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The holidays and Christmas markets are a time to go into gluttony overload, feasting on hearty foods to keep you fat and warm through the winter. Contrary to popular belief, Munich and German Christmas markets can serve this purpose with vegetarian options and some easy substitutions fo vegans. Sometimes the menu at the Christmas market stands can be a little intimidating. The hardest part is translating some of your favorite options, knowing what and how to order, and where to get these tasty vegetarian and vegan German Christmas market foods.
Vegan options are hard to find, you’re best bet it to find the food trucks and stalls that are advertising vegan
Germany is a hard place to pin down food because food is called something different in just about every region of Germany. For example, potato pancakes – AKA Reibekuchen, AKA Reiberdataschi, AKA Kartoffelpuffer, have a different name depending on where you go in Germany. I live in Munich, so some food suggestions have Bavarian names. If you see someone deep-frying mashed potatoes, it’s called Reibekuchen and not Reiberdatschi. To the best of my knowledge, I’ll include as many names as I can, and at the end of the post, I’ll teach you how to ask if something is meat or dairy-free in German to give you the best advantage I can.
Savory Vegetarian German Christmas Market Food
Potato pancakes are one of the best vegetarian options at German Christmas markets. They’re basically deep-fried mashed potatoes or glorified hash browns, and you can’t go wrong with that! You have a choice of dipping sauces to go with these bad boys, ranging from VEGAN Apfelmus (applesauce) to Vegetarian Kräuterquark (sour cream with herbs in it), and even a pescatarian option with shrimp or herring. This is sold at just about every Christmas market in Munich and around Germany, so you can think of it as your Vegetarian/vegan staple if you want.
This is the German version of a flatbread pizza. It is one of my favorite options since it is a bit healthier than deep-fried potatoes, making it a more viable vegetarian food if you’re spending multiple days at Germany’s Christmas Markets. Stands selling these will often offer 2-4 pre-made options. There is always a vegetarian option, but it is hard to order vegan since the base is made with cream. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a tomato, pesto, and cheese option, as they sell at the Chinese Tower in Munich, which is all-time favorite Flammkuchen!
Vegetarian danger: Speck = Ham. It is very common on Flammkuchen and always ask for Ohne (oh-nay) Speck without Ham if you’re unsure.
Champignons Mit Knoblauchsoße
Mushrooms in a garlic sauce are a fantastic vegetarian and savory option at German Christmas markets. Seen at the Residenz Palace Christmas Market in Munich and all over Germany, these mushrooms are stir-fried in garlic sauce.
Vegans beware: As much as you want garlic sauce to just be crushed garlic, it’s often cooked with heavy cream.
French fries are every vegetarian’s best friend in a time of need. How sad is it that most of our vegetarian options are a deep friend in Germany. That’s ok, though, it is the holiday. If you’re panicked and unsure what to get, always look for the Pommes sign. You can usually add sauce, if you’re vegan, skip the mayo.
Potato slices are similar to thick-cut potato chips. Skewered on a stick with no additions like mayo, they are 100% vegan and a great snack. Plus, they’re fun to eat off the stick. Some places don’t bother putting them on the stick, and they might be called something different when served in a paper cone.
If you smell something funky, you are near a raclette stand. They take a type of swiss cheese, melt it and then pour it all over your food. You have to be careful with this because they can cover anything from meat, veggies, and bread in this cheese. Look for words like Gemüse (veggies) or brot (bread), and you have a vegetarian raclette.
German Mac n’ cheese. This dish originated in Schwabia in the Allgäu region, so Munich is often a great spot for it, and you can get real traditional Allgäuer Käsespätzle at the Märchenbazar (whew, that was a lot of ä haha). It is impossible to get vegan since cheese is literally in the name, but it is a great vegetarian food option, and it is a filling meal while you shop at German Christmas markets.
Already know what you want to eat and eager to get to the markets? Check out my detailed guide, including a map of all Munich’s Christmas markets, figure out where to stay and even how to say Merry Christmas in German!
Sweet Vegetarian German Christmas Market Food
My favorite vegetarian Christmas market sweets are baked apples stuffed with berries and nuts or marzipan. Once you slice into it, all the fillings come oozing out, and it is always cooked to perfection. You often have the choice to include a vanilla cream sauce, which is pictured here.
Vegan tip: order it without the vanilla cream sauce.
Mini pancakes originated in the Netherlands, so it is more common to find them in North Germany than in Bavaria, but I believe some of Munich’s Christmas markets sell them. These are not vegan but make a great vegetarian Christmas market treat. Add some powdered sugar to sweeten them up.
Waffles originated in Belgium, but they are common across Germany. They are not vegan, and you can add all sorts of toppings to make them a real treat.
Crepes are very common around Germany. Be aware of the savory ones, which often contain speck/ham or other types of meat.
Ethical traveler alert: Avoid the nutella, which is made with unethical palm oil and is a huge contributer to the deforestation in borneo and around the world. #savetheorangutangs!
Gebrannte Mandeln or Heiße Maroni
Roasted almonds and hot chestnuts are every vegan’s savior at the German Christmas markets. Just snack on these all day, and you’ll be happy. You can choose from various nuts; some will be coated in sugar, cinnamon, or chili. Some are chocolate covered, so avoid the “schoko” ones if vegan.
Gingerbread is found everywhere in Germany’s Christmas markets. It’s not great, to be honest, but when in Munich for the holidays, you might feel festive enough to try it- though I warned you it is prettier than it tastes. It is often coated in chocolate or something similar. These are not Vegan, but they are a great option for vegetarians.
I’m not too sure about the translation or the English equivalent… but it is another thing that looks prettier than it tastes. Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread you “have to try.” This hard bread is coated in powdered sugar and often includes raisins and nuts. Not vegan.
Chocolate-covered fruit. There are all types of fruit, from entire apples (apfel), orange (orange – but said super fancy) slices, pineapple (ananas), strawberry (Erdberree), banana (banane), and more! They come on a stick, and if you’re feeling festive, get the one that looks like a Christmas tree!
These are great for vegetarians to grab as an on-the-go snack or to take home as a treat. Not vegan.
This doughnut-croissant hybrid baby thing is amazing! It’s a crispy and flaky pastry cooked on a wooden dowel. You can choose to have it dusted with cinnamon, sprinkles, or sugar.
Tired of Munich’s Christmas markets and need a break? Check out 25 more things to do in Munich this winter!
Updated: For the drinks, Eierpunsch, is an egg-based drink, and of course, most hot chocolates have dairy in them. Just as most wine and apple juice are not vegan, the Glühwein and apple ciders are not vegan. As a reader pointed out, many of these options are also not vegetarian, as they use gelatin or shellfish products. If you typically don’t drink wine or apple juice that isn’t certified vegan, you might want to stay away from the drinks at the Christmas markets. Generally, beer is the safest drink choice here. You can read this handy guide to vegetarian/vegan wine and spirits.
How to Ask for No Meat or Dairy
If you want to be triple sure you are not getting meat, it helps to know how to ask for no meat or if there is meat in something. So, let’s learn some German phrases!
“No meat please” “Ohne Fleisch, Bitte!”
Ohne (oh nay) Fleisch (fly shhh) Bitte (Bit-eh)
“Is there meat in this food?” “Gibt es Fleisch in diesem Essen?”
Gibt (gipt) es Fleisch in diesem (dee-szem) Essen (essen)
“No dairy please” “Ohne Milchprodukte, Bitte”
Milchprodukte (mil hch – pro dookt) you can also say milk product.
You might also say Milchhandlung for dairy products (mil hch – hand – luuung)
“Is there dairy in here?” “Gibt es Milchprodukte?”
Key German Words for Vegetarians to Know
Fleisch – meat
Speck – Ham
Vegetarische – Vegetarian
Milch – milk
Gemüse – Vegetables
Käse – Cheese
Munich’s Magical Vegetarian Christmas Markets
Whoever said Munich was a meat city clearly doesn’t know what they are talking about. The above vegetarian foods are super Christmassy and part of German tradition, however, there are 2 amazing Christmas markets in Munich that focus on non-traditional vegan and vegetarian food.
Tollwood Winter Festival
Tollwood is, as the title says, a festival. There are multiple tents full of food, gifts, art, performances, and social events. One tent, in particular, is called the EssZimmer, and it all vegetarian and vegan food. You won’t find traditional Christmas market food here, instead, there is vegetarian and vegan food from Africa, Mexico, the Middle East, and the U.S. You MUST come here if you don’t eat meat for a nice warm place to sit down and enjoy some global food!
The seitan kebap with roasted eggplant and spicy garlic sauce is literally to die for. You will also find vegan wurst at the wurst stand and various other options. This place is like a mini burning man in the center of Munich and my favorite market.
Munich’s Queer Christmas market not only has drag, but they have VEGAN soup and Vegetarian Dinnede (Flatbread pizza)
Share With Your Vegetarian Possee and Spread the Word!
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What vegetarian dish at the Munich and German Christmas markets is your favorite?
I am sorry to break it to you but I think it is very important for people to know: Most of the Glühwein you find on Christmas Markets aren’t vegan let alone vegetarian (not only that but also Punsch, Hot Chocolate etc.). Because during fining process they get treated with either gelatine, shellfish, casein or egg whites.
Thank you so much for your comment! I’ve updated and corrected myself. That is essential information, so thank you for taking the time to write a comment. I’m quite curious now and need to ask some of the vendors at the more vegetarian/vegan-friendly areas like Tollwood and Märchenbazar if they have vegan-certified Glühwein.