Unraveling the main dishes of Germany

Germany is renowned for its rich culinary heritage and diverse main dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. From hearty sauerbraten to flavorful bratwurst, German cuisine offers a wide array of traditional and authentic options. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of German main dishes, exploring their origins, ingredients, and the cultural significance they hold. Whether you are a food enthusiast or simply curious about German cuisine, join us as we unravel the delicious main dishes that make Germany a gastronomic delight.

Traditional German main dishes


Sauerbraten is a popular traditional German main dish that originated in the Rhineland region. It is a pot roast made from beef, typically marinated in a mixture of vinegar, water, and spices for several days. The marinated meat is then slow-cooked until tender, resulting in a flavorful and succulent dish. Sauerbraten is often served with a rich, tangy gravy made from the marinade, and it pairs perfectly with traditional German side dishes like red cabbage and potato dumplings.

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel is a beloved classic among German main dishes. Originating in Austria but widely enjoyed in Germany, this dish consists of a breaded and pan-fried veal cutlet. The meat is pounded thin, dipped in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and then fried until golden and crispy. The result is a deliciously tender and crispy schnitzel that is typically served with a slice of lemon and a side of potato salad or fries. Wiener Schnitzel is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the flavors of traditional German cuisine.


No discussion of traditional German main dishes would be complete without mentioning Bratwurst. Bratwurst is a type of German sausage made from pork, beef, or veal. It is seasoned with a blend of spices, including marjoram, nutmeg, and white pepper, giving it a distinctive flavor. Bratwurst is typically grilled or pan-fried until it develops a crispy exterior while remaining juicy on the inside. It is often served with sauerkraut, mustard, and a side of freshly baked bread. Bratwurst is a staple at German festivals and is loved by locals and tourists alike.

These traditional German main dishes offer a taste of the rich culinary heritage of Germany. Whether you’re a meat lover or simply curious about German cuisine, Sauerbraten, Wiener Schnitzel, and Bratwurst are sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting more.

Regional specialties


Eisbein, also known as Schweinshaxe, is a traditional German dish that originated in Berlin. This hearty specialty consists of a pork knuckle that is typically brined, boiled, and then roasted to achieve a crispy and flavorful outer layer. The meat is tender and succulent, while the skin becomes wonderfully crispy, making it an absolute delight for meat lovers. Eisbein is often served with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and mustard, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that will leave you craving for more.


Originating from the southwestern region of Germany, Maultaschen are delectable pasta pockets filled with a delicious mixture of ground meat, spinach, onions, and various herbs. These dumplings are similar to Italian ravioli but have a unique German twist. Maultaschen are typically boiled and served in a flavorful broth or pan-fried and accompanied by a creamy sauce. They are a popular dish during festivities like Easter and Christmas, and their rich and savory taste makes them a true German comfort food.

Thuringian Rostbratwurst

Thuringian Rostbratwurst is a famous sausage that hails from the Thuringia region in central Germany. It is distinguished by its coarse texture and distinctive blend of spices, which often includes marjoram, caraway, and garlic. This traditional German sausage is traditionally grilled over an open flame, giving it a smoky flavor and a crispy outer casing. Thuringian Rostbratwurst is commonly enjoyed in a bread roll with mustard, sauerkraut, and a side of potato salad, making it a quintessential German street food.

These regional specialties provide a glimpse into the diverse and flavorful main dishes that Germany has to offer. Whether you’re a fan of hearty meats, stuffed dumplings, or sizzling sausages, exploring these traditional German dishes will undoubtedly be a delight for your taste buds.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options


One of the most popular vegetarian dishes in Germany is Käsespätzle. This delicious dish is made with homemade egg noodles called Spätzle, which are cooked until tender. The Spätzle are then mixed with generous amounts of grated cheese, typically Emmental or Gruyère, and caramelized onions. The mixture is baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly, creating a creamy and flavorful dish. Käsespätzle is often served as a main course and enjoyed by vegetarians and cheese lovers alike.


For those looking for a vegan option, Kartoffelpuffer is a fantastic choice. Also known as potato pancakes, Kartoffelpuffer are made by grating raw potatoes and mixing them with onions, flour, and seasonings. The mixture is then shaped into patties and fried until golden and crispy. These savory pancakes are usually served with applesauce or sour cream, but vegans can enjoy them with a side of vegan-friendly sauces or dips. Kartoffelpuffer are not only delicious but also a traditional German comfort food loved by many.


Grünkohl, which translates to “green cabbage” in English, is a traditional German dish that can be easily adapted to suit vegetarian and vegan diets. This hearty and nutritious dish is made with kale, onions, and spices, slow-cooked until the flavors meld together. Vegetarians often enjoy Grünkohl with sausages or bacon, while vegans can omit the meat and add flavorful substitutes like smoked tofu or tempeh. Grünkohl is typically served with boiled potatoes and mustard, creating a wholesome and satisfying meal.

Germany offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan options that showcase the country’s rich culinary traditions. From the cheesy goodness of Käsespätzle to the crispy delight of Kartoffelpuffer and the comforting flavors of Grünkohl, there is something for everyone to enjoy when exploring German cuisine.

Popular German street food


Currywurst is one of the most popular street foods in Germany. It is a delicious combination of sliced pork sausage smothered in a tangy and flavorful curry ketchup sauce. This dish originated in Berlin in the 1940s and has since become an iconic part of German cuisine. The sausage is typically grilled or fried and then cut into bite-sized pieces before being generously coated with the curry sauce. Currywurst is often served with a side of fries or a fresh bread roll, making it a satisfying and convenient street food option.

Döner Kebab

Döner Kebab, also known simply as “Döner,” is a beloved street food that has gained immense popularity not only in Germany but also across Europe. This tasty treat consists of succulent strips of marinated meat, usually lamb, chicken, or beef, grilled on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is then thinly sliced and served in a warm pita bread or flatbread, accompanied by fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Topped with a creamy garlic sauce or spicy chili sauce, Döner Kebab offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures, making it a go-to choice for a quick and satisfying meal on the go.


Brezel, also known as pretzel, is a classic German street food that is both delicious and visually appealing. These twisted knots of dough are traditionally made with wheat flour and are instantly recognizable by their distinctive shape. Brezels are baked until they develop a golden brown crust and a soft, chewy interior. They are often sprinkled with coarse salt, adding a savory touch to their flavor. These delightful snacks can be found in various sizes, from smaller bite-sized versions to larger ones that can be enjoyed as a meal. Brezels are commonly enjoyed with mustard or as an accompaniment to a variety of German dishes, making them a versatile and popular street food choice.

German Seafood Dishes


Matjesbrötchen is a popular German seafood dish that originates from the northern regions of Germany. It is a traditional sandwich made with matjes herring, a type of young herring that is typically caught between May and June when they are at their prime. The herring is filleted, cured in a mixture of sugar and salt, and then marinated in a brine solution. The result is a tender and flavorful fish that is usually served on a fresh bread roll.

The Matjesbrötchen is often garnished with various toppings such as sliced onions, pickles, and a dollop of creamy mayonnaise or sour cream. The combination of the tangy herring, the crunchy vegetables, and the creamy dressing creates a delightful contrast of flavors and textures. This delicious seafood sandwich is a popular street food option in many coastal towns and is frequently enjoyed as a quick and tasty snack.


Fischbrötchen, which literally translates to “fish roll,” is another beloved German seafood dish that can be found along the coastal areas of the country. Similar to the Matjesbrötchen, Fischbrötchen also typically features herring as the main ingredient, although other types of fish such as cod or salmon can also be used.

The preparation of Fischbrötchen involves grilling or frying the fish to perfection and placing it on a fresh roll or bun. The fish is often complemented with a variety of toppings and condiments like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a squeeze of lemon juice. The simplicity of the dish allows the natural flavors of the fish to shine through, making it a delightful treat for seafood enthusiasts.

Fischbrötchen is a popular snack option for locals and tourists alike, especially during the summer months when the coastal towns are bustling with visitors seeking a taste of the sea. Whether enjoyed as a quick bite on the go or as part of a leisurely seaside picnic, Fischbrötchen is a must-try dish for seafood lovers in Germany.


Räucherfisch, meaning “smoked fish” in German, is a classic seafood delicacy that can be found throughout Germany. This dish involves smoking different types of fish, such as trout, mackerel, or eel, to infuse them with a distinct smoky flavor.

The smoking process typically involves curing the fish with salt and then exposing it to smoke from burning wood chips or sawdust. This imparts a unique aroma and taste to the fish, transforming it into a delectable treat. Räucherfisch is often served as a whole fish or fillets and can be enjoyed on its own or as a part of a larger meal.

The smoky and savory flavors of Räucherfisch make it a popular choice for breakfast, brunch, or as an appetizer. It pairs wonderfully with bread, butter, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Whether enjoyed at a local fish market, a traditional restaurant, or even at home, Räucherfisch is a must-experience dish for seafood enthusiasts looking to explore the culinary delights of Germany.

German desserts as main dishes


Apfelstrudel, also known as apple strudel, is a classic German dessert that can also be enjoyed as a main dish. This delicious pastry is made with a thin and flaky dough filled with a sweet and tangy apple filling. The apples are typically seasoned with cinnamon, sugar, and sometimes raisins or nuts for added texture and flavor. Apfelstrudel is often served warm and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Its combination of crispy crust and tender apple filling makes it a delightful option for a satisfying main dish.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest cake, is another German dessert that can be indulged in as a main dish. This iconic cake is made with layers of chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, and cherries. It is then adorned with chocolate shavings and sometimes garnished with additional cherries on top. The combination of rich chocolate, creamy filling, and tart cherries creates a harmonious blend of flavors. Although traditionally enjoyed as a dessert, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte can be a decadent choice for those looking to savor a sweet main course.

Rote Grütze

Rote Grütze is a popular fruit dessert from Northern Germany that can be enjoyed as a main dish as well. This delightful dessert is made by cooking a mixture of red berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and red currants with sugar and a thickening agent like cornstarch or potato starch. The result is a vibrant and flavorful compote-like dish that can be served warm or chilled. Rote Grütze is often enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Its refreshing and fruity taste makes it a delightful option for those seeking a lighter main dish.

These German desserts not only satisfy your sweet tooth but can also be enjoyed as main dishes. Whether you choose the comforting warmth of Apfelstrudel, the indulgent layers of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or the fruity delight of Rote Grütze, these desserts offer a unique twist to your culinary experience in Germany.

Germany offers a rich and diverse culinary experience with its main dishes. From the hearty and comforting flavors of Bratwurst and Sauerkraut to the delicate and refined taste of Wiener Schnitzel, German cuisine has something to satisfy every palate. Whether you are a fan of meat or prefer vegetarian options, Germany has a main dish to suit your preferences. Exploring the traditional and regional specialties of Germany’s main dishes allows you to unravel the country’s culinary heritage and indulge in its unique flavors. So, whether you are in Germany or trying to recreate a taste of this country at home, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the delightful main dishes that Germany has to offer.

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