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 Pflück–Schnecken, 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:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
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.
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.
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
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
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 Aufschnitte — cold 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!
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