➤ by Lydia Fulson
Here are the top 24 BEST German side dishes that pair perfectly with just about anything you will serve! These sides are made easy, quick, and best of all, they're so lecker they'll have you thinking you're back in Germany cooking in the kitchen with your Mutti /Oma.
German foods have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was little, Oma taught me how to make these simple side dishes, and they've become some of my very favorite foods.
In this selection of German side dish recipes, whether you want something southern, northern, a savory side, or a sweet one, you can find them all down below!
If you've made one of these before, try a new one… and then try another one next time! With 24 to choose from, it's hard not to want to make them all.
Now, let's take a look at my Oma's top 24 German recipes!
To kick off our top 24 recipes, let's tackle our first category … a healthy one!
Ah, yes, the classic salad sides. You can hardly ever go wrong with serving a salad. Especially a German one. They make the perfect accompaniment to any main meal.
First in line, we have two similar but different, delicious ones.
Prepare to hear lots of "oos' and "aahs" with this traditional German Cucumber Salad, aka Gurkensalat. The northern version, made with cream.
Using sour cream, mayo, and yogurt are very common in northern Germany. They are used in numerous recipes, ESPECIALLY in salads.
This recipe is a great way to use up those cucumbers that have been sitting in your crisper. Or it gives you an excuse to go to the beautiful farmers' markets to pick out some fresh ones to use in this lovely salad!
This one is my Oma's favorite! Since her Mutti is from northern Germany, this is the salad she grew up knowing and still loves to this day. It's always a staple at our summer family get-togethers and special occasions. :)
Oma's Southern German Cucumber Salad, aka Gurkensalat, is the version made without using cream.
The refreshing goodness of this salad makes it such a great choice for a delicious side dish. Something refreshing is always a great pair with so many German main dishes and meats. I love having this one alongside German beef rouladen.
The first time I made this recipe with Oma, I thought, there's no way cucumbers belong in a bowl with all this stuff … boy, was I wrong! The flavors all compliment each other so perfectly, and I find myself having bowl after bowl!
Classic German recipe!
Next up, another northern and southern pair.
This German Potato Salad, aka Kartoffelsalat, is another one of those classics. This classic northern German recipe is a favorite of mine.
You can see in the picture above that it's being served alongside sausage, but what makes this salad so great is that it tastes remarkable next to almost any main dish you can think of.
The dash of dill gives that little bit of a kick that makes the salad complete. Perhaps you're indeed looking for a sausage recipe to serve with this side. Take a look at my very own air-fried bratwurst recipe! It's a quick one!
This is an interesting one that I had never heard of until Oma introduced it. The potato salad, aka Kartoffelsalat ohne Mayo, is a popular one in Southern Germany!
Trust me, warm salad isn't a bad thing. You'll figure that out when you try this wunderbar recipe. It's radically different from the northern salad above, which is always served cold! I love the comforting feeling both salads give.
This comforting salad is a great side for a comforting main.
That wraps up our top salad sides! Now let's get into...
Dumplings are what could definitely be the most popular of all sides in German cuisine. After all, it is said that in Germany, "a Sunday without dumplings is no Sunday at all."
Making Bread Dumplings, aka Semmelknödel, is a fantastic way to use up leftover bread rolls before they go bad and have to be thrown away. They're also perfect for scooping up any leftover gravy on your plate!
There is one rule while one is eating bread dumplings … always pull them apart with two forks, then pour that delicious rouladen gravy over the top. It's the most popular way in Bavaria, and it's a tradition to use two forks instead of a knife and fork.
If you still have some leftover bread, don't let it go to waste. You can make Oma's Kirschenmichel (bread pudding) for dessert! Turning leftovers into a yummy side, then using them again to make a wunderbar and even more traditional German dessert … WOW, this dumpling recipe is full of opportunity!
Next up is the one you've surely heard all about.
Potato Dumplings, aka Kartoffelklöße, especially if you’re from Northern Germany ... this is my Oma's favorite. As she says, potatoes are king in northern Germany, so these have become a favorite.
Here's an interesting dumpling fact. Did you know that it is very traditional to see these served with butter-fried bread croutons in the middle? YUM.
Whether you buy the store-bought mix or are making them by hand, they're delicious either way. Always remember that there's no shame in taking the easy route and buying store-bought… I do it too!
I quite often take the easy route when cooking red cabbage as well and buy store-bought, which, by the way, tastes outstanding beside potato dumplings. Keep on scrolling to find that recipe as well!
Looking delicious. What's up next?
Here we have German steamed dumplings, aka, Dampfnudeln, also known as German steamed buns. These can be served as a side and even as a dessert!
Serve them with a rich gravy as your side, and if you choose to use these for dessert, the best way to serve them is with vanilla sauce while the dumplings are still warm. Rouladen gravy is the best gravy to have with Dampfnudeln.
You'll love the versatility of sweet and savory notes this famous dumpling side allows.
Now onto our last dumpling,
Oma has many fond memories of these potato dumplings, aka, Thüringer Klösse. She would make these with her whole family, and everyone involved had their task … peeling, grating, squeezing, mixing. There was a job for everyone!
These go with just about any main course that has gravy. Rouladen, of course, or Sauerbraten. Both, very authentic German recipes to accompany an authentic dumpling.
This recipe may seem to have many complicated steps, but once you start, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Especially if you make an assembly line with the grandkids to get the process going a little faster.
Onto our next category.
We'll start with our famous noodle sides first :)
This noodles and cabbage dish, aka, Kraut Flecken, is from Austria, from my Oma's dear friend, Melania. But its popularity is heard of from all over Germany and its surrounding countries.
This filling side dish is wonderful when accompanying a main, but it's also great on its own. The caraway adds that perfect touch of German European authenticity. The recipe may not call for much of it, but it is such an important ingredient in German cuisine.
A recipe like this is hard to resist. Most of the ingredients are ones that you already have on hand in your pantry. That's what makes this recipe so amazing, and if you're into your German cooking already, you just might have caraway on hand already!
Our tenth top side is an odd one. Not for its recipe, or flavor, but for its shape.
Potato noodles, aka, Schupfnudeln, are recognized throughout Germany by their unusual shape. This finger-like German-style gnocchi is another noodle side that can be served on its own without a main.
The ingredients to this noodle are inexpensive and easy to find. You can often see Schupfnudeln being served sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and with apple sauce on the side for a dessert. It's just like the Dampfnudeln dumpling ... another side gone dessert!
Schupfnudeln are also great with sauerkraut. That recipe is down below, in the veggie section.
For our last noodle in the 'noodles and carbs' section, one of the best side dishes of germany.
Spätzle is very popular in southern parts of Germany like Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, just like bread dumplings.
A contraption called the spätzle press is often used to make these noodles. My Oma picked one up on one of her trips to Germany, and we've used it every time we make this recipe. I remember how tough it was the first time using a spätzle press. I definitely underestimated the muscle it takes to push the dough through the tiny holes, especially when one made the dough too thick!
It may be tricky at first, but you'll get the hang of it, as I did. I can say, it is certainly worth the effort to have these funky noodles as one of your sides of choice. It's certainly become one of mine.
Now that we've gotten through our noodles, let's check out some different potato-ey sides.
Himmel und Erde… known as "Heaven and Earth", is oh-so traditional, and the taste is just as it's named. The mixture of mashed potatoes and apples gives the most comforting feeling.
You will usually see this recipe served covered with fried onions, which may sound unusual, but it's just the perfect touch. If you prefer no onions, it tastes just as good without.
This is one of my Dad's favorites ...traditional German potato pancakes, aka, Kartoffelpuffer!
Make them the traditional way, or use Oma's brilliant idea of using a blender to grate the potatoes, as she does in this recipe. If you have a food processor, that works great too. Just watch your fingers if you're grating these for the traditional recipe!
German potato pancakes are another one of those recipes that can work as a main or a side. These taste so yummy with crispy bacon on the side. But they also make a tasty side for a big breakfast or brunch. Serve alongside eggs, toast, bacon, or ham, YUM!
These are EVERYWHERE in Germany, from restaurants to markets, to outdoor vendors. These are such a hit.
German fried potatoes, aka Bratkartoffeln, are the way to go if you're looking for a quick side. My Oma's Mutti used to make these all the time as a speedy and simple lunch she threw together.
I love making these in an aluminum pan on the BBQ or over the fire! Fried potatoes have been my family's go-to camping dish for years, served with green onion, salt, pepper, and sour cream… mmm! I could eat these all day!
Turn these Bratkartoffeln into a light dinner by pouring 4 slightly beaten raw eggs over the potatoes, gently mixing, and allowing to cook a few minutes until eggs are set. Now you have something similar to Hoppel Poppel! My Dad does this often, especially with shredded cheese melted over top.
These Bavarain soft pretzels, aka, Laugenbrezeln are made WITHOUT lye. It's hard to find a good pretzel recipe that doesn't have lye as the main ingredient.
Pretzels are THE Oktoberfest food, and with this recipe, you can celebrate any day, any time of the year! Lye can be finicky to work with, and dangerous too if you're not careful. So Oma found a way to make them just as delicious and golden, but safely. You'll get the same crispy outside and irresistibly soft inside as you would with a lye recipe.
Everyone will love these. They're fun for kids and bring back that sense of childhood wonder as you reminisce walking through German markets with a big soft pretzel in your hand during Oktoberfest time.
That wraps up our top carb sides.
Now onto our veggies! Some of my favorites are here, and we're starting off with some popular and cherished cabbage sides. Up first,
Bavarian Braised Cabbage, aka Weisskraut are popular in the southern areas of Germany like, well, Bavaria of course! But it's become a much-loved recipe throughout Germany. This is a great and easy way to use up that head of cabbage that's been sitting in your crisper drawer.
There are so many health benefits to cabbage. But the best part of it is sitting around the table with family and watching their faces light up with enjoyment eating this yummy dish.
This German cabbage recipe is actually another braised one! The prep time is quick, and the flavors... YUM! This one isn't as sweet as the Bavarian braised cabbage, but it's just as good.
It is common to see this one served alongside homemade German sausage. But Oma's grilled Bratwurst does the trick! It's hard to imagine having cabbage without some kind of traditional sausage.
You won't be able to resist the outstanding flavors that come from the browning process of the cabbage and onions.
The one you've been waiting for… German red cabbage, aka, Rotkohl! Red cabbage recipes are a staple for German cooking. It's also one of my very favorite German vegetable recipes!
I love making this recipe as a quick side dish or even as a late-night snack. (I take the easy route and buy jarred cabbage with apples sometimes.) It will always be my go-to! It's just so tasty.
Even people who say they don't like red cabbage find this dish almost like eating candy! They take second helpings because it's so good.
A MUST have at your dinner table. The one and only German sauerkraut! It's no surprise as to why sauerkraut is so popular. This recipe really can go with anything, making it the perfect side dish.
Prepping and cooking this side dish is such an easy task. Follow Oma's recipe, tips, and tricks along the way for some stress-free sauerkraut cooking!
Sauerkraut recipes go back for centuries in Germany, but Oma's is one that is always guaranteed to impress. Speaking of great sauerkraut recipes.. Got leftovers? Make German sauerkraut casserole! No food goes to waste in my Oma's kitchen.
Now, let's finish off our top 24 with the last of the german veggies.
Have a look at this classic German recipe for white asparagus, aka Spargel! There's nothing like fresh white asparagus from the market, and it's hard to find something to 100 percent substitute the taste. While white asparagus is more common in Germany, you can find it in the groceries international section. If not, try jarred white asparagus (not as good, but if you're desperate … it works!)
It does take a little longer to prep than the green kind you may be used to, but the results are absolutely worth it!
If you're searching for a quick green asparagus recipe on the other hand, try my air-fried asparagus recipe!
Whether you call them Brussel sprouts or Brussels sprouts, this recipe is a bold one to try and the perfect candidate to serve your guests to impress.
Brussels sprouts, aka, Rosenkohl, are Oma's favorite to serve along with her red cabbage. I never used to enjoy Brussel sprouts growing up until I had Oma's. (Although, I don't think many kids take a liking to them right away.) ;)
Oma loves to add extra flavor by mixing cream and butter in with the sprouts. That extra creaminess mutes the boldness of the veggie itself and gives it a lovely flavor.
Here we have buttered breadcrumb cauliflower, aka, Blumenkohl. This has been one of my favorites for many years. Breaded cauliflower is the one that my Oma's Mutti used to make. So for Oma, this one is a family tradition that brings back great memories.
To me, this is one of the more comforting veggie sides, perhaps because I grew up with it as well. But it's something that is sooo simple to throw together. It's a wunderbar go-to for last-minute company. It can be done in just 20 minutes!
Be sure to check out my buffalo cauliflower recipe in the air fryer for another delicious cauliflower side option.
Green beans, aka Grüne Bohnen, are such a classic side. They were also my Uroma's (great-grandmother's) favorite! That makes it even more special.
These are tenderly cooked and made with a traditional creamy white sauce to give that extra kick of flavor. If you're not sure what herbs to use when cooking green beans, try Bohnenkraut ... literally translated, bean herb!
I LOVE beans very much, and that's all thanks to Oma serving her amazing green bean soup to us all the time growing up. If you made this soup and have any leftover beans, you can make this green bean recipe as a quick side.
Last but not least!
Creamed Spinach, aka, Rahmspinat, is SO German. Have a look at the page to find not just one, but two spinach recipes!
If you already have frozen spinach sitting in your freezer, waiting for a good recipe to be used for… you're in luck too. One of those recipes is for just that, and can be done in 10 minutes! Both recipes take simple ingredients that you most likely have on hand.
You're sure to find one way of how to cook spinach that pleases your taste buds! Don't those eggs make this look so lecker? The creamy spinach and rich sauce make a great side. Try it out!
Now it's time to get out the apron and start cooking, baking and creating.
Thanks for checking out our Top 24 Best German Side Dishes! Be sure to try some out and maybe even find a new family favorite!
Want to know which recipes are Oma's favorites? Grab your copy of her very favorite recipes in Favorite German Recipes eCookbook.
Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!
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Meet with us around Oma's table, pull up a chair, grab a coffee and a piece of Apfelstrudel, and enjoy the visit.
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Words to the Wise
"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)