Germany is renowned for many things, including its castles and mountains. However, German cuisine is often esteemed as some of the world’s best food. These are the best German Christmas dishes to enjoy this year.
German Christmas cuisine may not immediately come to mind when contemplating German food, but it is genuinely delightful. Germany boasts classic Christmas foods that, while not globally recognized, are nationally cherished and popular among tourists.
If you’re curious about experiencing a traditional German Christmas meal, we’ve assembled the following list of some of the finest traditional German Christmas foods, along with a few delectable extras you might want to sample.
Show Table of Contents
- Best Traditional German Christmas Food
- The “Classics” of Traditional German Christmas Food
- Not “Classic” but still Authentic German Christmas Food
- Typical German Holiday Meal
- What are other German Christmas Traditions?
- What is the most popular dish eaten on Christmas Eve in Germany?
- What is still a typical dish on the evening of December 24 in many German families based on old traditions?
- What is a Weihnachtsmann?
- What is a Christbaum?
- What are some other popular German Christmas traditions?
- What is Chistkindl?
- What is Gluehwein?
- What are some other popular German Christmas cookies?
- How do Germans celebrate Christmas?
Best Traditional German Christmas Food
The “Classics” of Traditional German Christmas Food
1. Christstollen or Weihnachtsstollen
Christstollen, or Weihnachtsstollen (Christmas stollen), is a dry cake shaped like a loaf of bread filled with marzipan and raisins and covered with powdered sugar. You can find this bread in any supermarket in Germany during the Christmas season.
If you want it for your home, check the prices on Amazon for your own personal Christstollen.
See Related: The Ultimate German Food Tour
2. Lebkuchen or Honigkuchen
Lebkuchen, Honigkuchen, or Pfefferkuchen is a honey-sweetened German cake molded cookie or bar cookie that has become part of Germany’s Christmas traditions. It’s traditionally served in all different shapes, sizes, and toppings.
Lebkuchen is not the same as gingerbread. They are different in many ways. Lebkuchen is made with ginger and honey, while Gingerbread is usually made with molasses and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. They also taste different because Lebkuchen has no spices, while gingerbread does.
The word “Lebkuchen” translates to “ginger cake” in English, while “gingerbread” itself comes from the Old English word “gingiferh,” which means “confection of ginger.” So you can see that they are completely different things even though they may sound similar.
3. Weihnachtsgebaeck (German Christmas Cookies)
Christmas cookies are made in many different variations and flavors throughout Germany. You will surely find some that suit your taste buds when visiting and enjoying an array of things to do in Leipzig and Germany. Here are two of the more popular types:
- Zimtsterne: These are star-shaped cinnamon cookies and the #1 traditional German Christmas cookies.
- Spekulatius: Traditional spicy Christmas cookie.
See Related: Best German Street Food You Need to Try
4. Weihnachtsgans (Christmas goose)
This dish traditionally consists of a stuffed Christmas goose (prepared just like a Thanksgiving Turkey,) potato dumplings, red cabbage, and a wine-flavored sauce.
There is no special technique in preparing this dish, but the sauce consists of wine, the juices produced while cooking the goose, and gravy. You can find this at many German restaurants during the Christmas season, and many German families make it as well.
See Related: German Wine: History & Different Types
Gluhwein, a type of mulled wine, is hot red wine seasoned with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and sugar, garnished with a peel of a lemon or orange. This is a very popular drink in Germany during the Holidays, served at all Christmas markets.
Check Amazon for recipe books or pre-made gluhwein to enjoy this holiday season.
See Related: Best German Christmas Markets to Visit in 2023
6. Weinachtspunsch (Christmas punch)
The word “punsch” comes from the German word for punch, which is derived from the Hindi word “panch,” meaning “five.” This refers to the five ingredients in the traditional recipe: wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon.
Weinachtspunsch is typically made with red wine, but white wine can also be used. The sugar and spices give the punch a sweet and festive flavor, making it a popular holiday drink. Weinachtspunsch can be served hot or cold, depending on preference.
To make Weinachtspunsch, combine red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon in a pot or slow cooker. Heat the mixture on low until it is hot but not boiling. Serve in mugs or cups, and enjoy. If you’re looking for a festive and delicious holiday drink, try Weinachtspunsch.
Fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot (fondue pot) over a portable stove and eaten by dipping bread into the cheese. It was popularized in the 1950s by the Swiss Cheese Union.
The name is from the French verb fondre, meaning “to melt.” While it’s commonly found in Switzerland, it’s also a great dish to enjoy during Christmas in Germany.
Fondue is typically made with Gruyère and Emmental cheese and white wine. It is often served with cubes of bread, as well as other dipping items such as raw vegetables, cooked meats, or fruit.
Fondue in Germany can be prepared in different ways:
- Cheese Fondue: use forks to dip bits of food (i.e., bread) into the warm, thick liquid sauce (usually a cheese mix).
- Meat Fondue: spike raw meats (i.e., chicken, beef, pork) on a long fork and fry them in hot oil until done. Usually eaten with other dips (i.e., Garlic Sauce, Ketchup, etc.)
See Related: Best Worst Cheese in the World
Frying slices of cheese and lunch meat on tiny pans sit on a small, round stove in the center of the table. There are typically 6 or more of these small “pans.” Each person has their pan. Food is cooked and eaten by each individual.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Germany
9. Rehruecken (roast saddle of venison)
Rehruecken is a dish made from venison. The meat is roasted and served with slices of pears, spaetzle, and Brussels sprouts. Rehruecken is a popular dish in Germany and can be found in many restaurants throughout the country.
If you are looking for a unique and delicious dish, try Rehruecken. You won’t be disappointed.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Germany
10. Kartoffelsalat mit Wurst (Potato salad with sausage)
Kartoffelsalat mit Wurst is a traditional German Christmas dish for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. Also, there are many ways to create a delicious German potato salad, and the sausage can be any kind, usually smoked.
Secondly, it’s hearty and filling, perfect for a winter meal. And finally, it’s a classic dish that most Germans are familiar with and enjoy. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas in Germany or elsewhere, this potato salad is a tasty and festive option.
A common side dish served at many a German Christmas meal is Semmelknödel, or ‘Bavarian Bread dumplings.’ They are deliciously special German dumplings made from dried wheat, milk, eggs, onions, and parsley.
Semmelknödel is a versatile side dish that goes with almost anything you might serve for a traditional German Christmas dinner. Generously drench them in mushroom sauce with potato salad on the side for the vegetarians at the table. Alternatively, for those wanting something meatier, pour on the gravy and serve with a Christmas goose or Pork Roast.
See Related: Brotknoedel Recipe: How to Make German Dumplings
Rotkohl, or braised red cabbage, is another famous side dish on the German Christmas dinner table. It’s as simple a dish as it sounds, and the recipe only requires Juniper berries, tangy vinegar, and green apple. Rotkohl is a welcoming sweet and sour punch that adds light refreshment to an otherwise indulgent Christmas dinner.
Germans eat Rotkohl year-round, but as previously mentioned, its light and tangy flavor is especially famous for going well with roasted Goose and potato dumplings.
See Related: What is Germany Known For?
Not “Classic” but still Authentic German Christmas Food
13. Karpfen (carp)
Baked Fish (carp) served with boiled potatoes and some steamed vegetables (low-fat German Christmas food.)
14. Bratapfel (baked/roasted candy apple)
Pitted apple, not peeled. The hole in the middle will be filled with raisins, honey, and chopped almonds. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
15. Heisse Maronen (roasted chestnuts)
Chestnuts are a popular snack during Christmas time in Germany. They are roasted on an open fire and often served with melted butter and salt. Some people also like to add sugar or spices to their chestnuts. Chestnuts are a healthy snack, too – they are high in fiber and antioxidants.
You can roast them at home if you’re lucky enough to find fresh chestnuts. Just make sure to score the chestnuts before roasting so that they don’t explode.
16. Marzipankartoffeln (marzipan potatoes)
Marzipankartoffeln is a popular dish in Germany around Christmastime. They are ball-shaped marzipan that is rolled in cocoa powder, making them a delicious and festive treat. What makes them so great is that they are easy to make and taste great.
If you are looking for a unique and tasty treat to serve at your next holiday party, then Marzipankartoffeln should definitely be on your list.
Typical German Holiday Meal
Here is a typical German meal that you might find during the Christmas holiday season:
- Appetizer: Bratwurst, Leberwurst or Weisswurst (sausages)
- Main Course: Roast goose, roast pork, baked fish, or carp
- Dessert: Christmas cookies, apple strudel, cake, or pudding.
- Drink: Gluehwein, Weinachtspunsch or hot chocolate. Coffee or tea (with cream and sugar) may also be served. Beer is also available throughout the meal, usually reserved for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.
- Christmas sweets: Marzipankartoffeln, Heisse Maronen, Lebkuchen, Spekulatius.
- Cheese: Usually served as a fondue.
- Meat: Usually served as a fondue.
- Potato salad: With or without sausage.
- Vegetables: Usually served boiled or steamed.
- Dessert wine: Riesling, Spatburgunder, Portugieser or Bustenhalter.
- Schnapps: Usually served with or after dessert.
What are other German Christmas Traditions?
German Christmas Markets are a big part of the German Christmas tradition. You can find them in all parts of Germany, and they are a great place to buy Christmas gifts, eat traditional food, listen to Christmas music, see Christmas lights and decorations, and enjoy the company of friends and family.
Another popular German Christmas tradition is the Weihnachtsmann (Christmas man). He is a man dressed in a red suit who delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve.
In some parts of Germany, it is also popular to have a Christbaum (Christmas tree). The Christmas tree is usually decorated with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Many families also hang up wreaths or put up a nativity scene. Not only do delicious Christmas recipes represent a typical German Christmas but also other things like Christmas Markets and Christmas Trees.
They also spend Christmas with family and treat guests. You can add German Christmas elements to your meal by trying deliciously authentic German recipes.
What is the most popular dish eaten on Christmas Eve in Germany?
The most popular dish Germans eat for a Christmas Eve dinner in Germany is roast pork.
What is still a typical dish on the evening of December 24 in many German families based on old traditions?
Many German families still eat roasted carp on the evening of December 24th.
What is a Weihnachtsmann?
The Weihnachtsmann is the German equivalent of Father Christmas. He is a man dressed in a red suit who delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve.
What is a Christbaum?
A Christbaum is a Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is usually decorated with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Some families also hang up wreaths or put up a nativity scene.
What are some other popular German Christmas traditions?
Some other popular German Christmas traditions include the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), the Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree), and the Weihnachtsmann (Santa Claus).
What is Chistkindl?
Chistkindl is the German word for Christmas.
What is Gluehwein?
Gluehwein is a type of wine that is served warmly. It is usually served with Christmas cookies or cake.
Some other popular German Christmas cookies include Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, and Marzipankartoffeln.
How do Germans celebrate Christmas?
Germans celebrate Christmas by decorating their house with wreaths, nativity scenes, and lights. They also eat traditional German food like roasted pork, duck, or goose. Additionally, Germans are known for lighting up their home with candles.
The Germans observe both March 21st and December 23rd as public holidays. Many people have split their Christmas Eve on December 24th into two parts, with a busy day before the holiday and an enjoyable party afterward. Christmas is celebrated at noon on Christmas Day, although some shops may still be open to visitors.
Our German Food Recipes
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.
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