Are you wondering what to eat at German Christmas markets?
One of the best things about visiting Christmas markets is trying the food. For Germans, it’s common to meet up with friends or co-workers in the evening and go out for a cup of mulled wine and some snacks.
Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you that you can find lots of food stalls at most Christmas markets. The dishes sold here are different to what we would eat for a traditional German Christmas dinner, but they still play an essential role in our food culture.
To help you navigate Christmas markets and find out what to try and what to skip, we have put together this article. Keep reading to learn more about German Christmas food, including a few local delicacies that you can only get in some parts of the country.
Table of Contents
Traditional German Christmas Market Food
Meat & Fish
Did you know that the most traditional German Christmas Eve food is boiled sausage (usually Frankfurter or Wiener sausages) with potato salad?
While here in Germany, the 24th of December is the most important day of Christmas, it’s also the one with the simplest food. It’s a hectic day, with lots of last-minute preparations, so most families appreciate that they don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
You usually won’t see potato salad with boiled sausages at a German Christmas market, but you’ll find a variety of grilled sausages.
We call them Bratwurst, and they’re a classic food at German Christmas markets. You might find stalls with a large round grill in the middle, and they usually offer multiple types of sausages. The classic Bratwurst, maybe a Bratwurst filled with cheese or even an extra-long Bratwurst.
Don’t be surprised if you see one that’s one metre long!At the
The most traditional way of ordering a sausage is together with a bread roll – Bratwurst mit Brötchen. It’s a bit like a hot dog, except the bread is different. Ask if you want ketchup or mustard.
Currywurst is not a traditional German food for Christmas, but it’s something you can find at almost every Christmas market.
Currywurst is a grilled sausage cut into slices and served with curry sauce. It originated in Berlin, where a woman named Herta Heuwer invented it in 1949.
Don’t expect any intricate dish, as the sauce is often just ketchup mixed with curry powder. You can sometimes specify how spicy you want it to be, but it rarely gets mouth-burning spicy.
We often eat currywurst with french fries in Germany, but it’s also great with a bread roll on the side.
The best way of preparing salmon is by roasting it next to an open fire. And that’s exactly what Flammlachs is.
Flammlachs originally comes from Finland, but it has become a popular German Christmas market food. The salmon is strapped on a wooden board next to a fire.
This special way of preparing fish makes it extra juicy and, at the same time, gives it lots of aroma from the smoke. The salmon doesn’t need any special seasoning on top of that. Salt and pepper are usually sufficient.
At most Christmas markets, you can buy side dishes with your Flammlachs, like potatoes, salads or bread rolls (yes, we love bread rolls here in Germany). You might also have a choice of sauce, and if you do, we can highly recommend the honey mustard sauce.
The last food in this category doesn’t necessarily include meat, and if you’re vegetarian, you’ll also easily find a meat-free version.
Flammkuchen is a French-German version of pizza that originated in the Alsace region of France and multiple nearby regions in southwestern Germany. It doesn’t come with tomato sauce and cheese, like a traditional pizza.
Instead, it’s covered with crème fraîche (similar to sour cream), thinly sliced onions and small bacon cubes. You can also find many variations, and as we already mentioned, it’s not unusual to eat vegetarian versions. I particularly enjoy goat cheese as a topping, but we’ve also seen it with rocket and even sweet variations with apples and cinnamon.
Flammkuchen is not a traditional German Christmas food, and we eat it all year long. It’s still very popular at Christmas markets as it’s easy to eat while standing. You’ll likely find a few stalls selling it.
Vegetarian German Christmas food
This German Xmas market food goes by many different names. Kartoffelpuffer, Reibekuchen, and Kartoffelpfannkuchen are just some of the ones you might find.
All of these names refer to potato pancakes. Raw potatoes and onions are grated and mixed with eggs, flour and salt to create a dough. To make potato pancakes, you need to use this dough, just like you would with regular batter.
It’s a straightforward recipe, which you can also try yourself.
Potato pancakes can be a bit plain, which is why most people eat them with apple sauce. Sounds weird? It’s actually one of the most delicious combinations out there! As an alternative, you can also buy it with sour cream, cole slaw or other types of salad.
Langos is not one of the traditional German Christmas foods. In fact, it’s not even a German food at all. Instead, it’s a Hungarian dish that has become very popular at German Christmas markets.
Langos is a deep-fried flatbread which comes with a variety of toppings. The dough is simple and consists of flour, yeast, water and salt. During the frying, it puffs up to make a fluffy snack.
Usually, you can get langos with hearty toppings like sour cream, cheese, potatoes, tomatoes etc. But if you have a sweet tooth, you might also find sweet variations with chocolate, sugar or fruit.
Mushrooms are another one of those German Christmas dishes that we eat at the Christmas market but that people wouldn’t make for a Christmas dinner in their homes.
You usually see it sold as “Pilzpfanne” in Germany, and it’s a dish of fried mushrooms with a sauce of your choice. The garlic sauce is the most popular, as it goes very well with the mushrooms. But depending on the vendors, you might also get herb sauce or other condiments.
The German Christmas market mushrooms are so popular that if you google fried mushrooms recipes in German, you’ll often find remarks that they taste “just like at the Christmas market”. So go and try them if you have the chance.
#8 Schafskäse im Fladenbrot
This one is a mouthful, and we apologise for the long name. Let’s break it down for you. Schafskäse is sheep cheese, and Fladenbrot means flatbread.
This dish is fried sheep cheese on a flat bread. It usually comes with some sort of salad or coleslaw, a few tomatoes and maybe a dressing. You can often vary ingredients and ask for other fillings, depending on what you like.
Kartoffellanzen are one of the funniest German Christmas market foods. They’re spiral chips on a skewer, usually made from a single potato.
I’m always impressed by how they manage to cut a potato into a giant spiral strip without breaking it.
It’s crunchy and the perfect German Christmas snack to grab from one of the many food stalls.
While raclette is a Swiss dish, we still decided to include it in our list of German Christmas market foods. You can find raclette stalls at many Christmas markets, and some regions even put a local spin on this dish.
In Frankfurt, for example, you can try raclette made from Handkäse, a regional cheese that’s very typical for the city.
Raclette is made by heating cheese, scraping off the melted part and serving it with other foods. In Switzerland, you’ll often get it together with potatoes, but at a German Christmas market, you’re more likely to eat it on top of a slice of bread.
That way, it’s easier to carry around and enjoy while standing.
On top of the cheese, you can often get toppings like bacon cubes or spring onions. Sometimes, you can also choose the type of cheese you prefer, especially if, as we already mentioned, there’s a regional cheese to try.
Roasted chestnuts are a classic in many parts of Europe, and Daniel often talks about the chestnut harvesting season back in Spain.
At a German Christmas market, you’ll often find chestnut vendors as well. They sit next to a small oven or in front of a large pan where they roast the chestnuts.
Look for Maronen, Maroni or Esskastanien, all of which are different words for chestnuts.
German Christmas market sweets
Stollen is one of the most traditional German desserts for Christmas.
It’s a sweet bread with spices, nuts and dried or candied fruit, usually topped with a lot of powdered sugar. There are variations with and without marzipan, and people can get very passionate about which one they like best.In Dresden, stollen is traditionally prepared with butter. This dates back to the 1400s when December was a month of fasting, and people weren’t allowed to use butter. The Prince Elector sent multiple letters to the Pope asking for permission to include butter in the stollen, which, back then, was a much simpler bread. His request was finally granted in 1490.
At a German Christmas market, gingerbread is one of the most common cookies you can buy.
We have a lot of local variations of gingerbread in Germany, ranging from hard gingerbread (often shaped like hearts and decorated with writing) to soft varieties and those infused with different spice mixes. Some are coated with chocolate and almonds, while others come with a sugar glaze.
Some are soft and filled with jam, although you usually won’t see them at a Christmas market and have to head to a supermarket to buy them. Others are flat and round, with a thin waver underneath. We call those Oblatenlebkuchen.
If you want to learn more, make sure also to check out our post about German Christmas cookies!
One of my favourite German Christmas market treats are Mutzen. They’re little deep-fried pastries made from flour, eggs and sugar and served with powdered sugar.
Originally, they come from the Rhine area, but you can now find them in most parts of Germany. As a child, I knew them as a traditional treat for Carnival. Over the years, they established themselves as one of those great German Christmas sweets which I look for every December.
#15 Gebrannte Mandeln
Have you seen those German Christmas market almonds? We call them Gebrannte Mandeln, and they’re candied almonds. If you walk past one of the stalls selling them, you’ll smell them from a few meters away.
Candied almonds are popular in multiple regions across Europe. Daniel knew them from his childhood in Spain, but they’re also popular in Central Europe and Scandinavia.
Have you ever seen one of those unnaturally red apples at a Christmas market?
We call that a Paradiesapfel or Liebesapfel (apple of paradise or apple of love). It’s an apple coated in a lot of sugar.
Germans like sour apples, so the sourness contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the coating. Their deliciously red colour comes from food colouring.
It’s a very classic German Christmas candy, but you can also sometimes find those apples at other fairs throughout the year.
#17 Fruit skewers
In the same place where you can buy the Paradiesapfel, you can often get more German Christmas market sweets.
One of them is fruit skewers coated in chocolate. Think of chocolate fondue, except the chocolate has already been cooled down again. You can choose between a variety of fruit and multiple types of chocolate, so no matter if you prefer white, milk or dark chocolate, you will find a skewer that you like.
Over the past years, one more German Christmas market dessert has popped up in many cities.
Baumstriezel originated in Romania, where it was made by Saxons who had settled in Transylvania. We saw it a lot when we travelled through Romania, but it has also become very popular in Germany.
It’s a type of spit cake, a cake made by wrapping dough around a skewer. That skewer is then slowly turned over a fire (or, these days, in a special oven) until the cake is baked.
For Baumstriezel, people wrap the dough in a spiral around the spit. That way, when you eat it, you can tear off pieces from one end and slowly unravel the cake.
The classic Baumstriezel comes with a sugar coating and maybe cinnamon, but it’s also delicious when covered in nuts.
German Christmas Market Drinks
Glühwein, mulled wine, is the most famous German Christmas drink.
You can find it at every Christmas market, and in December, it’s common for Germans to meet up with friends and co-workers for a mug of hot mulled wine.
Making Glühwein is relatively simple. It usually consists of red wine infused with various spices like cinnamon, star aniseed, cloves and oranges. Add sugar to the mixture, and you’ve got mulled wine.
Often, you can find variations of the traditional Glühwein. You might see the drink based on white wine, and if you travel to the wine regions of Germany, you can also find some mixtures that use high-quality wine as a basis.
When ordering a cup of Glühwein, you have the chance to get German Christmas market mugs. Those mugs are always specific to the Christmas market, and the design changes every year. You pay a few Euros extra when ordering the mulled wine, which we call “Pfand”. That money is returned to you when you bring back the mug – or you leave it and keep it as a souvenir.“Pfand” is not the only thing to consider at Christmas markets. Read now about the most
Kinderpunsch is the non-alcoholic version of Glühwein.
It’s infused with spices, just like mulled wine, but it’s based on juice, tea or a mixture of both. Hibiscus tea or fruit teas are popular as a base, often mixed with apple or cherry juice – and lots of sugar.
Kinderpunsch is sweet and sticky and one of my favourite things to drink when I don’t feel like having Glühwein. And while it translates to “children’s punch”, it’s definitely not just for kids but popular with adults as well.
If you’re looking for a more spectacular famous Christmas drink, you should try to find Feuerzangenbowle.
This drink is similar to mulled wine, consisting of heated red wine infused with spices and sometimes also mixed with juice. On top of the cup, you then balance a metal grid and place a sugar cube infused with rum. The rum needs to have a high percentage of alcohol so that when it’s burned, the sugar caramelises and slowly drips into the drink.
Even if this sounds strange to you, you should try Feuerzangenbowle at least once while visiting a German Christmas market. It’s a fascinating sight and one that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Eierpunsch is the German version of eggnog, served steaming hot at the Christmas market.
It is made from egg yolk, white wine, sugar and vanilla. Some vendors serve it with whipped cream, which makes it even sweeter and more fun to drink.
Instead of egg yolk, people sometimes use egg yolk liquor, which is an alcoholic drink produced from egg yolks, alcohol and sugar. It makes the drink stronger. If it’s still not strong enough, ask to get it “mit Schuss”. That way, you’ll get an extra serving of liquor (often rum) into your Eierpunsch.
#23 Hot Apfelwein
We’re going to finish this post with a very regional drink that you can mostly find at the Frankfurt Christmas market and in the surrounding cities.
Apfelwein is a wine made from apples. It’s similar to cider, but the apples used for its production are less sweet, giving the drink a tart flavour. In addition, unlike cider, it is completely flat. All gas that comes up during the production can escape the Apfelwein, just like when making wine from grapes.
Before moving to Frankfurt, I had never heard of Apfelwein, as it’s a regional drink. In summer, people enjoy it cold, but in winter, locals heat it up and infuse it with spices.
Hot Apfelwein is almost like mulled wine, except it’s made from Apfelwein.
If you’re visiting a Christmas market in Frankfurt or any other nearby towns, make sure to get a glass or two.
We hope you now have a good overview of German Christmas market traditions and which foods you need to try the next time you visit one.
When travelling, we love trying new foods, and we strongly recommend you do the same. Walk across the Christmas market, try the different dishes, snacks and drinks and find out which ones you like best. Then, leave us a comment to tell us about your favourites!
While you’re here, make sure also to check out our other resources about Christmas markets which you’ll find useful for planning your trip:
- Everything you need to know about German Christmas markets
- Discover the Frankfurt Christmas market
- These are the best Christmas markets in Europe
- Our favourite German Christmas cookies
Until your next adventure!
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