Podolski, voted the best young player at the 2006 World Cup, netted a first-half penalty and then scored in the third minute of injury time to snatch a draw after the Ivory Coast had taken a late lead.
Having scored a late goal to give Germany a 1-1 draw against Finland in their final World Cup qualifier last month, this was the second time Podolski saved his side from defeat.
The game at Schalke 04's Veltins Arena was marked by flags and banners paying tribute to Hannover and German international goalkeeper Robert Enke who committed suicide last week after suffering from depression.
And Podolski admitted it was good to get on the pitch to help the grieving process with Enke's Number One shirt being hung on the German bench.
"Before the game our thoughts were with Robert," said Podolski after Saturday's Germany-Chile friendly was cancelled out of respect for Enke's family. "We had a few good opportunities and it was a good pass, which allowed me to get the second goal."
Before kick-off, a minute's silence was held in honour of the goalkeeper who won his eighth cap in August to help Germany qualify for the 2010 World Cup, while a montage of the 32-year-old was played in the stadium.
The home side took the lead when Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling – making his first national appearance since February – was fouled in the penalty area and Podolski netted the penalty on 10 minutes.
After a lacklustre performance in Hamburg last month, this was a much better display from South Africa-bound Germany.
Podolski turned in his best performance of the year and was close on numerous occasions to adding to his tally.
The home side narrowly avoided conceding a penalty immediately after half-time when Hamburg defender Jerome Boateng brought down Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou in the area, but Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers failed to award the penalty
With first-choice goalkeeper Rene Adler missing with an eye injury, Bremen's Tim Wiese started the first half and with Germany 1-0 up, Schalke's Manuel Neuer took over.
The African side, who have also qualified for next year's World Cup, equalised when Neuer's Schalke team-mate Heiko Westermann passed back to him and the 23-year-old goalkeeper made a hash of his clearance kick with disastrous results.
The ball slammed into the stomach of Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue, back past Neuer and into the German net on 57 minutes.
The Ivory Coast had several chances to take the lead, but it was a piece of brilliant individual play which put them ahead when Seydou Doumbia wrong-footed Germany captain Philipp Lahm and slammed his shot home on 85 minutes.
With time running out, defender Westermann played a superb through-ball for Podolski and after three strides the striker rifled his shot into the back of the net as Germany finish the year with a draw.