Germany’s cuisine doesn’t have the same reputation and fame as places like France and Italy. But trust me, there’s delicious food here when you know what to eat in Germany.
You’ll find regional differences throughout the country as well as certain foods that are almost everywhere. You’re probably thinking of beer, pretzels, and sausages, and while these are definitely a part of the food culture, there’s a lot more to it.
What to eat in Germany
So what do people in Germany eat? Here’s a look at foods to try in Germany to get a better understanding of the cuisine.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central.
Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by Berlin’s public transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our hotel recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Want to know, what do German people eat? Germans eat lots of bread. Bread is one of the most important foods in Germany, and there are hundreds of types.
It’s not one you’ve probably heard about, but I promise they care more about bread than sausages. For reference, Brot is the word for bread in German.
German bread comes in so many varieties and has so many different names for different types. Some you’ll find throughout the country, but there are also regional bread specialties. There are various grains, some breads have seeds on them, and many are more dense than you’re used to.
Brötchen is one of the most common forms of bread you’ll find. It literally means little bread.
It’s a small bread roll about the size of your fist, and they’re usually only 10 or 20 cents. These are commonly eaten at breakfast with a slice of meat or cheese or a spread such as jam, honey, butter, or Nutella.
Kürbiskern are pumpkin seeds, and it’s fairly common to find bread with pumpkin seeds in it. This is typically a hardy bread with lots of whole seeds, and it’s a well-loved variety.
Another popular bread with seeds is the Sonnenblumenkernbrot. Sonnenblumenkern are sunflower seeds.
Pumpernickel is a typical German variety of bread made entirely of rye. The word for rye in German is Roggen.
This is whole wheat bread, and by law it must be made with 90% whole wheat flour. It’s a course bread you can often find in sliced loaves.
Bakeries are everywhere because it’s important to have access to fresh bread every day. These bakeries will typically have standard types of bread, but also lots of delicious pastries.
If your hotel charges for breakfast, you can easily skip it and head over to a bakery instead. Pick up an inexpensive croissant or chocolate croissant, or try another tasty pastry such as a nut swirl.
Often bakeries will also sell small sandwiches. But remember, the bread is the star here.
That little sandwich will likely have only one slice of meat or one slice of cheese, along with a tomato, a piece of lettuce, and some butter. If you need a quick lunch and you’re ok with something small, this will do.
Pretzels are a popular form of bread you’ll see throughout Germany. But they really originate from southern Germany. In Munich, you’ll sometimes see pretzels two or three times the size of normal ones.
Bakeries will sometimes sell pretzels with nothing on them, but sometimes you’ll see them with butter. It’s a little more common to find them with butter in the southern regions. And it’s delicious!
Also, the word “Bretzeln” describes that pretzel shape you’re used to seeing. But “Laugen” is the type of bread, that pretzel-looking brown color on the outside, and it comes in many different forms, like a roll or a log-shaped bread.
If you travel to Bavaria, be sure to try a pretzel with Obazda. This is a creamy cheese spread made with several types of soft cheese and spices including paprika which gives it a yellow to orange coloring.
Of course you will see lots of sausages in Germany. If you’re traveling to different parts of the country, be sure to try whatever the local sausage is in the city you’re visiting.
Sausages are definitely a regional thing, and different areas have completely unique types. Even with one type of sausage, there can be tons of variations.
Your sausage will usually come on bread. This is one time when the bread is not the star, so sometimes it’s just a Brötchen, but I’ve even seen a cheap piece of sliced bread used to hold the sausage.
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The Thüringer Bratwurst is a sausage from the Thuringia region that you’ll commonly find in Berlin. It’s typically made with spices like marjoram and caraway, sometimes also garlic.
Originating in Nürnberg, the Nürnberger Rostbratwurst is a small sausage usually sold in sets of three or six. They’re often served with sauerkraut, potato salad, and horseradish.
This sausage comes from Frankfurt and is probably the closest thing to hot dogs in the US. They are typically boiled and eaten with mustard.
Though many sausages contain pork, Knackwurst is usually all beef, and it’s typically seasoned with garlic.
This is a sausage made from veal and bacon and seasoned with parsley, onion, lemon, and cardamom. It’s eaten without the skin and usually served in the water it was just cooked in to keep it from getting cold too quickly.
Currywurst is made from a typical bratwurst sausage that’s been cut up into discs. Then a dollop of ketchup with curry powder in it is dropped on top. It’s a very Berlin thing, but you will find it all around Germany. This makes for a quick, cheap meal if you need one.
Another famous Berlin food, Döner Kebap can also be found in other parts of the country. It’s meat on a spit that’s shaved off into fluffy bread along with veggies, sauce, and sometimes a few fries. Döner is another great option if you want something fast and inexpensive while sightseeing in Berlin.
While the typical Döner Kebap is made with lamb, or sometimes veal or chicken, this leaves out those who don’t eat meat. Luckily there are vegetarian and vegan options.
Halloumi im Brot
For vegetarians, try the Halloumi im Brot. Halloumi is a type of Turkish cheese that can be grilled and is often a meat replacement.
Falafel im Brot
For vegans, try Falafel im Brot. Falafel is a Middle Eastern food made from ground chickpeas that are formed into a ball and fried.
A different version of the Döner Kebap is the Dürüm. It’s made with meat (or Halloumi or Falafel) with veggies and sauce, but instead of the fluffy bread, it gets wrapped up in a thinner flatbread. It almost looks like a burrito, but definitely doesn’t taste like one.
Many cultures have some sort of cutlet, and in the German-speaking world, it’s Schnitzel. The meat gets pounded flat, breaded, and pan fried.
The famous type is Wiener Schnitzel, which is Schitzel from Vienna, and it’s made from veal. In Germany, you’ll often find Wiener Art listed on the menu, which means it’s a Schnitzel in the Vienna style, but it will be pork instead of veal. It’s still delicious.
You can also find other varieties of Schnitzel. It could have a sauce on it, it could be made with turkey, and there are several options for sides, though usually it’s potatoes.
This is a specialty in Frankfurt and the surrounding region. It’s a creamy blend of seven herbs, and it’s typically served cold with hard boiled eggs or boiled potatoes.
Germans eat a lot of pork. You will find chicken, turkey, and beef on menus, but the meat of choice is usually pork. Pork knuckles, pork Schnitzel, sausages, salami, you name it. I’ve even seen spreadable meat paste made from pork. When in doubt, assume it’s pork.
Depending on what part of the country you’re in, this is a bone-in dish you’ll see this under a variety of names. It’s Eisbein in Berlin, but in other regions you could see the menu listing as Bötel or Schweinshaxe. In some regions it’s boiled, while in others it’s roasted.
This is a pork roast that originated in Bavaria. It’s a tender, juicy meat dish.
Bacon pieces are often used as a garnish. You’ll find them on potatoes quite often, but they could be in other things like salads. If you don’t eat pork, it’s important to ask if anything you’re ordering has any pork in it or is cooked in pork fat.
Potatoes are another big staple in the German diet. There are so many varieties of potatoes that there’s a stall at our local fresh market that sells almost nothing else besides potatoes.
Fries are called Pommes in Germany, and it’s common to use ketchup or mayo or both.
Boiled potatoes are a common side dish in German cuisine.
Bratkartoffeln are pan fried potatoes. Often they’re cooked with small pieces of pork or bacon, plus onions.
This is potato salad, which is very common in Germany. I’ve seen it with mayonnaise or with vinegar.
Kartoffelpuffer is a fried potato pancake you’ll find often at Christmas markets or other festivals. They’re delicious but greasy.
Often they come with applesauce, but I’ve also seen garlic aioli and quark (a German spread that’s sort of halfway between sour cream and cream cheese) as options.
Sauerkraut often comes as a side dish with sausages or other meat dishes. While it was originally fermented cabbage, these days you will most likely be getting pickled cabbage. I’ve had some really tasty sauerkraut in Germany, and I definitely recommend trying it.
Another version of Sauerkraut you might see is Rotkohl. This is red cabbage instead of green/white, so it has a slightly sweeter taste.
Grünkohl is green kale that’s been stewed and boiled, and it’s usually cooked with pork. You’ll typically see this dish at Christmastime.
You might not know about Spätzle, but it is a German noodle dish. They’re fresh egg noodles and usually made with cheese, but sometimes gravy or butter, and it often comes as a side dish.
I’ve seen it alongside Schnitzel and other meat dishes. This is one of the foods Germans eat that I think people should try when traveling to Germany because it’s not something non-Germans usually know about.
This is a typical southern German food that is similar to a ravioli. Maultaschen is a pasta type outside with some sort of fillings, like meat, spinach, etc.
They are boiled, and then sometimes pan fried. Sometimes they’re served in a soup. If you see this on a menu, I recommend trying it for something a little different.
What do Germans eat? They eat white asparagus, and a lot of it.
I never knew white asparagus existed before moving to Germany. And I never realized anyone cared so passionately about a vegetable. But asparagus season is a big deal in Germany.
The asparagus grows under a cover so it doesn’t get the same sunlight as the green kind you’re used to. This variety of asparagus is also much thicker and fatter.
And when spring comes, you will definitely know it’s asparagus season (Spargel zeit) because it will be everywhere. You can’t escape it.
I’ve seen asparagus on pizza, asparagus turned into a sauce, asparagus as the main meal instead of a side dish, and asparagus cheese. Yes, that’s cheese with asparagus bits in it, sold at a cheese stall in the market.
Every restaurant will have at least something on the menu involving asparagus. I’ve even seen some Asian restaurants get in on the action.
If you ask for water in a restaurant in Germany, the default is fizzy water. The tap water is clean and safe to drink in Germany, but for some reason they don’t like to drink it and prefer bottled water, fizzy water in particular.
Fizzy water not your thing? Make sure you order “Stilles Wasser” (still water) to get the non-bubbly kind. It will still come to you in a bottle and with a price tag.
Asking for tap water is frowned upon, and the only time I’ll do it is if I’m drinking alcohol and I figure they’re ok giving me free water alongside it.
This is a popular non-alcoholic drink option that Germans love. It’s apple juice mixed with fizzy water, and while you can technically get it with any number of juices, apple is the most common one.
At a restaurant, they will mix it themselves, but you can also buy bottled Apfel Schorle at the grocery store or at a Späti.
Of course you know about the beer. Germany is probably more famous for beer than any other food.
The Rheinheitsgebot is an old traditional rule about how to make beer, and it dictates that the only ingredients can be barley, hops, yeast and water. Traditional breweries still stick to this rule, holding German beer to a consistent standard.
There are a handful of national level beers, but mostly there are regional and local breweries. When you’re traveling around the country, ask what the local beers are and try those.
Craft beer has gained popularity over the years, especially in the bigger cities, and you can certainly find some interesting beers at craft beer bars in Berlin.
Pilsner, or Pils in German, is the most common type of beer. It’s a light colored beer with a bitter flavor. If you simply order “Bier” this is what you’ll get.
Hefeweizen is a wheat beer, and it’s also very common. It’s usually cloudy and not quite as bitter.
Dunkel is dark beer, and it’s made by roasting the grain when making the beer. It can be a normal barley beer or a dark wheat beer (Dunkelweizen).
A Bock is a beer you’ll typically find in winter and spring. It’s a stronger beer, usually 8-12% instead of the normal 5%, so go easy if you order one of these.
Radler is a popular way to drink beer in the summer. It’s half beer, half lemon soda.
Not a beer drinker? No worries, Germany has lots of great wine too, even at beer gardens.
You’ll find more dry than sweet here, but when ordering, you can always ask for whatever your preference is and they’ll point you in the right direction.
This is Germany’s most well known wine variety. It comes from the Rhine Valley region in western Germany, but you will find it all over the country.
Spätburgunder is a red wine. It’s the German version of Pinot Noir.
This is a light white wine, and the second most grown grape variety in Germany.
Sekt is a sparkling wine, sort of the German version of Champagne.
A wine schorle is wine combined with fizzy water. It’s essentially a wine spritzer, and it’s a good way to drink a little less with each glass.
A local wine from Frankfurt, apple wine is made with apples instead of grapes. It’s made with more sugar than cider, so it doesn’t quite taste the same. In December, you can often find mulled apple wine at Christmas markets, even outside of Frankfurt.
Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake comes from – you guessed it – the Black Forest region of Germany. It’s a chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream and cherries.
Are you traveling to Germany during Christmastime? Stop by a Christmas market and try some candied almonds. They’re roasted in sugar, but lots of other varieties exist, such as chili, chocolate, different types of candy bars, or different types of liquor.
Lebkuchen is another Christmas market treat you should try if you’re in Germany in December. These are gingerbread cookies that usually have frosting or sugar glaze on them.
What food to try in Berlin
Berlin is a very international city with cuisines from all around the world. If this is your only stop in Germany, then by all means, try some German food.
But remember that this isn’t like the rest of Germany, and not every restaurant is serving German food. If you’re in Berlin for a few days, try lots of different types of food.
Döner and currywurst should be on your list of foods to try in Germany, but especially in Berlin where they are said to have originated. These are quick meals that won’t break the bank, so if you’re limited on time or money, they’re good options.
Berlin has a big Turkish population, and even though the Döner has Turkish roots, there are all kinds of Turkish restaurants to try while you’re in Berlin.
There’s also a large Vietnamese population in Berlin, and you’ll notice lots of Vietnamese restaurants too. Just try to stick to the ones that don’t also sell sushi.
You really can find almost anything here. There are some fantastic Thai restaurants. We’ve had wonderful Japanese food. If you’re really craving Mexican food (or a somewhat Americanized version of Mexican food) you can find some decent places here.
There’s excellent Italian style pizza and fancy French food. Russian, Polish, Israeli, Indonesian…the list really does go on and on.
Berlin is also a very vegan-friendly city. You can find lots of restaurants that serve only vegan food, and quite a lot of restaurants that will have vegan options.
Keep an open mind. I know people usually want to eat the cuisine of the country they’re visiting, and with good reason. But when you travel to Berlin, you really don’t have to stick to only eating Germany food.
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this list of foods to try in Germany and Berlin is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
- 101 Best Things to do in Berlin
- 23 Impressive Castles in Berlin (And Nearby)
- 27 Best World War II & Cold War Sights in Berlin
- 27 Fun Day Trips From Berlin
- 75 Things to Know Before Visiting Berlin: Essential Berlin Travel Tips
- What to Wear & What to Pack for Berlin, Germany: Your Ultimate Berlin Packing List
- How to Get Around in Berlin: An Easy Guide to Berlin Public Transportation
- Where to Stay in Berlin: A Local’s Guide
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.