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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 are able to serve this purpose with a lot of vegetarian options and even some great vegan choices. Sometimes the menu at the Christmas market stands can be a little intimidating. I mean “Reiberdataschi mit Apfelmus,” that has to have meat in it right? Beats me! Just kidding, I know the answer to that, which is why I am here. That option is actually VEGAN, what what!? In fact, a lot of Christmas food in Munich and across Germany is vegetarian with easy substitutions to make things vegan. 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.
Small disclaimer: 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 of my food suggestions have Bavarian names. If you see someone deep-frying mashed potatoes, but 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.
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 and it ranges from VEGAN Apfelmus (applesauce), Vegetarian Kräuterquark (sour cream with herbs in it), and even a pescatarian option with shrimp or herring. This is sold at just about every Chrismas 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 and 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 options that are pre-made. There is always a vegetarian option, but it hard to order vegan, since the base is made with cream. If you’re lucky you’ll find a tomato, pesto, and cheese option, like they sell at the Chinese Tower in Munich, that 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 are simple mushrooms 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, every vegetarian’s best friend in a time of need. How sad is it that most of our vegetarian options are deep friend in Germany, womp womp. That’s ok though, it is the holiday and we don’t give a fuuuu. Anyway if you’re panicked and unsure of what to get, always look for the Pommes sign and eat your heart out. You can usually add your own sauce, and you can choose from mayo or ketchup. If you’re vegan skip the mayo.
Potato slices 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. Basically, 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 yourself a vegetarian raclette.
Basically 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 in literally in the name, but it is a great vegetarian food option and it is a filling meal while you shop 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 sweet are baked apple stuffed with berries and nuts, or marzipan. Once you slice into it, all the fillings come oozing out and it is cooked to perfection. You often have the choice to include a vanilla cream sauce, which is what is pictured here.
Vegan tip: order it without the vanilla sauce, since the apple and both options for suffing are vegan!
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 get all sorts of toppings added to make them a real treat.
Crepes are very common around Germany. Be aware of the savory ones which oftentimes 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 a variety of nuts, some will be coated in sugar, cinnamon or chili. Some are chocolate covered, so avoid the “schoko” ones if vegan.
Gingerbread is literally found everywhere at Germany’s Christmas markets. It not great, to be honest, but when in Munich for the holidays you might be feeling festive enough to try it- though I did warn you it is prettier than it tastes. It is often coated in chocolate or something similar. These are not Vegan, but a great option for vegetarians.
I’m not too sure on the translation or the English equivalent… but it is another thing that looks prettier than it tastes. Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread and something 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!
I have never met a cookie that has meat in it, so eat the various assorted Christmas cookies in the shapes of hearts, stars and Christmas trees to your hearts content! 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 in cinnamon, sprinkles or sugar.
I’m trying to be a vegetarian, but not quite there! Pescatarian Options
My journey toward a smeegan – a shitty vegan – started as a pescatarian. Munich offers some great fish options if you’re not ready to be vegetarian, but want to do your part to reduce meat consumption these are for you.
Literally flame fish this is fish that has been cooked over a wood-fueled flame and cooked to perfection. Most of the fish is local or from the EU and they are fresh not frozen cuts. You can find this at several Christmas markets across Munich and Germany, but most notably the one called Sterne or Star Square in Munich has some really great fish.
Fish soup can also be found at The Star Square. This is a fish medley and it is similar to a fish chowder. It’s the perfect Christmas market food!
This is a fish burger or sandwich and it is WAY better than Mc. Donnalds. This is usually a local white fish filet – skin on that is rolled on a bread roll and served with something similar to a tartar sauce.
Not all alcohol at the German Christmas markets is vegan, but it is all vegetarian! Vegans, you can order just about everything from Glühwein to Blühbier and just about everything else EXCEPT for Eierpunsch – which is an egg-based drink and of course, most hot chocolates have dairy in them.
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, and art, performances, and social events. One tent, in particular, is called the EssZimmer and it is 100% 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 several other options are various stands. 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?
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science.