Probably not surprising that Germany’s most popular foods depend on which region you are actually in. While in Bavaria, Leberkas, Weisswurst sausages, pretzel and Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) are favorite dishes of many, people at the North Sea prefer fish & shrimp, Schnüsch (a vegetable stew) and Salzwiesenlamm (salt marsh lamb). The meats of the lambs who grass in the salt marshes of the northern coast are a true delicacy and mostly overlooked when talking about traditional German cuisine.
There are many other local and regional delicacies that are less known but definitely worth a try.
Now, you’d think that Germans typically live off the traditional German foods such as schnitzel, pork roast, bratwurst, spaetzli, red cabbage, sauerkraut etc. But this is a misconception. As many western countries, Germans suffer from time constrains and like convenience, especially the younger generation.
Therefore, region is not the only factor that plays a role when trying to figure out the most popular German foods.
Germans are hooked on a variety of fast foods. Some of them are pretty much worldwide champions, some of them very German. In contrast to the US, many of those fast foods are still sold by small businesses through food stands, small shops and food trucks.
10 most popular German fast foods
Döner (doner kebab) is actually not a German fast food, as many of you may know. It’s an ‘import’ by the Turkish immigrants. The first doner kebab stand was open in Berlin in the early 1970s. From there its popularity helped open food stands all across Germany and Europe.
During the work days, many Germans have lunch at canteens and cafeterias. There you find a mix of traditional, regional German foods and fast foods.
10 most popular canteen foods*
10. Grilled or fried fish
9. Stews, such as lentil or green pea stew
8. Risoni noodles with ground meat, veggies and shallots
7. Pizza in all variations
6. Caesar Salad with chicken breast
5. Thuringian or Nuremberg bratwurst with mashed potatoes
4. Frikadelle (sausage patty) or burger with sides such as potato salad or fries
3. Pasta dishes, Spaghetti Bolognese or Napoli
2. Curry sausage with fries
1. Schnitzel (mostly pork) with sides, e.g. fries or potatoes, mixed veggies or red cabbage
However, only 26% of all Germans have actually lunch at a canteen or cafeteria. The quality of the foods there is not what you’d expect. Often people complain about it being too fatty and containing too many additives. It’s nowhere close to home-made or restaurant quality. Therefore many Germans opt for bringing their own lunch to work. Some also prefer using a fast food place, if nearby.
Sadly, the well-known traditional German cuisine, as you may know it, is mostly reserved for weekends, holidays and when hosting guests. You can also find these delicious dishes in well-run local pubs and restaurants across the country.
*stats from www.ernaehrung.de