Hallo! I recently returned from a study abroad stint in Germany, so I’m still hooked on the beers, sparkling water, and abundance of wurst. Although my photojournalism program was only two weeks, I learned oodles during my time in east Berlin. I photographed opera singers, crashed bachelor parties at abandoned airports, and of course, ate loads of authentic food.

I'm also half-German, so I grew up watching my Opa and grandma cook recipes in the schlemmertopf and eating meaty meals at the stammtisch. Here's a list of what to eat in Germany before you die – these 50 foods are best things since men in lederhosen

1. Currywurst

ketchup, chips, sauce, chicken, poutine, french fries
Photo courtesy of Morgan Johnson

THIS IS MY FAVORITE GERMAN FOOD. However, the taste of curry and ketchup slapped on bratwurst isn’t what attracts me. As a half-German, half-Indian girl, this street food represents my ethnicity – and it’s hella tasty. Currywurst is a German staple and costs four euros max.

2. Hefeweizen Beer

liquor, ice, juice, cocktail, alcohol, beer
Mackenzie Patel

This is the cloudy, flavorful beer that replaced water/soda in Berlin. Light with a high alcohol content, one of these wheat beers is enough to flirt with tipsiness. They typically come in .5 liter bottles and range from a pale brown to a golden tan. I drank my first Hefeweizen at Lake Wannsee, and there was no going back.

3. Rouladen

cheese, beef, vegetable, meat
Mackenzie Patel

Because what’s better than rolled up vegetables wrapped in steak and bacon? Served with thick gravy and potato dumplings, this dish is a German must. If cooked correctly, the meat and vegetable juices simmer together into something incredible – the only downside is that it takes three or more hours to make.

4. Kartoffelsalat

Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Hall

This authentic German potato salad is nothing like the whipped mush that Publix sells. The thinly sliced potatoes mixed with bacon, chives, and vinegar taste divine, and it’s not thick like American potato salad. It’s light, refreshing, and reminds me of a lettuce salad rather than a pasty potato one.

5. Kartoffelpuffer

Translation: fried potato pancakes. My Opa (“grandfather” in German) used to cook these, and it would take ages for each batch to cook. Similar to Jewish latkes, these puffers are a simple combination of potatoes, parsley, oil, onions, and eggs. Add sugar for a sweeter taste.

6. Bratwurst

Mackenzie Patel

German bratwurst are like the cheeseburgers of America: stereotypical, loaded with fat, and absolutely delicious. A type of sausage, German bratwurst are grilled with a crunch and are loaded with mustard and sweet ketchup. Bratwurst vendors littered the squares of Berlin, the men selling €1.50 brats with unwashed hands.

7. Brezeln

What kind of tourist would you be if you didn’t have a German brezel (pretzel)? A poorly and deprived one. Lightly salted and crisp, German pretzels are nothing like the Auntie Anne desserts back home. In metro stations, stands are overflowing with these €1 commodities – they even sell variations like the pizza pretzel (WHICH IS AMAZING).

8. Lebkuchen

These German spice cookies scream Christmastime. Growing up, a box of these nutty bad boys would always be at the dessert table. They are the German version of gingerbread cookies and are often covered in dark chocolate or icing (with a paper-like, sugar coating on the bottom).

9. Apfelkuchen

sweet, apple
Mackenzie Patel

Cinnamon soaked apples baked into a butter crust – it’s the German dream. After the butter crust is kneaded, the apples are tossed in with raisins, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes, and you’ve got yourself the best homemade apfelkuchen.

10. Wienerschnitzel

pork, sauce, vegetable, chicken, veal cutlet, meat
Mackenzie Patel

Although Wienerschnitzel is Austrian, there is an abundance of it in Germany. Usually veal or pork, schnitzel is breaded meat that is thinly pounded and served with potatoes, cabbage, or salad. Although breaded meat sounds basic, the flavor – especially with a hint of lemon – is explosive.

11. Kalbshaxe

Since “kalb” is German for “calf,” kalbshaxe is cooked veal knuckle. It might sound disgusting, but this tender meat in a pool of cabbage and onions is amazing. I tasted this dish outside of Linden, a suburban town in the Rhineland. The meat is stringy yet tender and tastes killer with a well-made gravy.

12. Ritter Sport

chocolate, sweet, candy
Mackenzie Patel

Germans know how to make kickass chocolate, even if it’s sold internationally. I visited Ritter Sport's Berlin store and was dipped in warm, sugary air when I first walked in. Besides selling a variety of chocolates, the Berlin location also lets guests create their own chocolate bars. Although I didn’t make one, I did purchase a fair amount of edel-bitters (70% dark chocolate).

13. Berliner Pilsner

wine, ice, liquor, alcohol, tea, beer
Mackenzie Patel

“Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!” —that's the marketing slogan for the most ubiquitous beer in Germany. Light, flavorful, and inexpensive, this is the beer I drank most often in Berlin. .5 liters for €1.10? I’ll take it. I also toured the brewery that produces this German staple: Berliner-Kindl-Schultheiss-Brauerei.

14. Spargel Soup

Creamy, white asparagus soup is one of my favorite German foods. Thick, scalding, and intensely rich, it’s a step up from your basic tomato or broccoli cheddar soup. White asparagus is produced by placing dirt mounds over regular asparagus to block sunlight – hence, the white color.

15. Speckpfannkuchen

This is a glorified crêpe with strips of bacon in it, and it’s heavy yet fluffy simultaneously. I ate speckpfannkuchen with family friends outside of Sprendlingen, a humble town near Mainz and Bingen. It's the size of a pizza pie yet has the consistency of quiche.

16. Kalbsgulasch

cream, sauce, parsley, pasta
Mackenzie Patel

A calf meat concoction is the poster child of German food, especially when mushrooms and thick noodles are involved. Since the dish is Hungarian in origin, a dash of paprika is usually added (as well as a few pounds to your waist after you’ve eaten it).

17. Spätzle

Pronounced like “spatula” with an “e” (spetz-la), these fluffy egg noodles are the new rice. It’s difficult to describe the texture: sticky, squishy, grainy, and spongy, all while retaining an essence of cream. It tastes heavenly under gravy and lends any German meal absorption and flavor.

18. Sauerbraten

Doesn’t “sour roast” sound appetizing? The German version of pot roast, this meat is tender and falls onto a bed of roasted carrots, potato dumplings, or red cabbage. This meal was out of this world, especially when I had just walked 45 minutes to the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall.

19. Pick Up Bars

crunch, chips, candy, chocolate, butter, peanut, peanut butter
Mackenzie Patel

Although Pick Up bars can be found throughout Europe, they taste equally as scrumptious by the Brandenburg Gate as by Big Ben. The dark chocolate sandwiched between two cookies is too outstanding for its 5 for €1.50 price. Read why I think Pick Up bars should be sold in the United States.

20. Kinder Chocolate

Kinder: the gift that’s cheap and easy to bring back to friends and family. The milk chocolate filled with cream sweetens any dinner and goes perfectly with a Genny Light beer. After hiking to the summit of Viktoria park, I unwrapped a few after my cheese sandwich and sparkling wine. I didn’t need a grand dessert since these chocolaty nuggets were sugary enough.

21. Knorr Dill-Kräuter Dressing

herb, vegetable
Mackenzie Patel

I’m not much of a salad girl, but if it’s doused in dill dressing, I’ll eat five goddamn bowls. These packets of dressing are packed with parsley, onions, chives, dill, and a few preservatives I ignore. A 1:1 ratio of oil and water, and you’ve got a topping that complements any food. The packets come in a five pack and cost a little over a Euro.

22. Radler

Beer mixed with sparkling lemonade or soda – it’s a mild alcoholic party in your mouth. German for “cyclist,” this drink originated because bikers wanted a refreshing drink that wouldn’t get them smashed. Although the OG Radlers are from Bavaria, I recreated one in my Atlanta kitchen, and it was zingy as hell.

23. Knockwurst

The Germans are a meaty people, especially when it’s shaped like a sausage. This ground meat is usually beef/pork and complements a slice of rye bread with Dijon mustard. The best part is that it’s “healthy” since it has less fat than a bratwurst.

24. Berliner Kindl Weisse

strawberry, cream, liquor, alcohol, beer, ice, cocktail
Mackenzie Patel

The queen of girly beers! A dose of raspberry syrup mixed with a light beer is served in a bowl-shaped glass. Although this was too sweet for me, most students on my trip adored the sugary, effortless taste.

25. Weisswurst

Weisswurst is a pale, white sausage that looks like a sponge with weird, chunky bits thrown in. A Bavarian specialty, it’s minced veal with bacon and parsley. Although this isn’t my favorite food at my Opa’s house, it's a German classic.

26. Döner

pizza, chicken, bacon, sandwich
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Calise

Middle Eastern kebabs are rampant in Berlin, especially because of the high Turkish population. The kebab meat comes from those vertical, spinning rotisserie meats with juice dribbling down the sides. Paired with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, red cabbage, and a tzatziki-like sauce, it’s incredible. And they cost at most €4.

27. Spaghetti Eis

cheese, strawberry
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Calise

Although they seem serious, the Germans do have a sweet tooth, too. And what better way to rot enamel than with ice cream shaped like spaghetti? Vanilla ice cream is pressed into a Spätzle machine, and oodles of thick, ropy cream come out. Top with strawberry sauce and your evening is made.

28. Mohnstrudel

Poppyseed streusel is a staple during my Christmas Eve shenanigans. Alongside lebkuchen and my grandma’s raisin bread, mohnstrudel satisfied me with confectioners' sugar and sponginess. My dad was always unhappy when I ate it; he said I’d get addicted to dessert heroin.

29. Kartoffelkloesse

flour, sweet, cream, milk, dairy product
Mackenzie Patel

POTATO BALLS. POTATO BALLS. POTATO BALLS. Potato dumplings with nuggets of parsley inside are extraordinary. They’re sticky and fun to make – the cook boils potato grains inside a cloth pouch until the potato balls expand. It’s like cracking open a Kinder egg, except gummier.

30. Kallstadt Portugieser Wine

white wine, liquor, grape, red wine, alcohol, wine
Mackenzie Patel

My taste buds are happiest when they’re drowning in Portugieser wine. My grandparents import wine from the Kallstadt region in the Pfalz and order several cases at one time. Portugieser wine is a deep rotwein (red wine) that is sweeter and less dry than a traditional merlot, and it doesn’t burn the throat as it goes down.

31. Rote Grütze

If a dessert is blood red, it must be tasty. A basic layering of red currants, raspberries, other red fruits, and whipped cream, it’s simple but satisfying. I ate Rote Grütze in the revolving restaurant of the TV Tower, an aging symbol of the Communist regime in Berlin.

32. Mutton Kofta

chocolate, cake, tea, beer
Mackenzie Patel

In Berlin, I ate Indian food at Chandi on several occasions. It was five minutes from Hotel Transit Loft and had inexpensive, homeland food. It’s hilarious—I ate more Indian food in a foreign country than I do at home. “Mutton kofta” is lamb meatballs in curry sauce with rice or naan. My Indian father was so proud.

33. Mineralwasser

alcohol, water, wine
Mackenzie Patel

Europe got me hooked on sparkling water; drinking still water is like eating Nutter Butters without the peanut butter now. The clear, refreshing liquid – a bath of bubbles on the rim – is almost as energizing as a glass of Tropicalia. Bottled sparkling water is omnipresent in Europe…if only American palates would adapt.

34. Sauerkraut

I loathe sauerkraut, but you aren’t an authentic German until you shovel a few spoonfuls downs. Fermented cabbage that tastes best from a jar, sauerkraut is served alongside meats or in stews. Sharp, zingy, and bitter, it’s an acquired taste that I haven’t stomached yet.

35. Meat and cheese breakfast

This is more of a lifestyle than a specific meal to try. American breakfasts are sugary, filled with calories, and rot your teeth more than fill you up. By contrast, Germans eat a stout of breakfast of cheeses (i.e. liverwurst, salami) and hams on whole grain bread. It beats Lucky Charms any day.

36. Milka Chocolate

Although Milka originated in Switzerland, its purple cow and retro writing are omnipresent in Germany too. The milk chocolate squares are divine and inexpensive at your local German grocery store. Milka doesn’t just produce chocolate bars, they also sell yogurt, biscuits, and toffee.

37. Butterkäse

“Butter cheese” in German, this gem has a creamy texture that offends no one’s tongue. Although it’s butter-free, the semi-soft texture and melting qualities had me fooled. It’s also popular in Wisconsin because of the large German population there.

38. Underberg

This is hella obscure, but my Opa swears by this digestif Kräuterlikör (an after-dinner liquor infused with herbs and spices). A dark malty color, this liquor was created in 1846 by Hubert Underberg-Albrecht. The 44% alcohol by volume is nothing compared to my 70% absinthe.

39. Strammer Max

With fried eggs and ham atop buttered toast, this breakfast sandwich is as hearty as the German people. Its name is also foodie slang for male virility (“stramm” translates to “tight” in English).

40. Wild Boar

bun, bread
Mackenzie Patel

This isn’t strictly German, but my family friend went hunting and served me wild boar for dinner one evening in Schwebheim. Rough meat cooked into a patty, it was stringy and tough, yet the flavor accented the white asparagus nicely. I wouldn’t eat it every day, but it made my Germany food post more interesting.

41. Black Forest Cake

Cherries, chocolate, whipped cream, and liquor: could a sponge cake get any better than this? The official German name is “Schwarzwälderkirschtorte,” but it’s a garbled term for cherry gateaux or torte. The cake layers are soaked in cherry liquor before baking.

42. Berliner Kindl Pilsner

ale, tea, beer
Mackenzie Patel

How I adore Berliner Kindl– especially since I toured the brewery and bought €2 bargain glasses. Famous for its cutesy, kiddy logo, this Pilsner was controversial in US markets because it featured a child on a beer glass. Relax, it’s not like young Wolfgang gets drunk by grinning on a label….

43. Stollen

I’m not a huge fan of candied fruit bread, but it’s photogenic as hell. Think Candyland, but baked in a hefty dough and a mist of powdered sugar. Another Christmas favorite, its colloquial name is Christstollen (after Christ).

44. Kiwi Jam on Roggenbrot

I ate kiwi jam on rye bread in a converted stable-turned-dining-room in Ober-Hilbersheim. My host, a weathered woman named Gundula, owned the vineyard B&B with her husband, Arnold. It sated my sweet tooth without overwhelming the whole breakfast – and kiwi jam is quite easy to boil.

45. Cheddar Beer Soup

This sounds like the newest item on Panera Bread’s menu. With dominant flavors such as sharp cheddar, Worcestershire sauce, and ale, it’s a creamy complement to roggenbrot and Berliner Pilsner. I didn’t know “treat yo’ self” could be so alcoholic and velvety.

46. Rotkohl

Pickled red cabbage: good thing it tastes better than its grubby name. A mixture of red cabbage, onions, and apples (sometimes), rotkohl is a popular German side dish. It’s time consuming to make, so I cheat and buy it from the store.

47. Liverwurst

I find liverwurst disgusting – it looks like spoiled lunchmeat and feels like a sponge soaked in animal guts. However, it’s so unabashedly German that one must try it while in the Motherland. Served with mustard and pickles on bread, you’ve got to plug your nose and swallow.

48. Kaiserschmarrn

Fried pancakes that are torn and dusted with sugar, Kaiserschmarrn is topped with fruits, raisins, and/or cinnamon. Also called “The Emperor’s Pancake,” I can see how the mass of sugar and calories is royalty.

49. Apfelschorle

The pronunciation of “apfelschorle” is more fun than its basic ingredients: apple juice and carbonated (sparkling) water. It sounds like a kids drink, but I recreated it in Georgia, and it’s a summer godsend. The brand Wiesgart also sells it at Aldi.

50. Pfeffernusse

Pronouncing these cookies is almost as fun as eating them. Although the literal translation is “pepper nuts,” these mini cookies are a mixture of molasses, honey, nutmeg, ginger, and other spices. They remind me of iced gingersnaps or miniature lebkuchen. 

And we're finished! I hope this guide on what to eat in Germany serves you well. German food is a luxury, no matter if you’re lounging in Alexanderplatz or rushing to catch the Bahn. They treat their palates well and make dining an experience, from the €3 döner to the priceless dinner at the TV tower.