Complete guide to German Food (2024)

May 27, 2024

German traditional food and drinks are not well known internationally but after living in Germany for 2.5 years, I can proudly say Germany has got one of the best and unique traditional dishes in the world. 

Having lived in Tuebingen (Swabish region), Cologne and currently in Berlin, I realized in fact the German cuisine in each region is quite different. However, most German food (dishes) focus on potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes. And lots of meat, bread, and of course some vegetables like the rest of the world. 

In terms of drinks, Germans like to drink coffee, coke and some alcoholic beverages just like the rest of us but as the stereotype goes, Germans really do love beer. At groceries, there are often 2 aisles of beer if not one showcasing beer of all flavors from all regions in Germany. I’m sure you can’t try them all if you are visiting Germany just for the vacation but it’s a challenge worth trying if you are living here like me.

This post will tell you everything you need to know about German food and drinks.

Top 10 Traditional German Food

First of all, I suggest you start exploring German food by trying classic traditional food. I will share top 10 traditional food you can try everywhere in Germany.


1. Brot & Brötchen

If you visit Germany, you MUST go to a backerei and get some bread there. Backerei in Germany open between 5 to 8am and even on Sunday for limited hours in the morning. (This is surprising because even the groceries are closed on Sunday in Germany).

Most common types of bread you can enjoy are brot and broetchen. Bread is like a normal bread you see in Canada or the US but in Germany, there are more varieties in terms of what grains they use. 

Additionally, broetchen is a small bread roll and it comes with a wide variety of option to choose from like sunflower seeds, wheat, etc. It’s usually crispy outside and soft and chewy inside which I really like. 

Of course you have to try Bretzel when you are here because I mean… you need to take a pic of it right as a proof of the trip, right? It’s soft and chewy inside, and Germans actually like to have them for breakfast or snacks. You can buy frozen ones for affordable price as well. 


Next one you need to try is German donuts. Okay, they might not be officially called donuts in Germany, but since they look like one to me. I will call them donuts for the sake of explaining. First, Berliner is a donut without a hole, filled with different jams or jelly, dusted with sugar. It looks just like the one you’re imagining right from Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons but it’s not as sweet. If you’re in Berlin, I recommend that you get them from Brimmibal which is a famous vegan donut shop in Berlin. If you’re on a budget, you can get them at any groceries too and they are usually less than a Euro there.  

Berliner is also a New Years snack in Germany so if you visit Germany during the year end, you will definitely see a huge selection of berliners with all the flavors at bakeries and groceries. 

Closer to Christmas, you will see Stolle (fruit cake) or Lebkuchen (biscuits) everywhere at the groceries in Germany. 

2. Käsespätzle

When I lived in the south of Germany, I saw Käsespätzle everywhere. It’s a dish originating from the Schwabish region which is in the south west of Germany. It’s so distinct and special because the noodles are made of egg, looking quite uneven. It’s usually topped with caramelized onion and cheese. It’s so flavorful and creamy so give it a try!

3. Currywurst

Currywurst is something I see all the time in Berlin, and they open quite late so often is the perfect spot for a night snack after a night out. Wurst means a sausage so it literally translate to curry sausage (sausage with curry sauce). 

4. Schnitzel

A Schnitzel is arguably one of the most famous German dishes, and it's so popular here that you will find it in almost every German restaurant, including bar, fine and casual dining spots. It's made with breadcrumbs, flour and eggs, fried in oil. 

I especially love it when they offer cranberry sauce for dipping. You can ask for it as extra sometimes because they don't always give that for every kind of schnitzel (chicken, veel, pork, etc.) 

5. Rouladen

Rouladen is a dish with thin strips of meat often in mustard sauce, filled with bacon, pickles, etc. It is slowed cooked and enjoyed when families come together to share a meal for holidays or celebrations. 

rouladen in berlin

6. Bratkartoffeln 

Bratkartoffeln are pan-fried potatoes, where small chunks potatoes are boiled lightly then fried with bacon, caramelised onion, herbs, etc. It's a common dish to have on the side to the main dish or throughout the day. 

7. Kartoffelpuffer

A Kartoffelpuffer is a fried grated potato pancake. I haven't really seen this at restaurants in Germany but, I get this every year at the Christmas market. It's served with apple sauce and it's literally one of the best snacks in the world. 

8. Eintopf

Every culture has it's own version of one pot dish and this is the German one and it includes broth, meat, vegetables, potatoes and meat. Some things are universal, I guess. 

8. Sauerkraut

This one is a healthy side dish made with finely cut raw cabbage, somewhat similar to korean kimchi since they are both fermented. However, sauerkraut is sour, not spicy.

8. Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten slow cooked roast meat dish with sweet and sour gravy-like sauce. It takes hours and even days to make this so make sure to try it at one of the traditional German restaurants when you are here! 

9. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

Translated to black forest cake, did you know that the cake originates from south west Germany? Make sure to try it the original version when you are in Germany.

10. Doener

Last but not least, I had to put doener here. This is my number 1 favorite German food. It is controversial whether this is actually an Turkish or German food, since it originates from the Turkish community in Berlin. Make sure to try one at one of the famous ones to taste the freshest, tastiest and simply a sandwich with the best combination of vegetables, meat and sauce.

rueyam doener

Typical German beverages

Notably, Germans love to enjoy "Kaffee und Kuchen" in the afternoon, when it tends to have milk or cream added to a regular coffee.

Radler which is 50% beer and 50% lemonade or fruit juice is also very common in Germany.

Schorle which is juice with carbonated water is popular in summer as well. 

German beer

It's Germany, so not mentioning beer would make this post incomplete. 

It takes a a life time to try all the beer available in Germany so here are some of the common types of beer in Germany that I learned in the past 2 years of living here. 

Pale Lager

Pale lager is the most popular option in Germany and includes varieties such as export, pale, pilsner beers. Pilsner which is light with strong hop flavor accounts for nearly two-thirds of all beer consumed in Germany.

berliner kindl pilsner

Dark Lager

Dark lagers tend to be both bitter and sweet so it you are feeling adventurous, give this one a try!

Wheat Beer

More common in south of Germany, so you will see it if you visit for Oktoberfest.


This one is a special mention because it's my personal favorite. Really light and smooth!


German Regional Specialties

Having lived in multiple regions in Germany so far, I have to say the regional differences in Germany are quite stark and it's true for food as well.

Baden-Wuerttenberg and other cities close to France has visible French influence including Flammkuchen (German pizza), Maultaschen (German ravioli), etc. Bavarian food centres around meat, with heavy focus on sausages and other meat options.

seafood restaurant in hamburg

Northern Germany including Hamburg has seafood options which is uncommon in other parts of Germany. 

Although not regional specialty, my current home Berlin has huge Turkish and Vietnamese influence and restaurant options due to immigration history.


Meal Structure in Germany

Curious what Germans eat throughout the day? Here's my observation so far from living in Germany for 2.5 years.


For the complete breakfast experience, I suggest that you stay at a hotel with amazing breakfast buffet while you visit Germany.

Frühstück (breakfast) includes bread or bread rolls with butter, jam, and marmalade, sausage, eggs, cheese, bacon and potatoes. Muesli is a popular options among my German friends that are since young professional Germans tend to be health conscious (and busy with work).


Mittagessen (lunch) is often a hot meal since Germans have hot meals for lunch instead of dinner. I was quite surprised to learn this since the cafeteria at work provided mostly warm meals. 


Abendessen (dinner) in Germany is often very light with some bread and cheese. 


This blog post was all about German food, including regional specialties and beer. 


About me: 

Hi, I am a Korean-Canadian travel blogger who writes about travelling in Europe and my experience of moving to Germany and studying/working in Germany. I post more often on social media so feel free to connect with me there!

Instagram: byamyseo

Youtube: byamyseo

PS. If you enjoyed this complete guide to german food, you will also enjoy this post about German breakfast.

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