Germany is, by reputation, a nation of hard-working, competitive, and highly disciplined people, and this can very well be attributed to the nation’s economic success. But its current reputation cannot take away from the turbulent and violent history that the country and its people have seen. Germany’s beautiful landscape of idyllic castles, modern cities, snow-capped mountains, and surreal sceneries was once a hotspot of continuous strife and war. Planning a trip here soon? Be sure to check out the best unique hotels and treehouse hotels for your accommodation needs. However, if there’s one thing the country has held onto, it is its regional and cultural ethos, which is evident in every aspect of the country, and most obviously in its culinary delights, which you can absolutely partake in: beverages, main course, desserts, and even street foods. Stop by one of the many street-side vendors peppered across city streets and binge away! Here are some of the top street food in Germany.
A list of top street food you must try in Germany will not be complete without a mention of bratwurst. Most simply put, this German street food is a white sausage that’s pan-seared with coriander, nutmeg, and ginger until it is crackling brown on the outside, but soft on the inside. A trick to ensuring this? The sausages are boiled before being seared. Vendors usually use sausages of veal or pork meat, but it can also be a combination of meats. Bratwurst is most often served with mustard sauce, ketchup, and a bread roll. It is very much like an American hotdog, and it can be conveniently enjoyed while walking around the streets. There are more than 40 different types of bratwurst available across Germany, so try and taste as many as you can.
Duration: 3.5 hours
No list of foods will ever be complete without a sweet dish. Apfelstrudel is Germany’s favourite, and it is a lot like apple pie. Flakey sheets of buttery pastry enclose crunchy or sometimes slightly mushy apples, with an accompaniment of cinnamon, raisins, or any other nuts the baker chooses to put in. The delicate casing holding this mix is then carefully placed in a baking tray and baked until the pastry coating turns a brilliant golden brown. Pair this with a dollop of ice cream and a cup of joe and you have yourself a great combo!
Duration: 2.5 hours
3. Currywurst (Spicy German sausage)
Instead of the usual fancy restaurants inside the shopping malls, why don’t you try this amazing street food called currywurst? Currywurst is the benign Bratwurst’s spicy twin. The most common way for local vendors to serve currywurst is to cut the sausages into bite-sized pieces and then sprinkle a generous amount of curry powder on top. You’ll find this top German dish paired with fries as well as bread rolls. Too spicy for your palate? Wash it down a chilled pint of German beer! Fun fact: currywurst is so famous in Germany that there was once a whole museum dedicated to it in Berlin!
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4. Leberkäse (German meatloaf)
Leberkäse literally means liver and cheese in English, but the dish has neither of the two. It is, rather, a mix of pork, corned beef, and bacon sausage that is baked like a loaf until its skin is a crackling brown. Once done, thin slices of the loaf are cut and served with sweet mustard and semmel - a wheat flour bread roll - or as a sandwich filling. You’re very likely to find leberkäse selling like hot cakes during Oktoberfest. Street food vendors may also choose to experiment with the flavours of the loaf and pepper it with cheese, pickles, onions, and a variety of other good stuff.
5. Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad)
If there’s anyone who takes their potatoes seriously, it’s the Germans. So, naturally, potatoes form an undeniable part of Germany’s most loved street foods, and here they call it kartoffelsalat. It is a vegetarians’ delight that finds its origins in Germany’s Swabian region. Kartoffelsalat is essentially boiled potatoes skinned and sliced and cooked with hot broth, minced onions, fresh parsley, vinegar, oil, and salt. Everything is thrown together to form this divine-tasting salad. It is the ultimate comfort food! You’ll even find varieties where the salad is paired with mayonnaise, vinaigrette, bacon, and pickles, among others.
6. Kartoffelpuffer (Potato pancakes)
We told you earlier about how much the Germans love their potatoes, and another testament to that is kartoffelpuffer - a simple and humble potato pancake, but every bit yummy! A combination of flour, eggs, and seasoning are mixed with grated or mashed potatoes, which are then shaped like patties and fried until it forms a crisp, golden-brown skin. While kartoffelpuffer can be had as is, you’ll often find it served as a side dish in larger plates. Plus, they can also be served alongside apple sauce and cinnamon and enjoyed as a dessert.
7. Boulette (Meat patty)
Among Berlin’s most loved and most famous street foods is boulette, which will instantly remind you of a hamburger patty. However, boulette is not placed between bread and is instead relished as a snack with sauces and condiments, or with a side of salad or veggies. The patty may be of ground pork or beef. Boulette is also called frikadelle in several parts of the country, and it makes for a super snack to accompany your tour without a fuss! So be sure to pick them up from any imbisse (food stall) that you find along the way.
8. Brezel (Pretzel)
Pretzel is enjoyed as a convenient on-the-go snack across the world, but did you know that this popular German street food finds its origins in Germany? It is perhaps one of Bavaria’s most iconic contributions to the culinary world, so if you’re in Germany, this is something you cannot miss. Brezel is basically baked bread, which comes in different shapes and flavours and is most commonly seasoned with salt. You’ll find them being sold in nearly every bakery or snack shop in the country.
9. Laugenbrezel (Lye pretzel)
A type of brezel, laugenbrezel assumes its bespoke brown colour and crispiness because it is bathed in sodium hydroxide (lye solution) before being baked. Don’t worry, the addition of the chemical doesn’t make it harmful, it instead amps up the flavour, texture, and fluffiness of the bread. Much like brezel, laugenbrezel is most traditionally sold with a coating of coarse salt and butter. These work very well as snack, so do try!
10. Döner kebab (Rotating roast served with bread)
Döner kebab is a Turkish-inspired speciality that is famous across Germany. The meat of the kebab is slow-cooked on a vertical spit and meat shavings of the outermost layer are then wrapped in a flat or pita bread with onions and some veggies. The döner kebab is probably one of the most convenient and tasty street snacks, so have your fill of this before roaming the sights!
Even though shawarma popularly forms part of Middle Eastern cuisine, it is as much of a hit as any other street food in Germany. One of the best street food in Germany, the shawarma wrap consists of pieces of marinated, spit fire-roasted meat, accompanied by pickles or other veggies, garlic sauce, and french fries and wrapped in a flatbread or even a bun. To amplify the flavours, vendors will sometimes add chilli flakes or yoghurt sauce. You can choose to opt for either - just let your vendor know. It is pretty similar to a döner kebab, and the use of fresh veggies makes it even better. Get your hands dirty by gorging on this meaty treat and come back to thank us later.
12. Schaschlikspieß (Meat skewers)
Spear some boneless chunks of meat and veggies - mostly zucchini, bell peppers, and onions - and roast them to charred goodness. Who won’t relish that? If you spot clouds of aromatic smoke rising from one of the street vendors and see a crowd of hungry diners around it, you can be pretty sure it’s schaschlikspieß in the making. Couple the fare with some mint sauce or a yoghurt-based dip and you have yourself a winning combo! Finding it hard to pronounce the dish’s name? Chuck it and trust the stall vendor to understand what you’re looking for. Schaschlikspieß is also widely enjoyed as a barbecue snack across German households.
13. Bratkartoffeln (Fried potatoes)
It’s funny that something as simple as bratkartoffeln can still be so flavoursome. While you’ll find bratkartoffeln often served as a side to heavier dishes, it is also a delicious and filling street food. And what is it? Simply thinly-sliced pieces of boiled potato that are fried in oil and served with bits of bacon and caramelized onions to amplify the flavour. Pick up a serving of bratkartoffeln and you’ll instantly be reminded of American french fries with a slight twist.
14. Fischbrötchen (Fish sandwich)
Yum, yum, and even more yum! What could be better than a chunky filet of fish stuffed between bread and garnished with delicious sauces and assortments like horseradish sauce, remoulade, pickles, and red onions? That’s exactly what fischbrötchen is. Most often, vendors use the Bismarck herring fish variety for its freshness and its excellent flavour, but sometimes they also use rollmops or salmon. The filet may be fried or smoked before being placed in the sandwich. What binds fischbrötchen with the local culture? This street food is found in Northern Germany, and the area’s proximity to the Baltic and the North seas make it an important aspect of the area’s geographical relevance.
15. Schnitzel (Veal filet)
The English have their fish ‘n’ chips, and Germans have their schnitzel. It is commonly associated with Austria, but it is hugely famous across Germany as wiener schnitzel, which is a thinly sliced piece of veal coated with a batter of flour, egg, and bread crumbs. This piece is then deep-fried until it’s crunchy and golden. You may even find a pork variant that’s known as schnitzel wiener art. Wiener schnitzel is served with a variety of sauces. Zigeunerschnitzel is served with bell pepper sauce, jägerschnitzel comes with mushroom sauce, and rahmschnitzel with a creamy sauce. For a truly exquisite experience, try the wiener schnitzel with ebbelvoi (apple wine).
16. Flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza)
A German counterpart to the Italian pizza, flammkuchen is a speciality of Alsace. Its appearance and preparation is almost exactly like a thin-crust pizza and can have toppings of just about any kind. The only difference is that while traditional pizzas are circular in shape, Flammkuchen is usually oval or rectangular. It packs quite a punch because it is filling yet convenient to carry around and eat. It pairs very well with German beer, so do give it a try.
17. Germknödel (Sweet dumplings)
If you’re fond of dumplings sold in street food markets, then you’ll surely love Germknödel. Straight up from Austria and Bavaria, germknödel are delicate, fluffy dumplings made of yeast that are filled with powidl (plum jam) and then steamed or boiled in a pot. The preparation is topped with poppy seeds and sugar. Once done, germknödel is usually shaped like a bun. The most common way of serving and eating this is by bathing the dumpling in vanilla sauce, custard, or melted butter, making it every bit an indulgent affair. Finish a portion of this and you’ll be good to go for a few hours! While germknödel is usually steamed or boiled, its richer counterpart dampfnudeln is deep-fried, so you can try that too.
While spätzle might look like mush at a glance, it is actually a soft noodle dish prepared with eggs, flour, and salt. After being shaped, it is dropped into boiling water. Once done, the noodles are taken out of the hot water and served with cheese. It is a popular kids’ dish, much like the American favourite: mac ‘n’ cheese. Other than that, it can also be eaten as a side to meaty dishes. Spätzle is also a pretty common snack that you’ll find being enjoyed at carnivals and festivals.
Duration: 2.5 hours
A full-blown culinary adventure
Germany is home to world-famous and hidden gems, offering adventure, wonder, and complete satisfaction, not to mention the amazing accommodations that this country offers, including the best hotels and Airbnb tiny houses. Adding to that are these top street foods you must try - they’ll set the tone for your gastronomical journey and give you a taste of local flavours. There can’t be a better way of getting to know the country from inside and out than by starting with the food!
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