If you are heading to Germany this year for the holiday season Christmas markets, this post is for you as we share all the most popular German Christmas market food you will want to try on your trip. The assortment of amazing and delectable Germany Christmas market foods are reason enough to book your flight over!
After sampling our way through more than 10 Christmas markets in Southwest Germany, we are here to share our favorite finds and what you should keep your eyes peeled for. The fun for us was exploring the markets through the abundance of traditional German Christmas market foods on offer at the various markets on our itinerary. We were so blown away by everything that was available.
Make sure to read our Guide on Visiting German Christmas Markets before you set off!
The Best German Christmas Market Food You Should Try
There is nothing quite like visiting your first Christmas market and getting a waft of all the amazing food on offer. The most common German Christmas market food includes bratwurst, pommes frites, käsespätzle, kartoffel puffer along with glühwein (hot mulled red wine) of course. That said, each market tends to have its own specialty on offer that it is worth seeking out. It isn’t always clear what that specialty is, but you can always ask around what the best food at the market is according to the locals who work and visit the market themselves.
Savory German Christmas Market Foods
Honestly you must arrive to the Christmas markets hungry as the food on offer is more than half of the experience! I’ve never had food dictate my travels, but I will say that all I wanted to do at every market we visited was try ALL the foods on offer. And there is quite a lot, which can be somewhat overwhelming at times. Below are some of the foods you can expect to find at the various markets located throughout the country. I will note if some items can only be found in specific regions of Germany.
Würst (German Sausage)
The German word for sausage is wurst – which is a misnomer because it is certainly not the worst! One of the most common staples that you will find at EVERY market in Germany is a version of wurst – bratwurst, rotewurst, käsewurst and on and on. There are up to 40 different types of sausages to try while visiting the markets. In most cases, the sausage is served on a bun where you can add mustard and onions if you wish. Some markets will offer Currywurst which is a speciality of Berlin with the sausage cut into pieces with a curry sauce on top. It’s up to you to decide which sausage to try and what is the best way to eat it!
In most markets this was our staple food that formed the basis of our meal. Once we had tried our sausage for that market, we would then begin moving around to try all the other sides.
Get your inner kid ready to eat the German equivalent to mac and cheese, but so much better! Along with our sausage, this was another staple item we sought out at each market we visited. Not all markets have käsespätzle, so when you see it, get it.
These cheesy noodles are topped with a variety of cheese and if you are lucky fried onion pieces too (don’t skip these). It really is one of my favorite German Christmas market foods (or anytime food)! This tends to be the most pricey item on this list at around 5-7 Euro for a plate, but ever since the first time I tried it, I have had to keep eating it!
A family favorite at every market are Pommes Frites – basically french fries! These are no McDonald’s fries, these thick cut potatoes are seasoned and fried up fresh when you order. In Europe don’t be surprised if you are offered mayo with your fries instead of ketchup – it’s just the done thing here. If you are lucky they might offer a sweet curry ketchup.
Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)
One of my favorite German Christmas market foods to sample at the markets is German potato pancakes or said as kartoffelpuffer in German. As much as I loved this traditional dish, it is a very heavy as it is deep fried, so try it early on and share it with others! They can be topped with apple sauce or garlic sauce. I did not see this at every market we visited, so when you see it, try it as it may not be at the next place you visit.
Stockbrot (Rolled Hand Bread)
Rolled twisty bread on a stick is made for kids! At Ludwigsburg market, the only location we ever saw this food, you could get this delicious specialty with either cheese and bacon rolled inside or meat. We never saw it again, so if you see it, get it. It is great.
Raclette on Bread
There might be a time when you are walking by a stall and the sweet smell disappears and you think what is that smell.. it’s melted raclette! While it may smell a but pungent compared to candy nuts, it is really delicious. Melted raclette is slathered on a baguette with other option toppings. It’s a tasty snack or even meal!
In our quest to try everything we saw, at the Ludwigsburg market we saw a new dish to us – Lángos. This is actually a Hungarian dish. Essentially it is a puffy dough rolled out like a thick pizza and then deep fried and topped with your choice of cheese or meats. Even though it was deep fried, it wasn’t as heavy as I expected and was really quite tasty!
Maroni (Hot Chestnuts)
One of the things you will see at most markets are hot chestnuts. These stalls tend to be out in the open in the center square and they serve piping hot chestnuts. They will warm you up on the inside and out.
Flammkuchen (German Pizza)
One of our favorite dishes we tried at most markets was Flammkuchen, which is essentially German pizza. This flatbread pizza has a super thin crust and is often topped with a crème fraîche, cheese, onions and bacon. At Esslingen’s Medieval market this pizza was served with an assortment of vegetables that was quite nice and different than in other areas. In Gengenbach we had the most delicious flammkuchen that was a cream sauce with thinly sliced fruit with cinnamon on top. It was YUM!
Sausage is typically the main meat dish you will see at most markets, but in Southern Germany in the spa town of Baden-Baden, there were several huts offering fresh fish cooking on wooden planks on an open flame. They had salmon and different types of fish as well. The lines were long, so we didn’t get to try it, but it looked and smelled delicious!
Sweet German Christmas Market Food You Must Sample
One of the first scents you will smell as you enter a Christmas market is sure to be the many delicious treats on offer. Some markets offer macarons (Baden-Baden), massive cinnamon buns (the medieval market at Esslingen), while others offer little cream filled donut holes as their speciality. Regardless, below are the fan favorites that you will find at almost all markets, and are well worth a sample!
The best thing at the Christmas markets has to be candied nuts. Their fragrant sweet smell wafts through the air tempting you as you walk through the narrow lanes of the market. The best Christmas market treat are these sugary nuts wrapped in a paper cone. Check the various markets for unique flavors as they all seem to have something totally off the wall and unique to try.
Schaumkuss (Chocolate Covered Marshmallows)
The absolute best Christmas market foods will always include at least one Chocolate covered marshmallow! These are a German Christmas market staple that must be tried. I will say that it is sometimes more challenging to find these yummy treats at all markets, so ask around if you don’t see them right off. Enjoy your massive marshmallow fluff covered in chocolate. They are really a delicious treat you will be dreaming about waiting for the right time of year to appear again!
Lebkuchen (Gingerbread Cookies)
The most famous German Christmas market food for me is the massive gingerbread cookies wrapped in plastic hanging all over the market! Often sold in the shape of a heart you can also see them in various shapes and sizes depending where you are. For me, lebkuchen is perfect because it is not very sweet. It is definitely not the thing to get for those with a serious sweet tooth!
Not a traditional German Christmas market food, but definitely a tradition at German Christmas markets – the crepe! While yes they do offer them as savory, almost everyone we saw (including us) ordered sweet versions, which is why it’s here under the sweet treats section! This thin delicate pancake is rolled up with your choice of fillings. The basic of cinnamon and sugar is great, or be decadent and get nutella and banana (my favorite).
Kürtőskalács (Chimney Cake)
One of our favorite treats we tried while exploring the markets was this Hungarian specialty. This delicious cinnamon sugar covered fried dough is wrapped around an iron rod and then roasted quickly in the fire. It is so delicious and worth the long lines you are sure to encounter! Again this was a speciality that we did not see often. On our visit, we only saw it at the Esslingen Market outside of Stuttgart.
Fruchtspiesse (Chocolate Covered Fruit)
Another must have sweet treat is chocolate covered fresh fruit on a stick. These are found at almost every single market we visited and is always a favorite with kids and adults alike. Strawberries, bananas and grapes are the main fruits that are used to make these yummy snacks. You can choose between dark chocolate, milk chocolate and even white chocolate covering. These wooden stands also typically sell candied apples if you are looking for something different.
Best Drinks at the German Christmas Markets
While it is mostly about the food for me, there are also some important notes to be made about drinks on offer at the markets. Below we share a sample of the drinks you can find at the various market stalls.
The quintessential drink while at a German Christmas market is of course glühwein. I don’t drink alcohol, so I was sadly not able to sample the alcohol version of hot wine, however my 12 year happily sampled the non-alcohol options every chance he had! While at the markets, you will find crowds of people, young and old around the popular glühwein stalls. This hot mulled wine is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit and have a hang out session with friends. Interesting tidbit – the word glühwein translates directly as “glow wine” which comes from the red hot irons used to heat up the wine in middle ages. How cool is that! Not a fan of red wine? Some markets even offer hot mulled white wine.
Note: When you buy a drink it comes in a ceramic or glass mug that you must pay a mug deposit (3 Euro at writing) for in addition to the drink charge. If you decide to keep the mug, it’s yours to keep and you lose your deposit or you can return it (sometimes at all stall) to get your deposit returned. This makes a great souvenir as it often has the city or market name and is different every year.
Kinderpunsch (non-alcoholic drink)
Kinderpunsch is the non-alcohol version of Glühwein. To be honest, I didn’t love it, but my 12 year old did and make sure to have a sample at EVERY market. I wasn’t sure quite if he wanted the drink more or the souvenir mug!
We did not see this drink very often, but what we were told is that it is similar to eggnog, made with egg yolks, cream and alcohol. If i drank it looked like one that might be on my list!
Heisse Schokolade (Hot Chocolate)
The best hot drink option at the markets in my opinion is hot chocolate. Sadly though it is not offered at many of the markets we visited. This is a great break from the mulled wine, but still offering a hot drink to warm you up when you have been out for too long in the cold!
There are so many varieties of German Christmas market foods that its hard to try (or even list!) them all, but this gives you a good overview of what you can expect to find. If you are vegetarian there is plenty on offer as well. Vegans might find it a bit tougher as most dishes at least had cheese, but I am sure there are other options we didn’t notice as well!
Are there any foods that we missed that you loved? Please share them with us so we can try them next year!
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