German cuisine is not only Frankfurt sausages and Bavarian beer, but also a variety of vegetable soups, aromatic breads and a rich selection of baked, fried, stewed, smoked and dried dishes from all possible types of meat. There are also regional variations of traditional dishes, more than 1400 breweries, about 15 varieties of wine and unique Christmas sweets. And although German cuisine is considered one of the highest in calories in Europe, the food-savvy traveler can find a large number of world-class restaurants in Germany, and those who travel on a budget will be delighted by the numerous southern European, Eastern and traditional German places offering delicious lunches for a reasonable price.

The most popular foods of Germany

Ingredients
  • cabbage
  • potatoes
  • meat
  • flour
  • mustard
  • cumin
National dishes
  • marinated roasted beefSauerbraten
  • fried sausageBratwurst
  • potato dumplingsKartoffelknödeln
  • pork knuckleEisbein
BeerBeck's
BreweryOettinger
Fast food
  • kebabDönner
  • pizza
  • burger
  • fried sausage with curryCurrywurst
Influence

German cuisine ratings

The delicious food ranking The RankerAn American internet ranking, compiled by votes of more than 30,000 people20th place
Restaurants with Michelin stars308
Restaurants with 3 Michelin stars10
World Food Safety Rankingscreated by the Economist and evaluates food based on its quality and affordability81.5 / 1007th in the world

Average cost of food in Germany

Cost of lunch in a restaurant21 USD/person
Lunch at a fast food7 USD/person
Business lunch12 USD/person
Dinner for two at a restaurant51 USD
Beer in a shop2 USD/0.5 liters
Beer at a bar5 USD/0.5 liter

German cuisine — recipes

Caterwings top 100 ranking of cities

German cuisine

Schweinbraten — Bavarian pork
Schweinbraten — Bavarian pork
Sauerbraten — marinated beef roast
Sauerbraten — marinated beef roast
Eisbein — pork knuckle
Eisbein — pork knuckle
Potato dumplings
Potato dumplings
Bavarian prezels
Bavarian prezels
Biersuppe - beer soup
Biersuppe - beer soup
Guglhupf — German precursor of Rum cake
Guglhupf — German precursor of Rum cake
Rote Grütze — North German berry pudding
Rote Grütze — North German berry pudding
Germany - General information
region Western Europe
Capital Berlin
Language German
Currency Euro
Population 80,548,000
Students 2,500,000
Foreigner students 8.3%
Statistics - Universities
Universities in top 100 3
Universities in top 200 12
Universities in top 500 38
Universities in top 1000 46
Universities in top 5000 143
Cost of living in Germany
Expenses - USD/Month Min. Med.
Accommodation 263 357
Food 181 362
Transportation 62 197
Communications and utilities 90 137
Clothing 26 97
Sports and leisure 22 93
Total 644 1,243
Accommodation in Germany USD/Month
Shared room outside of centre 266
Shared room in city centre 361
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre 412
1 bedroom apartment in city centre 571
Location on map

Peculiarities of German сuisine

Soft cheeses and bread from Bavaria
Soft cheeses and bread from Bavaria

Like the language, German cuisine varies greatly depending on the region and the crops available there. The north of Germany is a region of seafood and multigrain dark bread. The dishes here are close to Scandinavian cuisine. A lot of potatoes, green cabbage and berries are used in their preparation, and the combinations of ingredients may seem exotic for some. South German cuisine, especially in Bavaria, is more floury, rich in dairy products, wheat products and, of course, a wide selection of beers.

The West Rhine lands are distinguished by their winemaking traditions, known here since Roman times. Vast vineyards are found in Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse. White wine accounts for 65% of all wine produced in Germany (mainly Riesling and Müller-Thurgau), while Pinot Noir and Dornfelder are the most popular red varieties.

Wine making regions in the banks of Rhine and Elba
Wine making regions in the banks of Rhine and Elba

Aromatic gingerbread and other sweets are no less popular in western Germany. Interestingly, the Rhine region is sometimes not limited exclusively to Germany, since neighboring Belgium, Luxembourg and France have similar dishes and culinary traditions.

In eastern Germany, some dishes created during the GDR era are still in use (and are back in style in some regions): Ketwurst — ketchup plus sausage, Krusta — the East German analogue of pizza, only square, baked on a baking sheet. Also in the east, you can taste traditional dishes of the already defunct German eastern landsEast Prussia, East Pomerania, Sudetenland, and Silesia, for example, Königsberger Klopse (meatballs in white sauce).

Regional dishes of Germany

The table is made in such a way that one city represents one region and only the most classic traditional dishes are mentioned in it, so that when traveling to Germany one knows what he has to try. Hovering the cursor over the question mark near the name of the dish, displays the German name.

CitySoupsAppetizersMain courses
BerlinCabbage soupKohlsuppeCooked smoked sausageBockwurst made from veal, pork, fat and sometimes beefBerlin-style liverLeber Berliner Art
MunichMeatball SoupLeberknödelsuppe made out of liverPretzelAlso know as Brezen — a type of a salted pastry, that goes well with beer and served on a special hanger that looks like a treeBaked porkSchweinebraten
FrankfurtFrankfurt lentil soupFrankfurter LinsensuppeFrankfurt sausagesFrankfurter WürstchenFrankfurt green saucegrüne soße
HamburgBlack SoupSchwarzsauer made out of pig blood and vinegarSmoked sausagesKnackwurst, Hamburger Knacker served with mustard and white breadStuffed oxtailOchsensteert influenced by Portuguese cuisine
StuttgartPancake soupFlädleRaw smoked sausageSchützenwurst from beef and pork with spicesDumplingsMaultaschen
CologneBeer soupBiersuppeRye bunRöggelchenHeaven and EarthHimmel und Ääd blood pudding with potatoes and onions
DresdenPotato soupKartoffelsuppeCheesecakesQuarkkäulchen cottage cheese with mashed potatoesDresden chopped cutletDresdner wiegebraten

Regional desserts and drinks in Germany

German sweets are distinguished by an abundance of flour and berries, which is also due to the geographical location and traditions of agriculture. As for beer, a separate chapter of this article is devoted to it.

CityDessertsBeerOther drinks
BerlinRum cakeGugelhupfBerliner WeisseCask lemonadeFassbrause
MunichHot dumplingsDampfnudelPaulanerFruit SchnappsObstbrand
FrankfurtFrankfurt gingerbreadFrankfurter BrentenHenningerApple wineApfelwein
HamburgBerry puddingRode GrüttHolstenCumin SchnappsHelbing Kümmel
StuttgartSwabian PuddingOfenschlupferSchwabenbräuTrollingerTrollinger-Weine
CologneBerg wafflesBergische WaffelnKölschRieslingRheinische riesling — light white wine
DresdenStollen cakeDresdner Stollen traditional Christmas desertFeldschlößchenRieslingSachsen riesling

History — what influenced German cuisine?

For a long time, there was no unified Germany, and individual regions honed their culinary skills in close connection alongside the non-German people. So, Bavarian cuisine is close to Austrian cuisine, and that, in turn, borrowed a lot from the Balkans. Gulasch-Suppe, popular in the south, is only an adaptation of Hungarian goulash, and bean soup came to Germany from Serbia.

In the western regions, on the Rhine, onion soup (Zwiebelsuppe) is quite popular due to French influences. It is not known for certain who first came up with the idea to mix potato starch with red berries, but the specialty of northern Germany, Rote Grütze (or as they say in northern Germany, Rode Grütt) is known in Denmark as Rødgrød and literally translated as red porridge

The situation is even more complicated in the east, because for a long time the Polish Silesia and Russian Kaliningrad (Königsberg) regions were inhabited mainly by German-speaking residents, and the regions themselves had long-standing culinary traditions closely intertwined with Polish and Baltic cuisine. Often, the same dishes have two names, and disputes about the origin of individual dishes between Germans and Poles are still ongoing. For example, the meat delicacy Rouladen (oven-baked smoked bacon with pickles wrapped in a thin piece of veal or beef) in Poland has been known as rolada śląska. In addition, in the lands that were a part of the GDR, dishes from Russian and Ukrainian cuisines, for example, solyanka, are still popular.

Popular foreign cuisine in Germany

Popular street food
Popular street food

There are numerous fast food places in major German cities: from the usual chain restaurants to small oriental eateries. As a multicultural country with a large number of immigrants, Germany has many restaurants serving Middle Eastern, Asian, South and Eastern European cuisine.

It should be noted that the quality control of food and catering in Germany is at the highest level, so you can safely have a snack right on the street or dine in a cafe in chinatown.

Foreign dishes are most prevalent in fast food — today almost 75% of all street food consists of the most famous dishes of Turkish, American and Italian cuisine.

Restaurants serving Italian, Greek and Spanish cuisine are the most popular. This is not solely because a fairly large number of immigrants from these countries are in Germany, but due to the countries being the main travel destinations of Germans themselves.

Gourmet cuisine in Germany and Michelin stars

When it comes to gourmet cuisine, here, as in many other areas of German life, you can trace a clear division into western and eastern parts. For various economic reasons, there is not a single restaurant in the east that has received the highest Michelin rating. Sometimes exquisite restaurants are located in five-star hotels. For example, the Schwarzwaldstube restaurant is located at the spa and hotel complex in the picturesque Black Forest region, so a visit to an elite restaurant can be combined with a trip to nature and some spa procedures.

Every year the rating is updated in accordance with the dishes offered and the quality of the chef's work. Curiously, the design of the restaurant and customer service are considered secondary criteria for evaluation.
LandCityRestaurantYear of award
BavariaMunichAtelier2018
BavariaRottach-EgernRestaurant Überfahrt Christian Jürgens2014
Baden-WürttembergBaiersbronnRestaurant Bareiss2008
HamburgHamburgThe Table Kevin Fehling2016
Lower SaxonyWolfsburgAqua2009
Rhineland-PalatinateDreisWaldhotel Sonnora1999
SaarlandPerl-NenningVictor's Fine Dining by Christian Bau2006
SaarlandSaarbrückenGästeHaus Klaus Erfort2008
North Rhine-WestphaliaBergisch GladbachVendôme2005
BerlinBerlinRutz2020
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How much does it cost to eat in Germany?

The table shows the average cost of lunch in different cities in Germany according to the statistical average of each city.

CityLunch at a fast food restaurantBusiness lunch in the downtown areaDinner for two in a restaurant
Berlin9 USD15 USD45 USD
Munich8 USD18 USD57 USD
Frankfurt11 USD20 USD50 USD
Hamburg9 USD12 USD54 USD
Stuttgart9 USD12 USD54 USD
Cologne9 USD14 USD59 USD
Dresden8 USD11 USD51 USD

How to navigate the different types of restaurants and bars in Germany?

Gasthaus/Gasthof/Landhaus/Pension — this is the name of the traditional German roadside motels, which usually have a bar, restaurant or a banquet hall. A good option for those travelers, who want to save money and try the local cuisine. Also found in Switzerland and Austria.

Biergarten (literally "beer garden") is a summer beer bar, where tables are located on a square surrounded by trees. Some biergärten are very large: for example, the Hirschgarten in Munich can accommodate about 8 thousand guests.

Ratskeller / Ratsklause — a drinking establishment, which is located in the basement of the city hall. For example, the Bremen Wine Cellar.

Bierhalle / Bierpalast / Bierstube — large pubs, which can be found in almost every German city with a population of over 100 thousand people.

Brauhaus / Bräustüberl / Pannhaus / Bräues — sometimes referred to a tasting bar at the brewery (as well as the brewery itself).

German beers: Endless variety

Beer sommeliers distinguish over twenty varieties of this traditional German hop beverage. The beer itself attracts more than a million tourists to German cities every year, especially during the "beer festivals" in the summer and autumn months. LagersLager is a type of beer conditioned at low temperature. Lagers can be pale, amber, or dark. are subdivided into several main varieties. Each variety has its own history and origin, a special method of preparation, and taste.

VarietyOriginFeaturesProportion of alcohol
Pilsener/HellesNamed after Czech city Plzeň, where a Bavarian brewer worked. The German name on the city — Pilsen is now used in several kinds of beer worldwide.PlzeňLight4.8-5%
Bock/MaibockLower SaxonyStrong6.3-7.2%
Doppelbock/EisbockMunichBavariaThe strongest9-14%
SchwarzbierBayernBlack4.4-5.5%
RauchbierBambergBavariaSmokyby taste5.1%
DunkelBavariaDark4.5-6%
Zwickel/KellerRhineland-PalatinateUnfilteredup to 5%

Alesbeer brewed using a warm fermentation method in Germany are mainly represented by Bavarian wheat beers (German Weizenbier), although in some large German cities traditional wheat beers form an important part of local traditions.

VarietyWhere to tryFeaturesProportion of alcohol
AltDüsseldorfDark, wheat4.8%
Berliner WeisseBerlinSour ale3%
KölschCologneWheat4,8%
GoseLeipzigWith coriander4-5%
DunkelweizenBavariaDark, wheat4-7%
WeizenbockBavariaStrong, wheat7-10%
HefeweizenBavariaWheat > 50%4-7%
KristalweissBavariaFiltered, wheat4-7%
RoggenbierBavariaRye4-6%
Even if Bavarian beer is the best, today it is not the most popular among the Germans themselves. German regionalism can be traced literally in everything, including loyalty to local beer brands.
NameLandBreweryPopularity
Beck'sBremenBremen11.6%
KrombacherNorth-Rhine WestphaliaKreuztal10%
WarsteinerNorth-Rhine WestphaliaWarstein9.7%
König PilsenerNorth-Rhine WestphaliaDuisburg7.8%
VeltinsNorth-Rhine WestphaliaMeschede7.2%
BitburgerRhineland-PalatinateBitburg7%
ErdingerBavariaErding6%
OettingerBavariaOettingen in Bayern5%
PaulanerBavariaMunich4.8%
RadebergerSaxonyRadeberg4.1%
  1. Oettinger
  2. Krombacher
  3. Bitburger
  4. Veltinis
  5. Warsteiner
  6. Beck's
  7. Paulaner
  8. Hasseröder
  9. Radeberger Pilsener
  10. Erdinger Weißbier
CityDatesFestivalFounded
Hamburg
  • March – April
  • August
  • November – December
Hamburger DOMThe fair is held three times a year1329
Munich20 Apr – 8 MayMünchen Frühlingsfest1810
Stuttgart21 Apr – 18 MayStuttgarter Frühlingsfest1818
Erlangen17-28 MayErlangen Bergkirchweih1755
Hanover29 Jun – 8 JulSchützenfest1529
Kulmbach29 Jun – 6 AugKulmbach Bierwoche1939
Forheim20-30 JulForchheimer Annafest1840
Berlin3-5 AugInternationales Berliner Bierfestival2001
Straubing10-20 AugGäubodenvolksfest1812
Manching25-28 AugBarthelmarkt1354
Lammersdorf25-28 AugLimmersdorfer Lindenkirchweih1729
Munich22 Sep – 7 OctOktoberfest1810
Berlin22 Sep – 7 OctOktoberfest1950
Hanover28 Sep – Oct 14Oktoberfest1964
Stuttgart28 Sep – Oct 14Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest1818
Bremen13-29 OctFreimarkt1035

Interesting facts

  • German beer is considered one of Germany's top export commodities and is subject to very strict quality control. The Reinheitsgebot (purity law) has been in effect in Germany since 1516. Under this law, beer can only contain three ingredients: water, barley, and hops. Yeast was not included in the text of the original law, since humanity did not yet know about its existence.
  • The recipe for the famous North German delicacy — Lubeck marzipan — is kept secret and has its roots in the era of the Hanseatic trading cities. In Lübeck itself there is a marzipan museum.
  • Germany has the only airport brewery in the world — Airbräu in Munich. In the spacious courtyard of the airport, under a huge glass canopy, a beer garden is open in summer and a Christmas market in winter.

Books about German cuisine