American food and cooking substitutes

by Christina Geyer on May 31, 2007 · 110 comments

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Finding product replacements for your favorite foods and snacks is always tough for new expats (and occasionally some of us more experienced expats as well)! Here’s my attempt to help out and I have to admit, I learned quite a bit in my research for this post.


  • Baking Powder – Most North American baking powder is double-acting, while German Backpulver is single-acting.  You can substitute 1 1/4 teaspoon of single-acting baking powder for 1 teaspoon of double-acting.
  • Baking Soda = Natron or Haushaltsnatron, available in the baking aisle in small packets or boxes. Unfortunately, the Kaiser Natron box (pictured below) is not filled with baking soda, it is filled with the little packets. Major packaging waste in my opinion. Sometimes you can find small Arm & Hammer boxes in the American food section of large supermarkets.
  • Brown sugar – can be found in large Asian shops, Latin American shops, Reformhäuser, Kaufhof (thanks Mausi) or make your own by mixing 1 cup of white sugar with 1-2 T molasses (I’m going to have to try this, because the recipes say that once you make your own, you’ll never go back to using store bought).
  • Cornmeal = Maisgrieß = Polenta (but Ed says neither Maisgrieß or Polenta are the right consistency for making cornbread, for that you gotta import your cornmeal – but check in the Asian market first, it’s often there).
  • Cornstarch = Speisestärke (brands: Mondamin or Maizena).
  • Cream of Tartar = Weinsäure, ask for it at your Apotheke. If you want this only for making meringue, it’s not necessary. Meringue = Baiser in German and all you need to do is look on for “Baiser rezept,” to see that the Germans don’t use cream of tartar in making meringue (here’s one recipe).
  • Crisco – try Palmin Soft, near the butter.
  • Dark corn syrup – substitute Zuckersirup (e.g., Grafschafter Heller Sirup), Zuckerrübensirup (e.g., Graftschafter Goldsaft), honey or molasses, or make your own by combining 3/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 molasses.
  • Flour – All-purpose = Type 550, Cake flour = Type 405.  For more information on types of flours, see ExPATations excellent comment on flour types.
  • Light corn syrup – try substituting Zuckersirup (e.g., Grafschafter Heller Sirup, near honey) or honey, or make your own by combining 1-1/4 cups sugar with 1/3 cup water and boiling in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
  • Molasses = Melasse (available in Reformhäuser) or try using Zuckerrübensirup (e.g., Graftschafter Goldsaft, near honey) or dark honey.
  • Vanilla extract – can be bought in gourmet and American shops (expensive) and in some Latin American shops (cheap), or make your own like I do (it’s easy and the results are better than store-bought!). It’s recently (2014 update) shown up in the baking section of our Real supermarket as well.
  • Wheat germ = Weizenkeime, found in Reformhäuser

natron - baking soda


  • Chocolate drink mix (warm/cold) – try Caotina surfin. A little pricier than other brands, but this is super yummy added to warm milk. It doesn’t have that overly sweet or artificially chocolate taste that some of the other brands do.  Caotina also comes in delicious dark and white chocolate varieties as well.
  • Cranberry Juice Cocktail = OceanSpray Cranberry Classic or other brands of Preiselbeerengetränk is showing up in more and more places. (Vailian says 100% cranberry juice is available in the Reformhäuser – but it’s expensive).

Cranberry Juice and Caotina
Breakfast foods

  • All-Bran Cereal = Kellogg’s DayVita Sticks (70% Weizenkleie/Bran), there’s also Kellogg’s DayVita Flakes (17% Weizenkleie/Bran).
  • Bagels – According to the website, they deliver bagels throughout Germany. I’m no bagel-afficianado, but I’ve heard from several people that Bagel Brothers are the real deal. They’ve also got restaurants in Bonn, Bremen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Halle, Hannover, Leipzig, München and Oldenburg. You can get fresh home or business deliver in some of those cities.
  • Cheerios – try Weetabix Looters. They aren’t that common, so look in one of the giant supermarkets like Real or Globus.  Honey Loops are the closest thing I’ve found to Honey Nut Cheerios.


  • Cadbury Cream Eggs – They aren’t as rich, creamy, and sugary inside, the filling is more light and fluffy, but I really like Milka Löffel-Eier.  They can be a little tougher to find, I’ve only seen them in the Galeria Kaufhof and in Real here in Regensburg (and only at Easter).
  • Chocolate bars – why on Earth would you miss American chocolate??? Switch to German, or even better, Swiss or Belgian chocolate already!


  • Cheddar cheese – Cheddar can be found in Germany.  The Biomarkt I go to has some really delicious cheddars, but if you can’t find any, Gouda can sometimes substitute for cheddar. It doesn’t always work, but I made a great cheesy beer dip substituting gouda for cheddar and it was amazing.  If you need aged Cheddar, use alt Gouda, for mild Cheddar, use jung Gouda. Gouda comes shredded too, just check the cheese section in the dairy aisle.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – Monterey Jack can be substituted with Fontina or Bel Päse (Italian cheeses – it was originally created to substitute for them when they were off the market during WWII). If you can’t find either of these, Gruyère, Emmantaler or Edamer may do.
  • Queso Añejo – Try substituting Romano or Parmesan.
  • Queso Fresco – You can order online from or try soaking feta to remove some of the brininess.  You could also substitute dry-pressed (not creamy) farmer’s cheese, but you will need to salt it.


  • Maple syrup = Ahornsirup (near honey, chocolate sauces, or in Bio-aisle)
  • Mayonnaise – if you don’t like the sugary German mayo, try Maille Dijon Mayonnaise. Ed calls it “a more than acceptable substitute, with the extra slight tang of mustard being a nice addition.”  If you make a trip to France, pick up some tasty Maille Mayonnaise and if you’re in Croatia, I found Hellman’s there. (2014 update: Hellman’s mayo is in the American section of our local Real now. Yippee!)
  • Peanut butter – miss American peanut butter? Try adding a squeeze of honey to the German peanut butter.

Ahornsirup - Maple syrup
Dairy products

  • Cream, heavy – American heavy cream contains at least 36% milk fat, while Schlagsahne extra contains at least 35% fat. You can also try Teesahne (at least 35% fat) or Crème double (40-45% fat) if you need something really heavy.  Since the first two options can be more difficult to find, I often just use regular Schlagsahne in place of heavy cream and find it’s no problem.
  • Cream, whipping – In the US, whipping cream contains 30-36% fat. You would most likely want to substitute this with Schlagsahne, which contains 30-33% milk fat.
  • Mexican Crema (Mexican sour cream) – Try crème fraîche, it’s a little richer and a bit nuttier tasting, but the closest you’ll get without paying a fortune in a specialty Mexican shop.
  • Sour cream – In the US, sour cream contains at least 18% milk fat. In Germany, Saure Sahne contains 10-15% milk fat, Crème légère contains 15%, Saure Sahne extra contains 18%, Schmand contains 20-29% and Crème fraîche contains 30-40%. So, you will most likely be happiest with the Saure Sahne extra or Schmand.
  • Sweetened condensed milkNestlé Milchmädchen (in supermarket near the evaporated milk) or make your own by heating 1-1/4 cup sugar with 1 cup Kondensmilch (evaporated milk) together in a saucepan until sugar is fully dissolved (yep, it’s really that much sugar). Michael says you can also find it in the Russian/Turkish section in Real.


  • Cheez-Its – it’s not quite the same, but I find Käsestangen (cheese twists in the snack aisle) more than satisfy my Cheez-It cravings.
  • French onion dip – try Mirée Frischkäse mit französischen Kräutern. That’s my favorite, but you might also prefer a different brand.
  • Graham crackers – try Leibnitz Vollkornkekse or Landkeks (in the cookie aisle) – I find them great for making cheesecake crust. Eurotrippen suggests Lotus Original Karamelgebäck as an alternative. The Lotus are sweeter and have more of a crunchy cookie consistency. You can also make your own graham crackers with this recipe I found.
  • Honey-roasted peanuts – try Ültje Cashew-Erdnuss-Mix Honig & Salz in the snack aisle (in our Real, it’s next to the Studentenfutter). They have a honey peanut mix as well, but I find that the salt is necessary.
  • Saltines – try Wasa Crack & Taste Salted (can be either in the chips aisle or with the regular Wasa crackers). There is also a brand, Sky Flakes, available in nice reusable tins in Asian shops (thanks for checking the ingredients Martina!).


    • Clams = Venusmuscheln. Ed says, “You can get clams in glass jars. They’re very salty (not necessarily a bad thing) and very expensive: about 5 Euros for a tiny jar that’ll make one recipe of spaghetti and clam sauce. Seeing as how better clams (packed with more juice, which is necessary for the flavor of the sauce) are 79 cents in the States from Durkee or Snow’s, I ask for them as an import.” He adds to look for them in Italian delis. I’ll add that you might also be able to get frozen clams in a large Asian market, but I’ve never looked for them.
    • Hamburger/Tuna Helper – I like to take the Knorr Spaghetteria pastas and add meat to make them into more of a meal. There are recipe suggestions on the bags, but I find ground beef and the Spaghetteria Funghi go great together and I add peas and tuna to the Spaghetteria Spinaci. I’ve tried with the regular and Activ Knorr products and with the Maggi ones as well, but the Spaghetteria fit my taste best.
    • Wraps/Tortillas – There are a couple of options here. First, avoid the flour tortillas in the supermakets (Fuego is one brand), they are bland and tasteless. A tastier supermarket option is the Indian Fladen aus Weisenvollkornmehl. It is usually in the bread aisle, not by the flour tortillas. They’re much tastier. Check your local Döner vendor to see if s/he sells Türkish flatbread, which also substitutes well, or you can check your local Turkish supermarket. also ships fresh flour and corn tortillas, and they are delicious. Or make your own, Ed says it’s easy, and here’s a flour tortilla recipe I found, and one for corn tortillas.



And then there are those products that there are just no substitutes for. Below are some websites. If I’ve ordered (and been happy) once, it gets one *, twice means ** and three or more times gets ***.

  • Food from Home* – has a pretty large selection of American and British items. They also have a mobile van that makes stops in various cities in NRW, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (see schedule). You can browse the items on the van, or make an order and pick it up, to save on shipping.
  • Hello Food*- Site selling items from the US and Canada.
  • World of Sweets*** has some American chocolates and candies.  I used to order my Caotina from them (and the occasional Belgian chocolates), but now my regular supermarket carries Caotina.
  • USA Kulinarisch has a huge list of sites for ordering American products, including some USA-based shops that deliver to Germany.
  • has a great list of sites for ordering Mexican products
  • in Munich has great Mexican products. I’ve never ordered from there, but I have friends who have and I can attest that their tortillas and sauces are tasty.
  • has a large selection of Asian products and light and dark brown sugar, corn meal, all kinds of dried beans, etc. It also appears that they ship fresh produce as well – but probably not a good idea in summer.

Additionally, if, like me, you love cooking and baking and often find yourself in need of ideas for substitutions, I highly recommend the book The Food Substitutions Bible.  It’s over 600 pages of ideas for substitutions for everything from Abalone and Absinthe to Zungenwurst and Zwieback.  There are also great sections comparing types of apples, beans, chilies, olives, vinegars, salts and more.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? Do you have any hot tips or substitution suggestions to pass along?


  • Martina


    great list! I’ve never seen the Wasa Crack & Taste (where do they come up with these names?) but there’s a big Asian shop in Darmstadt that carries saltine crackers, and they aren’t even expensive.

    Have you really seen Weinstein in a supermarket? I was always under the impression you had to buy it at the Apotheke.

    Crackers are one thing I really miss. Triscuits. Wheat thins. Cinnamon sugar graham crackers. Cheez-its.

  • Christina

    @Martina: In the supermarket the Weinstein is called something like Backpulver-Weinstein and comes in a little envelope like regular Backpulver. It’s not always there, mainly in the big stores like Real and Globus.

    I used to get the crackers from the Asian stores too before the Wasa ones came out. A friend told me that the Asian store ones are cooked in lard, so I switched (I didn’t look to confirm the ingredients however).

    I find my Cheez-its cravings are satisfied by Käsestangen. I don’t know of anything like Triscuits or Wheat Thins though.


  • Jessica

    Girl your rockin my world!!! AWE-SOME list! I’m gonna run to the store right now to look for all this great stuff! Thanks for all the great tips!!!

  • Martina


    I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for the Weinstein, and will *definitely* have to look at the ingredients on the Asian store saltines!!!!

    And I hate to admit it, but I also miss all those sugary cereals from the U.S. I know Müsli is so much more healthy, but I’m a big cereal nut.

  • Christina

    @jessica: Thanks! I’m glad I could help!

    @martina: It’s funny about the cereal. Americans like the sugary stuff (I always get a box of Reeses cereal to eat while I’m back home), while Germans like chocolate pieces in their cereal. I still have to give Rainer funny looks when he pulls out the Schoko-müsli in the morning. (Yeah, Reeses has chocolate puffs, but not actual chocolate chunks!)

  • Martina

    My (German) husband doesn’t even eat cereal. Once in a blue moon he’ll have some müsli *with orange juice*, as in he pours orange juice on the müsli instead of milk. Yuck! (I have to admit I haven’t tried it, so I guess I can’t really judge, but just the idea…)

  • Anonymous

    cool…never new you could make vanilla extract. thats a nifty idea…too bad it takes so long…but i might give it a try. thanks!

  • Sarah

    Great list Christina! Hopefully I can whittle down my list o’ contraband that people bring us when they come to visit. Although, I will keep ordering baking powder/soda from home. Those little envelopes make me nuts.

    Do you think you can use the Vollkornkekse to make cheesecake crust?

  • vailian

    Very good list, christina! You have spent a lot of time thinking about food!
    I get my saltines in the Asian shops, they are called Sky Flakes and come from the Philippines in a terrific reuseable tin, the BEST place for storing those pesky potato chip leftovers. I miss clam chowder though. (Once Aldi had some packet Clam Chowder which was utterly Disgusting).
    I used to miss the cereals, but now find them cloying and overpackaged (Still miss All-bran).
    Was overjoyed on my last trip to Spain to discover that they had Cheetos –crunchy variety– at a truck stop. Sadly, I left the supply I bought inthe bus. I doubt that the bus driver knew what a rare and wonderful commodity he was relegating to the rubbish.
    I can’t agree more about American chocolate– when you have tried the swiss or belgian variety, you will never go back.
    You can get pure cranberry juice at the health food places, but it is obscenely expensive. (It is usually found next to the Sauerkraut Juice, uggh)

  • Debbie

    I found sweetened condensed milk at the grocery store chain Extra. I always find it amazing when people find things at Kaufland, but when I go to OUR Kaufland it’s not there and no one’s ever heard of it. I guess it depends on where you live. My husband said that German food tastes have really expanded in the past 10 years. That’s good. That’s very good. Keep it going.

  • Christina

    @martina: Orange juice on müsli? That just doesn’t sound appetizing. I agree – Yuck!

    @Anon: I might give it a try as well. :)

    @Sarah: You can get the baking soda in boxes at Real. The Kaiser Natron box is about the same size as the small Arm & Hammer boxes. Also, whenever I make cheesecake I use the Vollkornkekse for the crust and I think they work perfectly.

    @vailian: Yeah, a Filipino-Canadian friend told me the Sky Flakes crackers are cooked in lard, you might want to check what the ingredients label says. Oh good clam chowder soup is yummy, but I’ve never had good clam chowder out of a can, even in the States. Try the Kellogg’s VitaSticks, according to the Kellog’s website, they’re the same thing as All-Bran. And that sucks about the Cheetos.

    @Debbie: There’s sweetened condensed milk at the Real here too (and at most Asian markets as well). Our Kaufland carries Doritos, otherwise I’d always shop at Real. There really is a lot more American stuff at the supermarkets now than when I came over 5 years ago. I can only hope the next 5 years will show similar progress 😉

  • Christina

    FYI – The post has been updated to reflect some of the discussions in the comments – and I added a new section on Hamburger/Tuna Helper.

  • christina

    I thought I just posted, but maybe not. Brain lapse.

    Anyway – good job! Thanks for putting this all together.

    Two things

    1) Brown sugar at Kaufhof, not Kaufland

    2)The Weinsteinbackpulver I’ve seen in supermarkets/health food stores is not pure cream of tartar but is mixed with baking soda and a filler like cornstarch so I don’t think it would work in recipes calling for just cream of tartar.

  • Martina

    By the way, does anybody know what cream of tartar actually *does*? I’ve actually just left it out when a recipe called for it, and I couldn’t really detect a difference to when I still had/used it.

    For instance, American recipes for meringues include cream of tartar, while German recipes don’t, but don’t really have anything that replaces it.

    So what is the purpose of cream of tartar? Any Lebensmittelchemiker reading this :-)

  • Christina

    @christina: Oops! Post is updated with your corrections!

    @martina: I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to do either, but I’ve left it out without bad results as well. I know baking powder can be substituted with baking soda and a pinch of cream of tartar.

  • barbara

    Hi Christina,
    Great list ! This wil; surely help many an expat.
    I usually ended up in one of several US stores that sell products in Paris. This is when I really need or want something, because the products are quite expensive.
    That’s a nice tip, also on how to make a brown sugar substtution!
    What is called cane sugar here is not of the same consistancy.
    Being from Hawaii, I grew up with the yummy C & H sugar.
    Do you remember C & H , Chrsitina ?

    Have a nice weekend.

  • christina

    Definitely not a Lebensmittelchemiker(in) but I just looked up cream of tartar:

    -stabilizes and increases volume of beaten eggs whites (apparently the same amount of white vinegar can be subsituted)
    -used in candymaking and frosting to give a creamy consistency
    -used as a levener when combined with baking soda (=Weinsteinbackpulver) and can be subsituted for baking powder (which is baking soda + a different kind of acid containing phosphates)

    So it doesn’t seem to be really necessary to have on hand. I actually only have one old cookie recipe that calls for cream of tartar and baking soda. I’ve tried using baking powder, but the cookies didn’t come out the same.

    *I* sure remember C + H cane sugar, at least from the commercials. :-)

  • Christina

    @barbara: The expat stores here are usually outrageously overpriced. I try to avoid them as much as possible. I don’t remember C & H sugar, sorry! Have a great weekend as well!

    @christina: Thanks so much for looking that up. I don’t think I ever stocked cream of tartar in my kitchen, even in the US. Strange that your cookie recipe didn’t come out the same though, I’d always heard that you could substitute baking powder (or vice versa). Guess they aren’t quite the same thing!

  • Lisa

    Note to me: Christina is a handy person to have around.

    Do you know how long I’ve wondered what I was gonna do without cream of tartar? (read that: how long I’ve gone without meringue and thus without lemon meringue pie)

    Thanks for this info!

  • Christina

    @lisa: Oh man! What’d you have to bring up lemon meringue pie for??? Mmmmm… pie. *drool*

    I agree, Christina (Mausi) is a super-handy person to have around!

  • cliff1976

    Whoa, great tip on the graham cracker Leibnitz — thanks!

    I think I hear a cheesecake coming our way this weekend…


  • Ed Ward

    Some notes from Berlin.

    * Polenta is a coarser grind than normal cornmeal. You can’t make cornbread out of it. Maisgriess (sp?), which you can find in Turkish stores (sometimes called Maismehl) is too fine. You gotta import your cornmeal.

    * Bagel Brothers only works if you’ve got one in town. We don’t. There aren’t that many around. Be thankful you’ve got one. I pick ’em up in Leipzig or Lübeck if I’m visiting, otherwise make do with Bagel Station.

    * Flour tortillas are so easy to make (white flour, salt, baking powder, lard/shortening/bacon grease) that it’s stupid to buy them.

    What I get from my mules is canned clams (to make linguini with clam sauce), cornmeal, and Grape Nuts, which is the cereal I miss most. I used to get them in Amsterdam, but the small box started costing €7, which is just stupid.

    What I missed most for a long time was Hellman’s mayonnaise, which was available for a very short time and then discontinued. I’ve found Maille Dijon Mayonnaise, which is available in good supermarkets, to be a more than acceptable substitute, with the extra slight tang of mustard being a nice addition. German mayonnaise has waaaay too much sugar in it, as do prepared mayonnaise-based salads. No wonder the Germans love Miracle Whip (pron. mir-a-CELL vip) so much. Yuck.

  • Christina

    @Cliff: The Leibnitz don’t taste *exactly* like graham crackers, but I find they work perfectly for cheesecake crust. Hope you agree – enjoy your cheesecake!

    @ed: Wow! Thanks for the tips. I’ll update the post with your suggestions. Although I love cornbread, I haven’t made it since I’ve been here, so I didn’t realize the polenta wouldn’t work. I have a veggie chili recipe that calls for cornmeal and the polenta works perfectly in that.

  • Rositta

    I have the opposite problem, kind of. I have an old German receipe book and some of the ingredients can’t be found here in Toronto. Kind of annoying actually…love your post. ciao

  • EuroTrippen

    I tried the Leibnitz and didn’t think they tasted enough like graham crackers to satisfy my craving. Then I found Lotus brand ‘original karamelgebäck’. They’re beyond good. So good that I don’t even think about graham crackers anymore and feel certain if I ever move away from deutschland they’d be one of the things(foodwise)I’d miss most. You can pick them up pretty much everywhere in the cookie section.

  • Christina

    @rositta: Yeah, I’m sure if I ever move back to the States, I’ll have the same problem and complain endlessly (at least at first) about not having German stuff! 😉

    @eurotrippen: I’ll have to try the Lotus karamelgebäck! I’ll update the post to show your suggestion as well. Thanks!

  • Christina

    @eurotrippen: I should have looked them up before commenting! I’ve had these and they do taste a lot like graham crackers, except that they are cookies. Thanks for reminding me about them anyway. I think for snacking, they might be the better replacement, but I’m not sure how well they’d work for a cheesecake crust. You’d have to cut back on the sugar in the crust recipe. Have you tried them out for making crust?

  • EuroTrippen

    Heh, I’ve never made a crust in my life, or a cheesecake for that matter. I just know that with a big glass of skim milk they’re yummy in a ‘world’s best graham cracker’ kinda way.

  • cliff1976

    Cheesecake-crust hypothesis confirmed! Yum! Leibnitz is the way we’ll be doing this from now own. Our cheesecake turned out great. You can see the results on flickr.

    Thanks again!

  • Christina G

    @eurotrippen: I’d have to agree with your assessment there. I did find them really yummy!

    @cliff: That picture looks super. I’m glad it worked for ya!

  • Michael

    Wow! 30 comments! A very helpful post! I wish we had this a year ago–it took me forever to find baking soda. Thanks!

  • michael

    We now have an addition for Graham crackers. We wanted them for S’Mores, not baking. The Lotus are too small and sweet (I’m used to having those with espresso at cafes, especially in Belgium), and we could not find the Leibniz you suggested, but we found another Leibniz: Landkeks! Perfect size and tasted very good. I highly recommend them for that. We go to Strauss for the marshmallows, though Edeka sometimes carries them. And we only buy Belgian dark chocolate (preferably over 80%, our daughter loves it too).

    Also, we find sweetened-condensed milk in the Russian/Turkish section of Real.

    We really miss bagels after having good places in DC and NYC to get them, though we did have some good ones in Amsterdam, we haven’t had some around D-dorf yet.

  • Christina G

    @Michael: Ah! Make that 33 comments now! Thanks for the tips, I’ll update the post to include them. I saw the Leibniz Landkeks and was wondering if they might also be graham cracker-y, so now I know!

  • Martina

    A follow-up comment: I bought a package of saltines at the Asian store last weekend, and they (at least these specific ones) *are not* made with lard.

    They contain vegetable shortening and coconut oil.

    The brand is: Sky Flakes

  • Christina G

    @martina: That’s good to know. I kept forgetting to look at the box when I was at the Asian shop. Thanks! I’ll be updating several posts later, so I’ll take care of that in a day or so.

  • lintqueen

    Oh this is funny — I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. Here in the US and CRAVING Schoko-müsli. I used to go to Germany in the summer, but the fellow I used to go with has left and now I have no Schoko-musli-importability!


    And Curry sauce for fries. Wish I could get that in restaurants here.

  • Christina G

    @lintqueen: Welcome! Maybe you could add mini chocolate chips to Quaker granola? Probably still wouldn’t be as good as what you get here, but maybe it would at least help with the craving.

  • lintqueen

    Not a bad idea, Christina…wonder if they’d make the milk all chocolatey-good?

  • ChristinaG

    @lintqueen: Hmmm… I’m not sure how they’d do milk-wise. You may need to do a little experimenting. I haven’t looked at what’s available in years, but if there are chocolate shavings that might work even better.

  • Anonymous

    I think most Germans make their mayonnaise themselves. It’s not difficult, and is dozens of times better than what you can buy in the stores. No need to import the stuff at great costs, just make it yourself.

    You should try it and then post the results.

  • ChristinaG

    @anon: Homemade mayonnaise is far superior to store-bought. If you’ve got a blender, blender stick or food processor it’s pretty easy to make too. I hardly ever use mayo though. Here’s a Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard you can make mayonnaise with those little mixers used to make frothy milk for cappucinos. Can anybody confirm this? I don’t have a blender or food processor, but those milk thingys are really cheap.

  • ChristinaG

    @anon: I don’t know how well they’d work. I think it would take a really long time if it worked at all. Blender sticks aren’t too expensive. Check on for Stabmixer. There are versions from Braun, Bosch and Krups for under 25 Euro, and there are no name brands for 10 Euro.

  • ChristinaG

    Added Cheerios lookalike, Weetabix Looters.

  • Mark Polo

    I’ve been looking for frozen pie crusts, and even the American stores I’ve found don’t have them… It’s kind of depressing, actually. I mean, I _can_ make a pie crust (using Pflanzenfett and flour), but it’s a lot of work, and greatly reduces the number of pies I make, especially since I generally cook for a house of 30 people.

    Brown sugar (at least here in southern NRW) is extremely hard to find. It doesn’t help that raw cane sugar is often called “Brauner Zucker”. I have had some luck adding Grafschafter Goldsaft to white sugar.

    The Curry sauce here seems to be just German Catsup with a dash of Curry powder on top. Of course, trying to match that in the States is probably a lost cause…

  • Christina G

    @mark: I’ve thought about trying one of the Blatterteig sheets you can get in the refridgerator section of the supermarket the next time I make a pie. I think it would work for some types, but not for others. In Berlin, I loved getting the pre-made tart crust from Galleries Lafayette. They had a dessert crust and a savory crust. They were great, slightly different from pie crust, but delicious all the same. Maybe you can check out a French store? Or if you’re in Belgium sometime, maybe the supermarkets there stock the stuff.

    If you don’t have an Asian market nearby, a bag of brown sugar can be ordered from for €4,99 (€0,55/100g) and from for €3,29 (€0,66/100g).

  • Brigitte

    I just discovered your website and have really enjoyed it.

    Do you happen to have any information on good substitutes for cheese such as Monterrey Jack (something that melts nicely into soups) or cheddar cheese (it’s so expensive here!).


  • Christina G

    @Brigette: Sorry for taking so long to answer. I use Gouda or Emmentaler when I want a nicely melting cheese.

  • michael

    thanks for all the infos…esp brown sugar…

    I recently found the normal Arm and Hammer Baking soda at a chinese food store… with chinese lettering and all.

    … i wanna go home :(

  • hint

    Brown sugar:
    Please notice that “Brauner Zucker” is not cane sugar in German, but caramelized white sugar, so it has a different flavor. Germans use it mostly in pastry and tea.

    Sugar that contains molasses is called “Rohrzucker” or “Rohrohrzucker” and most supermarkets carry only the lightest grade. While darker grades or molasses might be hard to find, “Vollrohrzucker” (dried sugar cane juice) is available in many drug stores, Reformhäuser or whole food stores.

  • Christina G

    Thanks for the hint :)

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  • Molly

    vanille zucker or vanillin zucker works as a replacement for vanilla extract. It comes in little packets and is found near the backpulver. Use one packet to replace one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

  • Migraine Meister

    Hey Christina!

    I bought the ingredients for the beer cheese dip this afternoon – found the Bavaria Blu – thought it was funny how people looked at me strange that I was buying one bottle of Hefeweizen – I don’t get those looks when I buy a whole Kiste! Is that the difference between unacceptable alcoholism and acceptable alcoholism?

    Anyway, what I really wanted to ask was, what do you use for recipes calling for good ol’ Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Chicken or Mushroom soup – for a casserole?

    I don’t have a website – I’m a lazy Facebook user, but I did put the Facebook public link to some photos of our ugly mugs in the website field.

    Thanks again for everything!!

  • Christina G

    Thanks for linking to the pics, it’s nice to have an idea of who’s reading :)

    That’s funny about the beer. I never thought about it, but I guess the people getting one bottle might be looked at a little different. Luckily, Rainer’s a Hefeweizen drinker so it was no problem for me.

    For recipes, I usually try to find a version without using cream of whatever soup, one that uses straight cream, etc. If I can’t find one, I’ll get the Knorr or Maggie powdered soup and use half the liquid, then add that. If creaminess is really important to the recipe, I’ll use milk instead of water in the soup.

    Christina Gs last blog post..Week in Photos – 11 January 2009

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  • Ann

    Thank you for the list! We’ve been here now for 2 months – and I’ve referred to your list often! Do you know if you can find Pam – you know, the pan spray… I truly miss it (so do my thighs).

  • Christina G

    I’ve never found Pam, but you can find oil sprayers in specialty cooking stores or on,and fill them with olive oil (or whatever you want to use) and get the same results.

  • Brigitte

    Has anyone had experience with the white vinegar being too strong here for salad dressings? Any suggestions? I have tried watering it down, but it doesn’t seem to get the bite out of the taste….

  • Christina Geyer

    Are you using Tafelessig or Essigessenz? I find Tafelessig to be fine as a substitute for white vinegar, but Essigessenz is really strong, concentrated stuff that I only use for de-calcifying and other cleaning jobs. If you’re dissatisfied with the Tafelessig, you can buy distilled white vinegar at Asian shops.

  • Kristin

    Thank you so much for posting these tips!! They’re so very helpful! I don’t know how many stores I’ve wandered aimlessly through looking for some of those items… I’ve given up making some of my favorite recipes after not being able to find a replacement for some of the ingredients. Because of your tips, I now look forward to making them again! :) Thanks again!

    Kristins last blog post..Big Bugs…

  • Sarah

    Thank you! Thank you! I spent two months in Deutschland last fall… went back to the states… and have just moved back to Deutschland permanently in April… I am expecting my first child in July… My only solace is creating great “American” food memories… thank you for you tips….

  • Martin

    Hello, my name is Martin and i am from germany.
    I don’t thin you’ll get Pam in Germany but you can get a kind of Creme called Rama Culinesse if you have problems with the consistence of usual Butter.

  • Christina Geyer

    @Martin: Thanks for the tip. You can also by pump spray containers that you can put olive oil in, and those are a great substitute for Pam (better than the original even, cause you can use better oil)

  • Mark Polo

    Another source for Mexican ingredients is .

  • Christina Geyer

    Thanks, Mark!

  • Marisa

    You are wonderful, thank you so much for making this! I moved to Germany about 8 months ago from Philadelphia, after marrying a German man, and it’s been the most difficult time in my life! I have never been anywhere outside of the U.S. and only knew a few words when I came here. I miss my family, the food, I miss even ordinary friendly American citizens. And I really love to cook and bake… which is why it has been very difficult being here. I did not know how to get brown sugar for chocolate chip cookies… or where to get cranberry juice (which my father always makes me drink for intestinal tract health)… or where to find sour cream for tacos… or even how to translate “baking soda” (fortunately I found that one out on my own). But you have really really helped and I am so grateful!

  • Kristina

    I wish I had found this three months ago, but I’m so glad I’ve found it now! I called 6 supermarkets today looking for molasses, and 4 of them didn’t even know what molasses IS! And thank you so much for the Cheerios suggestion!
    I’ve found that vanilla extract is available in REWE around Christmas – there’s a small stand with “unusual” baking ingredients, and you can get small bottles of vanilla extract for 2 Euros. The other thing that is alllllmost the same is bourbon vanilla extract – not identical, but I’ve used it in chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies with no problems! Avoid the butter vanilla flavoring at all costs – that stuff is gross!

  • Sarah

    Marrisa… I don’t know where you are located… but some specialty Asian markets carry soft brown suger. How did you find chocolate chips? I am dying to make some toll house…. I have recently seen cranberry juice in the Edeka and Trinkgut… It takes some looking but slowly you will be able to find what you need… I made a true “American Thanksgiving” last week and I have to say it came out pretty darn close to my sister’s in the states…

  • Elizabeth

    Hey… I am not sure if this topic has been addressed before, but flour was a big problem for me when I first moved here… maybe I was stupid to not notice… but there are different numbers on the packages of flour. I tried and tried to make cookies and they never worked out…. FINALLY after an Internet search I found out the difference.
    Here are the American conversions:
    Flour 405 = cake flour
    Flour 550 = all purpose flour
    Flour 1050 = bread flour

    The numbers have everything to do with gluten content and gluten content is the essence of baking… either you want it or you don’t. I have never seen them in the States when I have purchased there… I stick with 550 so that I can bake all the good old cookies, cakes, etc. from home.

  • Ramona

    I’ve recently been using Greek yogurt as a straight substitute for sour cream, whether on a fajita or with onion dip or ranch dressing mix.

  • Kristina

    Has anyone found these Weetabix Looters? I’ve checked Aldi, Lidl, REWE, and Tegut, and I can’t find them. I’m getting desperate for Cheerios. I’ve found all sorts of substitutes for Honey Nut Cheerios, but nothing for straight up Cheerios. Help!

  • Christina G

    @kristina: They have them at our Real, but the smaller stores don’t carry them. They are rare so stock up if you find them. I just looked to see if I could find them online, but didn’t see anything. I know people who’ve found Cheerios on Ebay every once in a while too. Usually a shop in the UK looking to get rid of extra stock. Good luck!
    .-= Christina G´s last blog ..Weekly Winners – January to mid-February =-.

  • exPATations

    if you are looking for a condensed soup for your recipes, cream of mushroom in particular, try unox champignon cremesuppe but be sure to get the can with the red label…it is condensed. the one with the blue label is ready to use, needs no diluting and is not sutiable for recipes calling for cream condensed soups.

  • exPATations

    inexpensive vanillin zucker in packets available in the german stores is made with sugar and an artificial flavoring that resembles vanilla taste. you can get small bottles of vanilla extract but they tend to be expensive, also vanillezucker that is made with real vanilla. anything with real vanilla will have tell-tale tiny black spots of vanilla bean “marrow” so watch for it in your products like ice cream or pudding. christinas own recipe for vanilla flavoring sounds so perfect, i will give that a try soon!

  • exPATations

    i buy flour tortillas at my local turkish specialty store. they can be found near the pita bread section. they have huge packets of various diameters for half of what i have paid in the grocery stores titled as mexican. i freeze them and take them out as i need them or split a pack with my daughter. i have also made my own salsa. i put the hot salsa into jars and sterilize them in my oven at about 80°C for an hour so we have it when we need it. there is also a sauce at lidl called fajita sauce…its in a jar, not regularly available but from time to time. the only thing i dont really like is that they thicken it, probably with some starch but the taste is good and it isnt expensive.

  • exPATations

    i found arm and hammer baking soda in the familiar yellow boxes at my local asian specialty store. the box costed € 1,80.
    also found corn syrup!!! (what a relief for peanut brittle fans) also at the asian store. it is made in south korea. the bottle has 1,2 liters in it and it costs € 1,45.

  • exPATations

    brown sugar, light and dark from an english manufacturer in the same consistancy as we americans know it also at my local asian store! i live near frankfurt.

  • exPATations

    the german word for molasses is melasse. molasses are made from cane sugar and here in germany the common sugar products are made form sugar beets. there is a syrup that christina also mentions called rübensyrup (which translated means beet syrup) for instance from a company named graftschafter that works wonderfully in recipes as a substitute for molasses…or if you mix half white sugar and half rübensyrup you can substitute for brown sugar.
    another thing to watch out for in germany…when you buy white sugar and want to bake: be sure to get fine grained sugar. watch for the word “fein” on the package. there is sugar on the market that has coarse sized grains and it doesnt mix well at all when you bake.

  • exPATations

    i find bagels in the frozen section along with frozen rolls. i dont think they are very popular and lately they seem to be disappearing from the selection.

    i work at a bakery. we have bagels that we order from a large distributor, they also come frozen. there is a company called bäko in germany. you may want to try there for things like chocolate chips and pam and delicious muffins, too…be prepared to have to take bulk quantities though.

  • exPATations

    wheat flour:
    the most common kind of flour found in grocery stores in germany is type 405. now to understand what the number means has to do with the amount of ash found in 100 grams of the flour. we dont need to know that! what is important to know is what gluten is! gluten gives structure and stability to baked goods. the higher the catagory number, the higher the gluten content.

    “typ 405” has the least amount of gluten and is best used for light, airy pastries and cakes and soft baked goods. it has the lowest nutritional value of all flours, containing no germ or bran and is often bleached. the higher the number, the rougher the texture is and the more “whole”, containing more fiber and nutrients.

    “typ 550” is more of an all-purpose flour. at home, this type of flour is fine because it is quite versatile. you may find though, that your bread is too soft or your cake chewy so the results vary from one recipe to the next. in our bakery we use specific kinds of flour according to what is being produced, the all-purpose 550 is not used at all.

    if you are baking bread at home, use flour “typ 812” or “typ1050” with a high gluten content. your bread will rise nicely and stay in form while baking. gluten allows for more elasticity also, so try the higher number “typs” when making pizza dough, for example. the texture is usually more dense and not as airy.

    “typ 1600” is whole wheat flour. it includes the whole bran and germ so has a much darker color than the white 405 flour. it has more nutrients, fiber and fat and therefore more taste, almost nutty. it makes a very heavy dough which doesnt rise as well. you may want to mix a part of white flour in with it to make the product somewhat lighter in texture and it will rise easier.

    buchweizen is buckwheat
    weizenvollkorn is graham, or whole wheat
    dinkel is spelt, a form of wheat found in europe, an archetype, also emmer, einkorn or grünkern are old types of wheat that have once again gained popularity because of their nutritional qualities (contain alot of really heathy minerals) for folks that have a wheat allergy (which is caused by the protein)…dinkel has a different kind of protein molecule that can be used as a substitute for other wheat flour baking.

  • exPATations

    saltines and graham crackers, cream soda and ginger ale all at my asian specialty shop!
    german equivalent to graham crackers? try granola cookies in your grocery market. they have them with chocolate covering too. no comparison to our thin, crispy sugar and cinnamon ones though! i also had digestives, they were sold in marks and spencer, an english retail store that once was in frankfurt. they closed it some years ago. if you ever get to mallorca, they have alot of them there! seems alot of english folks visit mallorca and they have to keep a good stock of them.

  • Sarah

    Has anyone had a problem with baking? I can’t seem to get my baked goods to rise and be as soft as in the US… any thoughts?? I made a trial run on some Easter cupcakes today… The taste was perfect but the texture was all wrong…

  • Elizabeth

    What type of flour are you using? 450 or 550? It makes a huge difference if you do not have enough gluten content!
    450 is what we would call cake flour and 550 is what we would call all purpose flour…. I always use 550 when I am baking here…. unless the recipe specifically calls for cake flour.

  • Sarah

    Aahhaaa! I knew about the difference… think I read about it here… thought I was using the right with 450… I will try another batch with 550 this weekend. 550 is more simmilar to what we use in the US?

  • Elizabeth

    Yup! I used to have really funky cookies… until I discovered the difference… 550 is all purpose flour.

  • exPATations

    @sarah (hi!) when you read american recipes they usually call for double acting baking powder. now, this got me thinking years ago since i found i was up against the same problems you are now. try adding not quite double the required amount and you will find it works!

  • exPATations

    carefull folks…for light and fluffy results in cakes you need the lightest flour and most common sold “405” type flour. in alot of german recipes you will find they also replace a portion of the required amount of flour with some starch (often called gustin, stärkemehl or maizena) reducing the gluten content even more. the more gluten in the flour, the tougher and denser the dough and the harder it will rise and the higher the type number. “405” is definitely the right thing for cakes. “550” (the so-called all purpose flour) can be used in recipes for light breads with banana, zucchini, pumpkin or apple, or muffins and scones and similar.

  • Sarah

    so… Thank you all for the advice! Haven’t baked anything yet but attempting today… will let you all know… In the meantime… here is one for ya… Buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing… I am talking the 99 Restaurant style… (for those from the northeast.) I would even be willing to entertain restaurant suggestions as well… And for those living near the Netherlands I have found on my last two vacations many American items as well as a more diverse international selection. Good Day to All!

  • Sarah

    p.s. I am pregnant again. Can anyone tell?

  • Sarah

    Yes it’s me again… someone wanted to know about Sour Cream… Saure Sahne which should be readily available at most grocers is as close as you can get… also it is a little bit more rich (code for a lot more fat) but you can you creme fresche…

  • Betsy Ross

    Just a hint: in Kreuzberg (Berlin), there is a little British shop called “Broken English.” They have light & dark brown sugar FAR cheaper than the Asian shops. I think they also stock cream of tartar, British baking powder & other items that both Americans & Brits enjoy (Oreos, etc.). They also sell “Digestives” that can be used in place of graham crackers for pie crusts & such. I’ve found their prices to be incredibly reasonable & much much lower than the Asian shops (at least a Euro less for the brown sugars).
    Karstadt has now started stocking vanilla extract, but it’s incredibly expensive. Don’t be fooled by the Vanilla Essence sold in stores… it’s absolutely disgusting & does NOT function nor taste like extract. They also have a good selection of Spice Island seasonings & spices that were formerly unavailable here. Their food selection is better than it used to be as well, with pumpkin pie filling, Campbell’s condensed soups, & loads of our “junk food,” etc.
    Philly is now available everywhere (even Lydl) & they’ve created an onion flavored cream cheese that is yummier than the french onion dip from back home (with all those nasty preservatives & other additives), though quite a lot more expensive (but could be stretched with sauersahne, yogurt or crème fraîche & a little mayo easy enough).
    Thanks for this page. It’s quite useful.

  • Lora

    This is just brilliant. Wish I had this info 10 years ago when I moved here. I learned it the hard way and after years of shlepping things like flour, vanilla, baking powder, etc. back from the USA. But I scored some new info here. Thanks! I bake a LOT, @ ExPATations great flour summary. I do occasionally mix 405 with 550 and have had good results, especially with chocolate chip cookies – the classic back of the chips bag Tollhouse recipe.
    .-= Lora´s last blog ..Lemons & Laughter – Candied Lemon Peel Hearts and LOL April Food Blog Posts =-.

  • Steve

    made-in-America peanut butter can be found at Rewe and Hit now (in Munich as least). It’s called Barney’s best, and the lids, jars, foil-seal, and taste say Jif to me. Be careful, though…the colors are switched. Blue is creamy and red is crunchy.

  • Kate

    How have not stumbled across this post until now?! This is AMAZINGLY helpful! I’ve been plotting with my mother for her to bring a suitcase full of baking goods when she comes for Christmas – this will leave her more room for warm clothes. ; ) Can’t wait to try out the vanilla and brown sugar recipes with my British friend, who is also struggling with ingredients here. The flour breakdown is also really helpful – I’ve been so confused. Thanks Christina!

    And @Steve – Sorry, but there is no substitute for JIF. I find the stuff they import over here to be really lacking in flavor, plus the tiny jars run out in a week (with how much I love PB!). Jars of JIF will forever be on my Christmas lists! ; )
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Happy birthday USA -amp Ich liebe Deutschland =-.

  • Roberta

    When my son was little he would only eat Cheerios. No Honney Loops or Pops or whatever. It had to be the the sugarless and nearly tasteless Cheerios with the Heart shaped bowl in the package so he would know it was really the one.
    I buy them on
    Just for the record, he now eat honey Loops, Müsli and all, but mamma still buys his treats.
    Thanks for charing your precious infos with us, Christina.
    Cheers from Hamburg,

  • Mark

    I am having a horrible time finding canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving this year. However, I just found someone offering it on, so hopefully that come through (I’m cooking for 60 people, so fresh is really a luxury I can’t afford as far as time goes.)

  • Mark

    Just to update. They at least claim to have sent the pumpkin, so if anybody is desperate, “American Soda” is selling Libby’s pumpkin through for 3,44€ a can — but watch out for their shipping fee! (I ordered 10, so cut the sting a bit.)

  • Christina Geyer

    Thanks for the tip, Mark. I haven’t even thought about getting canned pumpkin yet, but probably should have if I want to get some in time to make pie for Thanksgiving.

  • Sascha

    Very nice. Thank you for that good info

  • michael

    instead of buying canned pumpkin, just buy a pumpkin, boil and mash. tastes great!

  • Brittany

    Being such a picky eater I was a little bit worried about being able to eat when I study abroad in Berlin next Spring, now I’m not worried at all! This is one of the most helpful websites I have read so far :-)

  • LLC

    Incredibly helpful.
    Thank you!

  • Sam

    Wish I had found your blog months ago – I’ve been stumbling through the German grocery store on my own and had to figure out some of the above through Google + trial and error.

  • Chris @ Asiatische Lebensmittel

    Hello Christina,

    My-Asia-Shop is a great tip for shopping asian products. Thank you for your the great info and the listed stores and products.


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  • anna

    You can find cornmeal in the baking area of the grocery store (I buy it from Kaufland). It’s called “Maismehl. ” It actually tastes great and makes FANTASTIC cornbread. It isn’t next to the flour but around the baking items. I’ve also seen it at the Rewe and Tegut.

  • Jessica Alyea

    Italian sausage. There’s nothing quite like it in Germany. Here’s a recipe. This makes something similar to Jimmy Dean sausage found in the frozen foods section. I tend to make it in bulk and freeze it.

    3lbs ground pork
    3 tbsp red wine vinegar
    1 tbsp salt
    1 tbsp ground black pepper
    1 1/4 tbsp dried parsley
    1 tbsp garlic powder
    1 tbsp onion powder
    1 tbsp dried basil
    2 tsp paprika
    2 tsp red pepper flakes
    3/4 tsp fennel seed
    1/4 tsp brown sugar
    1/8 tsp dried oregano
    1/8 tsp dried thyme

    Combine all ingredients well. Form into 3 logs and refrigerate or freeze. Keep refrigerated at least 12 hours before use to allow flavors to combine.

    Hope this helps.

  • Marisa

    Jessica, thanks, that’s really awesome of you to share your recipe! Lately I’ve been craving Italian sausage and wondered if it existed here. =)

  • Marcela Rivera Melara

    This is the most awesome piece of cooking advice I have read since I moved to Germany! I appreciate you sharing your experience, I’ve had to fun adventures (and big fails) with German ingredients on American recipes, but have loved this general guide to help me out in future attempts! Hope you still get your messages, would love to hear back from you!

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