Are you curious about the best vegetarian and vegan Christmas market foods in Germany? Even though some traditional foods at the markets are off-limits for us vegetarians and more so for vegans, that doesn’t mean we don’t have some great options. Germany has recently been ranked as the 6th best country in the world for vegetarians, with some of their biggest cities like Berlin and Hamburg, ranking well for vegetarians. In my seven years in Munich, I noticed a huge shift from meat-focused menus to nearly everyone offering vegan and vegetarian options. The German Christmas markets are no exception; you can find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options – and even Christmas markets dedicated entirely to vegan and vegetarian foods!
Sometimes, the menu at the Christmas market stands can be 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. To complicate things, German Christmas market foods can be called something different across regions. For example, vegan potato pancakes can be called Reibekuchen, Reiberdataschi, or Kartoffelpuffer, depending on where you go in Germany. Additionally, the side you choose with your potatoes may not always be vegan. I live in Munich, so some food suggestions have Bavarian names. 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 in German if something is meat or dairy-free to give you the best advantage. This guide will help you navigate Germany’s Christmas markets more easily as a vegetarian or vegan.
Are you planning your German Christmas Market holiday adventures? Make sure Munich is one that list and don’t miss these helpful guides!
Savory German Christmas Market Foods
These savory dishes will keep your mouth watering as you bite into them! All these foods are at least vegetarian, and I’ll discuss if they are vegan or things to consider for vegans, as the toppings or sides may include some hidden animal products. So, keep an eye on my notes, and let’s dig into the best vegan and vegetarian savory Christmas market foods in Germany.
Potato pancakes are one of the best vegetarian options at German Christmas markets. They’re deep-fried mashed potatoes or glorified hash browns, and you can’t go wrong with that! The base of these foods is vegan -potatoes. You then have a choice of dipping sauces to go with these bad boys. Vegan Apfelmus (applesauce), Vegetarian Kräuterquark (sour cream with herbs), 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. 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 spend multiple days at Germany’s Christmas Markets. Stands selling these will typically advertise between two and four options. There is always a vegetarian option, but it is hard to order vegan since the base is often made with something similar to a sour cream. As a vegetarian, my favorite is to order tomato, wild garlic pesto, and cream base.
I have yet to find this as a vegan option, but you might be able to negotiate with the vendor to add the toppings without slapping on the cream base. Otherwise, watch for something similar at the vegan-specific markets (more on that later.)
Speck = Ham. Speck is a common topping on Flammkuchen, and always ask for Ohne (oh-nay) Speck (shhpeck) without ham if you’re unsure if your flammkuchen comes with ham.
Champignons Mit Knoblauchsoße
Mushrooms in a garlic sauce are a fantastic savory vegetarian option at German Christmas markets. Seen at the Residenz Palace Christmas Market in Munich and all over Germany, these mushrooms are sauteed in a creamy garlic sauce.
This is not a vegan-friendly option. 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. If panicked and unsure what to get, always look for the Pommes sign. You can usually add sauce; if you’re vegan, skip the mayo. Most ketchup in Germany is vegan as they typically use natural ingredients and products, so you are usually safe to order the curry ketchup as a side for your pommes if you are vegan.
Potato slices are similar to thick-cut potato chips. Skewered on a stick with no additions like mayo, they are 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 as seen in the picture above.
Beware: What about Raclette?
Raclette is a Swiss cheese that is neither vegan nor vegetarian, as it is made with rennet, an enzyme produced in animals. Some vegetarians eat any cheese, but you avoid rennet and do not order raclette unless it is at a vegetarian-specific market, which I have not seen. If you smell something funky, you are near a raclette stand. Raclette is typically melted and then scraped off to cover your food. You must be careful because they can cover anything from meat, veggies, or bread.
Beware: What About Käsespätzle?
This dish is also known as German Mac n’ cheese, which is neither vegan nor vegetarian. The traditional cheese for this dish contains rennet. It originated in Schwabia in the Allgäu region. If you decide to try this dish, Munich is often a great spot. I have found this vegan, so keep an eye out for this dish made with a vegan style “cheese” at the vegan-specific markets.
Sweet German Christmas Market Food
If you are looking for something sweet to finish your day of eating some of Germany’s best vegan and vegetarian Christmas market foods, this guide has you covered. These dishes can be tricky as some recipes allow for vegans without eggs or milk, and some will not be suitable. When in doubt, ask; Germany is a very vegetarian-friendly country, and most should be able to tell you before you buy.
Is Sugar in Germany Vegan?
Let’s talk about German sugar before we get into the sweet treats. You might wonder about that dusting of powdered sugar or the sugar that makes all these desserts sweet. While it is more common to find bone char in your sugar in the United States, this is not a common practice throughout the EU and is typically not permitted. You are generally on the safe side to enjoy sugar in Germany. But, of course, it never hurts to ask if you are concerned.
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 are always cooked to perfection. You often have the choice to include a vanilla cream sauce, as pictured here. Vegan tip: order it without the vanilla cream sauce. German marzipan is 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.
Waffles originated in Belgium, but they are common across Germany. They are not vegan; you can add toppings to make them a real treat.
Crepes are very common around Germany, especially near the Alsace border. Again, they are not vegan and contain eggs. Be aware of the savory ones, which often contain speck/ham or other types of meat.
Ethical traveler alert: Avoid Nutella, made with unethical palm oil and a huge contributor to deforestation in Borneo and around the world. #savetheorangutangs!
Gebrannte Mandeln or Heiße Maroni
Roasted almonds and hot chestnuts are every vegan’s redeeming treat 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. You might want to avoid the chocolate ones if you are 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. Though, you can find some vegan options at vegan-specific markets.
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. The base ingredients for this bread are vegan – yeast, water, and flour, making this typically a safe treat for vegas as well.
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. If you are looking for vegan-specific cookies, you will need to ask. Depending on the cookie, you can find both vegan and vegetarian options.
This doughnut-croissant hybrid baby thing is amazing! It’s a crispy and flaky pastry cooked on a wooden dowel. You can have it dusted with cinnamon, sprinkles, or sugar. These are made with a yeast-activated dough that is vegetarian-friendly. Unfortunately, in order to get the toppings to stick the pastry is covered in butter, making this not suitable for vegans.
German Christmas Market Drinks
The drinks at German Christmas markets are surprisingly not great for vegetarians and vegans. Depending on your preferences, we will review some typical drinks and whether they are safe to drink for vegetarians and vegans, but be prepared to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, the staple beverage at German Christmas markets is typically not made with vegan-certified wine. If you are strict about only drinking vegan-certified wine, you must look for Glühwein, labeled vegan and organic. It is not readily available in most of the main markets throughout Germany. Yet, it is not impossible to find, but your best chance is to head to one of the vegan-friendly markets.
Beware: Eierpunsch, Hot Chocolate, and Apple Cider
Eierpunch literally translates to egg punch, so naturally, this is not a vegan-friendly drink as it contains both egg and dairy.
Most hot chocolates are made with milk and other animal products.
Finally, the apple cider is a toss-up – many apple juice brands in Germany are natural and cloudy, thus not processed with animal products. This contrasts with US apple juice, which is rarely vegetarian. However, I can’t guarantee 100% what apple juice most Christmas vendors use in Germany. You can ask the vendor what type of juice they use, but unless it is clearly labeled as vegan you may want to skip this drink.
Glühbier: When in doubt, drink beer!
Beer is generally the safest thing to enjoy at the German Christmas markets if you are vegan or vegetarian. You can find beer almost anywhere. To enjoy the festive season, opt for a Glühbier, a mulled beer using holiday species. This is similar to the Glühwein but made with vegan-friendly German beer.
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
Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Christmas Markets
With over 10% of Germans identifying as vegetarian, Germany has some amazing Christmas markets for vegan and vegetarian food! Since I was based on Munich for seven years, so my expertise is all about their vegan-friendly markets, but there are several throughout Germany – and I’ll list them for you at the end!
Tollwood Winter Festival
Tollwood is, as the title says, a Christmas festival in Munich. But, it is nothing like a traditional market. There are multiple tents full of food, gifts, art, performances, and social events. One tent, in particular, is called the EssZimmer, and it is 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).
Other Vegan-friendly Christmas Markets
- Berlin – Fehrbelliner Platz for vegan Christmas market treats
- Berlin – Green Market Berlin for a 100% vegan-friendly winter market
- Hamburg – Apostelskirche Christmas Market for vegan and bio Glühwein and local vegan apple cider
- Cologne- Rugby Park Christmas Market for all vegan food
- Leipzig – Urban Feinkost Christmas market for vegan souvenirs and vegan food!
Do you know of any more vegan-specific Christmas markets in Germany? Please share them in the comments so I can add them to my list!
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What vegetarian dish at the Munich and German Christmas markets is your favorite?