In the country famous for its Wurst (sausages), how does one survive as a vegetarian? It might come as a surprise to many, but finding vegetarian food in Germany is easier than you think. Even though meat is still a big part of traditional German cuisine, vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise in Germany. You won’t have problems finding vegetarian food in stores and when eating out. There are lots of ethnic restaurants offering vegetarian food in Germany. But if you want to try traditional German food, you also don’t have miss out as a vegetarian. There are enough traditional vegetarian German dishes for you to try. Here is the list of the most delicious vegetarian food in Germany:
What to eat as a vegetarian in Germany: 10 traditional dishes to try
1. Spargel (white asparagus)
Spargel (white asparagus) is probably the most loved vegetable in Germany. Spargelzeit (white asparagus season) starts in mid-April and ends on the 24 June. During this time the whole country tends to get slightly obsessed with it. There are Spargel festivals, Spargel is sold in all supermarkets and farmers markets, restaurants serve asparagus in different variations and some even dedicate the whole menu to asparagus dishes. The most common way to eat Spargel is with potatoes, ham and Hollandaise sauce, but you can easily skip ham. Another popular vegetarian dish is Spargelcremesuppe (asparagus cream soup). Be sure to give it a try, if you happen to be traveling to Germany during white asparagus season!
I know, potatoes might sound not so exciting to some people, but they are a very important part of traditional German cuisine. And if you are looking for vegetarian food in Germany, potatoes are your best friend! They can be prepared in many different ways and served as a side dish or main course. Salzkartoffeln are just potatoes boiled in salt water. Pellkartoffeln are cooked without taking the skin off. Bratkartoffeln are fried potato slices and Kartoffelpüree is a German word for mashed potatoes. Then there is also Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings), and Kartoffelgratin (potato gratin) just to name a few. Kartoffelsalat is my favorite.
3. Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen.
This is another potato dish that requires a special mention. Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) are made from raw grated potatoes mixed with flour, eggs, salt or sugar and optionally onions and then fried in a pan. They can be served as a sweet-and-savory snack with applesauce or as main dish sauerkraut. I personally prefer to eat Katoffelpuffer with sour cream, because this is the traditional way to eat them in Ukraine.
Maultaschen are dough “bags” stuffed with a mixture of meat, spinach, and herbs. Maultaschen are traditionally not a vegetarian dish in Germany. There is actually a funny story about how the Maultaschen were “invented”. According to the legend, the recipe was developed by the monks to eat meat during the Lent when they were supposed to be fasting. In Maultaschen, meat is hidden under the dough, so this way God cannot see it. Nowadays Maultaschen are so popular that it’s easy to find them with vegetarian filling, for example with spinach or cheese. This German dish is even protected by the Europian Union as a regional specialty. You should definitely try Maultaschen if you see the vegetarian option somewhere!
Spätzle are soft noodles made from eggs, flour, and salt. They come from the German region Swabia. Many people eat them as a side dish with meat, but there is also a traditional vegetarian way to serve Spätzle. Try Käsespätzle – Spätzle mixed with roasted onions and topped with cheese. Some people call Käsespätzle a German Mac and Cheese. Another German vegetarian dish with Spätzle is Krautspätzle – Spätzle with Sauerkraut. This is definitely a must-try vegetarian food in Germany.
6. Knödel or Klöße.
I already mentioned potato dumplings (Kartoffelknödel), but there are many other variations of this dish. Some of them contain meat, but the vegetarian ones are, for example, Dampfnudel – sweet or savory steamed rolls that can be served as a main dish or dessert. Germknödel is a yeast dumpling filled with plum jam served with melted butter and topped with a mixture of sugar and poppy seeds. Semmelknödel are bread dumplings made with dried white bread, milk, and eggs. Dumplings are often served as a side dish with meat, but you can also it them as a main dish.
Schupfnudeln are potato noodles, although they can be also made only from flour and egg. Indicator for the name is not ingredients, but a typical “finger shape”. They are particularly famous in South Germany. during large events like festivals, you can see them being cooked in a large pan. Look for Gebratene Schupfnudeln mit Kraut (fried noodles with cabbage). Be careful though because some people like to top Schupfnudeln with bacon, so always ask the waiter if they are serving a vegetarian version.
Famous German pickled cabbage is a great option for vegetarians. It is not only tasty, but also a great source of vitamins and is believed to strengthen your immune system. Saukraut is added to many dishes that I mentioned above, like Schupfnudeln, Spätzle, and Kartoffelpuffer.
Germany has amazing bread. I never loved bread so much until I moved to Germany. Everyone knows Bretzel, but there are so many other bread varieties that I need to write another post to talk about it. You can eat German bread with any of your favorite bread spreads or try some traditional German spreads (Brotaufstrich).
Obatzter or Obatzda is a classic Bavarian cheese bread spread. It tastes the best with Bretzel or Laugenstange (tastes just like a pretzel but looks like breadstick) and makes for a perfect vegetarian snack.
Note: Even though most of these German dishes are traditionally vegetarian, meat lovers can always find a way to add meat to them. So sometimes the dishes I mentioned can be served with meat gravy or topped with bacon. Just to be sure, ask whether the dish is completely vegetarian before ordering.
Did you try any of these dishes? Did you like them?