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10 Must-Try German Desserts & Sweets

Germany is known for it’s many delicious desserts and sweet treats. How are you supposed 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 you’re 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 desserts during the years I lived there. Here’s are 10 traditional German desserts and sweets I recommend trying on your next trip to Germany.

10 Must-Try German Desserts and Sweets

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 sliced almonds

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).  I still eat German Bee Sting Cake whenever I’m in Germany but these days I also make it at home.  

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!

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 warm “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 made into popsicles. 

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Rote Grütze from a German grocery store

If you’re visiting northern Germany you may find Rote Grütze on the menu at a restaurant or cafe but if you don’t, you can pick up a jar at nearly any German grocery store. Just heat it up on the stove or in the microwave (or eat it at room temperature), and then top with cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream.  It’s the perfect AirBnB dessert! (The photo above is the Rote Grütze and fresh cream I bought while in Hamburg a few years ago.) 

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 bag with Milka chocolate bars to give away to our wedding guests. Back then you could’t get Milka in the US so the German chocolate made a unique addition to our gift bags.

Milka chocolate from Germany

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, Joghurt, and Caramel.

For Ritter Sport it’s Hazelnut, Espresso, Cocoa Mousse, 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 chocolate bars home with me 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!

Another kind of chocolate I always buy in Germany is called Schoghetten. 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 – kinda like this Straciatella but with coffee beans instead of chocolate chips.

I was heartbroken when they discontinued this flavor. Schoghetten – bring it back, please!

In the US, you can find a few Schoghetten flavors at Aldi, hazelnut for one.

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 find German food online. You can have delicious German chocolate delivered to your door. 

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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. In many bakeries you’ll find regional specialties, like Franzbrötchen in Hamburg.

5. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

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 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!

6. Käsekuchen (German Cheesecake)

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.  

Quark is super easy to find at any grocery store in Germany, 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, typically 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 or Mandarin oranges mixed in.

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

Spaghettieis from Germany
photo credit

Spaghetti ice cream! Can you imagine? Spaghettieis is a must-try dessert in Germany. Nearly every sit-down ice cream shop will have Spaghettieis the menu.

The best ones make Spaghettieis fresh just before serving (the lesser ones pull one a pre-made one of the freezer). Spaghettieis is basically vanilla ice cream that been worked through a potato ricer so it looks like spaghetti noodles. Strawberry “spaghetti” sauce is poured over the ice cream noodles and is then topped with flecks of white chocolate “parmesan cheese.”

Kids love Spaghettieis…and so do adults visiting Germany!

9. Eiskaffee (German Iced Coffee) 

Eiskaffee from Germany
photo credit

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 what you’ll find in the US. It’s a glass of cold coffee (which will be strong and delicious) poured over a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and then topped with a thick layer of fresh whipped cream.

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. 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 (also called Pflaumenkuchen) 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.

Is Your Mouth Watering Yet?

Which traditional German dessert do you want to try? If you’ve been to Germany, what was your favorite  dessert or sweet treat?

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