Are you thinking of adding some German food to your Thanksgiving celebrations? Here are some German dishes that Americans with German heritage have added to their Thanksgiving table to keep the German spirit alive.
I have asked my Facebook Group "Homemade German Recipes and Food", (which has over 20,000 members, with many living in Canada and the US) for suggestions. I have listed the main dishes that they make to celebrate their traditional Thanksgiving dinner with some German flair.
German Thanksgiving Equivalent - Erntedankfest
The closest to Thanksgiving is the German Erntedankfest which translates as Harvest Festival. It takes place on the first Sunday of October when people give thanks for a successful harvest. Harvest Festival is celebrated with different customs throughout Germany. Some regions have processions, burn straw puppets in fields, or crown harvest queens. The celebrations were bigger when people were more reliant on a good harvest for their livelihood and well-being.
In churches today, however, the altars are still decorated with agricultural produce to remind us of the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Indeed, Entedankfest in Germany is still more of a religious celebration than a family holiday. It is also not a national holiday like Thanksgiving in the United States
Traditional German Thanksgiving Food
In America, a Thanksgiving turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie are traditional foods served at the dinner table.
It is easy to add a little German culture to your holiday meal.
You do not have to replace the whole menu with German food but here are some German Thanksgiving recipe ideas that you can easily add.
You can replace the turkey or add a second main course on your big day. Here are the recipes that the members of our Facebook Group like to serve on Thanksgiving.
Sauerbraten is a favorite pot roast in Germany for festive occasions. Although the recipe is not very hard to make, it takes a little organization. This is because the meat is marinated in vinegar and red wine for at least 5 days, and then cooked for another 3 hours. However, you will be rewarded with a juicy beef roast that is accompanied by an aromatic sauce made with gingerbread!
Get the sauerbraten recipe
Beef Rouladen (Rinderroulade) is another meaty dish that would fit perfectly in an American Thanksgiving dinner. Thin slices of meat that are filled with bacon, mustard, and gherkins and then roasted in a delicious red wine sauce. I have my own spin on this recipe - and it is always a hit with the family:
Get the beef rouladen recipe.
You can never go wrong with Schnitzel, the tenderized meat with a golden breadcrumb crust. There are many different meats you can use to make this classic dish, however, in Germany, the Wiener Schnitzel (veal schnitzel) is served for special occasions. You can also use pork (pork schnitzel), turkey (turkey schnitzel), or even Cordon Bleu Schnitzel (filled with ham and cheese) it will definitely be a winner for any celebration
Get the Wiener Schnitzel recipe.
True comfort food, a slow-cooked stew that Germans have adapted from Hungary and made their own. Beef Goulash is traditional but there are so many variations. With beer, venison meat or sauerkraut. Take your pick:
German Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup is a favorite fall food in the United States. Why not change up your butternut squash soup and try this German pumpkin soup instead? It is very simple: just pumpkin, carrots, and tomatoes, made with the traditional Hokkaido squash (red kuri squash). Give it a try.
Get the German Pumpkin Soup Recipe.
Instead of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, you can offer some authentic German potato dumplings. They are easier to make than you think and are great with any sort of roasted meat (also Turkey)
Get the Potato Dumpling Recipe.
One of the best ways to soak up yummy gravy! These traditional German bread dumplings (Semmelknödel) are made from stale bread, bacon, and egg. If you are intimated by these - you can also try to make Serviertenknödel, which has an almost identical taste but is a little easier to make.
Get the Semmelknödel recipe.
In my opinion, German red cabbage is arguably the best of German cooking. Braised sweet and sour red cabbage cooked with apples and aromatic spices. You can also make it in advance, freeze it, and defrost it on the day.
Get the German Red cabbage recipe.
German Green Beans (Speckbohnen)
Instead of a Green Bean Casserole, why not serve Green Bean the German way with bacon? Another option to serve Green Beans is to make the German Green Bean Soup as a starter.
Get the Speckbohnen Recipe>
German Potato Salad
This was another favorite, mentioned in our Facebook group. German Potato salad is a super popular side dish that goes well with any meal. There are so many to choose from that you are spoiled for choice.
Other German Salads
Here are another few salads that were mentioned as perfect Thanksgiving sides.
Make your family happy with this delicious German bee sting cake. A honey almond-crusted cake top, filled with delicious authentic German vanilla pudding cream.
Get the German Beesting Cake Recipe.
This time of the year Apples cakes are all the rage. Why not mix it up with a German apple cake with a crumble (Streusel) topping? This is one of the top-rated recipes on my site and very simple to make!
Get the Apple Streusel Cake recipe.
Replace the American apple pie, with this German version, also known as Gedeckter Apfelkuchen. A delicious golden brown pie crust, filled with cinnamon apples and raisins. This will bring a German flair to your American meal.
Get the German Apple Pie recipe.
Spaghetti Eis (Spaghetti Ice Cream)
Ice cream is always a popular Thanksgiving dessert choice. Why not serve it up German style - as a Spaghetti plate? Creamy vanilla ice cream noodles, on a cold bed of whipped cream, covered in a strawberry sauce that resembles Bolognese and sprinkled with white chocolate parmesan. That dessert is sure to leave an impression on your international friends.
Get the Spaghetti Ice Cream Recipe.
More German Food Culture
I hope you got some inspiration for German Thanksgiving Food. If you are interested in reading more about German food culture then I would suggest the following articles