When it comes to international cuisine, you’re missing out if you’re not seeking out the best German food to try. German dishes are rich, hearty, and filling with unique seasonings and flavor combinations that will wake up your taste buds!
From traditional homestyle meals and side dishes to flavorful snacks and mouthwatering desserts, we’ve discovered that the best German food to try is, well, all of them.
See 20 tasty German dishes to treat your taste buds to something special below!
The Best German Food to Try: 20 Tasty Deutsch Dishes
Germany’s cuisine dates back centuries with certain ingredients making repeat appearances: Sausages and pork, beef, fish, potatoes, onions, cabbage, beets, and cheese can be found in many of the best German foods to try.
Unique spices and seasonings give German cuisine a flavorful twist that you’ll appreciate as different from traditional American fare. Juniper berries, caraway seeds, cloves, sage, and nutmeg can be found in many dishes.
German desserts are on an entirely different level than the sweet treats you may be used to. From impressive and boozy Black Forest Cakes and Bee Sting Cakes to tart-sweet plum dumplings, you’ll see some incredible German desserts on this list, too.
Let’s take a look at the best German food to try with 20 of the tastiest dishes in Deutschland!
1. Rouladen | German Stuffed Beef Rolls
Rouladen, or stuffed beef rolls, are sometimes called “beef birds” in Germany. These rolls consist of thin strips of beef (top round) or veal topped with mustard, bacon, pickles, and onions, then rolled up and simmered in a hearty red wine gravy.
Rouladen are prepared and seared in a hot pan, followed by veggies like carrots, celery, and onion sautéed in the beef fat and deglazed with beef broth.
Everything’s added to a dish and finished in the oven for a silky gravy with perfectly-cooked beef rolls bursting with flavor. You’ll have trouble stopping at just one!
2. Currywurst | German Deep-Fried Sausage With Curry Sauce
Currywurst, despite the sound of the name, is one of the best German foods to try. A popular street food, currywurst is fried pork sausage (whole or chopped) doused in a flavorful, thick tomato-curry sauce.
Once known as “poor man’s steak,” currywurst has a long history in Germany dating back to World War II. Sausages, preserved tomatoes, and curry powder made this schnellimbiss (fast food) offering a favorite.
The sausage is steamed or boiled, then fried to finish cooking and topped with a curry-spiced ketchup or tomato paste. Currywurst is often served with mayonnaise and a roll or chips and ketchup.
3. Bratwurst | German Grilled Sausages
Bratwurst is one of the most well-known German foods around the world, gracing cookouts and restaurant menus far from Deutschland. Consisting of fatty minced meat prepared in a natural casing, bratwurst sausages are delicious.
Bratwurst varies slightly by the region in Germany, with different areas favoring their own spice blends and meats including pork, beef, veal, or chicken.
Bratwurst can get its flavor from garlic, cloves, sage, ginger, caraway seeds, cumin, and/or marjoram. They’re often served grilled with a side of horseradish or mustard and a slice of bread.
4. Sauerbraten | German Beef Roast and Gravy
German beef roast and gravy, or sauerbraten, is a beef roast marinated in intensely-flavored apple cider or red wine vinegar and spices then roasted and served with dark gravy, rye bread, and potato dumplings.
Sauerbraten is one of Germany’s national dishes and can be made with mutton, pork, lamb, venison, or – in the old days – horse. The meat is slow cooked and served with that sweet and sour gravy for a tangy flavor blast.
German cooks add a sweet ingredient to the gravy, often honey, beet syrup, or raisins, to balance the tangy sourness of the vinegar. Garlic, juniper berries, cloves, and bay leaves are other notable flavors in sauerbraten.
5. Schnitzel | German Crispy Breaded Meat Cutlets
You’ve probably heard of or tried some form of schnitzel – crispy, pan-fried meat cutlets made with pounded-thin slices of breaded pork, veal, chicken, or beef.
Schnitzel translates to “cutlet,” but it’s the preparation and cooking process that gives this German dish its characteristic light, crispy texture.
Schweineschnitzel, made from thinly pounded boneless pork loin dredged in flour and breadcrumbs then pan-fried til crispy, is the most popular variety of schnitzel in Germany.
Nearby Austria is famous for Wiener schnitzel (made with veal cutlets), and other varieties, like Hähnchen-schnitzel (chicken schnitzel) or Lamm-schnitzel (lamb schnitzel) are also popular.
6. Eintopf | German One-Pot Sausage Stew
Eintopf is a rich, hearty German stew that can be made with a variety of seasonal ingredients including meat and vegetables. A cold-weather dish, traditional eintopf is often made with bratwurst and sauerkraut.
Chicken or beef stock forms the brothy base, with smoked pork chops, ham, bratwurst, or other German sausages as the hearty meat component of the dish.
Some recipes substitute part of the broth with a hearty German beer, like Eisbock or Doppelbock, to make the stew even richer with a new depth of German flavor.
7. Labskaus | German Corned Beef, Potato, and Beet Mash
Known throughout history as a hangover cure and once very popular with sailors, Labskaus is one of the best German foods to try – especially if you had one too many the night before.
Made with salted or corned beef, potatoes, beets, and onions, labskaus can also include gherkin pickles or herring and is often topped with a fried egg.
It’s not a dish that’s focused on gourmet presentation. The inclusion of beets in the recipe gives this mashed, one-pot dish a characteristic pinkish red color that might not be the most appetizing.
But one taste will make it clear that there’s a reason labskaus continues to remain popular in Germany. Salty, slightly sweet, and ultra-filling, this is a taste of German comfort food that’ll cure what ails you.
8. Maultaschen | German Meat-Filled Dumplings
One of the best German foods to try is maultaschen, or doughy dumplings filled with minced meat, breadcrumbs, onions, and spinach. Maultaschen are the size of your palm and ultra-filling.
Maultaschen began their history among German Catholics, who refrained from eating meat during Lent. The dumpling served as a way to “hide” the meat filling inside from God during the meatless Lent period.
Today, you’ll find these dumplings usually stuffed with ground beef and bratwurstbrät, the minced meat base of bratwurst. They’re served in broth as a soup, sautéed in butter, or sliced and fried in eggs and herbs.
9. Bayerischer Schweinebraten | German Beer-Roasted Pork
German beer-roasted pork, or Bayerischer Schweinebraten, is one German dish you’ve got to try! Similar to braised pot roast, this dish is a hearty seasoned pork roast that’s cooked til tender and crispy on top.
Seasoned with a unique combination of mustard, caraway seeds, and cinnamon and prepared with hearty vegetables, this Bavarian pork roast is slow-braised in seasoned broth and (usually, not not always) German beer.
The result is a tender, juicy roast of pork that get finished under a broiler to get crispy “cracklings” or Schweinefleisch knistern on top. It’s served with potato dumplings, sauerkraut, or braised cabbage.
10. Rollmops | German Stuffed Pickled Herring Rolls
Rollmops might sound silly, but their delicious flavor is no joke. These are pickled herring fillets stuffed with tomatoes, gherkin pickles, and green olives then rolled up for tasty bites of salty goodness.
The savory, briny flavors of rollmops have been popular in Germany for years and often grace the breakfast table after a night of heavy drinking as a hangover cure.
Native to the coastal areas of Germany, these pickled herring rolls are sometimes served with labskaus (corned beef, potatoes, and beet mash) or eaten on a slice of bread.
11. Laugenbrezel | German Soft Pretzels
The German soft pretzel – Laugenbrezel, or “lye pretzel” – is a long-standing German food that has gained popularity around the world. Traditionally offered with butter (butterbrezel), this delightful snack is one you’ve got to try.
Laugenbrezels owe their unique texture and color to lye. It’s a strong alkali (toxic before cooking) that gives soft pretzels their characteristic deep brown, shiny coating and bagel-like chew.
This bready snack is twisted into the characteristic pretzel knot and sprinkled with coarse salt after cooking for the simplest of carb-laden pleasures. Germans often top them with butter, sesame, caraway, or poppy seeds, melted cheese, or bacon.
12. Käsespätzle | German Mac and Cheese
If you love mac and cheese, you need to try the German version, Käsespätzle. Made with Emmentaler cheese, Spaetzle egg noodles, rich cream, and a crispy onion topping, this dish is out of this world.
Hailing from the Swabia, Allgau, and Baden regions of Germany, the creamy, cheesy goodness of Käsespätzle just might put American macaroni and cheese to shame.
Emmantaler cheese is traditionally used, but Gruyere, Swiss, or Gouda cheeses are also popular. The Spaetzle egg noodles cling to the cheesy sauce and the whole thing gets topped with crispy fried onions and chives.
13. Sauerkraut | German Fermented Cabbage
Sauerkraut, or sour cabbage, is a quintessential German food that is served with anything and everything in Germany. It’s fermented sliced cabbage with a distinctly tangy, sour taste.
Sauerkraut can be served as a side dish, to bulk up soups and stews, or as a topping with sausages and other meats. Made with salted cabbage that’s allowed to naturally ferment, it’s considered a healthy food with a long shelf life.
Served hot or cold (depending on the dish it’s accompanying), sauerkraut takes on a rich and punchy flavor thanks to ingredients like juniper berries and caraway seeds along with the sour taste from the natural fermentation process taking place in the cabbage.
14. Rotkohl | German Braised Red Cabbage
Rotkohl is a sweet and sour braised red cabbage dish made with apples for a hit of sweetness and vinegar for a dash of tangy goodness. It’s easily recognized by its vibrant purple-red color.
Red cabbage is thinly sliced, then browned in fat and cooked in a flavorful liquid until it’s tender. Red wine, vinegar, apples, and spices like juniper berries, cloves, and bay leaves lend a distinctive flavor.
Brown sugar, red cabbage, and apples are sautéed together with spices and seasonings added to the flavorful braising liquid. It’s all cooked down to create a sweet and sour side dish that belongs on any German plate.
15. Kartoffelknödel | German Potato Dumplings
German potato dumplings go by many names, but are most often called Kartoffelknödel. Made with boiled potatoes, starch, eggs, day old bread croutons, and butter, these hearty, starchy dumplings are typically served with braised meats or stews.
These potato dumplings serve an important purpose in many German dishes – soaking up the delicious broth or juices of dishes and imparting those flavors thanks to the mild taste of the dumpling itself.
There’s a secret ingredient hidden inside Kartoffelknödel – croutons made with day-old bread. This addition ensures there’s never a doughy center and gives the finished dumpling a light and delicious texture.
16. Kartoffelpuffer | German Potato Pancakes
While we’re on the potato subject, another candidate for the best German food to try is the kartoffelpuffer. These are crispy potato pancakes, similar to latkes, popular as street food in Germany.
Kartoffelpuffers are usually served with mildly sweet apple sauce, with Suikerstroop (treacle), or on rye bread. With a crispy exterior crust and fluffy potato inside, these treats put hashbrown patties to shame!
They’re made with grated raw potatoes, onions, flour, eggs, and salt formed into pancakes. The potato pancakes are pan-fried until golden brown and perfectly crispy.
17. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte | German Black Forest Cake
If you’ve never heard of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, maybe you’ve heard it by the English name, Black Forest gateau or Black Forest cake.
Several rich layers of chocolate sponge cake get slathered with airy whipped cream and tart cherries soaked in Kirschwasser, or tart cherry schnapps from the Black Forest region of Germany.
The cake is usually topped with more whipped cream (of course!), sweetened maraschino cherries, and curled chocolate shavings. It’s an impressive cake that tastes delicious after an authentic German meal.
18. Apfelstrudel | German Apple Strudel
Who doesn’t love a good apple strudel? Germany’s own version, modeled after the first apple strudel from Austria, is the Apfelstrudel. Consisting of flaky pastry dough and sweet, softened apples, this dessert dish is delectable.
Apfelstrudel is made with cooked apples, sugar, and spices rolled into a light and flaky pastry crust. Golden raisins may be used. The pastry is baked and sometimes topped with whipped cream, ice cream, or vanilla sauce.
With a buttery flavor that lets the sweetness of the apples shine, this simple dessert isn’t nearly as complex as Black Forest cake, but still a contender for the best German food to try.
19. Bienenstich Kuchen | German Bee Sting Cake
German Bee Sting cake, or Bienenstich Kuchen, is a truly incredible dessert dish that make us all grateful for German ingenuity in the kitchen. Made with brioche dough, creamy filling, and a crunchy honey-nut topping, it’s delicious.
A Bee Sting cake has 2 cake layers with classic vanilla diplomat cream (whipped cream + pastry cream) sandwiched in the middle. The crust on top is formed with honey and almonds, sometimes infused with almond liqueur for boozy flavor.
The name comes from an old German legend from the 15th century, when bakers thwarted robbers from their German village by pelting them with beehives. This cake was made in celebration and the name stuck!
20. Zwetschgenknoedel | German Plum Dumplings
Plum dumplings may not sound like anything special, but one taste of Zwetschgenknoedel will change your mind about that. These yeasty dumplings are stuffed with sweet-tart spiced plums and topped with breadcrumbs.
Italian plums, or Zwetschgen, spiced with cinnamon and sugar are wrapped in a sweetened dough, boiled, and topped with buttered breadcrumbs to finish.
Plum dumplings are often made with a family recipe, so the dough can be potato, yeast, quark, or choux pastry. The dumplings may be eaten as-is or topped with vanilla sauce, ice cream, or whipped cream for an extra-special treat.
Things to Consider
If you’re searching for the best German food to try, keep the list of the best dishes above in mind and consider the following tips.
- Seek out authentic German restaurants. If you don’t have plans to visit Germany anytime soon, you might be able to try some of the best German foods at restaurants near you. A quick search online will show you German-style eateries in your area, but take a look at the menu to see if dishes like the ones listed here are offered to know that it’s truly authentic.
- Grab a good German beer with your food. If you’re planning on trying Sauerbraten, Currywurst, or Rouladen, you’ll want to wash it down with a stout German beer to really enjoy the Biergarten eating experience. Pilsner beers are very popular in Germany, as are high-ABV beer like Eisbock or Doppelbock.
- Try making German dishes at home. While you may find it difficult to get certain ingredients for authentic German cuisine, like juniper berries or quark for dough, it’s usually simple to recreate Germany’s most famous foods at home with the right substitutions. Focus on dishes with easy-to-find ingredients, like Rouladen, bratwurst, schnitzel, dumplings, or Bayerischer Schweinebraten to create delightful German flavors at home without a passport.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trying new international cuisine is always fun, but you might have a few more questions about the best German food to try. Check out the FAQs to learn more!
What is the best German food to try?
Rouladen (stuffed beef rolls), currywurst (fried sausage with curry ketchup), bratwurst, Sauerbraten (beef roast with gravy), and schnitzel (crispy fried meat cutlets) are some of the best German foods to try.
German mac and cheese, or Käsespätzle, is another great dish to sample and anyone can appreciate eintopf, a hearty meat-and-veggie stew with German beer.
What is the most famous food in Germany?
Bratwurst and soft pretzels might be the most famous German foods outside of Germany, but Sauerbraten (beef roast served with sweet and sour gravy) is one of the most famous foods in Germany.
Sauerbraten uses apple cider or red wine vinegar, beet syrup or honey, and juniper berries, cloves, garlic and bay leaves to create this deliciously unique flavor.
What are the top 5 German dishes?
The top 5 German dishes to try are Rouladen beef rolls, currywurst sausage with spiced ketchup, bratwurst sausages, Sauerbraten beef roast, and crispy Schnitzel cutlets (especially pork).
Side dishes are awesome in Germany, with Käsespätzle (similar to mac and cheese), sauerkraut, braised cabbage, Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings), and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) to round out the plate.
What are 3 famous foods in Germany?
If you want to focus on 3 famous foods in Germany, check out staple dishes like eintopf meat-and-veggie stew with German beer, hearty Maultaschen meat-stuffed dumplings, and crispy Bayerischer Schweinebraten pork roast with cracklings.
What is the main meal in Germany?
Sausage dishes, including bratwurst, eintopf stew, and currywurst, are one of the main meals in Germany.
Large cuts of meat roasted or braised until tender with gravy, like Sauerbraten and Bayerischer Schweinebraten, are also popular meals.
So, What’s the Best German Food to Try?
From tender Rouladen rolled and stuffed “beef birds” to classic Zwetschgenknoedel plum dumplings, we say the best German food to try is (drumroll)…all of them.
Eat your way through the flavors of Deutschland with hearty roasts and stews, fried sausages, tender and tangy cabbage, plump dumplings with sweet and savory fillings, and sinfully sweet desserts.
Whether you’re most comfortable with mild, familiar flavors like schnitzel and Käsespätzle (Germany’s answer to mac and cheese) or really want to branch out with juniper berry seasoned beef roast with a rich, vinegary gravy, you’re going to love the uniquely delicious taste of the best foods in Germany.