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German - American Cooking Glossary

This glossary evolved from my finding myself confronted not only with the need to adjust to metric measures, but also to new ingredients, to the difficulty or impossibility of finding "common" ingredients like vanilla extract, brown sugar or all-purpose flour, to following recipes written in German. I've also shared some American recipes with German friends of mine.

This glossary is by no means exhaustive, but has developed from the ingredients in the specific recipes I've come across or wanted to share. There is an American-based version for those trying to cook in a non-American environment and a German-based version for those who are either in a non-German environment or simply would like to have some fun with American recipes. There are many recipe sites online, but of the ones I've visited, the only one that was translated was done by machine (with predictably hysterical and unintelligible results).

The alphabetical order follows the English names of things in the American version and the German names for things in the German version. Separators are done in the English style in both versions, so one thousand is written as 1,000.00.

One other thing I ought to mention is that at some point in time, I noticed that my newer cup measures, which I believe I bought in the States, seem to be trying to stretch the US standards so they are more easily transposed into metric measures. I used these for several years without realizing these cup measures did not all share the same base. I've never noticed any particular problems in cooking or baking, but I'm not a professional in such matters. What this says to me is that my chart below, made with painstaking care before this discovery, is accurate to a degree that may be unnecessary. My little cup measures round up to the simplest quantity: 250 ml for one cup, 125 ml for 1/2 cup, but use a base of 240 ml for the smaller measures of 1/3 and 1/4 cup (80 ml and 60 ml for the mathematically challenged).


Weights & Measures / Maße und Gewichte

 American Abbreviations  Equivalent  German
 ounce  oz.    28.375 g
 pound  lb., #  16 oz.  454 g
 fluid ounce  fl. oz.  2 Tbl.  29.53 ml
 cup  c., C.  8 fl. oz.  236.25 ml
 pint  pt.  2 cups  472.5 ml
 quart  qt.  2 pints  945 ml
 gallon (wet)  gal.  4 quarts  3.78 L
 peck (dry)    4 quarts  3.78 L
 teaspoon  tsp., ts., t.    Teelöffel, 5 ml
 tablespoon  T, Tbl., tbsp.  3 tsp.  Eßlöffel, 15 ml
 inch  in., "
(z.B. 9" = 9 inches)
   2.54 cm
 bar of cream cheese    8 oz.  227 g
 pat of butter      ein Stückchen Butter
 pinch, dash      Prise
 stick of butter or margarine    4 oz., 8 Tbl.  113.5 g
 envelope of unflavored gelatine    1/4 oz. or 1 Tbl.  9.0 g (ein Päckchen)

Temperaturen / Temperatures

If you're in the States, you can buy an oven thermometer, which will probably have both Fahrenheit and Celsius on it (like mine). Or you can just enter your temperature in the converter below.

Temperature Converter



Ingredients / Zutaten

 American  German
 all-purpose flour*  eine Mischung aus harten und weichen Weizensorten. Für Kuchen, Brot und andere Backrezepte geeignet
not available in Germany, per se; Nr. 405 Weizenmehl can be used for cake, Nr. 550 for bread
 American cheese  orangener Quasikäse, mehr Gummi als Käse; ein milder Cheddar oder Butterkäse wäre ein guter Ersatz
There is no German version of this, although Butterkäse is a kid-friendly, mild substitute
 applesauce  Apfelmus
 apple cider  Apfelsaft (naturtrüb)
unfiltered apple juice is really all that's available; note: "Zider" is alcoholic
 bacon (strips)  Speck (dünne Scheiben)
bacon in Germany is generally sold in big hunks and is chopped or diced for use, rather than cut into strips as in the States; if you want strips, go to a butcher and ask him to cut some thin slices for you (the only thing sold in supermarkets that is close to American bacon is awful and doesn't have enough fat to fry itself)
 baking chocolate  nicht gesüßte Schokolade
Couverture or Kuverture, which is comparable to the sweetness of milk or dark chocolate chips, is easier to find
 baking powder  Backpulver
 baking soda

Natron oder Speise-Natron (Natrium-Hydrogen-Carbonat)
expensive in the supermarket, but you can get a larger package in the drug store at reasonable price

 barley (pearl)  Graupen
 bell pepper  Paprika
 bran  Kleie; Weizenkleie
 bread crumbs  Semmelbrösel
brown sugar (light, dark)
 Rohzucker; Farin(zucker), nicht raffinierter, gelblichbrauner, leicht feuchter Zucker mit Melasse, sehr klebrig
the closest I've been able to get is "Melasse von Rohzucker," sugar made from molasses (in spite of the German translation)**
 celery  Staudensellerie
(celeriac, or celery root, is easier to find)
 chicory; escarole  Endivie
 Chinese cabbage  Chinakohl

 chocolate chips

(they're sold in very small boxes of about 100 g or you can "make" your own by hacking up a bar of "Couverture")
 clarified butter  Butterschmalz
 confectioner's sugar; powdered sugar; icing sugar  Puderzucker
 corn syrup (light, dark)  Mais-Sirup zum Kochen (hell, dunkel)
specialty shop item
 cornmeal  Polenta; Maisgrieß
 cornstarch, starch  Speisestärke
 cottage cheese  körniger Frischkäse, Hüttenkäse
 curly endive; frisée  Frisé
 cranberries  Preiselbeeren (preisel berries) look something like a small cranberry and are cooked and sweetened and served with goose, etc. Cranberry is now a new fad flavor in Germany. The word is not translated. I've found dried cranberries that are actually pretty good and I can now buy cranberry juice in my local supermarket.
 cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail  Cranberry-Saft, normaleweise mit Traubensaft gesüßt
Now available in some supermarkets in Germany (just Ocean Spray®, which I actually like best anyway).
 cranberry sauce (jellied)  Cranberry-Gelée
specialty shop item
 cream, heavy or whipping  Sahne, Schlagsahne, Schlagrahm
 cream cheese  Frischkäse (Doppelrahmstufe); Philadelphia® (Frischkäse just means "fresh" cheese and is also the word used for cottage cheese and other non-aged cheeses)
 cream of tartar  WeinsteinsŠure, Kaliumhydrogentartrat
Not generally known in Germany; specialty item
 Crisco®  Markenname von Backfett (sehe: shortening)
Palmin Soft® is a substitute, although I don't know the water content. (Crisco has no water in it.) There is also vegetable fat sold in bars
 currants  Korinthen
 dough  Teig
 Durum wheat  Hartweizen
 egg(s); fried (sunny side up), scrambled (light), soft-boiled (2 min.), hard-boiled (10 min.)
 Ei(er); Spiegelei, Rührei (fast flussig), weichgekochtes Ei (4 min.), hartgekochtes Ei (8 min.)
 endive; Belgian endive  Chicorée
 ginger snaps  eine Art Keks
 green onions; scallions; shallots  Schalotten
 half and half  Sahne-Milch (50% Sahne, 50% Milch)
not sold as is, you'll have to make your own
 Italian sausage (hot, mild, sweet)
 italienische Bratwurst mit Fenchel; salsiccia (scharf, mild, leicht süßlich mit Paprika, Fenchel und Zucker drin)
You can find this in Italian food shops as "salsiccia," though they may only have one variety
 junket  Dickmilch
 kale (curly)  Grünkohl
 Karo® (syrup)  Markenname von Mais-Sirup
 kosher salt  surely not kosher, but otherwise körniger Küchensalz can be used as a substitute
 lard  Schmalz
 lemon curd  Zitronenkrem
 lettuce (head of)  Kopfsalat
 marmalade  Zitrusfruchtkonfiture, normaleweise Orangenmarmelade (in German, "Marmelade" means preserves, jam)
 marshmallow  Süßigkeit aus Gallerte, Zucker und Mais-sirup, kann auch mit Eiweiß gemacht werden; sehr klebrig.
generally hard to find, but not impossible
 millet  Hirse
 molasses  Melasse
sold at Reformhaus, but is very dark and strong; Zuckerrüben-sirup (sugar beet syrup) may be a better match in taste and it's sold in supermarkets
 oats (rolled)  Haferflocken
 passion fruit  Maracuja
 pumpkin  Kürbis
"Kürbis" includes pumpkins and squash. Gourds are called Zierkürbisse. I've seen pumpkins sold under the name "Halloween Pumpkin," but there is no unique word for "pumpkin"
 prunes  Backpflaumen
 raisins; golden raisins  Rosinen; Sultaninen
 romaine (lettuce)  Romana (Kopfsalat)
 salt pork  fettes gepškeltes Schweinebauchfleisch
vegetable shortening
 Bratfett or Backfett; Pflanzenfett (kann durch Margarine nur ungenügend ersetzt werden)
 silver beet; stock beet  Mangold
 snow peas  Zuckerschoten, Zuckererbsen or Kaiserschoten or Mangetout
 split peas  Schälerbsen
 squash  Kürbis (Amerikaner kennen drei Arten von Kürbissen: Pumpkins, Squash und Gourds)
 summer squash (also yellow squash)  gelbe Zucchini
 Swiss cheese  Emmentaler
 tahini  Sesam-Paste
 tapioca  Tapioka (small pearl); Sago (very small pearl)
the box of Sago I bought said it was made from tapioca root and potato; I've only seen Tapioka at a Reformhaus and once in a Sri Lankan shop
 tomato paste  Tomatenmark
 vanilla wafers  Vanillekeks
 whipped topping  synthetischer Sahneersatz; "Hexenschaum"
Germans like real whipped cream, period
 whole wheat flour  Volkornweizenmehl
 yellow squash (also summer squash)  gelbe Zucchini
 yogurt, plain  Naturjoghurt

*All-purpose flour doesn't exist in Germany. I'm not any sort of expert baker, but I do have a cookbook (and general food guide) for Americans living in Germany. It has an excellent chapter on baking and the various types of flour available in Germany. Called Beyond Beer & Bratwurst, it was produced by the American Women's Club of the Taunus. They now have a web site where their book can be ordered, though it's nearly sold out and you may have to wait for the new one.

**I found my little brown brick of "Melasse von Rohzucker" in a small Sri Lankan shop. (The French translation, "sucre de mélasse," is more accurate.) It comes in light and dark and is sold in plastic pouches in big chunks and lumps, as well as a brick (which was awful to work with). It looks a little like brown sugar, but being molasses, lacks the lighter flavor of brown sugar.


Spices & Seasonings / Kräuter und Gewürze

 American  German
 allspice  Piment; Nelkenpfeffer
 arrowroot  Pfeilwurz
 basil  Basilikum
 bay leaves  Lorbeerblätter
 caraway seed  Kümmel
 celery seed  Selleriesamen, Selleriesaat
 chives  Schnittlauch
 cilantro  Korianderblätter
 cinnamon  Zimt
 cloves  Nelken
 cumin  Cumin, Kreuzkümmel
 curry  Curry (but it's mostly turmeric, so you need to seriously beef up the cumin if you want it to taste like it does in the States)
 fenugreek, fenugreek seed  Bockshorn, Bockshornsaat
 garlic; clove(s) of garlic;
garlic powder
 Knoblauch; Knoblauchzehe(n);
Knoblauchpulver Granulat
 ginger  Ingwer
 kosher salt  Substitute: körniges Küchensalz
 mace  Muskatblüte
 marjoram  Marjoran
 nutmeg  Muskatnuß
 parsley  Petersilie
 rosemary  Rosmarin
 sage  Salbei
 summer savory  Bohnenkraut
 tarragon  Estragon
 tartar, cream of  gereinigter Weinstein; doppelweinsteinsaures Kali
 thyme  Thymian
 turmeric  Gelbwurz, Curcuma, Kurkuma
 vanilla extract  flüssige Vanille; Vanilleextrakt; Vanille-Essenz; Vanille-Aroma***
Substitute: Vanillenzucker (vanilla-flavored sugar); one packet equals 1 tsp. vanilla extract
 zest (of a lemon or orange)  geriebene Zitronenschale oder Orangenschale

***Vanilla "aroma" is made from bourbon vanilla (as is most vanilla flavoring in Germany), alcohol and water. It's stronger and not as sweet as the American, which has corn syrup in it. My bottle of McCormick vanilla extract has 35% alcohol. My bottle of Ubena Vanille-Aroma isn't labeled, but smells stronger.


Cooking Terms & Utensils / Kochvokabular u. Hilfsmittel

 American  German
 baking pan; baking tin  Backform (f.)
 baster  Bratenspritze
 bean pot  photo  glasierte Steinzeug-Topf (mit Deckel)
Boston baked beans being mostly unknown in Germany, bean pots are even harder to come by
 blend  vermengen
 braise  schmoren
 bring to a boil  aufkochen, zum Kochen bringen
 Bundt pan  Gugelhupf-Backform
 cast iron cookware (pot, pan, skillet)  Gußgeschirr (Gußtopf,Gußbratentopf, Gußbratpfanne)
 cream (v.)  schaumig rühren oder schlagen (z.B. Butter mit Zucker)
 crimp (v.)  photo  pressen
 cut in  untermischen
 deep fat fryer  Friteuse
 defrost  auftauen
 dollop (of cream, etc.)  Schlag (m.)
 double boiler  Wasserbadtopf (m.)
 drain  abtropfen
 drizzle  träufeln
 Dutch oven  Bratentopf (rund und tief)
 flute (v.); fluted  photo  kannelieren; kannelierte
 fold in  unterheben; unterrühren; untermischen
 food mill  Passiergerät (n.), Passiersieb (n.)
 food processor  Küchenmaschine (f.)
 grapefruit knife, spoon  photo  specialty item not generally known in Germany, though I did once find one in a gourmet shop – for 20 euros!
 grate  reiben; raspeln
 grind (fine/coarse)  mahlen (fein/grob)
 knead  kneten
 loaf pan  Königskuchenform (f.)
 lukewarm  lauwarm
 mortar and pestle  Mörser mit Stößel
 muffin pan; muffin tin  Muffinbackform (f.)
 parboil  halb kochen; ankochen
 pare, peel (v.)  schälen; pellen
 pastry blender  photo  not known in Germany; specialty item – which I have found twice at a flea market!
 peel (n.)  Schale
 pit (v.)  entsteinen
 saucepan; pot  Topf (m.)
 sausage casing  Schweinedärme
 season, flavor  würzen; abschmecken
 seed (v.)  entkernen
 serving (n.)  Portion (f.)
 sift; sifter  sieben; Einhand-Mehlsieb (n.)
 simmer  ziehen lassen
 skewer (n.)  Fleischstieß
 skillet  Bratpfanne
 skim  abschöpfen
 spatula  Teigschaber
 stir  rühren, umrühren
 stuff; stuffing  füllen; Füllung (f.)
 tea infuser  Teesieb (or Tee/Gewürzsieb, since large ones can also be used for spices in making soups and such)
 toothpick  Zahnstocher (m.)
 to taste  nach Geschmack
 vegetable steamer  Gemüsedünster (m.)
 waxed paper  not available or difficult to find
Germans use parchment (Backpapier)
 wire whisk  Schneebesen (m.), Schwingbesen (m.)
 zester  Zestenreißer, Zitronenreißer

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