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Savor The Season With These 16 Traditional German Christmas Foods

Savor The Season With These 16 Traditional German Christmas Foods

German cuisine is often esteemed as the world’s best food, and pair that with an incredible Christmas culture, you have something magical. To make the most of this festive time of year, here are some of the best traditional German Christmas foods to enjoy this year.

When the air turns crisp and the lights twinkle, the much-awaited Christmas season has arrived. Germany, known for its rich and vibrant traditions, is no exception for festive culinary delights.

From hearty main courses to sweet desserts, German Christmas foods blend comforting tastes and nostalgic flavors that make the holiday season even more special. So grab your fork and prepare for a delicious journey through Germany’s most beloved Christmas foods.

The traditional German Christmas meal often features dishes such as Christstollen, a fruitcake enriched with marzipan and dusted with powdered sugar, and Lebkuchen, gingerbread cookies adorned with almonds, candied fruits, and glazed with sugar. Other staples include goose, red cabbage, and sausages, making the holiday a gastronomic delight for Germans.

Prepare to be amazed by the variety and richness of these traditional treats, each carrying a piece of Germany’s heartwarming Christmas spirit.

Best Traditional German Christmas Food

1. Christstollen or Weihnachtsstollen

Christollen during Christmas Time

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

German Gingerbread Cookies

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)

Homemade German Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are made in many different variations and flavors throughout Germany. You will surely find some that suit your taste when visiting and enjoying various 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: German Street Food You Need to Try

4. Weihnachtsgans (Christmas goose)

Weihnachtsgans German Dish
mARTensen / Shutterstock

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 also make it.

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5. Gluhwein

Traditional German Gluhwein with Spices

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 delicious German wine is served during the Holidays, served at all Christmas markets, and it is usually served with Christmas cookies or cake. Check Amazon for recipe books or pre-made gluhwein to enjoy this holiday season.

6. Weinachtspunsch (Christmas punch) 

Festive German Christmas Punch

Weinachtspunsch (Christmas punch) is a drink of red wine, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. It is typically served around Christmastime in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

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.

7. Fondue

Traditional Cheese Fondue

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

8. Raclette

Raclette melted cheese
margouillat photo / Shutterstock

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: Top-Rated Restaurants in Germany

9. Rehruecken (roast saddle of venison)

Rehruecken German Christmas dish
Burkhard Mücke / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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.

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10. Kartoffelsalat mit Wurst (Potato salad with sausage)

Sausages, frankfurter and salad on plate
photocrew1 / Shuterstock

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.

11. Semmelknödel

Bavarian bread dumplings
kab-vision / Adobe Stock

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

12. Rotkohl

Rotkraut
Printemps / AdobeStock

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?

13. Karpfen (carp)

Christmas fried carp with potato salad
Richard Semik / Shutterstock

Baked Fish (carp) served with boiled potatoes and some steamed vegetables (low-fat German Christmas food.) Many German families still eat roasted carp on the evening of December 24th.

14. Bratapfel (baked/roasted candy apple)

Bratapfel German Christmas dish
Michael Tewes / Adobe Stock

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)

Closeup of 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)

Homemade Marzipan Potatoes
HandmadePictures / Shutterstock

Marzipankartoffeln is a popular dish in Germany around Christmastime. They are ball-shaped marzipan 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, Marzipankartoffeln should definitely be on your list.

What is a Typical German Holiday Meal?

Star-shaped Christmas Cookies
Shebeko / Shutterstock

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 with meat as a pairing.
  • 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?

Christmas German cake
Natalia / Adobe Stock

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.

FAQ

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 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).

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