German cuisine
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German cuisine

The term "German cuisine"
is difficult to define precisely
because ...

Germany is more of a land of regional cuisines than a unified national cuisine.

Food preferences among many Germans are changing:

An increasing number of Germans are preferring lighter over heavier traditional fare.

More Germans take vacations abroad. They bring home foreign culinary concepts and adopt them into their cooking and eating styles.

The influx of Turkish and other foreign workers has accelerated the introduction of new flavors and menu items.


Still, there remains today a German cuisine with a distinct, time-honored character. And that character is defined largely by Germany's regional cuisines.

Foreign culinary
influences on
German cuisine

Crossroads location

Germany lies within the well traveled crossroads of Europe and, as a result, German cuisine has been greatly influenced by its neighbors.

For instance, in the northeast, one detects the widespread use of sour cream, characteristic of the cooking of adjacent Poland. Other influences have come from other directions, including Scandinavian, Dutch, French, Austrian, and Czechoslovakian.


This in no way implies that the regions of Germany have not developed distinctive cooking styles. And because Germany was not unified as a nation until 1871, the regional cuisines are especially significant and well entrenched.

Popular German
cooking ingredients

Meat and seafood

Pork is the favorite, though beef frequently appears on household tables.

Chicken and duck are popular, but it is the goose (traditionally cooked and served with apples and prunes) that captures the fancy of most German diners.

The country abounds with forests and, consequently, game like venison, wild boar, hare, pheasant, and river trout contribute to the national fine dining tradition.

Northern Germany has lengthy Baltic and North Sea coastlines. The cool waters yield abundant and flavorful seafood.

Vegetables, grains,
and flavoring agents

The popular potato adds to Germany's high carbohydrate count, appearing either boiled, or shredded for pancakes or dumplings. Interestingly, these tubers are a relatively recent (mid 18th century) addition to the historical German larder.

Hearty vegetables such as red and green cabbage (fresh or fermented into sauerkraut), carrots, radishes, and turnips are also popular, as is the delicate white asparagus for which Germany is famous.

Germany has some of the best bakers in the world. They transform cereal grains into splendid cakes, pastries, and breads.

For flavoring agents, herbs such as dill, chervil, basil, and thyme are used; so are caraway seeds, juniper berries, and prepared mustard. A sweet-sour flavor, obtained with vinegar and fresh or dried fruit, is highly prized.

Learn more
about German food

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German pages

Famous German dishes
Main dishes - A to K
Main dishes - L to Z
Side dishes & soup
Cheese, hors d'oeuvres & sauce
Sweets & street food

Famous German beverages
Beverages - Other

My other German food pages
Menu translator
Regional cuisines
Cooking ingredients
More tips &  insights

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Top 10 wonders of Germany




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