10 German comfort foods you have to try this fall
Comfort foods are dishes that warm you from the inside out — physically and emotionally. If fall nights are leaving you chilled or you're feeling a little gloom at the ever-shortening fall days, give one of these traditional German eats a try.
Craving pizza? A thinly rolled, rectangular crust topped with layers of tangy fromage blanc or crème fraîche, sweet onions (Zwiebeln) and salty bacon (Speck), then baked in a wood-fired oven until golden brown — flame cake, or Flammkuchen is the closest thing you’ll find to it in German eateries. It’s sure to keep you cozy at chilly festivals and markets all year.
This dish is definitely not your mama’s macaroni and cheese … but it might be better. Spätzle, soft egg noodles traditionally shaped by hand and said to resemble sparrows (Spatzen), are baked in a casserole dish between layers of melted butter and grated cheese (typically Emmenthaler). The bubbling pasta is topped with sautéed onions fresh out of the oven and made to accompany hearty roast dishes (like Rindsrouladen, another delicious German comfort food to add to the list).
Even if you weren’t a fan of meatloaf when you were a kid, you must give this dish a try. Minced meat (veal, pork or beef) is blended with eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, chopped onions, spices, salt and pepper. The mixture is then formed into large balls, flattened into thick patties and pan-fried to perfection. Delicious with a side of cold German potato salad, crispy French fries or served sandwich-style in between slices of fresh Brötchen, the homey flavors remind me of picnics, potlucks and family meals when I was a little girl.
A list of comfort food dishes is never complete without soup, and Kürbissuppe is one of the best items on the menu in fall. Puréed pumpkin (Kürbis), a European fall staple, is simmered with chicken broth, heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper. A bowl of pumpkin soup is especially soothing to the soul on crisp fall evenings.
If you’re on the go, look for an Imbiss, or snack stand, with Currywurst on the menu. This favorite fast food dish hails from Munich and consists of sliced bratwurst topped with a sweet and spicy curry ketchup sauce. Pair it with a side of fresh-from-the-fryer Pommes, and you’ve got a delicious take-out dish. To find out where you can visit an exhibition that pays tribute to this savory snack, check out our article highlighting 10 offbeat museums in Germany to visit.
If you’re a fan of home fries, you’ll love Bratkartoffeln. Seasoned slices of potatoes are pan-fried with bacon and onions until crispy. The earthy flavors of this dish are the perfect complement to schnitzel and German sausage dishes.
The pleasant smell of pot roast takes me back to holiday meals at my grandma’s house. If you’re hankering for a good, old-fashioned home-cooked meal, try Sauerbraten, which is considered a national dish of Germany. Traditionally prepared with a tougher cut of meat, Sauerbraten, or “sour roast,” is tenderized for several days in a marinade of a wine, vinegar, herbs and spices. Afterward, it is braised on the stove in a covered dish for hours. Once the meat is ready, the marinade is drained from the pan and thickened with gingerbread (Lebkuchen), flour, sour cream and roux. Pair it with red cabbage (Rotkohl), Käsespätzle and boiled dumplings for an authentic German meal.
On a dreary day, there’s nothing better than a warm dessert to lift your spirits. Try this thin and flaky pastry pocket filled with tart apples, cinnamon, sugar, streusel and raisins. Top with whipped cream, custard, ice cream or vanilla sauce, and pair it with a steamy cup of tea or coffee.
This side dish reminds me of chicken and dumplings, a dish my mom often prepared for an under-the-weather family member. Knödel are German dumplings made of flour, potatoes and eggs and seasoned with nutmeg and a pinch of salt. They are traditionally made to enhance the flavors of a savory meat dish, like roasted duck or goose, Sauerbraten or Rouladen. For a sweet alternative that is popular in Bavaria, you can also stuff the dumplings with apricots or plums and top with a butter and brown sugar glaze.
Classic southern comfort foods are often deep-fried, making schnitzel a solid contender as one of the top comfort foods of Germany. The dish starts the same for every portion — a pork cutlet that has been pounded thin with a meat tenderizer, dredged in a mixture of flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, and fried in oil or fat. What makes each dish unique is the sauce and toppings you choose. Brown gravy, cream sauce or clarified butter? Mushrooms, onions, bacon, cheese, tomatoes or peppers? Don’t worry; you really can’t go wrong.
Hungry for more? Look up these tasty treats:
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What are your go-to comfort foods in Germany? Do tell! Share them with us at contentteam[at]stripes[dot]com.