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14 Best Traditional German Christmas Foods

14 Best Traditional German Christmas Foods

Germany is famous for many things. Their castles, mountains, and much more. But German cuisine is often considered some of the best food in the world.

When you think of German food, you may or may not think of German Christmas food, but it is delicious. There is both classic German Christmas food, and Christmas foods that are not quite as well-known globally, but that are loved nationally and among tourists.

Best Traditional German Christmas Food

Christmas is a festive time for family, friends, and food. While people in many countries celebrate Christmas with traditional foods, German cuisine has some of the most unique and delicious dishes around.

From Lebkuchen to Weihnachtsgans, here are some of the best traditional German Christmas foods to try this holiday season.

The “Classics” of German Christmas Food

1. Christstollen or Weihnachtsstollen

Christollen during Christmas Time

A dry cake shaped like a loaf of bread filled with marzipan and raisins and covered with powder sugar. You can find this bread in any supermarket in Germany during the Christmas season.

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 have spices in it.

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 are sure to 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 they are THE traditional German Christmas cookies.
  • Spekulatius: Traditional spicy Christmas cookie.

4. Weihnachtsgans (Christmas goose)

This dish traditionally consists of a stuffed 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 a gravy. You can find this at many German restaurants during the Christmas season and many German families make it as well.

5. Gluhwein

Traditional German Gluhwein with Spices

Hot red wine seasoned with cloves, cinnamon sticks, peel of a lemon or orange, and sugar. This is a very popular drink in Germany during the Holidays, served at all of the Christmas markets in all parts of Germany.

6. Weinachtspunsch (Christmas punch) 

Festive German Christmas Punch

Weinachtspunsch (Christmas punch) is a drink made 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 a mix of 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 and 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.)

8. Raclette

Frying slices of cheese and lunch meat on tiny pans, which sit on a small, round stove that sits in the center of the table. There are typically 6 or more of these small “pans.”

Each person has their own pan. Food is cooked and eaten by each individual.

See Related: Best Castles 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 Brussel 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.

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 different ways to fix potato salad and the sausage can be any kind, usually smoked.

Secondly, it’s hearty and filling, which is 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.

See Related: Best German Beer Options

Not “Classic” but still Authentic German Christmas Food

11. Karpfen (carp)

Baked Fish served with boiled potatoes and some steamed vegetables (low-fat Christmas food.)

12. 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.

13. Heisse Maronen (roasted chestnuts)

Closeup of Roasted Chestnuts

Chestnuts are a popular snack during Christmastime 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.

If you’re lucky enough to find fresh chestnuts, you can roast them yourself at home. Just make sure to score the chestnuts before roasting, so that they don’t explode.

14. 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)
  • Salad
  • Main Course: Roast goose, roast pork, baked fish or, carp
  • Dessert: Christmas cookies, apple strudel, cake or, pudding.
  • Drink: Gluehwein, Weinachtspunsch or hot chocolate.
  • 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.
  • Coffee or tea (with cream and sugar) may be served as well.
  • Beer is also available throughout the meal, usually reserved for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.

What are other things in German Christmas Traditions?

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 trees). The Christmas tree is usually decorated with ornaments, lights, and tinsel. Some families also hang up wreaths or put up a nativity scene.

Conclusion

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 holiday meal by trying deliciously authentic German recipes.

FAQ

What is the most popular dish eaten on Christmas Eve in Germany?

The most popular dish eaten on Christmas eve 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 Santa Claus. 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.

What are some other popular German Christmas cookies?

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 or roast 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.

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