How to Navigate German Grocery Stores: Finding Your Ingredients

        Thanks to the wonders of Google Translate, it's no longer as intimidating to move to another country. So we assumed the groceries would be a breeze for Google Translate after pages of rental agreements, insurance documents, etc, right?  W R O N G!
        Navigating kitchen staples have actually been harder because some items translate literally instead of to the German equivalent. And there are some things just unique to Germany/Europe overall. So here's everything we've picked up over the year that should make your first time way easier~


Allergies/Food restrictions have actually been amazingly easy to navigate in Germany. All common allergens are required to be bolded on food labels and the spectrum for common allergens is larger than in the US for more reassurance. So if you have some dietary restrictions, you no longer have to spend all day nit picking every food label~ It has been a godsend with my husband's Celiacs.



Milk might be an overwhelming item for your first grocery trip ūüėā In the US, it's usually just different levels of fat and then brands. But in Germany, there are also several levels of pasteurization to provide you with an overwhelming amount of options.
          Rohmilch - raw milk; only found on farms
          Vorzugsmilch - filtered raw milk that has not been heated or homogenized
          Frischmilch - pasteurized milk; closest to milk in America
          ESL Milch (Laenger-Frisch Milch) - longer-lasting fresh milk; should last about a month refrigerated
          H-Milch - long life milk; unopened, can last 6 months at room temp
Once you've decided which milk you'd prefer, you can narrow it down to the usual level of fat you prefer.
               Landmilch - country milk; no fat removed
               Vollmilch - whole milk; minimum 3.5% fat
               Fettarme milch - lowfat milk
               Magermilch - skimmed milk

Condensed Milk

This one will trick you! Germany has something called 'Kondensmilch' which is actually unsweetened evaporated milk and not the traditional sweetened condensed milk you think of in the US. To get the right thing, look nearby for 'Nestl√© Milchm√§dchen' or a Russian/Turkish can label that translates into condensed milk.

Sour Cream

Another tricky item that Google will translate to Saure Sahne, but what you're actually looking for is Schmand. In the US, sour cream contains at least 18% fat so you'll want to select the Schmand accordingly. I've found Saure Sahne to be closer to Mexican crema.


          Quark - a very popular dairy product in Germany; the texture/taste is if cream cheese and sour cream had a baby
          Emmental - what Americans call 'swiss cheese'
          Butterk√§se - a mild, semi-soft cheese with a creamy buttery taste
          Tilsiter - a mild, semi-hard cheese with many small irregular holes
          K√∂rniger Frischk√§se - cottage cheese; don't listen to google translate, it's not h√ľttenk√§se
          Edelpilzk√§se - blue cheese
          Frischk√§se - cream cheese; you may find the texture slightly different as Germans like it particularly spreadable and gelatinous


Brown Sugar

German brown sugar is closer to sugar in the raw and dry instead of moist like in the US. If this will interfere with your American recipes, you can find some brown sugar or molasses on Amazon.


Flour is numbered in Germany rather than labeled terms such as “all purpose." The lower the number, the more processed the flour is. The higher the number, the more whole grain. Here's a list of the equivalent terms:

Type 405 – all-purpose white flour
Type 550 – baking flour
Type 812 – bread flour
Type 1015 – bread flour, darker bread
Type 1050 – white, whole wheat
Type 1600 – bread flour, whole grain

Baking Soda

Google translate will tell you that baking soda is "backsoda." But it's actually called Natron or Speise-Natron (Natrium-Hydrogen-Carbonat)

Baking Powder

Baking Powder is called backpulver, but it's not strictly interchangeable with American baking powder. German baking powder is usually single-acting, which means it has a mixture of a heat-activated (slow acting) acid and baking soda while American baking powder is fast double-acting.


Eggs come in packs of 10 in Germany instead of the dozen. Eggs are also stamped with a code here. The first number determines the quality of the egg:

0 √Ėkologische  =  Organic
1 Freilandhaltung  =  Free Range (not organic)
2 Bodenhaltung  =  Chickens raised on the ground (not organic)
3 K√§fighaltung  =  Chickens raised in a cage (not organic)

The next two letters refer to the country of origin. They are the standard two letter country codes. Some examples below:

AT Austria
DE Deutschland (Germany)
ES Spain
FR France

The last number is supposed to be the expiration date. However, it seems hard to decipher at times.

Meat Cuts

Germany has different meat cuts than America so it may be hard to figure out what you need at times - particularly with beef. Here are some helpful photos and comparisons.


This website ( will also offer all of the cuts in both German and English. You can use the search function to type in 'brisket,' and it will show you what it's called in German.

Everything Else


Tahini is simply called Sesam-Paste, but I would highly suggest buying it from your local Oriental shop instead. The German ones I have found have been very burnt and bitter tasting. Not good at all!

Pepperoni Pizza

Alas, I have yet to find true American pepperoni here. Salami pizza is NOT the same at all. It's a sad day everytime I crave real pepperoni pizza.

Hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions, never hesitate to ask~