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Menu Suggestions for a German meal

I'm looking menu suggestions for my family's annual holiday potluck. Each year we pick a country/cuisine and everyone brings dishes from that cuisine. For example, we did Mexican last year. One person is responsible for deciding the menu and handing out the recipes. This year I'm in charge and we have chosen a German theme. I'm a fairly experienced cook, but I haven't made a lot of German recipes so I'm looking for some suggestions. Any inputs would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Here are some ideas that you can consider (and I'm thinking traditional German food, not contemporary, which is lighter and may have ethnic influences).

    Main course:
    Sauerbraten (a pot roast)
    Rolladen (Beef roulades)
    Roast goose (for many, a traditional holiday entree)
    Käsespätzle (Cheese spatzle--nice for vegetarians, if there are any in your family)

    Linsesuppe (Lentil Soup--more main-course-y than a starter soup, though)
    Soup with leberknödel (with liver dumplings)
    Flädlesuppe (a broth with thin pancake strips)

    Potatoes in many forms! Fried (Bratkartoffel) are a particular favorite of mine
    Salad (boston lettuce is nice) with a vinaigrette that has a small touch of sugar (it works!)
    Braised red cabbage
    Knödel (dumplings--potato)

    Really good bread! I think the Germans bake some of the best bread in the world!

    Cheeses and sausages/good cold cuts--with bread and butter for a nice, light evening

    Dessert: Black Forest Cherry Torte
    Frankfurter Kranz
    Obsttorte (fruit torte--basically a spongecake base filled with fruit and topped with a sweetened gelatin)
    German cheesecake--NOT AT ALL like an American cheesecake, but good nonetheless. It's made with quark, which can be difficult to acquire in the US (if you ar in the US). Some hybridized recipes call for cottage cheese, an ingredient more accessible to many.

    Good luck!

    My suggestions clearly focus on southern Germany, but you may get some interesting fish suggestions from someone with more knowledge of the north. Perhaps linguafood with reply to this thread with some typically helpful suggestions!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      wursts are a must. pork and veal are also important to the german menu. schnitzels and sauerbraten with sort of poatoe and or spaetzle.

    2. rolled cake with filling
      rolled meat with filling
      cabbage rolled with meat filling

      1 Reply
      1. it's unthinkable without kraut, wurst, rye bread, potatoes etc. in glorious Bavaria carp is also much loved. one of my personal favourites is Franconian 'krustenbraten' [pork roast with crackling?]. not the healthiest so remember to eat sensibly.

        good theme and i'm partial to Bavaria :)

        1. Sauerbraten (TJoC has a great recipe)
          Red Cabbage braised with apples, onions, and chestnuts

          5 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            This is a great menu, but I would substitute rouladen for the sauerbraten or make both. I love rouladen. With a German mom, it is something I always request that she make. How to go wrong with beef rolls filled with bacon, onions, pickle, mustard, and served in a gravy.

            For dessert: Black forest cake, and what about dampfnudeln - delicious yeast dumplings served with sauce.


            More info:


            Another recipe:

            kalily, do you have a source near you for German sausages and sauerkraut? That would add another dimension to the menu... And it requires little preparation.

            1. re: Full tummy

              Thanks everyone for the wonderful suggestions. I'm getting excited about this meal. Since my family is from Wisconsin I should be able to find a butcher who sells German sausages. I lived in Switzerland for a year and one thing I definitely miss are the wursts!

              1. re: kalily

                There are so many different kinds; if you could make a little photo sign with their names, that might be fun to put alongside the serving dish. I like to cut them up into pieces, 1/3 or 1/4 sausage, so that everybody can try a little of each... And you could serve them on a bed of sauerkraut or red cabbage, whichever you decide.

                (Sausages are often cooked with the sauerkraut, to impart a meaty flavour to it...)

              2. re: Full tummy

                OH, you've just resurrected some wonderful memories of I have of Dampfnudeln! With a cherry sauce! We actually ate them as a main meal, which could be a vegetarian option.

                1. re: nofunlatte

                  Yum! It is on my to-make list. Soon.

            2. Another idea, if you'd like to try something less well known: Maultaschen. These are like big-ass Swabian ravioli. Large-ish pasta sheet filled with a flavored meat filling, usually served in a clear broth (at least the times I've had them).

              Butterbrezel would be great, but good luck getting them in the US--I've tried to make them and I cannot replicate them.

              And use cultured butter, if possible, for a more "authentic" taste (authentic is in quotes, because it's such a questionable term.)

              YOu're getting some good suggestions from folks here.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nofunlatte

                Hey nofunlatte,

                My Mom is German and really misses the butterbrezel. We found them thanks to Chowhound at bavariansausage.com. The pretzels are shipped frozen and you finish them in the oven.

              2. My ex worked for a German man who taught his wife how to make authentic German dishes. I have no idea what it was called, but she made an amazing dessert which I guess was a German version of bread pudding. It was made with black bread, and I remember it was heavily soaked in kirschwasser (cherry liqueur). It was amazing!

                1. This is a great recipe courtesy of Chow--Bockwurst and Mushroom Noodle Bake.

                  1. has no one said BEER?????????

                    1. Because it is a holiday event, kalily, you must have the traditional Christmas *Stollen*. Any good bakers among the guests?

                      Here's info from wikipedia on the meaning of Stollen at Christmastime:


                      15 Replies
                      1. re: Normandie

                        My mother gives her own "homemade" Stollen to neighbors every year for Christmas--she buys the Bahlsen ones, takes them out of the cellophane, rewraps them in aluminum foil and gives them out. Her rationale is that she has no interest in baking them (it's not her thing), but the neighbors seem to think anything homemade tastes better. And the neighbors really do seem to like them a lot, as they've said they look forward to them every year!

                          1. re: nofunlatte

                            Does anyone really like stollen? I think it's worse than fruit cake.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Hahahaha, I have been refraining from saying anything since Normandie posted. Composed something and then thought better of it.

                              My mom is German, and she actually does make stollen most every year. And she is a very good cook. Even so, we struggle to eat it!!! (Much to my mother's dismay. She's always saying how we don't like it, and my sister and I are always protesting, albeit weakly, that we do... just not so much, hahaha) Not because of her cooking, but it's stollen, and many people just don't like it.

                              My husband, who didn't grow up with it, isn't the slightest bit interested in it, but he loves English fruitcake.

                              Stollen is difficult to make, way more difficult than English fruitcake. It's a yeast dough, and it's way more dough than fruit, and the dough is dense and heavy. Dry, too. I do enjoy a slice or two each Christmas, but that's about it.

                              In my opinion, it's hard to buy a good one, and even harder to make. Not worth the effort, unless you know you love stollen.

                              If Christmas themed desserts are required, then go with German cookies: vanilla kipferl (almond shortbread-like crescents) and zimtstern (cinnamon star cookies).

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                I can't stand the stuff myself, but my mom's neighbors love it with coffee (but then again, they're an elderly lot and may have some desensitized tastebuds). My mom, the "baker" doesn't eat it either!

                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                  Only when it has marzipan in it. Otherwise, it's like eating sugar-powdered dry dough.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    I agree. My hubby, and many others, hate marzipan, so there's no winning with them!!!

                                2. re: pikawicca

                                  I guess I am strange, I actually do like stollen.

                                  1. re: swamp

                                    Do you make your own or have a preferred bakery/brand?

                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                    Love, love, love stollen! My mother made lots of it every December, and froze the extras. To be at its best, it needs to be sliced and then toasted. With butter and maybe a dish of applesauce and a cup of coffee, you have a nice light breakfast.

                                    1. re: Sharuf

                                      Stollen with marzipan inside is especially nice. Love marzipan.

                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                        I love stollen! My grandmother makes it every Christmas, and now I do too. Her recipe isn't a yeast dough though, and it's actually quite simple to make. I don't find it dry at all. My husband, who didn't grow up on it, doesn't enjoy it cold, but loves it toasted with butter.

                                        1. re: dagwood

                                          Would you be willing to share your recipe? Does it turn out like a yeast dough?

                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                        I love Stollen, pika. But then...I love fruitcake. Really. :-)

                                      3. re: nofunlatte

                                        Well, why not, nofun? *giggle* It's the thought that counts, right? Your mother is thinking of the neighbors, and they think they're getting a homemade goodie. :-D

                                    2. For northern Deutsche recipes, include curry wurst. Southern recipes should have knockwurst "ohne" oder "mit" (without or with onions).

                                      As a child in Bavaria, my favorite dessert was a white cake with strawberry mousse filling, available at every cafe we visited.

                                      1. Many good suggestions! I remember one of my favorite dishes in Germany was Jaegerschnitzel, which was a pork or veal cutlet with a mushroom (LOTS of mushrooms)/pepper and/or tomato sauce. I'd do that with spaetzle.

                                        I'll add springerle just because they are so beautiful, albeit a bit hard on the teeth.

                                        1. Don't forget Baltic herring, black bread and blutwurst as a real conversation stopper.
                                          Saltzburger knokkeral is a dessert treat.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Herring, yes! Especially as rollmops (herring filets rolled around a piece of pickled cucumber, olive, onion or some combination thereof).


                                          2. I'm intending on trying to make knodel for the first time this weekend. Man, do I miss my host grandmother's knodel! I also think of red wine cake for dessert. Or if you can still get plums make a plum tart.

                                            1. Just to throw out another dessert suggestion, how about Pfeffernüsse/Eiweißgebäck? Peppery/nutty (almond or walnut) cookies. They are very easy to make, but be warned that they are best served with a beverage, coffee, booze, whatever, for dunking. Supposedly they'll soften over time but I've never had them last longer than a day or two.

                                              1. I don't think anyone has mentioned zwiebelkuchen - a kind of onion cake or tart. If you use google images and search on zwiebelkuchen, you'll see a great variety of styles, some more elaborate and with more ingredients than others.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: souvenir

                                                  Zweibelkuchen! Thanks for mentioning it. I was intending on making one before fall was over.

                                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                                    I haven't made one in a couple of years. This thread reminded me of them and how tasty they can be.

                                                2. in the "don't knock it until you've tried it" category are german/bavarian salads with the plain sweetened (white) vinegar dressing. usually just tossed over one type of fresh seasonal vegetable, with a little bit of chopped onion, scallion, or chive. wedged ripe tomatoes or sliced cucumbers are particularly delicious. let the salad sit, dressed, at room temperature for an hour or so while you prepare other food, toss it around occasionally to redistribute the dressing. so good, and easy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    oh yeah. some german-style krautsalat (cole slaw) -- white cabbage with oil and vinegar. hold the caraway seeds, tho. they ruin it for me '-(

                                                    or cuke salad with lots of dill.