German Cooking Vocabulary: Top Ingredients, Tools and More

Cooking and baking are a crucial part of any culture.

And German-language culture is no exception.

From bratwurst to black forest cherry cake, it offers a variety of sweet, salty and savory foods.

Whether you enjoy cooking or baking, or simply want to feast on the results, it’s essential to know how to talk about food and its preparation, in German!

Germany and other German-speaking countries are so much more than beer, sausage and bread.

Each region has its own flavors and favorites, and it’s important to understand that like all things artistic, there’s always a bit of the baker or cook that’s integral to the dish.

By reading this post, you’ll learn more about applying the German language to all things food-related, as well as where to find German recipes and how to describe the many tastes you’re sure to encounter.

So the next time you’re looking for something new to try in the kitchen, look up a German dish, sample the cuisine of a culture steeped in tradition and practice some new cooking vocabulary!

Why Learn German Cooking and Baking Terms?

In order to understand a culture, you must understand the people’s nourishment choices. What sort of staples did German-speaking cultures rely on when times were tough? What sort of flavors and tastes do they prefer?

Many dishes have a history behind them, which is useful in learning more about the language you’re studying. If apple pie is American, what constitutes a German recipe or dish? Culture-related stereotypes often have a sliver of truth to them, but it’s always best to have as curious a mind as you have a nose for detecting those delicious aromas.

New dishes are always fun to try, and learning how to read recipes in German allows you to do that! After all, if you ate the same thing every day, how boring would that be? Try out some new recipes, from all types of cultures, and broaden your horizons. Dabbling is all about experiencing new aspects of life, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to add a few new flavors to your next dish!

Acquiring more vocabulary puts you on the direct path to becoming more fluent. The next time you order out, forget the hamburger and fries—try something German-style! Building your vocabulary is nearly as important as practicing your speaking skills and putting that memory to use. I mean, how hard could it be to remember the words for food when your stomach practically speaks any language necessary to stay full?

Authentic German Recipes (in German?!)

It’s nice to be able to translate a few of your favorite recipes into German—after all, what better way to memorize vocabulary than to put it into a personal and memorable context… but what about those authentic German recipes that were scratched auf Deutsch onto parchment and preserved over the years? Where do you find the real German recipes?

Good news! There are many great resources out there for authentic German recipes.

Here are a few to start exploring German cooking in English and learn some names of dishes you’re interested in trying:

  • The Oma Way is a great website for not only great recipes, but a slice of German-American life from an Oma (grandmother) with plenty of cooking experience herself. Enjoy crafts and festivities along with the food.
  • Quick German Recipes is also focused on cooking “the Oma way.” Focused on foods of all types, this website allows you to choose from a variety of recipes and even shop at the same time.
  • Another great resource for similar content is the authentic German recipes at GermanFoods.org. Again, recipes are listed by category and even holiday and region!

And here are the ones to check out when you’re reading to go fully German:

  • Anyone who’s ever searched for a recipe online has seen/heard of Allrecipes, which offers a German website as well. Recipes are submitted by users and span the repertoire of any gourmet chef.
  • For those looking for a bit more assistance in their English-German baking and cooking, Susi’s Bakery is a website that offers content in both languages.
  • FluentU offers a lot of food-related videos in German in its vast collection of authentic content, including recipe videos for traditional treats like Quarkbällchen and PflückSchnecken, as well as videos that provide cultural insight about food in specific locations like Berlin.

    FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

    Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.

    By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:

    learn-german-with-videos

    Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.

    learn-german-with-subtitled-video-clips

    Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.

    learn-german-with-interactive-lessons

    For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.

    Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.

    practice-german-with-adaptive-quizzes

    FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

    This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.

    Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.

Like language learning, food never has to be dull; check out some German recipes for dinner tonight, and do yourself a favor. As you’re cooking those wonderful meals, play your favorite German audiobook or blast your new German playlist. Immerse yourself in the language completely and you’ll become fluent faster!

Now let’s look at the essential vocabulary you’ll need to decipher those authentic German recipes and start cooking!

Yummy German Cooking and Baking Vocabulary to Snack On

Setting the Table: German Utensils

Before you eat, you must use some type of dish to capture your food. Here are some terms to help you set the table and prepare for a feast.

der Teller — plate

die Schale — bowl

die Tasse — cup

der Löffel — spoon

die Gabel — fork

das Messer — knife

die Serviette — napkin

die Tischdecke — tablecloth

Tools of the Trade

We’ve also got to have something to cook our meals in. Let’s look at the different vocabulary for the essential tools of cooking and baking.

der Spatel — spatula

die Kelle — ladle

die Zange — tongs

die Schaufel — scoop

die Pfanne — frying pan

die Bratpfanne — skillet

der Schongarer — crockpot

der Topf — saucepan

der Ofen — oven

der Mikrowellenherd — microwave

der Kocher — stove

der Kühlschrank — refrigerator

German Cooking and Baking Verbs

We’ve got the table set and the stove ready! How do we refer to our actions when cooking and baking? Here’s a list to start you off.

backen — to bake

braten — to broil

kochen — to cook

entrahmen — to cream

mischen — to blend

vermischen — to mix

rühren — to stir

schaufeln — to scoop

brodeln — to simmer

kochen — to boil

schneiden — to cut

vorbereiten — to prepare

putzen — to clean

hacken — to chop

vorheizen — to preheat

abschneiden — to slice

auspressen — to squeeze

kneten — to knead

grillen — to grill

messen — to measure

schmecken — to taste

The Art of Measuring: A Pinch of German

Measuring ingredients while using German recipes isn’t as easy as it might seem. German recipes, authentic ones, call for measurements in metric, rather than U.S. standard. My Best German Recipes offers a great resource for converting from metric to standard.

Here are some measuring terms to help you when cooking and baking.

die Tasse — cup

der Teelöffel — teaspoon

der Esslöffel — tablespoon

das Pfund — pound

die Unze — ounce

das Gramm — gram

das Milligramm — milligram

das Kilogramm — kilogram

der Milliliter — millileter

der Liter — liter

die Prise — pinch (as in a pinch of salt)

das Pint — pint

das Quart — quart

die Gallone — gallon

Baking Ingredients

Here’s a list of your common baking ingredients.

die Butter — butter

das Mehl — flour

der Zucker — sugar

brauner Zucker — brown sugar

das Salz — salt

der Pfeffer — pepper

das Ei — egg

die Milch — milk

die Creme — cream

das Backpulver — baking powder

die Speisesoda — baking soda

die Würze — seasoning

das Gewürz — spice

Cooking Ingredients

Here are a few terms for common cooking ingredients. Try these out next time you’re making dinner!

das Fleisch — meat

das Rindfleisch — beef

der Truthahn — turkey

die Wurst — sausage

das Hähnchen — chicken

der Speck — bacon

das Schweinefleisch — pork

der Fisch — fish

das Steak — steak

der Mais — corn

der Brokkoli — broccoli

die Brechbohne — green bean

der Sellerie — celery

der Mansch — squash

der Tofu — tofu

die Nudel — noodle

die Aufschnittecold cuts

Odds and Ends: Miscellaneous Terms

Here are a few common terms used when talking about cooking and baking.

das Rezept — recipe

dreizehn or dreizehn Stück — baker’s dozen

die Portion — portion

lecker — tasty/yummy

salzig — salty

gebrannt — burnt

süβ — sweet

schneidend — tart

scharf — spicy

 

While you’re learning and using the above terms, here are a few hilarious ways to incorporate food idioms into your daily German. Food is, after all, an integral part of our lives!

And check out this helpful guide for useful phrases when ordering food in Germany.

Remember, the more German words you memorize and the better understanding you have of German culture (which is inseparable from food), the more native you’ll sound—and feel!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.

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