German Thanksgiving Food Ideas to Try

German Thanksgiving Food

“Erntedankfest” is the word for a typical Thanksgiving in Germany and German-speaking countries.

There are lots of family get-togethers as folks celebrate a successful harvest season.

It’s usually a religious celebration with church services sponsored by the Catholic Church and Protestant churches.

Other events include a torch parade and a procession to present the harvest crown and harvest queen.

As usual, there’s no feast without a hearty meal to crown it all. The Erntedank is a big party with lots of traditional German thanksgiving foods, especially those that go with the harvest festival.

Here are some of the top German favorites to enjoy before the choral singing and after the Thanksgiving parade:

Table of Contents

Breakfast Delicacies

Potato Pancakes-garlic and onion to season

These are not your regular kind of pancakes. They are made from grated or pound potatoes mixed with carrots and butter. Serve with your favorite juice and get what you need to start the harvest celebrations on a high note. This special delicacy will make a great breakfast on Turkey Day!

Cream Cheese Spread

A spreadable cheese like cream cheese but better because it’s homemade. This one is easy to prepare. All you need is a cup of cottage cheese, eggs, pepper, and salt.  Then give your spread a dash of nutmeg for a nutty flavor.

Baked potato wedges

Potatoes, in whatever form, always find their way to the Thanksgiving table. Baked potato wedges for Erntedankfest are extra special. With a layer of cheese, these wedges make an excellent pair for breakfast. You can serve them with your favorite fresh juice, sauce, or alongside other dishes.

Bread dumplings

These need a few days of preparation since the bread rolls must harden for the best results. Exposing the rolls for at least two days gives them the required crispiness. After that, you chop and mix them with your favorite flavor combinations of natural spices and seasonings. 

Dinner Dishes

Potato dumplings

Potato dumplings bring a new level of special to the Thanksgiving dinner table. This recipe allows you to use bold flavors on your most ordinary dish to create a fabulous feast delicacy. You can have your dumplings with any sauce of your choice. 

Beef Rouladen

It is one of Germany’s most famous and delicious dishes. Beef roulades filled with bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles, then browned and simmered in the richest gravy imaginable.  This authentic Rouladen recipe will leave your family full and entertained.

Fish tacos

After a long, fun day with all the bustling parades, settling down a well-prepared meal is heavenly. In this case, fish tacos will do the magic for you.

Use a cheese flavor combination and lemon on your tacos, then accompany them with seasoned sauce. The best thing about fish tacos is that they’ll fill you up but won’t make you feel heavy and sluggish. Remember, you still need the energy to narrate the day’s events.  

Beef wellington

This delicacy is made from beef fillets and mushrooms. The most outstanding characteristic of this German dish is that it should be juicy but not necessarily soggy.

The taste is heavenly, and it’s admirably satisfying. The mushroom and herbs used as fillers give the beef wellington earthy flavors, a reminder of the bountiful harvest you’re celebrating.

Beef Flatladen

These are almost like the Rouladen, except that beef Flatladen is cheaper and easier to prepare. The chopped meat is also flatter compared to the Rouladen pieces, which are rounder. Your Flatladen will fit a low budget but still, give you a great taste! You can choose to have or leave out the mustard and pickles.


Baked gingerbread apples

Baked apples are not an everyday meal but for special occasions. Celebrating Thanksgiving in German will allow you to taste and marvel at this delicacy.

The apples are baked and stuffed with crumbled gingerbread and chocolate. After enjoying a hearty German meal, you can have this unpopular apple as you watch your favorite Thanksgiving movie.

Apple strudel

 An apple strudel is a dessert that has been around forever. It’s a simple recipe with a rich taste. It’s made of spicy apple fillings and has a flaky crust. Apple Strudels are usually served warm with vanilla ice cream. But if you want something different, try serving yours with whipped cream instead.

Cranberry pie

Cranberries were first cultivated in North America but are used all over the world to sweeten dishes. Cranberries add a tartness to the sweet crust of the pie.  For your Erndankenfest cranberry pie, use either red, white, blue, or black cranberries. Boil the berries till soft before adding them to your pie recipe.

German Side Dishes

Blaukraunt mit Cassis(Cassis cured red cabbage)

Your Thanksgiving dinner will be incomplete without a classic dessert. Jarred or fresh red cabbage always does the magic. Flavor it with either cinnamon, apple, clove, or currant. Remember to serve it chilled so that its crunchiness remains intact.

Mashed potatoes seasoned with parsley and garlic

The potatoes here are cooked until tender and mashed into a creamy consistency. They are topped off with minced garlic and parsley flakes. Serve these potato side dishes alongside any main course.

Roasted fall vegetables

Fall vegetables include kale, lettuce, radishes, and beetroots. These are roasted until tender and slightly brown. Make a squash, then add horseradish to give them a bold flavor for the harvest season. You can use pumpkin, too, although pumpkin soup is a special delicacy on its own.

German Spaetzle Pasta

This is a special kind of egg pasta that has been around for centuries. German spaetzle is considered comfort food and a popular side dish. These little egg noodles are perfect for stuffing with meatballs, sausages, vegetables, herbs, and cheeses. 

Beschwipste Pflaume(Tipsy Plum)

Forget about the complicated name and imagine yourself sucking on some spicy plums. They’re tipsy because they go with some hard drinks, but that’s beside the point. Braised plums make a great side dish and can boost your turkey or duck a great deal. Try them this thanksgiving.


It’s a Southern Germany sidedish made of potatoes. Do not underestimate the versatility of potatoes, especially in holiday menus. These are crispily fried and served alongside main dishes like pork or turkey.

Red cabbage salad

A Thanksgiving dinner table needs enough color, and part of it comes from assorted salads. The red cabbage is one of the most popular festive salads in Germany. Ingredients used to enrich the salad are green onion, sauerkraut, dill, cucumber, and white vinegar, among others.



These are served with onion rings and blanched apples. You can also make an apple-onion sauce with cream to accompany the herrings. They will set your appetite ready for whatever is on the dinner table.

Pumpkin crostini

Pumpkins are yummy and nutritious. Make a meaningful Thanksgiving appetizer with pumpkins soup. You can have it as it is or a bread dumpling for accompaniment. Just make sure you leave enough space for all the sumptuous delicacies on the dinner table.

Final Thoughts

What’s better than a day when you can count all your blessings? Thanksgiving is special, so make every meal count. The above list of traditional and contemporary meal ideas is like a drop in the ocean. Find out more about German Thanksgiving foods and treat your family to an authentic German celebration.

Fröhliches Erntedankfest

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