One of the best parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine, and Germany is no exception.
In addition to the country’s famous alpine peaks and Bavarian castles, you’ll discover an array of culinary specialties worth exploring. Here are some helpful tips and foods to try on your tour of Germany.
Dining out: A few things to know
You’ll notice more people eating with flatware than with their fingers in Germany, even when it comes to things like French fries that most Americans consider to be finger foods. Germans are also conservative at the table, meaning if you want ice in your drink, be prepared to ask for it. Unlike most places in the US, water and bread are usually not complimentary and will need to be requested. One thing Germans do share in common with Americans is their love of hearty dishes and rich comfort foods
With an emphasis on traditional savory dishes often served with a cream base, German cuisine is both simple and delicious. Here are some things you can sink your teeth into while visiting Germany on a guided tour.
Plenty of meat
Meat reigns supreme in Germany and is consumed at nearly every meal. Two mainstays are pork and chicken. Of course a hearty stroganoff, another German classic, typically features a beef offering, but in general, plan on white meats. Of course nothing tops the variety of sausages that Germany is famous for. Here are some meat specialties not to miss:
- Bratwursts– It doesn’t get more traditional than this. Usually a savory spiced mix of veal, pork, beef or all three- a bratwurst or two is simply a must when traveling through Germany. Tried with French fried potatoes!
- Hendyl- Imagine a whole chicken, grilled and marinated in traditional spices. This is also called chicken broiler, mainly in the eastern parts of Germany. Other meats, like pig and goose, are also prepared in this fashion for larger gatherings.
- Meatballs- They’re not just for the Swedes and Italians! German meatballs are often cooked in a white sauce and served dressed with capers. They’re very rich and quite filling!
Here are some common dishes to try:
- Potato Salad- Often garnished with onion and parsley, this dish has a nice vinegar flavor to it. Fried potato slices with onions are another popular potato offering. Boiled potatoes are also an often seen offering.
- Pickled Vegetables- Especially sauerkraut, cabbage, peas, and green beans- all served in a variety of manners. Sauerkraut is likely the most well-known and often offered vegetable on German tables. This fermented, shredded cabbage can be eaten on its own, or as a topping on sausages or other meats. Other popular items to order on the side include creamed vegetables.
- Spatzle- Handmade noodles serve with a variety of entrees including bratwurst.
The food may be heavy at times but you won’t want to skip desert! Be sure to save some room for these German favorites.
- Apple Strudel- Fresh apples, cinnamon, and perfectly flaky dough come together in this all-time crowd pleaser. Another popular choice is Apeflkuchen.
- Black Forest Cake- Layers of chocolate cake served with whipped cream and cherries.
- Stollen- You’ll find this traditional holiday sweet served at Germany’s famed Christmas markets and throughout the year in some places. The bread like cake comes loaded with dried fruits, nuts, and savory spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Try it paired with a mug of hot Gluhwein (mulled wine).
Germany is famous for its beer making tradition, and you’d certainly be remiss to skip the opportunity to try sample some local favorites. A nice ale or pilsner is typically what is served with meals, often in an oversized beer glass. When you raise your glass, be sure to do as the Germans do and toast your neighbor with a friendly “Prost!”
Fast food probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to sampling German cuisine. But picking up a pretzel or bratwurst from a street food stand can be quick and inexpensive way to experience a few local specialties.
And if you’re in the mood for something a little different be sure to try a Doner Kebab. Also known as Donerbuden, this Turkish inspired thinly sliced meat is similar to what Americans call a “gyro” and is served with lettuce, onion, cucumber, and tomatoes on a flat pita bread. Kebabs are sold at food carts in every major German city, and are so popular they they outsell all other types of fast food combined!
Is your mouth watering yet? If you’re ready to try your hand at German cuisine before hopping on a plane to Bavaria, be sure to check out www.germanfoods.org for some incredible (and often fairly simple!) traditional recipes!
To explore our collection of guided tours of Germany, click here.