A few weeks after I arrived in Germany for a year-long high school exchange program, a friend’s mom served Rote Grütze for dessert.
I was visiting my friend’s summer house on the North Sea and we were all enjoying dinner outside. My German was pretty much restricted to about five words at that point, so the entire family was teaching me dinner table words – knife, fork, spoon, plate, beer.
Then came dessert – a big bowl of what looked like a red berry pudding accompanied by a pitcher of cold fresh cream.
As soon I tasted one spoonful of Rote Grütze I learned how to say oh my god this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my 16 years on this planet and can I please have more? in German. Actually, no…I’m pretty sure the only thing I managed was a vigorous nod and a hearty ja, bitte! when asked if I wanted seconds (and probably thirds). 😀
Rote Grütze is hands down one of my favorite easy German recipes. I make it all the time at home in the US because it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, I always have berries on hand, and it’s freaking delicious!
If you like German food, authentic German recipes, or are looking for tasty no-bake summer dessert recipes, you’ve got to try this easy and delicious German recipe!
Rote Grütze is a typical German food commonly found in northern Germany, but you will find jars of it at any local Kaufhof in German. When I was in college in southern Germany, I always had a jar of Rote Grütze in my cupboard for when I missed northern Germany.
I wish I’d known back then how just how easy it is to make from scratch, not to mention how much better it tastes!
It’s super easy to make Rote Grütze; mix red berries with sugar and water or juice, simmer, add corn starch to thicken, pour into bowls, add fresh cold cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy.
My favorite way to eat Rote Grütze is the way my friend’s mom served it all those years ago – warm with cold, fresh cream poured over the top. Ahhhhhh…delicious.
Some people prefer to pour vanilla sauce on their Rote Grütze but that’s my least favorite way to eat it. Lately I’ve been serving it with creme fraiche whipped cream, which takes the dessert to a whole new level and is super easy to whip up (sorry) if you’ve got creme fraiche on hand. Want a dairy free pudding? Serve with whipped coconut cream. I always reserve a few berries to place on top of the cream just before serving.
One of the best things about Rote Grütze is that it’s so versatile. Use fresh or frozen berries. More or less sugar. Simmer in water or juice. Leave it chunky or push it through a sieve to make it smooth. Eat it warm or cold. And it’s both refreshing in the height of summer and warming in the dead of winter.
You can make Rote Grütze with any red berries you happen to have – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, currents. I often use a bag of frozen berries from Trader Joe’s. My favorite is the very cherry blend but the simple berry mix works great too.
Enjoy this taste of northern Germany!
Rote Grütze Recipe
- 4 cups berries , (any combo of fresh or defrosted raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, currants)
- 1/2 cup sugar, I often add less if the berries are sweet
- 3/4 cup water or red fruit juice, Juice adds more flavor but water works fine
- 1/3 cup corn starch
- squeeze of lemon, cinnamon stick or vanilla, optional
- 1 cup fresh cream, cold
- Wash and cut berries as needed and place in saucepan. Add sugar and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. If using fresh berries, you may need to add a bit of water or juice. If you want to add a cinnamon stick, do so here.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water or juice until smooth. Pour into the fruit and stir. Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a little water or juice to thin.
- Take off heat. If you want to add lemon or vanilla, do so here.
- Pour into 4 bowls and let cool for a couple minutes. Serve immediately with a small pitcher of fresh, cold cream to pour over the warm fruit.
- Use fresh berries if you have them but do consider keeping a bag of frozen berries in your freezer so you can easily make up a batch of Rote Grütze.
- Taste your berries before adding the sugar. If the berries are sweet, add less sugar (I often use 1/4 cup of sugar but I prefer it less sweet). If you prefer a sweeter dessert, add more sugar to taste.
- Adding lemon, vanilla or a cinnamon stick is optional. Try all three and see which is your favorite!
- I prefer my Rote Grütze warm but some people like it better when it's been chilled in the fridge for a couple hours. It will be thicker if you eat it cold.
- I've always eaten Rote Grütze with cold, fresh cream but others swear by vanilla sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.
- Have left-over Rote Grütze? Use as a toping for cheesecake, yogurt, ice cream, scones or oatmeal.
What to do with left-over Rote Grütze?
Make paletas! They’re super easy and the perfect treat for hot summer days.
To make Rote Grütze paletas, all you need to do is mix Greek yogurt (I use full fat so they’re creamy) and Rote Grütze to taste. For 6 paletas, try starting with 1 1/2 cups yogurt and 1/2 or 3/4 cup Rote Grütze.
This recipe is flexbile…sometimes I add more for a stronger Rote Grütze flavor, sometimes less for a lighter flavor.
Spoon into popsicle molds (I use and love these!) and freeze until set.
When you’re ready to enjoy them, run under warm water until you can pull the ice pop out of the mold.
For a while I used a cheap set of plastic ice pop molds that I picked up from Ikea. A few years ago I upgraded to these stainless steel popsicle mold. I love them and use them all summer long. Wish I hadn’t waited to long to upgrade!