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Christmas Market Foods: Tasting All The Deliciously Festive Bites Around Europe

After visiting Europe in winter for 2 months and going to 50+ Christmas markets, eating at every single one of them, Caleb and I  tried a lot of Christmas market food!  We had some very delicious items and some food items that we wish we hadn’t! 

If you’re foodies like us, you need to know which foods not to miss and which foods aren’t worth the calories. In this guide, we’ll share some of our favorite eats like potato pancakes, German mac and cheese, and stuffed cheesy bread, and a few we recommend you skip!

Let’s get into it!

Savory Eats

1. Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)

What it is: A ridiculously simple potato pancake that is thin and deep-fried until crispy deliciousness has been unlocked. Then, they top them with various toppings, the traditional options being apple sauce or sour cream.

However, we saw them with all kinds of toppings, like the one I had in Bratislava with garlicky mayo, cabbage, and bacon.  Heaven in your mouth that is worth every.single.golden.brown calorie.

Where to find it: Almost every single Christmas market in Europe has these, so bring those stretchy pants.

A hand holding a plate with roasted mushrooms topped with a creamy sauce served on a slice of bread, with street market stalls in the background

2. Champignons (Mushrooms)

What it is: Sauteed Mushrooms that are topped with onions, a creamy garlic sauce, and then bread because it’s not market food without carbs.

It sounds like boring food, but trust us, you are going to love having something lighter (in terms of German Christmas market food) between carb loading 24/7. 

Where to find it: These are pretty common in most markets across Europe.

A large, freshly baked Tarte Flambée with a thin crust topped with cream, onions, and salmon, served on a white plate

3. Flammkuchen/Tarte Flambee (Flatbread Pizza)

What it is: The thinnest, crispiest flatbread ever, classically topped with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon. It is so simple, but it was one of our favorite Christmas market foods. While the traditional toppings are DELISH, we had one with smoked salmon that we dream about.

Where to find it: These are most common in France in the Alsace region (Strasbourg, Colmar et) as that is where it comes from, and you’ll find it called “Tarte Flambee.” We also saw it at some markets in Austria and Germany called Flammkuchen.

TAYLOR’S TIP:

In the Alsace region, we also had the very popular “Baguette Flambee,” which has the same toppings but on a baguette instead of flatbread. We prefer the flatbread, but this is tasty because, uhh, bread and cheese?

A hand holding a plate filled with Schupfnudeln mixed with sauerkraut and sprinkled with crispy bacon bits, served at a night market.

4. Schupfnudeln (Potato Dumplings)

What it is: Long, chewy potato dumplings that are covered with sauerkraut and bacon. OMG, if you see these, you need to try them. It sounds like they’re kinda “meh,” but the salty/sour pairing on top of chewy carbs? It kept us warm on many cold December nights.

Where to find it: Many blogs told us this was super popular, but we only saw them in Stuttgart and Tubingen. So, keep your eyes peeled in Germany.

5. Wurst (Sausages)

What it is: Sausages. So many kinds of sausages.

Varieties to Try: 

  • Bratwurst: the most common German sausage that you will find all across European Christmas markets.
  • Thuringer Bratwurst:  This is a pork sausage you can only find in the German state of Thuringia, and it has Marjoram, Caraway seeds, and a hint of garlic. We had it on a soft bun with spicy mustard, and the casing was the crispiest out of all the sausages we had.
  • Nürnbergers: Unlike the other HUGE German sausages, these look more like our American breakfast sausages. They come from Nuremberg and are served “Drei im Weggla,” which means 3 in a bun. As you guessed, you get 3 sausages in a bun, and you can top it off with whatever you want.
  • Currywurst – SUPER traditional in Austria, you’ll get a sausage all cut up into little chunks with curry ketchup. This one is nice because you don’t look quite as barbaric shoving a head-sized sausage into your mouth, but that’s also part of the fun, right?

Where to find it: any sausage stall at a market has tons of delicious wurst options to try! 

A close-up of a hearty meal featuring a roasted pork knuckle glazed with a shiny sauce, accompanied by sauerkraut, served on a white plate at a market stand

6. Schweinshaxe (Pork Knuckle)

What it is: A hunk of pork meat that is still on the bone, covered in crispy skin, and topped with saurkraut. Oh yes, you read that right. Life altering good for our meat-loving couples out there!

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This is one of the more expensive market options (’cause: meat), but it’s worth it, and it’s nice to switch up the carbs.

Where to find it: We saw it across most markets in Europe. 

Close-up of a traditional open grill cooking various meats and potatoes, tended by vendors at a Christmas market in Krakow

7. Oscypek (Smoked Cheese)

What it is: Polish smoked sheep cheese topped with cranberry jam and optionally wrapped in ham. As you can imagine, we think the ham is not optional.

It’s salty. It’s sweet and, uh, cheese. You need it in your mouth.

Where to find it: Only in Poland! We had it all over Wroclaw and Krakow.

A street food vendor handing over a steak sandwich loaded with grilled steak, caramelized onions, and pickles in a crusty baguette, wrapped in a napkin

8. Schweinesteak Brötchen (Pork/Steak Sandwich)

What it is: The best steak sandwich you’ll ever eat in your life.

 WHY DOES NO OTHER BLOG TALK ABOUT THE STEAK SANDWICH AT MARKETS? We tried this on a we-need-something-other-than-carbs-and-it-was-the-only-option whim and then proceeded to get another one right away. Eating these alone makes the Christmas markets worth a visit!

And for breakfast the next day.  The fatty meat has some addictive spice on it, and it’s on bread and covered with sauteed onion, and it’s literally incr-EDIBLE. Don’t sleep on eating one.

Where to find it: Most German Christmas markets

A hand holding a Handbrot, a German street food consisting of bread filled with cheese and ham, showcasing the gooey cheese stretching with each bite.

9. Handbrot (Stuffed Bread)

What it is: impossibly soft and fluffy bread stuffed with cheese and mushrooms or cheese and ham that will make you cry tears of joy.  These are especially good at lunchtime, which is one of the best times to visit the markets to avoid the crowds!

TAYLOR’S TIP:

We kept ordering the “schinken” handbrot thinking it was chicken but this is NOT SO. Confusingly, “schinken” is ham in German. So, know what you’re ordering. There are usually only two options anyway.

Where to find it: We only saw these in Germany. Get ready for them!

A person holding a plate of traditional German food, likely sauerkraut and crispy bacon, at a Christmas market in Berlin

10. Käsespätzle (Cheese Egg Noodles)

What it is: The German version of Mac and Cheese that is so creamy, so indulgent, and so good for a cold winter day. The soft and chewy noodles are COVERED in Parmesan cheese and crispy onions, and you usually get the option to add speck (bacon.)

We highly recommend you take them up on it. We also highly recommend that you mix it around and eat it RIGHT AWAY like they told us to do. It gets a bit chunky when cold.

TAYLOR’S TIP:

If you get it served in a glass bowl like we did at some locations, they will charge you a deposit, just like the shoe mugs, so don’t be alarmed by the price! Just return it to get the deposit back.

Where to find it: Markets are all across Germany. 

A bustling street food stall with a variety of stuffed cabbage rolls and sausages served on a large grill, surrounded by eager customers waiting to be served.

11. Cabbage rolls 

What it is: The same cabbage rolls your Grandma made you eat, stuffed with rice and meat. But these ones are as big as your head and taste better because they’re all warm and you’re all cold, even though you’re wearing all the clothes that you packed at once.

Where to find it: Basically, every single Christmas market in Europe, but our favorite is in Budapest. Although, we though the rest of the market was one of the worst we visited, as an FYI.

A Hungarian Langos which is fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese

12. Langos (Fried Dough)

What it is: A Hungarian specialty that is a hot, deep-fried dough topped with cold garlic, sour cream, and A MOUNTAIN of cheese. Do you really need to know anything else?

These are possibly some of the most indulgent treats on this list, but you’re on vacation, so you must try one. We recommend splitting one so you have room in your bellies for other treats!

Where to find it: We saw it at every Christmas market. You won’t have any issues tracking it down.

Cheerful market stall offering raclette and croissants, with a clear view of the melting cheese and bottles of wine

13. Raclette (Melted Cheese)

What it is: Raclette is a type of cheese that is melted on a special melting machine and then topped onto different food items. Most commonly at markets, you’ll see Raclette cheese topped on a baguette sandwich.

It’s gooey, it’s gooey, and it might give you a heart attack, but you guys will die happy, so it’s all good.

Where to find it: Most popular at Swiss Christmas markets, but we also saw it a lot in France and some in Germany.

A person holding up a pretzel topped with melted cheese and red pepper strips against an old town backdrop, showcasing a creative street food snack

14. Laugenbrezeln or Bretzel (Pretzel)

What it is: A pretzel, you know what that is. 

This pretzel is usually topped with cheese and sometimes bacon…like everything at Christmas markets seems to be? We even saw some covered in chocolate, but we didn’t try them because that seemed wrong?

Where to find it: Every market in Europe has some version of it.

TAYLOR’S TIP:

Make sure you ask for it warmed up. We had one cold, and it tasted like eating an old cardboard shoe (don’t ask how we know what that tasted like). But the warm version? OOEY-GOOEY GOODNESS.

15. Flammlachs (Salmon)

What it is: a side of fresh salmon cooked over an open fire.  

This is probably the healthiest and most expensive food at Christmas markets, but it’s worth it! It has a delicious smoky taste, and it’s SO juicy and tender! You have to try it if you’re salmon lovers like us. 

Where to find it: We saw it at almost every market. You’ll smell it first with the open cooking method!

TAYLOR’S TIP:

If you want to save some cash, ask the vendors if you can *just* have some salmon without the fixings (potatoes or on bread, usually.) They may look at you like they did us, but you’ll get a container of JUST salmon at a cheaper price than paying for cheap bread, too. This may not work at all stalls, but we mostly had good luck!

Street food stall presenting Palacinky pancakes rolled with savory fillings of ham and herbs, displayed on a red and white polka dot surface under soft lighting

16. Palacinky (Slovakian Crepes)

What it is: Super thin pancakes usually stuffed with either meat or a sweet jam.

While we love ALL crepes, we found them to be the best in Bratislava, where we had the most epic crepe stuffed with duck. It was so juicy that it ran down our faces, and we couldn’t care less.

That might have been partially due to the mulled wine though…

Where to find it: Markets in Slovakia, like Bratislava, which is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets!

a hand holding a savory ham and cheese and pineapple crepe

17. Crepes

What it is: Thin pancakes with sweet or savory filling. I didn’t know where to categorize them because you can get them with jam, Nutella, powdered sugar, etc. However, we like the savory options with ham and cheese!

Yes, that is pineapple in our ham and cheese crepe. Judge us.

Where to find it: Every Christmas market.

Sweet Eats

A close-up of a hand holding a white chocolate-covered marshmallow sprinkled with green pistachios, with a blurred background of a Christmas market.

18. Schaumkuss (Chocolate Marshmallows)

What it is: Marshmallows that look like top hats covered in a variety of different colored chocolate (white, milk, dark) and with SO MANY FLAVORS imaginable. My favorite was a pistachio white chocolate situation.

The marshmallow is more soft and like an uncooked meringue covered in a crispy coating. It’s much less chewy than our American marshmallows!

Where to find it: Almost all markets across Europe, but we saw a lot of them in Germany and Denmark. The best flavors were in Germany.

A first-person view of a paper cone filled with caramelized roasted almonds held in a gloved hand, with a blurred Christmas market scene in the background

19. Gebrannte Mandeln (Roasted Almonds)

What it is: Spicy, sweet-roasted almonds.

Roasted almonds are one of the most popular Christmas market treats, and they come in SO many flavors and even different nut varieties. You’ll smell them before you see them, and as soon as you smell them, you will want to buy them.

Where to find it: Every single market in Europe so, no matter where you plan your market trip, you’ll be able to eat ’em!

TAYLOR’S TIP:

You can usually mix and match flavors and even nut varieties. We loved a cashew and macadamia nut mix.

A hand holding a large Lebkuchen cookie decorated with almonds on top, with a market stall background filled with various goods.

20. Elisenlebkuchen (Soft Cookies) 

What it is: the softest, spiciest gingerbread-like cookie you will ever taste.

I grew up eating hard Lebkuchen (which you will see all over the markets as well), and these blew those out of the water. This version is flourless and uses ground nuts and almond paste, which makes them SO soft and chewy. They are so good we brought a tin home.

Where to find it: You will see them everywhere in Germany, as they are one of the most traditional Christmas foods, but they are traditionally from Nuremberg.

TAYLOR’S TIP:

You will also see them covered with many different colorful flavor coatings. We tried a few, and the traditional ones (without coating) are WAY better, so don’t waste your calories.

A fresh red apple sits prominently among trays of sugar-dusted doughnuts in a food stall, offering a colorful contrast to the golden brown treats.

21. Apfelkucherl (Fried Apple Slices)

What it is: Kinda like apple fritters but without all the extra dough.

Apple slices are dipped in dough, deep fried, and then covered in cinnamon sugar. Pro tip: get your own order because you’ll be fighting over who eats the last one if you don’t.

Where to find it: We only saw these in Germany.

A close-up of a hand holding a bitten quark ball with the creamy filling visible, set against a festive backdrop of a decorated Christmas tree.

22. Quarkbällchen (Quark Donut Holes)

What it is: Like a traditional donut hole but made with Quark cheese, which gives them a bit of a tang and makes them super light and airy. They are a little more bread-like than American donut holes, but they are topped with powdered sugar and are super tasty!

Plus, Quark is super high in protein, so it’s basically a healthy food…right? #logic.

Where to find it: Most markets in Germany.

A hand holding a skewer of four chocolate-covered marshmallows against a blurred city night background

23. Fruchtspieße (Fruit Skewers)

What it is: various fruits on a stick that is covered in a THICK layer of chocolate – white, milk, or dark.

We saw all kinds of all kinds of chocolate-covered fruit like kiwis, berries, bananas, oranges, etc. We wanted something original, so we tried chocolate-covered plums, and they were SO GOOD.

Plus, you can pretend you’re being healthy, so you may as well order 2 skewers. Christmas market logic continues.

Where to find it: We saw these all across Europe.

A smiling woman in a winter hat holds a traditional Czech trdelník pastry, with a festive Christmas market and a glowing tree in the background.

​​24. Baumstriezel/Trdelnik (Chimney Cakes)

What it is: a flame-cooked pastry that looks like a chimney covered in cinnamon and sugar.  Since it’s cooked on a spit, it’s hollow on the inside. You eat it by pulling apart the layers. I fell in love with them when we lived in Budapest.

It’s kinda like if a cinnamon bun and a churro had a baby, and it’s one of my favorite desserts ever.  

Where to find it: Every single market in Europe 

TAYLOR’S TIP:

MAKE SURE that you ask them for a fresh one, preferably watch them cook it. I did not do this for the first one I ordered, and I was handed one that was cold, old, and hard. I ended up throwing it away. It was that bad.

A close-up of a caramel-topped waffle, held in a hand with the city street blurred in the background, showcasing a gooey caramel drizzle in the grid of the waffle

25. Liege Waffles

What it is: a thick, Belgian-style waffle with pieces of pearl sugar baked right in so the outside gets crispy and caramelized. 

I LOVE Liege waffles, but they are hard to find at the market. If you do find them, eat one immediately. I had one with Biscoff cookie butter, and I think my taste buds fell off my head.

Where to find it: Most commonly found in Belgium, but we found some in Germany and France, too.

A close-up of a Dampfnudel, a German steamed bun, cut open and served on a white plate with vanilla sauce, sprinkled with sugar.

26. Dampfnudel (Sweet Bread Dumplings)

What it is: a soft and doughy steamed bread dumpling almost the size of your head that is filled with a sweet plum jam and BATHED in vanilla custard.

We didn’t expect to like these because they look kinda like a Bao Bun, which are usually too bready for me. But we were WRONG. It was the perfect vehicle to soak up the sweet sauce!

TAYLOR’S TIP:

Make sure the version you get has plum jam in the middle or it’ll probably be very underwhelming.

Where to find it: most commonly in Vienna and Germany.

A hand holding a slice of stollen, a traditional German fruit bread, dusted with powdered sugar, with a backdrop of festive lights.

27. Stollen 

What it is: a fruit bread with nuts, spices, candied fruit, and sometimes marzipan in the center. We think it must be made with 100 pounds of butter because it’s dense and DELICIOUS.

We hate stollen in America. It’s dry and pretty gross. But the stollen we had in Dresden (where it comes from) changed our life so much that we carted a 2kg loaf of it in our backpacks so we could bring it home to our family and have them taste it.

Where to find it: Dresden, Germany. 

Trays filled with various traditional German cookies, including vegan options, with labels displaying prices, in a bustling market setting.

28. Plätzchen (Sweet Cookies)

What it is: A variety of sweet butter cookies (similar to shortbread) with various coatings, sprinkles, or jam filings. You’ll see stalls selling tons of them in different shapes.

They are SUPER simple and so so good that a huge bag of them only lasted us a day. NO SHAME IN OUR PLATZCHEN GAME.

Where to find it: We only saw the stalls in Germany.

TAYLOR’S TIP:

Please know that you order these by WEIGHT. We asked if we could just have “1 of each just to try,” and the vendor said sure…then proceeded to give us a 1-pound bag of cookies. So, learn from our mistakes!

A Couple Of Foods We Didn’t Love

Several Alsatian Kouglofs dusted with powdered sugar stacked at a market, showcasing their distinctive circular, ridged shape

Kougelhopf 

This is a traditional Christmas cake in the French Alsace Region. It looks like a bundt cake, and we found it to be very dry and bland.

Tornado Potatoes (Thin Fried Potatoes On A Stick)

You’re in Europe. You can get fries literally anywhere. Don’t waste your calories on these.

An enticing display of marzipan sweets arranged in pyramid shapes with various flavors like Brownie and Pistachio, each labeled and showcased against a backdrop of colorful macarons and a Christmas tree.

Marzipan

We hated the marzipan balls we bought at the markets. They were SO expensive ($20 for 3 of them), and all the “flavors” tasted exactly the same: like way-too-sweet almond paste. Skip these.

Marones (Chestnuts)

I know this is divisive, but we think roasted chestnuts are horrible and bitter. They smell a lot better than they taste.

Schneeballen 

Schneeballen is made from pie-crust dough, all mish-mashed together to form a snowball and then deep-fried and flavored. They look really cool, but they are SO DRY. If you like soft cookies, we recommend skipping these.

A Few Tips for Eating At Christmas Markets

  • Do NOT buy those huge heart-shaped gingerbread cookies you see everywhere. While it seems romantic, those are 100% for tourists and not made for eating. They are nasty and overpriced.
  • Look for stalls with LINES. You will see so much food, but the best food stalls will have people lining up.
  • Look at the food in the stall before ordering to make sure it actually LOOKS GOOD.
  • Walk around the market entirely before just buying something to eat. Make sure you see what looks the best before being hasty and wasting money and calories.
  • It’s important to note that most of the food is overpriced and of NOT amazing quality. It’s fun to eat at the markets, but we recommend planning some meals at restaurants so you eat some real, quality food, too.
  • Make sure the price is for the whole item and not by weight. We fell for this with the local “ham scam” at the Christmas markets in Prague!

We share more Christmas market tips in our ultimate beginners guide!

Now you know all the things you have to eat during your Christmas market adventure! We know you’ll love all the festive food as much as we do! If you have any questions, just let us know in the comments!

Once you know what food to eat, you need to know what to drink! There are so many delicious Christmas market drinks so we put it all together in an ultimate guide to drinking at Christmas markets!

Other Helpful Christmas Posts:

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