Germans are not necessarily best known for their cuisine, but some German food like bread and sausage deserve attention. When I first moved to Germany, I was instantly hooked by the variety of small brotchen (bread rolls) available at the bakeries.
Baekerei (Bakeries) in Germany open early in the morning, some of them welcoming customers as early as 6 am. Today’s post is about the traditional German breakfast you should try. Whether you’re planning to visit Germany or already in Germany, the traditional German breakfast will make you feel like you’re on your way to stroll along the Brandenburg Gate.
In this post, I’ll explain 8 traditional German breakfasts, recipes and list some of Germans’ favorite brands to get the ingredients from.
Let’s start with the classic. The traditional German breakfast is hearty and flavorful with lots of toppings, cheese, sausages, and of course, eggs. I asked a German friend how he would describe traditional German breakfast, and he told me that in the morning, he asks himself, “do I want something salty or sweet?”
1. Traditional Breakfast platter (salty)
I’m a huge fan of all things German bread. It is one of the best in the world, and in fact, the German bread culture was officially added by UNESCO to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2015. German sourdough bread is easy to digest, provides healthy bacteria for your body, and is less likely to spike your blood sugar levels than white bread.
German bread tends to be heavier than the bread in North America. Although there are many different kinds of bread in German bakeries, Germans usually eat three kinds of Brot (bread) for breakfast.
- Graubrot: Also known as “mischbrot”. It’s a fine rye bread made from a mixture of wheat and rye flour with sourdough or yeast. It has a rich and earthy flavor. Ex) sunflower seeds brotchen
- Weissbrot: “white bread”. This is soft; you can eat this with marmelade (jam) and/or fresh cheese.
- Schwarzbrot: it’s a hard bread, quite hard in texture, and it’s probably healthiest among all bread. Most of the time, you eat this with a thick slice of cheese and mustard. It’s recommended that you toast this because it’s already so dark and hard in texture.
If you’ve chosen your bread, you can now add some salami, wurst (sausage), and schinken (ham) for some protein. There are so many different types of sausages in Germany, and some are for breakfast while others are for lunch or dinner. For the real German breakfast experience, you can have these with mustard (instead of ketchup ).
The following are some German sausages for breakfast:
- Fleischwurst: “meat sausage” is also known as Lyoner Wurst, originating from Lyon, France. It has a mild, lightly smoked flavor. When preparing, heat it in hot (not boiling) water or serve it cold, and remove the skin before you eat it.
- Mettwurst: This “minced pork sausage” has a strong flavor, usually preserved by curing or smoking, often with garlic. The spreadable sausage doesn’t require cooking and has a soft texture.
- Leberwurst: “liver sausage” is made from liver and is fragrant and sweet with liver paste. This can also be eaten uncooked and is often spreadable on bread.
- Blutwurst: “blood sausage” is most commonly made from pork skin and blood. It is traditionally warmed in hot (not boiling) water for 5 minutes. In Cologne, it’s served with mashed potatoes and apple sauce and called Heaven and Earth (Himmel and Erde).
- Kochschinken: translated as “cooked ham” and Serranoschinken (a type of Spanish ham) are often used as well.
A growing population in Germany is adopting the vegan diet, so vegan sausages are also available. You can get them from Ruegenwaelder Muehle.
This brand is one of the oldest sausage brands in Germany, and they expanded to have vegan sausages.
If you’ve been to a German kitchen, then you know that Germans are serious about their eggs. There are three common ways to add eggs to your meal.
- Spiegelei (fried egg)
- Ruheei (scrambled egg)
- Gekochtes Ei (soft boiled egg) in an egg cup, with the cover to keep the egg warm. Germans have a unique way of opening the eggs (horizontally), and you can read more about it here.
For more even more flavors, try adding sauergurken (pickles). Kuhne has one of the best German pickles, and they have been in business since 1722 in Berlin. They are pretty international now, and you can even check out their breakfast recipes and tips online in English.
No German breakfast is complete without some good cheese, so don’t forget to add Gouda, Emmentaler, and/or camembert.
Lastly, add aufstrich (topping) like frischkase and kraeuteraufstrich and butter (Rama or regular cow butter).
2. Traditional breakfast platter (sweet)
As mentioned before, traditional German breakfast platter can be salty or sweet (or both). Here are some sweet ingredients that Germans use for their breakfast.
- Marmalade (jam): Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry are the most popular options in Germany. Germans’ go-to brands are d’arbo and moevenpick.
- Nutella: No explanation needed!
- Schokosplit (chocolate chip), schokopaettechen (very thin chocolate flakes for bread)
- Honig (honey): No explanation needed as well!
Now, if you want to try something different, here’s a suggestion: “super fish
3. Pickled Fish (Rollmopps and Matjes)
In northern Germany, people eat Rollmopps or Matjes (herring) for breakfast, which is influenced by their Dutch neighbors. Herring in Rollmopps and matjes is one of the “super fish” with nutritional benefits such as antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and others, and FDA recommends eating 2-3 servings a week.
Germans have muesli with milk for breakfast (or add this to the breakfast platter), and this includes various grains from Haferflocken (rolled oats) to corn flakes. I recommend trying them from Seitenbacher or Koellen Floken.
Most muesli dishes consist of healthy ingredients, apples, nuts, rolled oats (soaked in milk for about 5-10 min), lemon juice, cream and honey. You can adjust it according to your preference, but the basic proportions are around 80% grain and 20% nuts, seeds and fruits. It’s easy to make, and you can refer to these recipes here and here.
5. German potato omelet
According to legend, potatoes were once guarded by soldiers in Germany. Germans love potatoes, and they put them in omelets too. This one is relatively straightforward, and you don’t need complicated ingredients to make this. The basic ingredients include potatoes, butter, eggs, cheese, milk and some salt and pepper. You can take a look at this recipe and watch the YouTube video below.
Mettbroetchen is quite controversial, but definitely an experience you can tell your friends and family back home. During carnivals in Northwest Germany, Germans eat mettbroetchen for breakfast. Mett means minced pork meat, often seasoned and eaten raw. Therefore, Mettbroetchen is bread with raw ground meat, raw diced onion, salt and pepper. You can pair this with a beer.
I personally haven't tried it yet, but you can watch the video below to see how an American girl felt about her first Mettbrotchen.
If you are giving it a try, I recommend going to the groceries early in the morning and choosing the freshest mett you can.
Lastly, the following two breakfast menus are relatively upscale; you’ll find them at hotels or for special occasions. If you find them at a nice hotel while traveling in Germany, make sure to try them!
Kaiserschmarrn is a fluffy pancake named after Austrian emperor Franz Joseph who was fond of this type of pancake. It means something along the line of “emperor’s mess.”
This video below shows you how to make Kaiserschmarrn; don’t forget to turn on the English subtitle if you need it.
This cake originates from the Bavarian and Austrian regions, where they share the border. The cake is rich in whipped cream and fruits and is best served with a warm cup of coffee or tea.
When making this, the apple should not be totally mashed but not in a big chuck either. Generally speaking, German apfelkuchen is not as sweet as North American apple pie.
As for drinks, German drink coffee with condensed milk, hot chocolate, tea, water, and juices for breakfast. From my experience, Americano is not a typical German breakfast drink, and Iced Americano is even harder to find. Instead, you can try café crème as black coffee.
Finally, German children have a small break around 9-10 am, known as Pausenbrot or a Zweites Frühstück. This refueling snack is often a small German sandwich. I didn’t understand the term “pausenbrot” at first, and even Googling gives wrong information. It’s a very loose term for a simple snack (German sandwich with cheese, vegetables, etc.) anytime during the day.
Are you a breakfast person? Which one of these 8 traditional German breakfasts would you like to try? If you are already in Germany, which one is your favorite? Comment down below to let me know.
P.S I wrote a blog post about drugstore wellness products in Germany so check it out!