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Going to Germany at Christmas was a bucket list item of mine…mainly for the Munich Christmas Market food! As you browse through all of the Munich Christmas Market stalls, you definitely get that gingerbread feeling. In large part, because you can smell so many goodies wafting through the air!
German speakers call the German Christmas markets “Weihnachtsmarkt, Christmarkt, or Christkindlmarkt.” But any way you say it, get ready to check off a whole list of new and delicious foods from your culinary bucket lists.
We first headed to Munich on our tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and especially loved the Munich Christmas Market. Known as one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, the Munich Christmas Market was founded in 1310.
Today, the main market is on Marienplatz in Munich’s central square. But you can find dozens of Christmas Markets around Munich, and in fact it is most fun when you just stumble upon one!
If fairs and food trucks are a part of your own culture (they are huge where we live in Boston), then you’ll be delighted with the range of culinary treats you can find at the Munich Christmas markets! Whether you’re a newbie to the Christmas market scene or come back every year, here are some foods you must consider trying on your visit.
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As you walk through the Munich Christmas Markets you will smell Glühwein wafting every few stalls. One of the most popular things to drink at the outdoor Weihnachtsmarkt festivities, Glühwein is a hot mulled wine. Served in a cute holiday mug, Glühwein will warm you right up and bring on the holiday cheer!
Made from red wine and spices, a typical Glühwein is made with orange slices, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, anise, and sometimes even rum. Folks love to stand around a Glühwein stall and chat and socialize in the winter.
Tip: There is often a mug deposit to ensure that people don’t walk off with the cute mugs. In Munich, the deposit was $4. The Glühwein was also $4. When you are done drinking, you can return the mug and get the deposit back. Or, you can keep the mug and leave your deposit in exchange. If you want to keep the mug, you can ask them to swap out your used one for a fresh, clean mug since they get fairly sticky!
Gingerbread is a common and popular German Christmas market food item! I always tend to think of gingerbread cookies as thin and a little crispy, but in Germany and Austria, the cookies are thicker and chewier. The cookies are pretty hefty, so share one with a friend or save some for a snack later.
Many of the gingerbread cookies at the Munich Christmas market are adorably decorated like Santas, reindeer, or Christmas trees. So these gingerbread cookies could also make for a wonderful gift or souvenir reminder of your trip to the German Christmas markets.
Apple strudel is one of the most typical German Christmas market foods you can find! Originating in Austria in the late 1600s, Strudel is a fruity pastry wrapped in a layered dough shell. Kind of like a croissant type outside and a fruity inside.
You can find all sorts of flavors at the Munich Christmas markets, but the classic is apple strudel (Apfelstrudel). I also tried a gingerbread strudel, but to be honest, it was not all that flavorful. I’d stick with a more typical flavor for the best taste!
You know that lovely smell when you walk by a cart roasting nuts? At the Munich Christmas market you will walk by several stalls roasted a variety of nuts such as cashews and almonds.
There’s nothing better than picking up a small bag and snacking on it as you peruse the other vendors!
I always think of chocolate covered fruit as a summertime treat, but my eyes were opened at the Munich Christmas market with all of the fresh fruit covered in chocolate! From raspberries to grapes to pineapple, if you want a sweet treat that’s not heavy or made with flour (like gingerbread or strudel), picking up a stick of chocolate covered fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth and not weigh you down.
You can also pick up flavors such as milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and strawberry.
Stollen, also known as Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen, is a traditional German fruit bread. You can find many different kinds at the Munich Christmas markets. I saw some that were topped with powdered sugar, and some that were plain, but the bread is such a seasonal staple.
Italians have a similar type of bread called Panettone that I also love. Both are so lovely when served with a cup of coffee or tea. It’s not as heavy or as controversial as a fruit cake, but still has a bit of sweetness to the taste. Definitely try it if you never have!
Chocolate at the Munich Christmas Markets is out of this world. The chocolate vendors make chocolates in all sorts of crazy shapes like wrenches, hammers, screws, horse shoes, pretzels, tea kettles, eggs, roses, forks, donuts…the selection is insane.
If you know someone who is into tools, one of these chocolates would be a fun and unique present to bring home.
Is there anything more classic “German” than a pretzel?? You can snag a freshly made pretzel at a stall, or head over to the Hofbräuhaus just a 5 minute walk from the Christmas markets. There, you can get a big beer ($10) and a pretzel ($4), a winning combination all around.
Munich is known for the variety of local sausages served up at the Christmas market stalls. You can find the most famous sausage, the weisswurst or white sausage (made with calf meat), all over the markets. You’ll also be able to sample schweinswurst (a pork sausage), bratwurst, and more types of sausage local to Germany.
Make sure to get a side of Sauerkraut or a fresh pretzel, too!
Schneeballen literally means “snowballs” in German. This tasty dessert is shaped like a snowball, which is where it gets its fun name! Schneeballen are made with fried dough then topped with confectioner’s powdered sugar for a classic German dessert.
You can also find them topped with chocolate, sugar, white chocolate, nuts, and other delicious toppings at the Munich Christmas market.
We surely don’t have a similar dessert in America, and it’s incredible to see them for the first time. But since the shelf life can be up to two months, ask if the one you’re about the purchase is fresh.
In addition to all of the tasty food, you can also pick up a variety of fresh spices at the Munich Christmas market food stalls. These carefully packaged spices make for a wonderful gift or souvenir to bring home as a memory of Germany, without worrying if they will get crushed in your bag.
One of our German friends told us the one thing to try was leberkäse. It took awhile to find in the massive Munich markets, but once we did it surely was an experience. It almost reminded me of a really thick slice of bologna.
Corned beef, pork and bacon and ground together then placed in a baking pan, so it comes out like a loaf. It’s then placed into a nice and crunchy roll and you can top it with mustard or mayo.
One of the most unique pastries at the Munich Christmas Market was the Baumstriezel. Shaped like a chimney, it’s made from thin layers of dough wrapped around a long baking spit, and roasted until golden brown with butter.
It’s then topped or covered with nuts, cinnamon, sugar, or other fun and sweet toppings. They are so eye-catching, you definitely won’t be able to walk by without sampling one!
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