- Traditional German Food and Old Town Private Tour
- Mitte Culinary food tour
- 3-Hour Secret Food Tour
- dinner in the dark for a unique dining experience in Germany!
Bamberg: Guided Beer History tour (try some of Bamberg’s famous smoked beer!)
- Chocolate Museum (if you haven’t tried German Chocolate yet you are in for a treat! In my opinion it beats Swiss chocolate hands down!)
- Brewery Tour with Three “Kölsch” Tastings
- Cologne: 3-Hour Südstadt Food Tour
Dresden: Taste of Dresden food walk
Trier: Wine Walk
Bremen: 3-Hour Beck’s Brewery Tour
Braunschweig: Guided Walking Tour with Food Tastings
Kreuzberg: Culinary food tour
Leipzig: 3-Hour Sightseeing and Food Tour
Heidelberg: Culinary city tour with delicious samples
Saxon Switzerland: Hike and Picnic with Local Produce
find more options on Get Your Guide! simply click on the box below!
where to find German food in the US
Can’t wait to try some of these tasty options? If you aren’t lucky enough to have a German specialty shop near you, here are some ways to get a little German food right at home.
German Grocery stores
The Aldi chain of grocery stores as founded in Germany by the Albrecht brothers in 1946, when they took over their mother’s store in Essen. Today there are Aldi stores all over the US and sometimes they carry German food.
Check here to find an Aldi store near you.
Lidl is another German grocery store that is becoming popular here in the US.
check here to find a Lidl Store near you.
order German food online!
Here are the top places to order German food outside of Germany:
- German Deli
- The Taste of Germany
- German Deli Store
- German Shop 24
- German Grocery Store (this one ships from California and their shipping seems more reasonable)
Hungry yet? I know I am! I enjoy eating my way across Germany and I believe you will too. If you’re new to Germany and wondering what you should eat on your first trip, give the items on this list a try because they are all delicious! Bis bald freunde, see you soon friends! and go get ya some German food!
Can’t get to Germany just yet? Check out the ridiculously cute Bavarian town in the mountains in Leavenworth Washington USA! You can find several of these tasty options in Leavenworth!
Want to hear more about my travels around Germany and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Germany page and be sure to submit your email to my subscriber sign up at the bottom of the page and you’ll be the first to know when a new article publishes!