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 family summer house on the North Sea and we were all enjoying a late 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. 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?
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 German desserts. I make it all the time at home in the US because it takes less than 10 minutes, I always have berries on hand, and it’s freaking delicious!
Rote Grütze is a dessert most commonly found in northern Germany, but you will find jars of it at any local Kaufhof in the country. When I was in college in southern Germany, I always had a jar 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, and enjoy.
My favorite way to eat Rote Grütze is the way my friend’s mom served it all those years ago – warm berries with cold, fresh cream poured over the top. Ahhhhhh…delicious.
Other people prefer their Rote Grüzte cold and/or topped with whipped cream, ice cream or vanilla sauce. The recipe included below is based on how I learned to eat it when I lived in northern Germany.
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.
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