When it comes to traditional German desserts, they can range from cakes, pastries, cookies, and creams which are all delicious in their own unique way.
They also have a lot of history and tradition linked with them, making them even more special as a way to celebrate the rich culture of Germany.
Here are 28 traditional desserts which originate in Germany and the recipes which will show you how to make them in your own home wherever you may be.
1. Chocolate Lebkuchen
These cookies are perfect for the festive period wherever you are in the world.
They are made with a selection of spices which keep you nice and warm from the inside. Melted chocolate is also used in various ways to decorate them.
The cookies themselves are also traditionally cut into different shapes such as stars and hearts which makes them look delightful on the plate when served up.
2. Speculoos Cookies
These cookies are not only traditional in Germany but are also very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Children who had been nice all year would wake up to find their shoes loaded with not just presents but also big helpings of speculoos cookies, which they had set out the night before.
They are little cookies that are crunchy, caramelized, and taste like buttery gingerbread.
What makes these cookies especially charming is that they can be made into little designs of flowers, windmills, and people in traditional clothing.
3. Linzer Cookies
Technically, these cookies originated in Austria, but you will often see these cookies around the festive period in Germany.
They are a wonderful combination of dough made with spices and ground almonds with either lemon curd or raspberry jam on the inside.
You can be very creative with these cookies as you can also fill them with apricot jam instead or a selection of other preserves.
4. Vanilla Crescent Cookies
Known as ‘Vanillekipferl’ in German, these festive cookies are made with ground nuts which makes them perfect for getting into the Christmassy mood.
Butter is one of the stars in this recipe and is what makes them so good at melting in your mouth.
They are also dusted with vanilla sugar at the end that you can change in strength depending on how many vanilla beans you use when you make it.
5. Cinnamon Star Cookies
If you have ever had an almond macaroon and loved it, then you will love these cinnamon star cookies (known as Zimsterne).
They have a bit of a chew to them and are another staple around the festive period.
As well as being delicious and full of nutty goodness, these cookies are naturally dairy and gluten free (see also ‘27 Easy Dairy-Free Dessert Recipes For You To Try‘).
6. German Plum Dumplings
These plum dumplings are a clever mixture of sweetness and tartness and even if you don’t like plums, you can swap them for another fruit such as apricots, blueberries, or strawberries.
You can also go a step further and add a small ball of nougat or marzipan inside of the fruit for an added surprise.
Plum dumplings go really well alongside some ice cream or whipped cream and can be eaten as a dessert or snack.
7. Meissen Quark Cake
This is a traditional German cheesecake and is used with quark which is milk that has been soured with lactic acid to make it curdle.
If you do not have any quark on hand, then you can easily recreate the texture by using crème cheese and Greek yoghurt.
There are numerous ways that you can alter this recipe to suit your own preferences in terms of taste and density.
8. Bee Sting Cake
There is an interesting backstory with this cake which can help explain where the name came from.
The story consists of a baker in Germany who was trying out a new honey cake recipe which then attracted a bee and stung the baker.
Thus, he named the new cake recipe after the fact.
Bee sting cake has a vanilla custard filling and a honey-glazed topping and is traditional to have as a dessert but can also be had with coffee.
9. Stollen Cake
German stollen cake has been a popular dessert since it was created in the 1300s.
It is mostly eaten at Christmas time (see also ‘35 Fun And Easy Christmas-Themed Desserts The Family Will Love‘) and can be found in supermarkets all around the world during this time of year.
Stollen is moist and has candied fruits inside which makes it full of flavor.
The fruit is in fact one of the main contributors to the sweetness of this dessert and therefore does not need a lot of added sugar.
10. Butter Cake
Known as Butterkuchen in Germany, this butter cake has had a place in Germany’s heart for many, many years.
It may look plain, but when you bite into this cake, it will melt in your mouth and fill you with gooey sweetness.
A streusel topping can be used, but the very basic almond, butter, and sugar topping is quite popular.
You may make an entirely different cake by adding cinnamon and/or sour cream to the topping.
Even though this cake can be had as a dessert, it compliments a hot cup of coffee perfectly as well.
11. Crumb Bake
If you are looking for an easy cake to make that is airy and light, then you should try this crumb cake recipe.
The bottom layer of the cake consists of a sponge and is then topped off with marmalade or another preserve that you prefer as well as sweet crumbs and almonds.
The best way to eat this cake is when it is lukewarm, which you can do in the oven or microwave.
12. Plum Cake
This cake is a great option for those who have some plums that are needing to be used before they go off.
European plums are delicious in this cake but can be a bit too tart for some people, therefor you can add a bit of sugar over them before you add the streusel.
You can also add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.
After a day or two, the juices from the plums are soaked up by the rest of the cake, making it taste even better.
13. Raspberry Custard Kuchen
Even though this is a traditional German dessert, it can also be eaten as it is not too sweet.
There is a base made from biscuit and the cream and eggs are used to make the filling that also has raspberries dotted throughout.
You can either eat it cold or warm and can last in the refrigerator for a few days.
14. Red Berry Pudding
This German dessert is similar to a fruit parfait (see also ‘23 Recipes For The Most Delicious Parfait‘) but a bit fancier. This dish is very easy to make as you only need to set 10 minutes aside to get it all together.
All you need to do is combine red berries, water or juice, and sugar together.
This meal is usually served in the summer, when the first strawberries mature and the season for red berry pudding begins.
This delicacy is now consumed all year in Germany, because of the availability of convenient frozen berries.
Then you add cornstarch to make it nice and thick before adding cream on top.
You can also use frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones and you will still get that wonderful, fruity taste.
15. Bavarian Cream
Although its origins are unknown, it is believed that Bavarian cream originated in either Germany or France.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, several French cooks worked in Bavaria, and it is thought that they learnt the recipe there.
Some say the meal was devised by Marie-Antoine Carême, a prominent French cook who authored a recipe for it in the early 18th century.
Bavarian cream is essentially milk, sugar, and eggs mixed together and thickened with gelatin.
It is traditionally served chilled as a dessert but can also be used in other dishes such as caked and pastries as a filling.
You will have to prepare this dessert in advance though as it has to sit for at least six hours before being served.
16. Blushing Maid
This dessert gets its name from its pink color, much like the hue of a blushing face.
The blushing maid is much like a trifle and is made from lemon and buttermilk.
What makes this dessert unique though is that it uses pumpernickel bread as the base.
This pumpernickel is processed so that it turns into coarse breadcrumbs before being mixed with chocolate shavings.
17. Black Forest Cake
This cake is called after the Black Forest region of Germany and incorporates cherries, one of the region’s principal crops.
The Black Forest is a region in Southwest Germany that earned its name from how densely forested it used to be with pine and fir trees many centuries ago.
If you are looking for something luxurious, then this cake will fit the bill perfectly.
The sponge used in this cake is soaked in cherry syrup or kirsch which is a spirit made from sour cherries.
The combination of sweetness and tartness is what makes this cake so delicious.
There are also tart cherries and whipped cream placed on top in a decorative fashion.
18. Sacher Torte
The history of this dessert is pretty interesting. Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich loved sampling new cuisines and asked the cook to make a new dessert for him.
Orders were dispatched to the cooks, where chaos ensued. The head chef was ill, and the kitchen crew was at a loss for what to make.
With the ingredients that were available, Franz Sacher, a teenage apprentice, rolled up his sleeves and fashioned this famous chocolate cake.
The most important part of this cake is arguably the glaze which you must get right otherwise you will not achieve the traditional Sacher torte appearance.
The glaze should be about 4mm thick and should look neat and glossy when put on top.
19. Poppy Seed Cake
Known as Mohnkuchen in Germany, this cake is very commonly seen during Christmas time.
It is a very delicate cake and can vary in fillings, but it is traditionally filled with poppy seeds, sometimes orange zest is added to give it extra flavor.
You can also add an extra layer if you want or can combine all of the layers together – the choice is yours!
These German dumplings are a bit like sweet bread and are served with vanilla custard and sometimes also fruit.
The underside of the dumpling is slightly caramelized, and the rest of the bread is moist and sweet.
The vanilla sauce can be made in advance and can also be used in other desserts as it is so versatile and delicious.
21. Berliner Donuts
In the 1800s, the jam-filled krapfen were known as Berliners, after a patriotic Berlin baker who worked as a field baker for the Prussian army after being rejected for military duty.
When the troops were in the field, he made the donuts (see also ‘The Most Popular Types Of Donuts From All Over The Globe‘) by frying them over an open fire.
The troops, according to legend, named the dessert Berliner as this was the baker’s hometown.
These donuts (see also ‘Unique Donut Flavors: 23 Of The Best‘) have many different names, but they are all essentially the same.
They are filled with either strawberry jam, raspberry jam, custard, or hazelnut spread.
The donuts are fluffy and are then fried until crispy.
Powdered sugar is also dusted on top, and jam is inserted inside of them to create that wonderful surprise when you bit into it.
22. Almond Horns
You must try these almond horns if you love marzipan. These almond horns are naturally gluten free and are great as a snack or dessert.
Almond horns are very easy to make but the main obstacle is getting your hands on marzipan.
This is because buying marzipan from the store can be very expensive so it is best to make it yourself which is not as hard as you may think.
23. Soft Pretzels
The history of the pretzel is as knotted as its form.
Legend has it that it originated in medieval Europe, when Italian monks baked dough with arms shaped in prayer to reward kids.
Pretzels were connected with good luck and eternal love as the ritual expanded throughout Europe.
This may not necessarily be a dessert, but they are too good not to include in this list.
These pretzels can usually be found at food stalls and festivals as they are so easy to eat and not to mention very tasty.
Traditionally, coarse salt is used to sprinkle on top but you can also put poppy seeds or sesame seeds on instead.
24. Pfeffernusse Cookies
These spiced and frosted cookies (see also ‘35 Christmas Cookies You Need To Try‘) are one of Germany’s most popular and treasured Christmas sweets.
Pfeffernuesse is German for “pepper nuts.” The pepper refers to the white pepper added to the dough, giving the cookies a very distinct and tasty flavor.
The nuts section alludes to the walnut-like form of the nuts.
25. Spaghetti Ice Cream
Dario Fontanella invented Spaghettieis in Mannheim, Germany, in the late 1960s.
Fontanella recalls presenting his inventive concoction to toddlers who sobbed because they desired ice cream rather than a plate of spaghetti.
This dessert is quite a novelty as it is ice cream that is made to look very similar to spaghetti.
It is usually done with a spaetzle press but a potato ricer will achieve the same results.
Strawberry sauce is added on top which looks very similar to Bolognese sauce.
Finally, to mimic parmesan cheese, white chocolate is shaved on top.
26. Fruit Flan
You only need to use one bowl and just over half an hour to make this fruit flan. You can also add whatever filling you like including kiwi, blueberries, and strawberries.
Don’t be afraid to add a variety of different fruits though as this makes it possible to make attractive patterns which makes this flan a very pretty option for dinner parties.
27. Coconut Macaroons
It is very easy to make these coconut macaroons and make for an excellent snack or dessert.
These chewy coconut macaroons are filled with fresh shredded coconut, beaten egg whites, sugar, and vanilla flavor, and are wonderfully sweet and gently crunchy on the outside.
28. Nut Rolls
The nut roll is a sweet pastry consisting of crushed almonds or walnuts and sugar that is fashioned into a cylinder and wound into a spiral.
The end product is a flaky, buttery pastry with a tinge of sweetness and salt. The cinnamon enhances the flavor and scent of the dish.
Aswell as the variety of names for nut rolls, the walnut fillings can include a variety of components such as cinnamon, raisins, lemon zest, rum, sour cream, or heavy cream.
Although certain parts of Bulgaria and Serbia make it using thin, filo-like strudel dough, the dough is normally yeast-raised and made with oil, sour cream or butter.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Desserts Do Germans Eat On Christmas?
Christmas cookies are a popular German holiday custom. The aromas of cinnamon, chocolate, and vanilla permeate the house.
Children and adults alike are hard at work crafting various German cookie recipes.
You put the completed cookies in tins to keep them secure. If you have guests during Advent, the cookie tins will be opened.
Another classic Christmas delicacy is the stollen.
This cake-like fruit bread is full of marzipan, raisins, nuts or other candied fruit, and covered with a thick layer of icing sugar, making it look like it is covered in snow.
What Is the Most Popular Dessert In Germany?
Perhaps the most well-known and adored cake in Germany is Black Forest Cake.
It consists of a chocolate cake filled with fresh cream and cherries that have been steeped in Kirschwasser, a delicacy of the Black Forest.
Cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries are used to garnish the cake.
Another very popular German dessert is a simple sheet cake called butter cakes which are produced from sweet yeast dough.
With your fingers, poke a few tiny holes into the dough, and then brush it with butter.
After that, sugar and almonds are sprinkled on top. It is a well-liked cake at weddings (see also ‘28 Quirky Untraditional Wedding Cake Flavors That Taste Amazing‘) and funerals.
What Candy Is Traditional In Germany?
The confectionery sector in Germany enjoys a good reputation abroad.
German candy bars, chocolates, and hard sweets come in a wide variety and are thus widely consumed worldwide.
The holiday season would not be possible without making Easter Chocolate Bunnies and Christmas Chocolate Santas, as addition to making Gummy Bears and Marzipan.
A fantastic example of German candy is toffifee.
This little confection features chewy hazelnuts in delectable caramel, nougat cream, and a dot of dark chocolate on top.
The first confection of its sort in the world, it was introduced in Germany in 1973.
These days, more than a hundred nations throughout the world have adopted this German sweet.
Additionally, there is Riesen, the first German confectionery company.
In the 1930s, The Storck Company released the first caramel-chocolate chews with a branded wrapper.
Its rich caramel flavor and unusually long-lasting chewiness rapidly made it highly popular.
As you can see, there is a big variety of German desserts that you can try if you haven’t already.
Even if some of them don’t pique your interest, there is bound to be at least one or two on this list which will be too good to say no to.
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