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10 Must-Try German Desserts & Sweet Treats

 

Germany is known for its bounty of delicious desserts and sweet treats. How to choose which ones to try when you go to Germany? It’s tough because everywhere you turn, there are just so many tantalizing  options! You could spend your entire visit to Germany just eating dessert and still never try all of them.

Fortunately, I got to know a lot of Germany’s awesome sweets during the years I lived there. Here’s are 10 traditional German desserts and sweet treats I recommend trying on your next trip to Germany.

I’ve linked to several of the recipes so you can make them in your own kitchen.

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10 Must-Try German Desserts and Sweets

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1. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)

If you like honey and almonds, you’ll love Bienenstich “Bee Sting Cake”! There are four layers in this cake:

  1. Sweet yeast cake
  2. Vanilla cream
  3. Second layer of cake
  4. Crunchy, honey-flavored, caramelized almond topping

OMG – so good! The yeast cake with the creamy center combined with the crunchy topping? Out of this world.

When I was studying in Stuttgart years ago I walked past a little corner bakery every day on my way to the university. More often than not I’d stop and pick up a slice of Bienenstich cake (oh, to be 19 again with the ability to eat cake every day). And do you know what? When I was in Stuttgart last summer I unknowingly booked a hotel that was almost right next to that bakery! Ha! Unfortunately, they didn’t have any Bienenstich when I stopped by. (I did find some later at a cafe…whew.) 

I still eat German Bee Sting Cake whenever I’m in Germany but these days I also make it at home. You, too, can make this amazing German cake using my  easy Bienenstich cake recipe!

Don’t want to make Bienenstich from scratch? No problem, you can order the Kathi Bee Sting Cake mix! All you do is add the butter, water, and heavy whipping cream, and then bake it. Click here to check it out!

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2. Rote Grütze (Red Berry “Pudding”)

Are you a fan of berries? If so, you’ll love this traditional northern German dessert. 

Rote Grütze is basically a “pudding” made from raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and red currants, and then topped with cold fresh cream (my favorite), vanilla sauce, whipped cream or ice cream.

I tried Rote Grütze for the first time when I visited a friend in Hamburg after moving to Germany in high school and it’s still one of my all-time favorite desserts. I make it all the time in summer. And if you have any left over, Rote Grütze is delicious on cheesecake, mixed into yogurt or even made into popsicles or ice cream

If you’re visiting northern Germany you may find Rote Grütze on the menu at a restaurant or cafe (like my Rote Grütze + ice cream dessert in the above photo) but if you don’t, you can pick up a jar at nearly any German grocery store. I always warm it up a bit (it was first served to me a bit warm, which was delicious topped with cold fresh cream) but it’s often enjoyed at room temperature or chilled and then topped with heavy cream, vanilla sauce, whipped cream or ice cream.  It’s the perfect AirBnB dessert! 

As I mentioned, you can make Rote Grütze from scratch at home in about 10 minutes using fresh or frozen berries. Click here to get my homemade Rote Grütze recipe!

And if you like tea, you can try Rote Grütze flavored tea

3. German Chocolate Bars

Who doesn’t think chocolate when they think of Germany?

You could spend your entire visit to Germany just sampling chocolate after chocolate after chocolate!

Confession: I spent five weeks in Germany just before getting married and brought an extra bag with me just for chocolate! It’s true, I filled an entire carry-on size bag with Milka chocolate bars to give away to our wedding guests. Back then it wasn’t that easy to get Milka in the US so the German chocolate made a unique addition to our gift bags.

Two of the most popular brands of chocolate are Milka and Ritter Sport. You may already be familiar with them, as you can find both in the US these days. Germany, however, offers a much better selection for a much better price. They even have seasonal flavors! For the best selection, visit a department store (such as Kaufhof, Karstadt or Hertie) or one of the larger grocery stores.

My favorites?

For Milka I’d say it’s Sahne Creme, Diam,  and Caramel.

For Ritter Sport it’s Hazelnut, Espresso, Cocoa Mousse, Joghurt, and Cornflakes.

When I visit Germany I almost never eat chocolate (when I live there, that’s a different story). Instead, I bring my favorite German chocolate bars home to the US so that when I’m in Germany I can allocate my dessert calories to things I can’t bring home (cake, pastries, ice cream…). And then I get to enjoy delicious German chocolates for a few weeks after I return home.

If you can’t go to Germany tomorrow to get Milka and Ritter Sport, head over to Amazon, where they have all kinds of flavors like Cocoa Mousse, Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts, Cornflakes, and a variety pack of mini Ritter Sport or a variety pack of Milka

Another kind of chocolate I always buy in Germany is called Schogetten. I like that their chocolate comes in little individual square pieces, so it’s easy to just eat one or two squares at a time. I like the Hazelnut and the Yogurt-Strawberry the best. 

Unfortunately, they no longer make my favorite flavor: coffee. It was SO good. The bottom layer was chocolate, the top layer was a creamy white chocolate with coffee bean flakes. 

I was heartbroken when they discontinued this flavor. Schogetten – bring it back, please! In the US, you can find a few Schogetten flavors at Aldi, hazelnut for one. You can also order a variety pack on Amazon

Oh, one more chocolate to try is Kinderschokolade! Yep, “kids chocolate.” Kinderschokolade always touted their chocolate as having “an extra portion of milk” in the creamy filling. I don’t eat this as often as I used to but I still enjoy a bar once in a while. That creamy milky center…yum. And I like the chocolate sticks are small and individually wrapped so that I have built in portion control.

I’m now thinking I need to do a separate post just on chocolate because I could list at least 10 types of chocolate to try. 😉

If you’re craving German chocolate right now, check out my article on where to buy German food online. You can have delicious German chocolate – and more! – delivered to your door. 

4. Fruit and Quark Pastries  

Raspberry pastry from a bakery in Germany

If you’re looking for a quick sweet breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up that you can eat on your way to your next activity, pop into any bakery for a fruit and Quark pastry! Raspberry, cherry, peach…they’re all so good. The pastry in the photo above was ah-mazing…flaky sweet pastry, thick Quark, raspberries, and almonds. The Quark really balances out the sweetness from the fruit and glaze. So good! 

With bakeries on every corner in Germany, it’s super easy to find a pastry to suit your tastes, even if fruit and quark isn’t your thing. Click here to read my review of the best pastries in Germany.

And if you want to try making quick Quark from scratch or delicious German desserts made with Quark, click here to check out my easy Quark recipes.

5. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

Probably the most popular German cake in the US, I recommend giving authentic Black Forest Cake in Germany a try.

While the main ingredients are generally the same with both the German and US versions – layers of chocolate cake, cherries, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings – the German version typically has far more Kirsch liqueur in it.

Like, a lot more!

I once had a slice of German Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) in a little cafe in the Black Forest when I was teaching in Freiburg and, wow, I don’t think I could have eaten two pieces of that cake (and that’s not something I say very often).

If you like boozy cakes, definitely give Black Forest Cake a try while in Germany. Or make it at home the easy way!

6. Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake)

German cheesecake is different from cheesecake in the US. Traditional German cheesecake is made with Quark instead of cream cheese. Never heard of quark? It looks like thick Greek yogurt but is actually a fresh non-aged cheese.  

In Germany, Quark is super easy to find at any grocery store and it’s inexpensive. Not so in the US (not yet, anyway)! When I make German cheesecake at home, I either make homemade Quark or I use pureed cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.

The crust on a traditional German cheesecake is different, too. Instead of a cookie or graham cracker crust, which you’ll find in most cheesecakes in the US, German cheesecakes have a sweet short-crust. Or no crust at all!

While you can find dense little squares of Käsekuchen (cheesecake) in bakeries, I prefer to order it in cafes, where you’re more likely to get a taller, fluffier wedge of cake, often served with a mound of fresh whipped cream, usually on the side of the cheesecake, rather than on top. German cheesecake is often plain but you may also find it with cherries, raisins, peaches or Mandarin oranges mixed in.

German cheesecake is another easy German recipe that you can easily make at home. I have three Käsekuchen recipes for you to try: a classic crustless German cheesecake, an authentic German Cheesecake with a crust, and an older, more rare version of crustless German cheesecake. All are delicious!

7. Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesauce


Dampfknödel from Bavaria in Germany

photo credit

When I was in high school I lived with a German family near Hamburg for a year. Over spring break, my host mom took me to visit relatives in southern Germany. On our day trip to Munich we stopped at the Hofbräuhaus and my host mom ordered Dampfnudel mit Vanillesauce l because she said I had to try this traditional Bavarian dessert while in Munich.

I advise you to try one, too!

Dampfnudel is a steamed yeast dumpling smothered in vanilla sauce. Whether you eat yours with a beer at the Hofbräuhaus or elsewhere in up to you!

8. Spaghettieis

Spaghetti ice cream! Can you imagine? Spaghettieis is a must-try dessert in Germany. Nearly every sit-down ice cream parlor will have Spaghettieis the menu. And it’s not just for kids. It might just look like vanilla ice cream but there’s something about the vanilla ice cream + fresh strawberry sauce + whipped cream under the ice cream that is so delicious and satisfying.

If you have a potato ricer (or a Spätzle maker) you can make Spaghettieis at home! You only need a few basic ingredients like whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and strawberries. It’s a lot of fun to make.

9. Eiskaffee (German Iced Coffee) 

If you’re heading to an ice cream shop but Spaghettieis isn’t your thing, try a refreshing, invigorating Eiskaffee. 

Germany’s take on iced coffee is a little more decadent than the basic iced coffee you’ll find in the US. In Germany you’ll get a glass of cold coffee (which will be strong and delicious) poured over a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and then often topped with a thick layer of fresh whipped cream.

Sometimes iced coffee comes in fancy glass and other times it’s a simpler affair. But it’s always good! 

I love Eiskaffee and make it at home in the US all the time. You can too! Click here to get my German iced coffee recipe. Summer is so much better with German Eiskaffee!

10. Zwetchenkuchen (Plum Cake)

Zwetchenkuchen (Plum cake)

When I think of German cake, I think of Zwetchenkuchen – fresh plum cake!

The funny thing is that I don’t like fresh plums at all but I love Zwetchenkuchen (also called Pflaumenkuchen). Especially with a large dollop of fresh whipped cream and a cup of strong coffee.

Perfect for afternoon of traditional German Kaffee und Kuchen!

You can usually find slices of Zwetchenkuchen in bakeries all over Germany, especially during plum season. If you’re invited to Kaffee und Kuchen at someone’s home, don’t be surprised if Zwetchenkuchen is served. It’s an easy and popular cake to make in Germany.

You can make Zwetchenkuchen at home, too. Here’s my easy recipe for German plum cake!

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The 10 BEST German desserts and sweet treats to try when visiting Germany!

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Kristen Hertel

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Oh, autocorrect! I meant plum kuchen! Dumkopf!

Kristen Hertel

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

This takes me back! My mother, my father, and I all used to make plum kitchen. Also good with apples! My parents have passed, and oh how I wish I had made a plum kitchen in the fall for my father!

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

It's bittersweet to have memories of loved ones connected to specific recipes like that. :)

Karin Anderson

Thursday 11th of March 2021

I’m from Hamburg - I never saw Rote Grütze served warm anywhere, neither in Northern Germany, nor in Denmark. It is meant to be a refreshing, cold dessert for warm summer days. Over the years, it got so popular that it made its way down further south and now can be found even in Bavaria.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Thursday 11th of March 2021

That's so interesting! Maybe the family I first ate it with liked to eat it warm (topped with very cold cream) or maybe was just still warm when it was served. I've asked a lot of Germans how they like to eat Rote Grütze over the years (if they even eat it) and gotten a lot of different answers! I am happy that it's made its way down south so I can enjoy it when I'm elsewhere in Germany.

Christine Pehl Aguirre

Monday 14th of September 2020

My grandparents are German, and so many of grandma's recipes are still made by our family. Your recipes reviews were so fun to read...and drool over! They look just like the ones I saw when in Germany and Austria for business and pleasure. Thank you so much.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 15th of September 2020

You're welcome! Germany has so many delicious sweet treats. How wonderful that you still have those cherished family recipes!

Janie

Monday 6th of April 2020

Those individual chocolates flavored with coffee are widely available in Italy, and probably in good Italian markets here in the states as well.

Cate, International Desserts Blog

Tuesday 7th of April 2020

Good to know! I'll keep my eye for them.

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