32 German Christmas Market Foods & Drinks

Imagine yourself bundled up against the crisp winter air, twinkling lights from the towering Christmas pyramid casting a warm glow on the town square of a small German town. The aroma of roasting almonds and spiced mulled wine fills your nose as you wander through a winter wonderland of festive stalls.

This is the magic of a German Christmas market. But the experience goes far beyond the charming decorations and handcrafted gifts. The true taste of Christmas cheer comes from the delicious treats that are a cornerstone of these lively markets.

From savory sausages sizzling on open grills to sweet treats, the food and drink are an essential part of the German Christmas market experience. Last winter, my friend and I spent two weeks eating our way through a German Christmas Markets road trip.

From iconic classics, regional specialties, and heartwarming treats, allow me to guide you to the best German Christmas Market foods that will make your visit the bucket list trip of your dreams.

German Christmas Market Foods

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and discover the delicious side of German Christmas Market magic! Just remember to bring cash as many stands in the German Christmas Markets do not take credit cards (small bills and some change helps!) Luckily, the foods at most markets are quite affordable and you can easily fill up for €10-20 a person, including a drink.

Kartoffelpuffer

These are also known as reibekuchen or German potato pancakes. Made from minced or ground potato and fried, they are typically served three to an order (for about six euros) and served with either a sweet applesauce or a garlic sauce. They are very much like latkes and you may see some stands that sell a version using grated potatoes and onion that are very similar to the latkes I make for Hanukkah at home.

Personally, I preferred the garlic sauce as the applesauce is ultra-sweet. They are also quite filling (I could only eat one) so try to share an order with someone else if you can.

Apfel-Beignets or Apfelkucheri

apple fritters in dagobertshausen christmas market

These are basically baked apples that are fried and typically topped with cinnamon sugar (zit and zucker). The ones I tried had a bit of a puffy batter, but I’ve seen some that are a little crispier. The apple itself is soft, as is typical with a baked apple. They can also be served with vanilla ice cream. An order goes for about 6.50 €.

Raclette

raclette with potatoes and vegetables

Raclette is typically associated with Switzerland but you will also find it at German Christmas Markets — just follow your nose for the smell of that yummy melted cheese. Large cheese wheels are slowly melted over fire and then the soft, bubbly part is scraped off with a large knife onto fresh bread. It can be served with boiled potatoes or even vegetables and topped with paprika. However, I love it plain just cheesy goodness spread on bread. The full spread goes for about 12 € and is enough for a full meal.

Spätzle and Käsespätzle

kasespatzle in Rüdesheim

These soft egg noodles that you see at the German Christmas Markets are a bit longer than the spätzle I’ve encountered in Vienna and elsewhere, the käsespätzle is really delicious. The noodles are handmade and quickly boiled, then tossed in melted cheese and sautéed until it melts. The dish is then typically topped with crispy fried onions, but you can also find a variety of other toppings. In Ravenna Gorge, I had a version topped with fried onions, chives, and cranberry sauce.

Champignonpfanne

mushroom stand in Frankfurt

If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, don’t worry, many German Christmas Markets have a stall offering champignonpfanne, or a mushroom skillet. These are typically white button mushrooms that are sautéed in butter or oil with onions, garlic, and herbs and topped with a garlic sauce. The best version I saw was at the Dagobertshäuser Christmas market near Frankfurt. For vegetarians, some of the larger cities have a vegetarian area in the market, such as in Stuttgart.

Bratwurst

I know I promised options beyond bratwurst, but these grilled sausages are a staple food at German Christmas markets. They come in regional varieties, but most are made from pork or a combination of pork and veal and served on a crusty roll with mustard (or ketchup if you prefer, there are usually a selection of condiments that you can serve yourself.) Generally you want to look for bratwurst that are cooked on a round grill over a bed of coals or a wood fire.

Bratwurst stands will typically offer a variety of different brats including: rostbratwurst, which has a coarser ground-pork filling; Nürnberger rostbratwurst, which are smaller and served multiple on a roll; red bratwurst, which gets its color from paprika; and feuerwurst, which is spicier and has a bit of a kick. My favorite though is käsewurst, which has cheese inside throughout and it is delicious!!

Currywurst

Currywurst is most popular in Berlin, but you will find it at many bratwurst stands in Christmas Markets across Germany. This is a bratwurst sausage that is grilled and then cut into bite-sized pieces and served with a ketchup-curry sauce and a sprinkle of curry powder. This sauce often includes ingredients like curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and various spices to create a sweet and savory flavor profile with a hint of warmth from the curry. It is typically paired with french fries and served with a toothpick for easy eating. I’m not a curry fan so I never ended up trying this dish.

Langos

Langos with cheese

This is a Hungarian dish that has become popular at German Christmas markets. It’s made of deep-fried dough that is the size of a plate and is topped with sweet or savory ingredients like sour cream and cheese, or cinnamon and sugar. Another popular topping is garlic and I’d warn you that if you go in that direction, it is a LOT of garlic.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen in Strasbourg

Flammkuchen, or Tarte Flambée, is a specialty of Alsace, so you will find it often at the markets that are closer to the French border in western Germany (although I actually tried this one in Strasbourg). It is a thin, crispy flatbread (like a thin-crust pizza) and it is typically topped with creme fraiche or sour cream, onions, and sometimes bacon or other toppings.

Flammlachs

Flammlach stand in Frankfurt Christmas Market

Flammlachs is a Finnish specialty of salmon grilled vertically on a wood plank in front of an open fire. This method cooks the salmon by a combination of grilling and smoking, imparting a unique flavor. Once cooked, the salmon is either sliced directly on the wood plank and served with a dill sauce, or served in a crusty roll for a delicious fish sandwich.

Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cakes)

chimney cake in Stuttgart

You will often find street foods from other countries at German Christmas Markets, including Kürtőskalács, or Baumstriezel as they are sometimes called in Germany. These chimney cakes are made of dough that is wrapped around a thick metal rod and then baked to a golden brown so that the outside is crispy but the insides is soft and fluffy. The outside is then coated with sugar or cinnamon sugar. Many vendors offer additional toppings like nuts, chocolate, or sprinkles, or filled with ice cream or other cream.

Dampfnudeln

Dampfnudeln stand

Dampfnudeln are German steamed dumplings made from a basic yeast dough to create a fluffy base. These can be enjoyed as both a sweet and savory dish, but in Christmas markets, the sweet version is more common. For the sweet version, sugar or raisins might be added to the dough and they are often drizzled with a sweet sauce like vanilla sauce, fruit compote, or simply dusted with powdered sugar. You are likely to find these in southern Germany.

You will also see Semmelknödel, which are German bread dumplings. These are savory dumplings made from stale bread rolls, milk, eggs, and spices and are typically served with gravy, roasted meats, or stews.

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen hearts

Lebkuchen is a quintessential German Christmas treat, and a visit to a Christmas market wouldn’t be complete without encountering these delicious cookies. Lebkuchen is often compared to gingerbread, but it is a spiced cookie traditionally flavored with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and sometimes anise. Some varieties are soft and chewy, while others are crisp and firm. You will see lebkuchen stands at each Christmas Market, with cookies in various whimsical shapes (especially hearts) that are decorated with icing toppings. Try to look for stands that offer handmade cookies and not just the shrink-wrapped, pre-packaged versions.

Mandeln

The aroma of roasted almonds is a signature scent of German Christmas markets, as the closer you get to a Mandeln stand the more it feels like there is spun sugar in the air. Roasted almonds, known as Mandeln (pronounced “mahn-deln”), are coated in a hot sugar syrup and then often dusted with a variety of flavors including cinnamon, ginger, chili, candied fruit flavors, or chocolate. These are presented in paper cones, making them easy to snack on as you walk around, and are typically sold by weight, such as 100 grams. I don’t even typically like almonds, but the cinnamon sugar version was irresistible.

Schokofrüchte

chocolate fruit stand

Many times, the mandeln or lebkuchen stands also offer Schokofrüchte, which is chocolate-covered fruit on a stick. You will find a wide variety of fruits including strawberries, cherries, orange slices, dried apricots, and pineapple that are dipped in milk, dark, or white chocolate. Similarly, you will see chocolate covered marshmallows.

Schaumküsse

Tamara holding schaumkusse in Kassel

Schaumküsse (pronounced “SHOUM-koos-seh”), which translates to “foam kiss” in German, are a light and airy marshmallow treat that combines the elements of s’mores in one treat. A thin wafer or biscuit forms the base, and the heart of the Schaumküsse is a light and fluffy marshmallow layer, and this is topped with chocolate. These are also made in various flavors including a lebkuchen-flavored marshmallow center. Since they are large, each Schaumküsse is fairly large and they are sold individually or in boxes of 10-20.

Potato Tornadoes

Tamara and Amanda holding a potato tornado

This may be the most American of all the German Christmas Market foods, since you will often find these spiral potatoes sold at fairs and festivals in the United States. So while you can get them anywhere, the crispy, salty potato twisters are a nice hot treat to tantalize your taste buds. Some stands will also top them with paprika or other spices, as well as cheese or other toppings, but personally I think that would make it much harder to eat without making a total mess.

Country Potatoes

country potatoes with sauce in Ludwigsburg

In Esslingen near Stuttgart, I had the most delicious country potatoes, which were crispy-fried potato wedges served with a spicy sauce. The dish reminded me a lot of the patatas bravas you find in tapas bars in Spain.

Stollen

Stollen is a fruit and nut cake made with yeast, candied fruit, nuts, and spices. Dresden is famous for its Stollen, which is called Dresdner Christstollen, but you can find this bread/cake throughout Germany, but each is slightly different. Actually I met someone from Dresden who thinks that version is a little dry.

Stockbrot

Amanda with a stockbrot in Ludwigsburg

Stockbrot, which translates to “stick bread” in German, is something I only saw at the Ludwigsburg market near Stuttgart. (Ludwigsburg was actually one of my favorite markets for local foods and gifts.) The dough is wrapped around a long stick or skewer and baked in an oven or open fire. Some have chocolate woven through the dough or you can go with a savory version with cheese and bacon. These are really long (think sword-length) so plan to share it if you can.

Spritzkuchen

Spritzkuchen  in heidelberg

When I was in Heidelberg, I had the most delicious spritzkuchen, which is like a larger, slightly denser cruller donut. It actually reminded me of a cross between a French cruller and a cronut. It is airy and sweet, with a light glaze. If you see one, be sure to try it!

Poffertjes

poffertjes in trier

Poffertjes is another example of a food from another country that has made its way into the German Christmas Markets. These small, fluffy Dutch pancakes are something I saw all over Amsterdam but I tried them at the Trier market in Germany. Poffertjes are cooked on special cast-iron pans with multiple indentations to cook a dozen or more at once. They are flipped with small tongs until cooked to a light golden brown. They are then served by the half dozen and can be topped with powdered sugar, chocolate, Nutella, or fruit.

Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn in Freiburg

Kaiserschmarrn (pronounced “KYE-zer-shmarn”) is an Austrian dessert that translates literally to “Emperor’s Mess.” It’s a light and fluffy shredded pancake that is shredded or torn into pieces, lightly browned, and then topped with sweet toppings like applesauce, plum compote (Zwetschgenröster), fruit jams, vanilla sauce, or a dusting of powdered sugar. We tried this in Freiburg, and it is often found in Bavaria.

Crepes and Waffel

Most German Christmas Markets will also have a stand serving either crepes or waffles (or both). These are typically served with cinnamon and sugar (zit and zucker), applesauce, Nutella, chocolate sprinkles (schokostreuseln), powdered sugar (puderzucker), and sour cherries and typically go for about €4.50-7.50.

LokmaLokma

Lokma in Frankfurt

Lokma is a fried sweet dough treat commonly found in many Middle Eastern countries, including Turkey, Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus. I only saw these in Frankfurt, but they are worth mentioning because they are delicious. These delicious bite-sized morsels are made from leavened dough that’s fried until golden brown for a fluffy, sweet dough. After frying, Lokma are typically soaked in a simple syrup flavored with sugar, honey, or rosewater and then topped with sweet toppings such as cinnamon, chopped nuts, chocolate, fruit, or even sesame seeds.

Brezels

Brezels, or as we know them pretzels, are found throughout Germany, including at the Christmas Markets. They are generally soft and chewy and can be topped with sweet or savory options such as cheese, cheese and ham, or even chocolate covered.

Bonus: If you happen to pop over to the Alsace region of France to visit the French Christmas Markets the way that we did, you will also find some other regional specialties including freshly shucked oysters, foie gras, Bouche a la Reine (a chicken and veal in pastry with spaetzle and a white wine and cheese sauce), chestnut soup, doughnut-like pretzels, vegetable soup, and onion soup, along with plenty of Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambée.

What to Drink at a German Christmas Market

Each Christmas market has a different mug design that is used to serve Glühwein and other hot drinks. Often, the design changes each year, making them a great souvenir to remember your favorite markets.

When you order a drink, you will typically need to pay a deposit (such as 4 euros) and you can either return the mug and get your deposit back or keep it as a souvenir. The mugs aren’t large, but they come in different shapes and styles so it is fun to find your favorite!

Glühwein

Glühwein in Rüdesheim

Glühwein is the quintessential Christmas market drink. It is typically red wine which is mulled with spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger or anise, citrus fruits, and sugar for a sweet, warm and comforting beverage. You’ll find glühwein at nearly every Christmas market in Germany.

I find the red glühwein a bit strong, but it definitely warms your belly! Personally I prefer the white wine version and if you find rosè glühwein, be sure to order one — that is my absolute favorite! No Christmas Market experience is complete without a mug of glühwein. After all, Germans believe it isn’t Christmastime until you have stood outside in the freezing cold and had a warm mug of glühwein.

Apfelwein

apple wine or white gluhwein on wood table

Apfelwein is made from sour apples and is similar to a hard cider. It is a popular drink around the Frankfurt area and in the summer is served in an earthenware jug. However, in the winter at the Christmas Markets it is served warm and tastes delicious! It is light in alcohol and warming to the tummy, without the over sweetness of glühwein, although I do prefer white glühwein over that made with red wine.

Kinderpunsch

If you are looking for an alcohol-free drink, try a Kinderpunsch. This is a hot, sweet drink intended for children that is similar to Glühwein but without the alcohol. It’s usually made with fruit juices, spices, and sometimes a bit of honey. Since we were on a road trip, I tried a delicious version in Obernai when we were in the Alsace region in France.

Hot Chocolate

Frankfurt mug with hot chocolate

Most of the markets will also have a stall that offers a variety of coffees and hot chocolate. Oftentimes, these are at one of the main bars and you can get your hot chocolate with a shot of whisky, rum, Bailey’s, or other alcohol of your choice and topped with schlag (whipped cream) if you desire.

Eierpunsch

Eierpunsch in clear mug

Eierpunsch is similar to egg nog, but made with wine instead of milk. This creamy alcoholic beverage made with egg yolks, white wine, sugar, spices, and egg liquor (Eierlikor). I found it less thick than egg nog (which I don’t love) and while I liked it well enough, it isn’t something I would order often.

Feuerzangenbowle

fire punch in Ravenna gorge

If you are looking for an Instagrammable drink, order a feuerzangenbowle, or a flaming rum punch. (Just make sure to order it at night and take a photo when the flames are the highest to capture the drama!) It is a take on Glühwein, but a rum-soaked sugar cube is set on fire and set on top of the mulled wine below. I get a negative reaction to rum so I had to skip this one, but my friend Amanda found it a lot of fun.

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The best German Christmas Market foods and drinks on your holiday trip to Germany.

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