Most find it hard to pin down German cuisine beyond the usual sauerkraut, wurst, and their version of a pot roast, the sauerbraten. But this ethnic cuisine is surprisingly versatile with lots of regional variations. There are lots of fresh salads, light fish dishes, healthy vegetable sides, all of which serve as a counterpoint to Germany's reputation of having some of the world’s best smoked meat dishes.
This is because its regional cuisines are influenced by geography. Each of Germany’s regions have their own cooking preferences, tradition and history which are shaped by the ingredients available in their area and their proximity to neighboring cultures. That’s why traditional German food is among the most diverse, with more than 300 types of dishes, including some interesting breakfasts.
Tracking them all down, of course, will be difficult without a good German cookbook. And even then, most cookbooks will not be able to sufficiently feature all of them in one volume. Still, it’s possible for one to provide you a competent overview of the basic flavors and textures of this cuisine.
A good German cookbook will not only teach you technique but will also make you fall in love with the flavors that are unique to the cuisine. It also gives you a taste of the culture behind the food by including lots of interesting information about the dish and its significance on the local culinary scene.
The best German cookbooks are those that combine great food writing with a practical number of recipes that are interesting, useful and easy enough to follow. Of course, one can opt for a culinary bible that has a comprehensive selection of recipes but unless you’re running a German restaurant, most of the recipes will probably be just page-fillers.
There are books that feature traditional German recipes and there are those that focus on modern recipes. Some of these are influenced by other cultures; others are home-grown, a natural progression of an evolving cuisine. Such books will appeal to experienced home cooks and professional chefs looking for creative challenges in the kitchen.
But if you’re a beginner cook, the best German cookbook is one that has simple recipes that can easily be done in a home kitchen and lots of food photos for easy reference. In this list, I’ve included a variety of cookbooks that will appeal to gourmands and cooks of all skill levels.
Here are my top ten German cookbooks on Amazon.
Table of Contents
- Best German Cookbooks
- 1. Culinaria Germany: A Celebration of Food and Tradition Hardcover
- 2. German Cooking Today Paperback
- 3. German Meals at Oma's: Traditional Dishes for the Home Cook Paperback
- 4. The German Cookbook Hardcover
- 5. The German Pastry Bakebook Hardcover
- 6. Best of German Cooking Paperback
- 7. Grandma's German Cookbook Hardcover
- 8. The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking Hardcover
- 9. New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited Hardcover – Illustrated
- 10. The New German Cookbook: More Than 230 Contemporary and Traditional Recipes Hardcover
- Top Pick
Best German Cookbooks
- Culinaria Germany: A Celebration of Food and Tradition Hardcover
- German Cooking Today Paperback
- German Meals at Oma's: Traditional Dishes for the Home Cook Paperback
- The German Cookbook Hardcover
- The German pastry bakebook Hardcover
- Best of German Cooking Paperback
- Grandma's German Cookbook Hardcover
- The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking Hardcover
- New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited Hardcover – Illustrated
- The New German Cookbook: More Than 230 Contemporary and Traditional Recipes Hardcover
1. Culinaria Germany: A Celebration of Food and Tradition Hardcover
This is a travelogue cookbook that collects popular local recipes from Germany’s sixteen regions, providing background information on their ingredients, techniques, and culinary history. Chapters are divided into regions and highlight the culture of each area before diving into its food specialties and presenting the recipes. There are recipes here for Rhineland-style sauerbraten to a Swabian equivalent of ravioli.
Those who’ve read the book found it an excellent resource for culinary inspiration. Others who’ve tried the recipes found them spot-on. Some might find navigating through this book confusing since the recipes are categorized by regions and not by meal types, but overall, it’s a great read for learning about the regional variations of food in Germany.
Ideal for German foodies, experienced home cooks and anyone looking for a culinary resource book on regional Germanic cuisine.
2. German Cooking Today Paperback
This is a go-to cookbook for practical German everyday cooking. Most Germans grew up with an old version of this cookbook in their households. There are recipes here for preparing soups, sauces, meat, venison, game, and poultry, as well as casseroles, souffles, salads, egg dishes, and dessert.
Recipes are standard versions of classic German dishes and are easy to follow, with clear instructions. They have also been kitchen-tested for accuracy. There are lots of color photos and step-by-step illustrations, along with good tips for prepping and shortening cooking times.
Readers like this book because it covers almost all the basics. Another liked it because the recipes are ranked according to the cook’s skill level.
Recommended for casual cooks and anyone interested in exploring German cuisine.
3. German Meals at Oma's: Traditional Dishes for the Home Cook Paperback
This cookbook is a collection of traditional German cuisine and everyday food. There are 75 recipes here ranging from familiar favorites like Sauerkraut and Bratwurst, Beef and Onions, Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, and Lamb Stew to lesser-known recipes like Haschee and Grüne Soße.
Recipes have clear, uncomplicated instructions with color photos of the dish. There are footnotes at the end of each recipe that suggest alternative ingredients and cooking variations or offer interesting facts about its culinary history.
Readers liked how the book updates many classic German dishes by introducing new steps and techniques and substituting many hard-to-find ingredients with ones that are easily available in stores. Another liked that the recipes were authentic. Some were disappointed, however, at the lack of dessert recipes.
Great for German-American households, and home cooks looking for German comfort food recipes the way their grandmother made them.
4. The German Cookbook Hardcover
This is a hefty tome of a cookbook with more than 450 recipes representing traditional regional favorites and modern creations. It also includes an introduction to the culinary histories of Germany’s classic dishes.
Recipes have detailed instructions and include cooking/resting/prep times. They have also been kitchen-tested for accuracy in a home kitchen. Metric and imperial units are used all throughout. Most of the ingredients are easily available in local stores, while specialty items can be sourced online.
Readers found the icons for indicating whether a recipe is vegetarian, gluten- or dairy-free or one-pot very useful. Another liked that there are lots of Bavarian/southern Germany recipes in the selection. One found it lacking in German bread recipes.
Recommended for cookbook collectors and experienced home cooks who know their way around German cooking techniques.
5. The German Pastry Bakebook Hardcover
One of the classic cookbooks when it comes to German pastries, this book features recipes about different types of traditional baked goods in Germany. All copies available online are used ones since this book is out of print but this remains to be a reliable resource of recipes for a lot of the older German generations.
Recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, with lots of baking tips for beginner bakers. It may not have the colorful food photography and glossy layout of recent pastry cookbooks, but for authenticity, none can beat its recipe selection.
Great for cookbook collectors, nostalgic foodies and home cooks looking for authentic German pastry recipes.
6. Best of German Cooking Paperback
Another out-of-print cookbook that’s only available in used condition on here on Amazon. It’s a must-read book for its selection of old German recipes that are hard to find elsewhere.
It has German-style recipes for appetizers, soups, meats, poultry, eggs, cheese, sauces, vegetables, rice, bread, and desserts. Most of its reviews recommend this for everyone interested in good German food.
Recommended for cookbook collectors and anyone looking for heirloom German recipes.
7. Grandma's German Cookbook Hardcover
This is a cookbook of grandmother recipes that range from soups to Sunday roasts, and desserts to Christmas favorites. There are 85 recipes in the selection, along with profiles of German omas and their versions of classic recipes.
Recipes are simple and easy to follow. The book even has instructions for prepping ingredients. Metric measurements are used all throughout the book. Not all recipes are accompanied by food photos and some have how-to photos to illustrate the cooking technique.
Readers liked this book for its treasure trove of German comfort food that their grannies used to make. Another found that the recipes assume some level of technical skill since most of them are written like a grandmother would jot down a beloved recipe: not much technical details but lots of general directions.
Recommended for experienced cooks with some familiarity with German cuisine.
8. The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking Hardcover
This is the 50th-anniversary edition of a classic cookbook that’s considered a culinary bible on German cuisine. There’s a brand new preface along with recipes of lesser-known dishes like the seafood recipes of Hamburg or old Bavarian classics.
The collection ranges from Vorspeisen und Zwischengerichte (appetizers and light snacks) to Backwerk (baking) along with every kind of main course classic. Recipes require medium skill but are easy to follow. Each includes regional variations and ingredient substitutions along with informative commentary. There are no food photos in this book.
Best for collectors of classic cookbooks and experienced home cooks.
9. New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook features classic recipes that have been updated to focus on seasonal ingredients and rely on modern cooking techniques. There are 100 recipes here that range from familiar classics like Bavarian pretzels, beer cheese soup, bratwurst, and apple strudel to modern versions of Green Asparagus and Aged-Gouda Dip, Roasted Parsnip Salad with Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese, and Chicken Braised in Riesling with Onion, Leeks, Garlic, and Green Grapes.
Recipes are generally accessible but some will require ingredients that can only be sourced from local or online specialty stores. Most of them are meat-centric, with a range of short and long prepping/cooking times. Measurements are in volume and weight. There are also only 40 full-color photos of the featured dishes.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them delicious and authentic. One has already added several of them as staples in his household. Another liked that the unique combinations of ingredients for most of the recipes.
Recommended for experienced home cooks and anyone looking for modern German recipes.
10. The New German Cookbook: More Than 230 Contemporary and Traditional Recipes Hardcover
This cookbook combines classic recipes with their traditional ingredients with modern dishes that draw from international culinary influences. Samples of the dishes include Potato Salad with Fresh Chevil, Sauerkraut paired with Cod, and Pumpernickel broken into crumbs and folded into Bavarian Cream. It also includes a section on German wines and beer, as well as a glossary on German cooking and food terms.
Recipes require some basic cooking skills; instructions are well-written, measurements are precise and accurate. Some prep work will require longer periods but there are enough tips and tricks all over the recipes in order to get the right result.
Those who’ve tried them recommend using the ingredients that are called for in order to get the authentic taste. Others liked that the recipe selection has lots of sweetbreads and dessert recipes that other German cookbooks lack. Another noted that there are only a few illustrations of the dishes for reference.
Good for experienced home cooks and anyone looking for an extensive collection of modern German dishes.
GERMAN COOKING TODAY by Dr. Oetker Verlag
This is a useful entry-level cookbook for anyone who’s not familiar with German cuisine. It covers all the basics like potato salad and homemade mayonnaise, as well as the classic ones like casseroles and schnitzel. And it’s constantly updated to reflect how actual cooking is done today in Germany.
Those with German heritage will find enough traditional recipes here to satisfy their nostalgia for home-cooked comfort food. It has lots of descriptive and step-by-step photos, and clear, straightforward recipe directions.
Overall, a great guide for either newbie or experienced cooks.