These easy German side dishes are the ultimate accompaniment to virtually any meal, regardless of whether you’re looking for healthy vegetable dishes or savory dumplings. Suitable for any kind of weather, these German side dishes will breathe new life into your daily meal.
Even though the main dish is usually the focus of the meal, it doesn’t mean that the side dishes are any less important. With these German side dishes, you’ll get to showcase your creativity and cooking talents, as it’s virtually impossible to mess up these simple side dishes.
Without further ado, let’s start discovering the best German side dishes that anyone can make at home! Hopefully, you’ll find something to your likings.
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Top German Side Dishes You Can Make At Home
From simple salzkartoffeln to German Schnitzel, these scrumptious German side dishes will be the perfect addition to your meal. To make it easier for you to find what’s best for you, I’ve divided these side dishes into smaller categories.
Potato Side Dishes
- Salzkartoffeln (Boiled Potatoes)
- Himmel Und Erde (Mashed Potatoes)
- Kartoffelbrei (Mashed Potatoes)
- Kroketten (German Croquette)
- Kartoffelsalat (Potato Salad)
- Bratkartoffeln (Fried Potatoes)
- Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)
- Pommes Frites (French Fries)
Vegetable Side Dishes
- Leipziger Allerlei (Mixed Vegetables)
- Gurkensalat (Cucumber Salad)
- Rotkohl (German Red Cabbage)
- Speckbohnen (German Green Beans)
Pasta And Dumpling
- German Spaetzle
- Semmelknödel (German Bread Dumplings)
- Kartoffelkloesse (Potato Dumplings)
Bread Side Dishes
- Vollkornbrot (German Whole Grain Bread)
- Bauernbrot (German Farmer’s Bread)
Meaty Side Dishes
- German Goulash
- German Meatballs
- German Schnitzel
Best German Side Dishes To Complement Your Main Course
As I’ve mentioned, German side dishes come in many shapes and forms. It’ll be better to take time and read the description for each side dish carefully as this will help you decide what’s best for you.
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8 German Side Dishes With Potatoes
It’s no surprise that a lot of German side dishes are made with potatoes. After all, Germans are famous for their love of these tube vegetables.
What’s so special about boiled potatoes? Why is something as simple as boiled potatoes considered a German side dish? Salzkartoffeln is peeled potatoes boiled in hot water with salt. Some might infuse the boiling water with salted butter and parsley for more flavors.
While salzkartoffeln sounds straightforward enough, you need to keep in mind that not every type of potato is suitable for making this. It’s crucial to choose firm potatoes like Yukon Gold, Inca Gold, or Red Bliss to make sure they can hold their shape after boiling.
When translated into English, Himmel und Erde is known as “Heaven and Earth.” What a fancy name, isn’t it? Unique and delicious, this German dish truly lives up to its name. As Himmel und Erde is an exceptionally hearty dish, it’s suitable as either a side or main dish.
Himmel und Erde is a fine mixture of juicy apple (from heaven) creamy mashed potatoes (from Earth). Sometimes, Himmel und Erde might be covered with caramelized fried onions. This German side dish is best when served with blood sausage or various other meat dishes.
Another version of German mashed potatoes, kartoffelbrei is a smooth and creamy potato puree. It has a distinct potato taste with a rich buttery flavor. Kartoffelbrei represents the perfect balance between greasiness and dryness.
To make sure that your kartoffelbrei is as flavorful as possible, don’t forget to cook the potatoes with the skins on. Referred to as “jacket potatoes” in German, potatoes with skin on can retain significantly more flavor when they’re boiled.
Here is the easy method to prepare the perfect kartoffelbrei:
Crispy and luscious, kroketten is delicious enough that you might enjoy it as a snack. As kroketten is beloved by both children and adults, this savory side dish is usually served during the holiday season, such as Christmas.
Of course, you don’t need to wait until Christmas to try this dish. You simply need to roll mashed potatoes in breadcrumbs mixed with eggs and deep-fry them. One useful tip to keep in mind is that potatoes with high amounts of starch are best suited for making these German croquettes.
Originating from the South-Western part of Germany, kartoffelsalat is a classic side dish. While American potato salad emphasizes the creamy dressing, this German version of potato salad opts for tangy vinegar dressing with bacon grease.
Another notable difference in kartoffelsalat is that it tends to use unpeeled potatoes. While many still peel the potatoes when preparing this German side dish, traditional recipes will stress the importance of keeping the peel on. This is because the peel gives it more flavor and texture.
Bratkartoffeln is the German version of pan-fried potatoes. It consists mainly of seared potatoes, green onions, and crumbled bacon. While not strictly required, you can flavor up the dish by drizzling olive oil mixed with mustard and vinegar over the potatoes.
If properly prepared, bratkartoffeln will have a crispy exterior and a soft, starchy inside. Even though bratkartoffeln can go with virtually anything, this German side dish will taste best when you serve it with vegetables.
This is how you can make the perfect bratkartoffeln:
Strictly speaking, kartoffelpuffer is popular street food in Germany. However, nothing is stopping you from using these crunchy potato pancakes as a side dish. For instance, kartoffelpuffer makes the perfect companion with meaty dishes.
Kartoffelpuffer requires finely grated potatoes, as the paper-thin shreds will allow the potatoes to cook faster and more evenly. If you cut the potatoes too thick, you’ll probably end up with a plate of soggy and limp potato “pancakes.”
What do you call the German version of French fries? Do you still call it French fries, or do you call it German fries? Regardless of what you choose to call this dish, there’s no denying that Pommes Frites are indeed a crowd-pleaser.
Pommes Frites are made with high-starch potatoes, which are deep-fried to achieve a crunch texture. Aside from salt, you can flavor up Pommes Frites with seasonings such as minced garlic, Cajun seasonings, or fresh parsley.
5 German Side Dishes With Vegetables
The German side dishes below are made mainly with vegetables. Light and refreshing, they will be best when paired with meaty main dishes.
This German side dish is perfect for vegetable lovers. Consisting of various vegetables and mushrooms, Leipziger allerlei will balance out heavy meaty dishes. Even though the traditional Leipziger allerlei has shrimps and crabs, you can omit these ingredients for a vegan meal.
While Leipziger allerlei can be referred to as “mixed vegetables,” the star of this dish is actually the rich, creamy sauce. In fact, I might go so far as saying that it will not be Leipziger allerlei without this hearty sauce.
Learn how to make the perfect Leipziger allerlei with this foolproof recipe:
I know that the prospect of cucumber salad might not sound instantly appealing to some of you, but trust me and give this dish a try. I guarantee that you will not regret it. Light and refreshing, gurkensalat makes an ideal side dish when the weather gets hot.
As you can probably guess, gurkensalat features mainly cucumbers, which are drenched in sour cream, vinegar, and fresh dill. Because this side dish only requires the simplest of ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to make and budget-friendly as well.
Also known as blaukraut, rotkohl is a dish made with shredded cabbage, tart green apples, as well as vinegar. Because the ingredients mainly have a tart or tangy flavor, you’ll need to add some sugar or apple cider to balance out the taste.
Although rotkohl is one of the easiest German side dishes to make, it takes a lot of time as the cabbage needs quite long to braise on the stovetop. So, you’ll need to be really patient when preparing rotkohl, as rushing might make the dish less tasty.
Despite being incredibly simple, sauerkraut is probably one of the most popular German side dishes. Delicious to the point of mouth-watering, sauerkraut can be served with virtually anything, from eggs to pizzas, burrito, salmon, and even steak.
As sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbages, you’ll need to prepare this dish in advance. The fermentation time for sauerkraut can be from 5 days up to 3 weeks. So it doesn’t hurt to make a large batch of sauerkraut and store it in the fridge for future use.
Speckbohnen is another simple side dish that you simply shouldn’t miss. It might look plain and boring at first glance, but speckbohnen is undoubtedly delicious. Even better, as tasty as this side dish is, it is simple enough that it will not outshine your main dish.
Explicitly speaking, speckbohnen features two main ingredients – green beans and smoked bacon. You can season the green beans with butter and onion, or you can add a twist to it and drizzle some vinegar and mustard to the pan.
This is how you prepare an irresistible dish of speckbohnen:
3 Pasta And Dumplings
Some German side dishes come in the form of pasta or dumplings. Hearty and savory, these scrumptious dishes can go with virtually anything.
14. German Spaetzle
Arguably one of the most famous side dishes from German, spaetzle is known for its perfect texture and mind-blowing flavor. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this German egg noodle will make your stomach rumble with hunger at just the smell alone.
Spaetzle can go with virtually any German main dishes, but you can also serve this with pork chops, beef stew, or venison steaks. Or, if you’re like me, you can enjoy German spaetzle as a main dish – it’s good enough to be delicious on its own.
Famous in both Germany and Austria alike, semmelknödel truly lives up to its reputation. So, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that semmelknödel is made with dried pieces of bread that have gone stale. I know; I was surprised when I first learned this as well.
Can you prepare semmelknödel with fresh bread then? Well, no. It’s essential to use dried, stale bread for this recipe. Somehow, this gives the final product a much crunchier taste and a more pronounced flavor.
I’m not kidding when I say these potato dumplings will be a delightful addition to any feast. Sure, kartoffelkloesse might look simple and plain; however, they’re anything but. Bring these to the next party you attend, and everyone will be in awe over these soft, luscious dumplings.
It will not be German potato dumplings if you forget to drizzle some butter on top. You can garnish these with chives, or if you’re a fan of meat, feel free to sprinkle some bacon crumbles on top.
3 German Bread Side Dishes
If you’re craving bread, these German side dishes will be the perfect choice for you. Yes, you’re not reading this wrong; Germany has quite a few famous types of bread to call their own.
Sometimes referred to as “whole rye bread,” vollkornbrot is the very definition of rye bread. In contrast to regular white or whole wheat bread, vollkornbrot has a dense texture, a darker color, and it has a sour, earthy flavor.
Vollkornbrot can be enjoyed with jam and other types of bread spread, which makes it perfect for breakfast. However, you can serve vollkornbrot as a side dish with meaty meals, especially those with a lot of thick gravy.
Also known as “farmer style German bread,” bauernbrot is made with a mixture of rye flour and regular bread flour, as well as caraway seeds. Because bauernbrot is a rye-dominated bread, it has a dense texture and a slightly sour flavor as well.
Like vollkornbrot, bauernbrot can be served with jam, bread spread, or meaty dishes. It’s also amazing with bread or butter. However, I’ve found that bauernbrot will taste best when it’s served with soup or beef stew.
Make the ultimate bauernbrot with the recipe shown here:
Looking for something fluffier and softer? Look no further with these fantastic Bavarian soft pretzels. Unlike vollkornbrot or bauernbrot, pretzels are soft and tender. Instead of being sour and earthy like the other two rye-dominated bread, pretzels are salty and slightly sweet.
Bavarian soft pretzels are a flexible dish. Aside from being the ultimate side dish for winter days, pretzels can be served as a hearty snack with beer, wine, or coffee.
3 German Meaty Side Dishes
In case you need some German side dishes featuring mainly meat, I’ve included these enticing recipes below for you. Be sure to check them out!
20. German Goulash
Needless to say, German goulash is probably one of the heartiest side dishes there is. While American goulash is very heavy on tomato with only a fair amount of ground beef, German goulash places heavy emphasis on big chunks of meat.
It is recommended that German goulash is served with noodles or pasta, as these will balance out this meaty dish. However, if you want to cut down on the carbs, there’s nothing wrong with eating a whole bowl of German goulash without anything else.
21. German Meatballs
German meatballs are made mainly with ground beef, ground pork, and onions. Some recipes might add some extra chopped bacon into the meatballs for a smoky, salty flavor. The meatballs are usually seared in a skillet over medium-low heat.
It will not be German meatballs without its signature savory mustard gravy sauce. Once you pour a generous amount of mustard gravy sauce on the meatballs, you can serve them with rice, egg noodles, or pasta.
22. German Schnitzel
This easy German side dish is the perfect addition to your weekly meal rotation. It’s incredibly delicious and easy to make. With only 30 minutes, you can have a perfect dish of German schnitzel to share with the whole family.
Schnitzels are typically made with either pork or veal, sometimes both. They’re covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried to achieve a crispy exterior. You can serve schnitzels with rice, vegetables, stews, and various other dishes.
Don’t Miss These German Side Dishes
As you can see, German side dishes are incredibly delicious and ridiculously easy to make. With the right recipes and suitable ingredients, anyone can prepare these scrumptious side dishes to complement their main course.
I know that some of these German side dishes can seem daunting to you, but don’t let the unfamiliarity put you off. I can guarantee that you will not regret making these dishes. So get started right now, and don’t forget to come back and tell me your results.