food and drink For Members

Pickles to chocolate balls: 16 regional foods to try in each German state

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
Pickles to chocolate balls: 16 regional foods to try in each German state
A plate of traditional Maultaschen in a broth sauce. Photo: picture-alliance/ gms | Deutsches_Suppeninstitut

From hearty sausages to chocolate-flavoured balls and red fruit jelly, Germany’s cuisine is as diverse as its regions. These are the specialties you have to try in each Bundesland.


Baden-Württemberg: Maultaschen

Often referred to as "Swabian ravioli," Maultaschen are pasta pockets traditionally filled with a mixture of minced meat, spinach, onions, and bread crumbs, seasoned with various spices. 

The name Maultaschen is a combination of the word for "mouth" (Maul) and Tasche meaning pocket or bag. Presumably, because one tasty pocket is enough to fill your whole mouth with.

The pasta pockets are typically boiled and accompanied by broth or gravy and served with potato salad. Though the traditional recipe includes minced meat, nowadays, you can find plenty of restaurants serving Maultaschen with vegan or vegetarian fillings. 

Bavaria: Weißwurst

Best known for its love of beer, celebrated annually in the world-famous Oktoberfest, Germany’s southernmost state enjoys a particular salty treat with its favourite drink.

The Bavarian Weißwurst (white sausage) is a sausage made with finely minced veal, back bacon, and a blend of spices including parsley, mace, and lemon zest. Poached rather than smoked, the sausages have a delicate texture and mild flavour.

The delicacy is often enjoyed as a morning meal with pretzels, sweet mustard, and wheat beer, especially during Oktoberfest. 

Brandenburg: Spreewald Pickles 

Spreewald Pickles are a beloved and iconic product of Brandenburg's Spreewald region, which is located in the southeastern part of Brandenburg.

READ ALSO: Travel: Six reasons why the Spreewald near Berlin is worth visiting

Spreewälder Gurken are known for their crisp texture and distinctive flavour, resulting from a unique combination of locally grown cucumbers, traditional recipes, and a centuries-old pickling tradition.

Berlin: Currywurst

Originating in the 1940s, this quintessential Berlin street food has now reached iconic status.

This dish consists of sliced pork sausage, typically bratwurst or bockwurst, generously smothered in a zesty tomato-based curry ketchup sauce and sprinkled with curry powder.


It is often served with a side of fries or a bread roll, and variations can include different types of sausages and sauce recipes. You can find plenty of vegan or vegetarian options to enjoy the dish in the capital, too.

Hamburg: Labskaus

Historically associated with sailors and long sea voyages due to its use of preserved ingredients, Labskaus has evolved into one of the northern city-state's most beloved comfort foods.

READ ALSO: Thrifty Swabians and haughty Hamburgers: A guide to Germany's regional stereotypes

The traditional dish typically consists of ingredients like corned beef or salted meat, mashed or grated potatoes, sautéed onions, and beetroot, giving it its distinctive reddish colour.

A traditional Labskaus dish served at a food market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karsten Klama

It is often prepared as a hash-like mixture, occasionally including pickled herring or fish, and is commonly garnished with fried eggs and pickles.

Thuringia: Thüringer Klöße

Also known as Thuringian dumplings, the Thüringer Klöße are hearty, round potato dumplings whose size makes them an ideal companion to robust meat dishes, where they can soak up flavourful sauces and juices. 


What makes this Thuringian speciality so unique is that the dumplings are filled with bread cubes and consist of both raw and cooked potatoes.

Saxony: Quarkkeulchen

No visit to Saxony can be complete without a taste of a homemade Quarkkeulchen (or Quarkkäulchen). The delicious fried pastry treat is crafted from a blend of quark (a type of curd cheese), mashed potatoes, flour, eggs, and often enhanced with raisins or fruits.

A plate of Quarkkäulchen topped with sugar. Photo: Schmidti/Wikimedia Commons

The mixture is shaped into flattened rounds and then pan-fried until golden and crisp and can be dusted with powdered sugar and paired with applesauce or compote for an extra touch of sweetness.

North Rhine-Westphalia: Himmel und Erde

Himmel und Erde, which translates to "Heaven and Earth," is a classic dish from North Rhine-Westphalia that combines contrasting sweet and sour elements to create a harmonious and flavourful meal.

The name of the dish originates from the name of two of its main ingredients. A German dialect word for potato is Erdapfel ("earth apple"), or Äädappel in the Rhineland, so there are two kinds of "apples" in the dish: apples from trees, i.e. from the sky, and potatoes from the ground.

READ ALSO: The best words in Germany's regional dialects

The mixture is usually accompanied by sautéed onions and often served with sausages, such as blood sausage or bratwurst.


Hesse: Grüne Soße

Grüne Soße, also known as "Frankfurter Grüne Soße" or "Green Sauce," is a distinctive culinary speciality from the Hessen region of Germany, particularly associated with the city of Frankfurt.

This sauce is made from a medley of fresh herbs, including parsley, chives, sorrel, borage, cress, and chervil, which are finely chopped and blended with sour cream or yoghurt to create a creamy yet tangy consistency. The result is a refreshing and aromatic sauce that is often served cold and accompanies a variety of dishes, most commonly boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs.

The dish is so much a part of tradition in Frankfurt, that the city even hosts an annual green sauce festival. 

Lower Saxony: Grünkohl mit Pinkel 

A favourite from Lower Saxony, this dish features slow-cooked kale (Grünkohl) simmered with a unique sausage called Pinkel. The kale is prepared with ingredients like onions and spices.

A portion of kale with the traditional side dishes of boiled potatoes, boiled sausage, pinkelwurst and Kasseler stands on a table in the restaurant "Bümmersteder Krug" in Oldenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hauke-Christian Dittrich

The Pinkel sausage is made from pork, oats, and spices, and adds a distinct savoury element. The combination of tender kale and Pinkel sausage makes a hearty and mouth-watering meal, especially enjoyable in the colder months.

Saarland: Dibbelabbes

This funny-sounding dish is a potato-filled delight with deep-rooted origins in the Saarland region of Germany. 

Dibbelabbes feature grated or finely chopped potatoes as their base ingredient. These are then combined with a mixture of eggs, onions, and often bacon or ham, seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs before being baked or pan-fried until forming a golden-brown crust.

Rhine-Palatinate: Saumagen

Not for the faint-hearted, the Saumagen, or "sow's stomach," is a unique dish that originates from Rhineland-Palatinate. It consists of a mixture of pork, potatoes, and various seasonings, all stuffed into a cleaned pig's stomach and cooked.

After cooking, the stomach is removed, and the resulting dish is sliced and served.

Saxony-Anhalt: Hallorenkugeln

Hallorenkugeln, originating from the city of Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, are chocolate balls named after the city's famous salt miners, "Halloren".

The confectionery features a core of various fillings, such as nougat, marzipan, or fruit flavours, enveloped in a layer of fine chocolate.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Fischbrötchen

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is hands down the king of this simple, but delicious northern German delicacy: the fish roll. 

READ ALSO: Why you should visit the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Consisting of baked or smoked freshly caught fish - often herring, mackerel or salmon - a crisp white roll and a slice of onion and pickle, this traditional food offers everything you need to savour the taste of the sea.

Schleswig-Holstein: Rote Grütze 

The Rote Grüze or "red fruit jelly" is a classic of Schleswig-Holstein's cold cuisine and is part of the menu for many families during the summer months.

The Red Grütze pudding of red summer berries. Photo: Olaf Simons/Wikimedia Commons

Traditionally, Rote Grütze is made from red berry fruits, lightly sweetened and thickened with cornflour or semolina. 

Bremen: Knipp

The Knipp is a hearty sausage from Bremen that was originally made from leftover meat scraps and was considered "poor people's food".


The sausage is made up of cooked pig's head, pork belly, and oatmeal, mixed with spices such as pepper, salt, and allspice. The mixture is filled into sausage casings and cooked again, then sliced and pan-fried until it turns brown and crispy.

Traditionally, Knipp is served with boiled potatoes and sides such as applesauce, pickles, red beets, or pickled pumpkin. 


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