German Christmas Recipes and Traditions

Traditional German Christmas Recipes for Cookies, Drinks, and Stollen

Bring the magic of German Christmas into your home with this collection of German recipes and German traditions.

Some of these recipes are traditional and some are more recent, but all are familiar to Germans everywhere.

  • 01 of 08

    Spicy German Christmas Cookie Recipes

    German Springerle Cookies
    Springerle. Getty Images

    Christmas baking in Germany starts early and extends through New Years. Many traditional baked goods can only be found during the Christmas season.

    Lebkuchen, springerle, cardamom, dominosteine, among others. are made with spices not commonly used other times of the year. This dates to when spices were precious commodities unaffordable for most people and used sparingly for special occasions.

    Common Christmas spices include cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, and allspice. Cinnamon is so closely associated with Christmas, that its smell causes Germans to say, "Hier riecht es nach Weihnachten!" (It smells like Christmas in here!)

  • 02 of 08

    Nutty German Christmas Cookie Recipes

    German Cinnamon Star and Vanilla Crescent Cookies
    German Cinnamon Star and Vanilla Crescent Cookies. Getty Images

    Nuts are used extensively in German baking, especially at Christmas time. Marzipan and almonds, of course, are favorite ingredients, but fresh hazelnuts also are popular. Pecans are native to the North American continent and are less well known, and walnuts are used only when a bitter note is wanted. Vanilla crescents, cinnamon stars, and nut bars are some of the most popular nut cookies.

  • 03 of 08

    Shortbread-Style German Christmas Cookie Recipes

    How to Make Black and White Checkerboard Cookies
    How to Make Black and White Checkerboard Cookies. J.McGavin

    Almost every cook has the ingredients for sugar cookies on hand. Simple or intricate, sugar cookies are a baker's mainstay and beloved by almost everyone. And German shortbread cookies like checkerboards, Allgauer butter S, and heidesand are just variations of sugar cookies.

  • 04 of 08

    Filled German Christmas Cookie Recipes

    Austrian Linzer Cookie Recipe
    Claire Cohen

    From lovely Linzers to delightful filled spritz varieties, these cookies take a little more work but they look beautiful on a Christmas cookie platter. They also are a whole lot more fun to eat. Consequently, these jam and Nutella-filled goodies are hard to keep around.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    German Christmas Stollen and Bread Recipes

    German Christmas Stollen
    German Christmas Stollen. Getty Images

    Cakes baked during this season are purposely dry so they will last awhile. They are often leavened with yeast and are not as sweet as cookies, but go very well with a cup of hot tea. Stollen, in particular, is filled with nuts and raisins, symbols of wealth in earlier ages. Marzipan-stuffed stollen also is popular. Schmalzkuchen, or little German doughnut holes, and New Year's brezel (pretzel) are other Yuletide favorites.

  • 06 of 08

    German Christmas Hot Drink Recipes

    German Gluwein
    German Gluwein. Getty Images

    Anytime is a good time for these warming drinks, but in wintertime, Viennese hot chocolate and glühwein are especially appropriate.

  • 07 of 08

    Make a German Gingerbread House (Lebkuchenhaus) for Christmas

    Gingerbread House
    Gingerbread House. Getty Images

    Gingerbread houses are very popular and last a long time after they are made. It will take a good two days or more to make, so clear space and keep the pets away. Make the gingerbread dough one day and assemble and decorate the house the next day. It's a great project for the whole family especially on a snowy day when outdoor activities are canceled.

  • 08 of 08

    German Christmas Marzipan Treats

    Marzipan Lucky Pig
    Marzipan Lucky Pig. Getty Images

    There is plenty of marzipan fruit on display in German specialty stores and Christmas markets at holiday time. One of the most popular marzipan treats is realistic-looking marzipan potatoes.

    Also popular for the New Year is gifting friends and family with little marzipan pigs or Glücksschwein. Traditionally, a prosperous German family would give a pig. The giving of a symbolic marzipan pig is wishing the receiver a prosperous new year.