If you’re in Germany during the holiday season, you can be sure to find these German Christmas market food and drink staples!
Nothing quite signals the start of the German wintertime like the smell of the simmering spices of the traditional hot mulled wine known as Glühwein. Though popular in many other European countries as well, the popularity of the German Christmas Market brings the Glühwein consumption to a whole new level!
The word “Glühwein” itself roughly translates to “glow-wine”, which comes from the hot irons that were once used for mulling. Essentially Glühwein is a mulled wine beverage made from red wine that has been heated with spices such as cinnamon and cloves as well as citrus and sugar flavors added. You can also choose to add a schuss (shot) of Rum or Amaretto for an extra kick, or there are also other varieties such as made from white wine, or other fruits such as apples or pears.
Also- check out Feuerzangenbowle, which shares the same recipe to Glühwein, except that a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and dripped into the mulled wine (really!). Usually, hot drinks are served in a festive mug too!
Throughout the year grilled sausages such as bratwurst (traditional white German pork sausages), Krakauer (lightly spiced red version of bratwurst) or Currywurst (a sliced bratwurst with a side of curry ketchup) are popular and definitely a staple of any German Christmas market food list. You can typically find them cooking over a schwenkgrill, a tripod in which a large hanging circular grill suspended by chains to give the meat a more intense, smoky flavor.
Another popular option I see at a lot of the markets is Grünkohl und Pinkel (cooked kale and sausage). It is thought of as a winter comfort food and super delicious!
Also- Flammlachs (smoked salmon) is another popular savory food. Typically these are stuck to some sort of board and placed right next to an open flame, ensuring that you can smell the smoky flavor from far, far away!
You can also usually find stands pan-frying various vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc. As well, a favorite of many is Flammkuchen, a pizza-like dish that consists of a very thin bread dough, rolled out and topped with crème fraiche, white grated cheese, bacon and spring onions. There are various alternatives of ingredients also.
My favorite of all the sweets is Schmalzkuchen, small dough pastries that are deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar or paired with Nutella, apple sauce or some other topping. Think of them like a little bite sized donut!
Lebkuchen is another sweet you can be sure to find at all the markets. It is a traditional baked treat, similar to gingerbread. You can find them in many shapes such as hearts with piped icing words (also popular at Oktoberfest) saying things such as “Merry Christmas”.
As well, there are many other bite-sized sweets such as candies, dipped fruits, nuts, etc. that are part of the Christmas market food and drink staples.