25 Traditional German Dinner Recipes

25 Traditional German Dinner Recipes

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Growing up, my exposure to German cuisine was fairly limited – the occasional bratwurst at a backyard barbecue or a soft pretzel from the mall’s food court. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to travel to Germany during my college years that I truly discovered the incredible depth and heartiness of traditional German cooking.

From the moment I took my first bite of a crispy pork knuckle with that crackling skin in a beer hall in Munich, I was hooked. The robustly flavored sauerbraten pot roast marinaded for days, the wonderfully cheesy spätzle noodles, the warm and comforting potato dumplings drenched in gravy – every dish seemed to encapsulate the country’s charming gemütlichkeit feeling of coziness and good cheer.

Back home, I began eagerly recreating recipes like rouladen, flammkuchen, and zwiebelkuchen that reminded me of my unforgettable culinary journey through beer gardens, countryside inns, and homey eateries across Germany. Preparing these hearty, labor-intensive specialties connected me to the nation’s storied food traditions in a way I’ll always cherish.

1. Sauerbraten (Marinated Pot Roast)

Sauerbraten (Marinated Pot Roast)

This dish has a distinctively rich, tangy and slightly sweet flavor from the long marinade of vinegar, spices and herbs.

Ingredients: beef rump roast or bottom round, vinegar, onions, gingersnaps or brown sugar, juniper berries, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt

  • Marinate the beef in a mixture of vinegar, sliced onions, gingersnaps/brown sugar and spices for 3-5 days, turning occasionally
  • Remove beef from marinade, pat dry and brown in oil/butter over high heat
  • Add marinade liquid and enough beef broth to nearly cover the meat
  • Cover and simmer for 2.5-3 hours until very tender
  • Make a roux gravy from pan drippings

Cook Time: 3-5 days marinating, 3-4 hours cooking

2. Käsespätzle (Cheese Spätzle)

Käsespätzle (Cheese Spätzle)

Wonderfully comforting with a slightly nutty flavor from the cheese and eggs in the dough.

Ingredients: all-purpose flour, eggs, salt, nutmeg, butter or oil, Emmentaler or Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions (optional)

  • Make a thick batter with flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg
  • Press or push batter through a spätzle maker or colander into boiling salted water
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until spätzle floats
  • Drain and toss with butter/oil and grated cheese
  • Top with caramelized onions if desired

Cook Time: 30 mins

3. Rinderouladen (Rolled Beef Roulades)

Rinderouladen (Rolled Beef Roulades)

Savory beef rolls stuffed with a bright, tangy filling of mustard, pickles and bacon.

Italicized Ingredients: beef top round steaks, mustard, pickles, bacon, onions, parsley, beef broth/beer, flour, salt, pepper

  • Pound steaks until 1/4 inch thick and spread with mustard
  • Place pickle slice, bacon slice and sautéed onions/parsley on each steak
  • Carefully roll up steaks and tie with kitchen string
  • Brown rolls in oil/butter over high heat
  • Add broth/beer, cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours until tender
  • Make a gravy from the cooking liquid

Cook Time: 2-2.5 hours

4. Currywurst (Curried Sausage)

Currywurst (Curried Sausage)

A beloved street food with a zesty curry-ketchup sauce coating warm, snappy pork sausages.

Ingredients: Pork sausages/bratwurst, ketchup, curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, white wine vinegar, chicken or beef broth

  • Grill, pan-fry or steam pork sausages until cooked through
  • In a saucepan, combine ketchup, curry powder, Worcestershire, vinegar and broth
  • Simmer sauce for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend
  • Slice warm sausages into pieces and smother with the curried ketchup sauce

Cook Time: 20-30 mins

5. Maultaschen (Filled Pasta Pockets)

Maultaschen (Filled Pasta Pockets)

Hearty vegetable and meat filling enveloped in tender noodle dough with a brothy sauce.

Ingredients; Pasta dough, ground meat, spinach, onions, bread crumbs, parsley, beef broth, nutmeg

  • Make a basic egg pasta dough and let rest
  • For filling, cook spinach and finely chop, mix with ground meat, onions, bread crumbs, parsley, nutmeg
  • Roll out dough and cut into circles, place dollop of filling in center
  • Fold over and crimp edges to form a half-moon shape
  • Boil maultaschen in salted water or broth for 15-20 mins
  • Serve in a broth with extra melted butter if desired

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

6. Leberkäse (Bavarian Meatloaf)

Leberkäse (Bavarian Meatloaf)

A dense, intensely savory loaf with a crispy brown crust.

Ingredients: Ground pork and beef, bacon, onions, parsley, mustard, paprika, lemon zest, eggs, bread crumbs

  • Combine all ingredients and form into a loaf pan or shape on a baking sheet
  • Brush top with a little milk or beaten egg
  • Bake at 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 mins until deeply browned
  • Let rest 10 mins, then slice and serve with mustard, pickles, bread

Cook Time: 1.25-1.5 hours

7. Rouladen (Beef Rolls)

Rouladen (Beef Rolls)

Thin beef rolls stuffed with bacon, onions, mustard and pickles in a rich brown gravy.

Ingredients: Beef top round steaks, mustard, bacon, onions, dill pickles, beef broth, red wine, flour, salt, pepper

  • Pound steaks until very thin, spread with mustard
  • Place bacon, onion and pickle slices on each steak
  • Carefully roll up and secure with toothpicks or kitchen string
  • Brown the rouladen rolls in oil/butter over high heat
  • Add broth and red wine to cover rolls partially
  • Simmer for 1-1.5 hours until beef is very tender
  • Make a gravy from the cooking liquid and flour slurry

Cook Time: 1.5-2 hours

8. Dampfnudeln (Steamed Dumplings)

Dampfnudeln (Steamed Dumplings)

Pillowy soft yeast dumplings with a lightly sweet flavor, often served with vanilla sauce.

Italicized Ingredients: _All-purpose flour, milk, butter, yeast, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, breadcrumbs*

  • Make a yeast dough with flour, milk, butter, yeast, eggs and sugar
  • Let rise for 1 hour until doubled
  • Shape or scoop dough into balls and roll in breadcrumbs
  • Place in a steamer basket and steam for 15-20 mins
  • Serve warm with vanilla sauce or melted butter and breadcrumbs

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

9. Biergulasch (Beer Goulash)

Biergulasch (Beer Goulash)

A rich, hearty beef stew with a deeply savory flavor from the beer braising liquid.

Ingredients: Beef chuck or rump roast, onions, garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, beef broth, dark beer, tomato paste, bell peppers, potatoes

  • Sear beef in batches until browned on all sides
  • Sauté onions and garlic, then sprinkle in paprika and caraway
  • Deglaze with a splash of broth and beer
  • Return beef and add remaining broth, beer, tomato paste
  • Add bell peppers and potatoes in last 30 mins
  • Simmer for 2-3 hours until beef is very tender

Cook Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

10. Kohlrouladen (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Kohlrouladen (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Savory ground meat and rice filling wrapped in tender cabbage leaves simmered in a lightly sweet and sour tomato sauce.

Ingredients: Green cabbage, ground pork/beef, onions, rice, dill, bacon, tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf

  • Blanch cabbage leaves in boiling salted water to soften
  • Make filling by sautéing onions and mixing with ground meat, cooked rice, dill, bacon
  • Place some filling on each cabbage leaf and roll up
  • Layer rolled cabbage in a pot and add tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf
  • Cover and simmer for 1 hour until cabbage is very tender
  • Adjust sauce seasoning if needed

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

11. Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tart)

Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tart)

A savory yeasted tart with a delightfully rich onion topping that is both sweet and bacony.

Ingredients: Yeast dough, onions, bacon, heavy cream, breadcrumbs, caraway seeds, nutmeg, eggs

  • Make a simple yeasted dough and press into a tart pan
  • Slowly caramelize sliced onions in bacon fat until very soft and sweet
  • Mix cooked onions with cream, breadcrumbs, caraway, nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • Spread onion mixture over the dough and brush with beaten egg
  • Bake at 400°F for 25-30 mins until puffed and golden brown

Cook Time: 1.5 hours including dough rising

12. Jagerschnitzel (Hunter’s Schnitzel)

Jagerschnitzel (Hunter's Schnitzel)

Crispy breadcrumb-coated pork cutlets in a rich, mushroom-bacon gravy.

 Ingredients: Pork loin cutlets, all-purpose flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, oil, mushrooms, onions, bacon, beef broth, cream

  • Pound pork cutlets to 1/4-inch thickness and bread with flour, egg, breadcrumbs
  • Pan fry breaded cutlets in hot oil until golden brown on both sides
  • In same pan, cook mushrooms, onions, bacon until caramelized
  • Deglaze pan with broth and cream to make a mushroom gravy sauce
  • Place cooked schnitzel cutlets in the sauce to reheat briefly

Cook Time: 45-60 mins

13. Bratkartoffeln (Pan-Fried Potatoes)

Bratkartoffeln (Pan-Fried Potatoes)

Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside fried potato chunks with a rich, savory bacon flavor.

Ingredients: Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon or bacon fat, onions, parsley, salt, pepper

  • Parboil peeled and cubed potatoes until just tender
  • Dice bacon and cook until crispy in a large skillet
  • Remove bacon bits, leaving rendered fat in pan
  • Fry parboiled potato cubes in the hot bacon fat until browned
  • Add diced onions and fry until translucent
  • Fold in cooked bacon bits and chopped parsley
  • Season generously with salt and pepper

Cook Time: 45 mins

14. Semmelknödel (Bread Dumplings)

Semmelknödel (Bread Dumplings)

Dense, comforting dumplings with a very subtle sweetness from the bread base.

Ingredients: Day-old bread rolls or loaf, milk, eggs, parsley, nutmeg, butter

  • Tear bread into pieces and soak in warm milk for 30 mins
  • Squeeze out excess milk from bread and mix with eggs, parsley, nutmeg
  • Form mixture into tight, smooth ball shapes
  • Place dumplings in a buttered steamer basket and steam for 20 mins
  • Serve warm with gravy, melted butter or mushroom sauce

Cook Time: 1 hour

15. Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambée)

Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambée)

A thin, crispy Alsatian flatbread generously topped with savory bacon, onions and crème fraîche.

Ingredients: Bread or pizza dough, bacon, onions, crème fraîche or sour cream, nutmeg, caraway seeds

  • Roll out dough very thinly into a large rectangle or oval shape
  • Top with crème fraîche or thin layer of sour cream
  • Sprinkle with cooked diced bacon and caramelized onions
  • Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, caraway seeds
  • Bake at 500°F for 8-10 mins until edges are brown and crisp
  • Slice into rectangles to serve

Cook Time: 1 hour including dough rising

16. Linsen mit Spätzle (Lentils with Spätzle)

Linsen mit Spätzle (Lentils with Spätzle)

Hearty lentils with a delightfully fresh and peppery flavor from the vinegar dressing, contrasted with tender egg noodle spätzle.

Ingredients: Brown lentils, vegetable or chicken broth, bay leaf, onions, vinegar, oil, spätzle (egg noodle dough), all-purpose flour, eggs, salt

  • Rinse lentils and cook in broth with bay leaf until very soft, 30-40 mins
  • Make a vinegar dressing by cooking sliced onions in oil, then deglazing with vinegar
  • Toss cooked lentils with the warm onion-vinegar dressing
  • For spätzle, make a thick batter with flour, eggs and salt
  • Press or push batter through a spätzle maker into boiling salted water
  • Cook for 2-3 mins until noodles float, then drain
  • Toss cooked spätzle with butter and serve with dressed lentils

Cook Time: 1 hour

17. Eintopf (Stew)

Eintopf (Stew)

A thick, immensely satisfying stew brimming with smoked meat and a variety of vegetables and potatoes.

Ingredients: Smoked pork hocks/sausages, beef broth, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, marjoram

  • Brown smoked pork pieces in a pot until lightly crisped
  • Add sliced onions, garlic, carrots, celery and sauté for 5 mins
  • Pour in broth along with cabbage, potatoes, bay leaves and marjoram
  • Simmer for 1-1.5 hours until all vegetables are very tender
  • Season generously with salt, pepper and a dash of vinegar
  • Remove bay leaves and pork bones before serving

Cook Time: 1.5-2 hours

18. Labskaus (Corned Beef and Potato Stew)

Labskaus (Corned Beef and Potato Stew)

A wonderfully salty, savory mash-up of corned beef, potatoes, beets and herring with a bright hit of pickles and rollmops.

 Ingredients: Cooked corned beef, potatoes, onions, beets, rollmops (pickled herring fillets), dill pickles, beef broth, mustard, eggs

  • Cook potatoes, beets and onions until tender
  • Shred or dice the cooked corned beef
  • Mash potatoes with milk/cream until smooth
  • Mix in shredded corned beef, beets, onions, broth and mustard
  • Let simmer for 10 mins for flavors to meld
  • Serve topped with rollmops, diced pickles and optional fried eggs

Cook Time: 1 hour

19. Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth)

Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth)

A rustic combination of rich, buttery mashed potatoes contrasted with tart, sweet apples for an incredibly comforting dish.

Ingredients: Yukon Gold potatoes, butter, milk/cream, tart apples, onions, bacon, sugar, cider vinegar, salt, pepper

  • Peel and boil potatoes until fork tender, drain
  • Mash potatoes with butter, milk/cream and season with salt and pepper
  • In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels
  • Sauté sliced apples and onions in the bacon fat until softened
  • Deglaze skillet with a splash of vinegar and sprinkle with sugar
  • Serve the apple mixture over the mashed potatoes, crumbled bacon on top

Cook Time: 45 mins

20. Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut (Sausages with Sauerkraut)

Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut (Sausages with Sauerkraut)

Perfectly grilled juicy sausages with a punchy sauerkraut accented by rich pork flavors and fragrant caraway seeds.

Ingredients: Bratwurst sausages, sauerkraut, onions, juniper berries, caraway seeds, chicken or beef stock, bacon, brown sugar*

  • Parboil sausages briefly, then grill or pan-fry until deeply browned
  • In a pot, cook sliced onions and bacon until lightly caramelized
  • Add sauerkraut, stock, juniper berries, caraway seeds and brown sugar
  • Simmer for 20-30 mins until kraut is very soft and flavors meld
  • Serve sausages over the warm sauerkraut mixture

Cook Time: 45-60 mins

21. Käsespätzle (Cheese Spätzle)

Käsespätzle (Cheese Spätzle)

Nutty, cheesy spätzle noodles coated in a rich, creamy sauce – the ultimate comfort food.

Ingredients: Eggs, flour, nutmeg, Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese, onions, cream, butter, parsley

  • Make a spätzle dough with eggs, flour, salt and grated nutmeg
  • Press or push dough through a spätzle maker into boiling salted water
  • Cook for 2-3 mins until noodles float, drain and toss with butter
  • In a pan, sauté onions in butter until translucent
  • Add cream and grated cheese, stirring until a thick sauce forms
  • Fold in cooked spätzle and parsley, season with salt and pepper

Cook Time: 45 mins

22. Frikadellen (Meat Patties)

Frikadellen (Meat Patties)

Incredibly juicy and flavorful seasoned meat patties that make the perfect hearty sandwich.

Ingredients: Ground beef and pork, onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper

  • Mix all ingredients together until well-combined, being careful not to overmix
  • Form into flat patty shapes, about 1/2 inch thick
  • Pan-fry patties in a bit of oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 mins per side
  • Optionally, finish in the oven at 375°F for 5-8 mins for food safety
  • Serve on fresh rolls with mustard, pickles and onions

Cook Time: 30 mins

23. Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesoße (Steamed Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce)

Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesoße (Steamed Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce)

Pillowy soft, lightly sweet yeasted dumplings drenched in a rich vanilla-scented custard sauce.

 Ingredients: Milk, butter, yeast, flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, heavy cream, egg yolks

  • Make a yeast dough with milk, butter, yeast, flour, eggs and sugar
  • Let rise for 1 hour, then shape into balls and let rest 30 mins
  • Steam the dumpling balls for 15-20 mins until puffed up
  • For sauce, make a custard with cream, egg yolks and sugar, flavor with vanilla
  • Serve warm dumplings smothered in the vanilla custard sauce

Cook Time: 2 hours

24. Brez’n (Pretzels)

Brez'n (Pretzels)

Chewy, twisted bread knots with an iconic brown crust and a slightly salty, alkaline flavor from the lye bath.

 Ingredients: Bread flour, yeast, salt, butter, food-grade lye solution, coarse salt (optional)

  • Make a simple bread dough with flour, yeast, salt and softened butter
  • Let dough rise, then roll into ropes and shape into pretzels
  • Briefly dip pretzels in a food-grade lye solution (or baking soda water)
  • Bake at 450°F for 12-15 mins until deeply browned
  • Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt if desired

Cook Time: 2-3 hours including dough rising

25. Schweinehaxe (Roasted Pork Knuckle)

Schweinehaxe (Roasted Pork Knuckle)

An incredibly rich and meaty pork knuckle with crisp, crackling skin and tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.

Italicized Ingredients: _Pork knuckle/hock, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, beer or chicken stock*

  • Rub the pork knuckle all over with salt, pepper and caraway seeds
  • Place in a roasting pan and add just enough beer or stock to cover the bottom
  • Roast at 325°F for 2-2.5 hours, basting occasionally with the pan juices
  • Increase oven temp to 450°F and roast 30 mins more for ultra crispy skin
  • Let rest 10-15 mins before carving and serving with pan juices

Cook Time: 3-3.5 hours


From iconic sausages and roasted meats to cheese-laden noodle dishes and rustic stews, the recipes featured here represent the comforting heartiness of German cuisine. While the preparations can be labor-intensive, the incredible bold and satisfying flavors make it well worth the effort.

Specialties like sauerbraten, rouladen, and schweinshaxe connect modern home cooks to Germany’s longstanding culinary heritage. Mastering these traditional German dinner staples allows you to bring the country’s celebrated gemütlichkeit feeling of warmth and hospitality right to your own table. Guten Appetit!

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