Frankfurt Green Sauce: Euphoria about the traditional dish

Frankfurt Green Sauce, arranged on a plate with potatoes and boiled egg
Frankfurt Green Sauce
Anne Sophie Feil Anne Sophie Feil

The dish that Frankfurters are most fussed about is certainly the Frankfurt Green Sauce, which is a green herb sauce, called «Grüne Soße» in German or «Grie Soß» in Frankfurt dialect. It is made from seven fresh herbs and served cold with boiled potatoes and hard-boiled egg, sometimes with beef or fish. Traditionally, the Frankfurt Green Sauce season begins on Maundy Thursday and continues into autumn. As a classic spring dish, it consists of the herbs parsley, chives, chervil, cress, pimpernel, sorrel and borage.

They are cultivated in the Frankfurt area and can be bought fresh in a bunch or as a premade sauce. Depending on the time of the year, the traditional herbs can be replaced by seasonal ones. Usually the herbs are mixed with sour cream, yoghurt and spices such as salt and pepper. Because of the variety of herbs, the sauce not only tastes very refreshing, but is also said to promote health. The vitamin-rich herbs have an antibacterial effect, stimulate metabolism and digestion and have a detoxifying impact. Some of them are also used as herbal medicines.

A bunch of herbs for Frankfurter Grüne Soße
The Frankfurt Green Sauce consists of seven local and seasonal herbs.

A festival to honor the sauce

The Frankfurters’ euphoria for Green Sauce even goes so far that they hold their own annual festival for this traditional dish. To live music and evening shows, various stands offer drinks and variations of Green Sauce – often with an international reference. In addition, 49 gastronomes traditionally compete for the best recipe.

A group of visitors at the Frankfurt Green Sauce Festival, sitting on a table and eating Green Sauce
Evening event of the Frankfurt Green Sauce Festival, 19th of May 2018. (c) Sabine Imhof

On Green Sauce Day, which the Frankfurters usually celebrate in June, the German financial metropolis tries to break the world record of 231,775 Frankfurt Green Sauce portions consumed. In a very unconventional way, they even use sweet varieties such as Kreppel (sweet yeast dough that is usually filled with jam and then fried) or specially created ice cream flavours.

Goethe’s favorite dish

Legend has it that Frankfurt Green Sauce was the favourite dish of the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who lived in Frankfurt in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the saying goes, Goethe’s mother invented the recipe. Doris Hopp, head of the library of the Goethe Museum in Frankfurt, however, considers this theory unlikely. At the time, the dish was not yet known in Frankfurt. She also suspects that, as a lover of good food, Goethe would probably have written about the dish, if he knew about it.

Painting of the German poem Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Allegedly, the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a lover of the Frankfurt Green Sauce.

According to other theories, French Protestants who had fled to Frankfurt from the mid-16th century onwards, or Italian merchants from Lombardy who immigrated at the end of the 17th century, brought the recipe to Frankfurt. It is proven that the oldest known recipe was published in a cookbook by Wilhelmine Rührig in 1860.

How to prepare the Frankfurt Green Sauce

Ingredients for 3 portions:

  • 1 bunch / 200 g Green Sauce herbs (parsley, chives, chervil, cress, pimpernel, sorrel and borage)
  • 100 g sour cream (10% fat)
  • 500 g natural yoghurt (2.8% fat)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • pepper, salt
  • 6 eggs, hard-boiled
  1. Wash the herbs, remove the stems and finely chop or mix the leaves.
  2. Mix with sour cream, yoghurt, mustard, pepper and salt.
  3. Halve the eggs and add them to the green sauce.
  4. Serve the sauce with boiled potatoes as a vegetarian version, or combine it with beef or fish.

It is common to enjoy Frankfurt Green Sauce with a glass of apple wine (in Frankfurt dialect: “Ebbelwei”), which is a tart version of the internationally known cider. As a typical drink for the region of Hessen around Frankfurt, apple wine is also celebrated by its own festival, the Frankfurt Apple Wine Festival.