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16 Irresistible German Desserts and Pastries

German desserts tantalize the senses with their comforting textures and familiar flavors. Read on to discover 16 German sweet treats that we simply can’t resist.

Knodel Cut Open in Hamburg

German dishes like Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and Spätzle are famous around the world. Without a doubt, these foods are delicious and deserve their fame.

Discover more than two dozen German food favorites and the best German drinks.

Kirsch Coffee at Cafe Konig in Baden-Baden
Some of the best German desserts come in liquid form like this Kirsch Coffee we drank in Baden-Baden.

But what about German desserts?

Overshadowed by savory German specialties as well as by desserts in nearby countries like Austria, France and Italy, many desserts in Germany live under the radar. As it turns out, Germany has a cadre of delectable desserts and pastries that rival those in its neighboring countries.

Discover more than 100 of the best desserts in the world.

Our Favorite German Desserts and Pastries

Cake at Herr Max in Hamburg Germany
This slice of naked cake at in Hamburg fueled us through an intense day of food tripping.

We never thought of Germany as a dessert destination. However, after more than a half dozen visits to Deutschland, we’re now smitten with the country’s sweet treats.

While many of the best German desserts are cakes, some desserts are fruity and others are pastries. The country even has a spaghetti ice cream dessert called Spaghettieis which doesn’t actually involve pasta. Then there are German candies that we’re happy to eat when we’re craving chocolate or chewy gummies.

After satisfying our sweet tooth cravings in German cities like Baden-Baden, Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich and Nuremberg, these our our picks for the best desserts in Germany and the ones you shouldn’t miss:

1. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte at Cafe Konig in Baden Baden
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) is a multilayered experience involving cherries, kirsch liqueur, chocolate and cream. We ate this luscious slice in Baden-Baden.

While some people venture to Germany’s Black Forest to live out a Grimm fairytale fantasy or buy a cuckoo clock, dessert lovers hike into the hills for cake. And not just any cake. The Black Forest (i.e. Schwarzwald) inspired the creation of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte more commonly known as Black Forest Cake or Black Forest Gateaux.

No fairy tale villain, this cake channels good over evil with intensely chocolate cake, fresh cherries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The addition of kirsch (cherry liqueur) is the literal cherry on top of this iconic German dessert.

Pro Tip
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of either chocolate or cherries. Instead, order a slice of apple cake or plum cake. Better yet, try a slice of Bienenstich-Kuchen (i.e. Bee Sting Cake) filled with custard and topped with honey and almonds.

2. Apfelstrudel (Apple Streudel)

Apple Strudel at Alpenstück Restaurant in Berlin
A dusting of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla sauce provided the finishing touches to this classic Apfelstrudel we ate in Berlin.

Apfelstrudel is an Austrian dessert that feels like it should be a German dessert. We’re apparently not alone with this feeling since Apfelstrudel is popular all over Germany but especially in Bavaria. This popularity qualifies this position as a top German dessert.

To make Apfelstrudel, bakers fill layered pastry with sweet apple filling. With hints of cinnamon, Apfelstrudel is an ideal dessert to eat after dishes like Schnitzel and Sauerbraten. Toppings like vanilla sauce and whipped cream elevate Apfelstrudel to legendary status.

3. Bienenstich Kuchen (German Bee Sting Cake)

German Bee Sting Cake at Cafe Melt in Hamburg
We ate every bite of this slice of Bienenstich Kuchen with no regrets. It was way better than any other bee sting we’ve previously experienced.

Although Bienenstich Kuchen literally translates to bee sting cake, eating this oddly named cake doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, eating Bienenstich Kuchen is a tasty experience that we highly recommend.

Bienenstich Kuchen has a honey-almond topping which may be the reason for its odd name. Or the tasty cake may have gotten its name from legendary 15th century bakers who allegedly used beehives as weapons. Either way, the cream-filled yeast layer cake is a tasty treat that Germans love to eat. When we’re in Germany, we love to eat it too.

4. Spaghettieis (Spaghetti Ice Cream Sundae)

Spaghettieis at Cafe Melt in Hamburg
This plate topped with Spaghettieis looked like pasta but tasted like dessert.

Trust the Germans to transform spaghetti into a dessert but that’s exactly what they do at ice cream parlors across the country. The dessert is called Spaghettieis but, while it looks like spaghetti, it’s essentially an ice cream sundae.

An Italian immigrant invented Spaghettieis in Mannheim more than 50 years ago when he made ice cream ‘noodles’ with a spätzle press, placed them on top of whipped cream and topped the dish with strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings.

Resembling a plate of spaghetti but tasting like an ice cream sundae, this dessert is both wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular desserts in Germany.

Discover our favorite noodle dishes made with actual spaghetti.

5. Streuselkuchen (Crumb Cake)

Kirsch Streusel with Fork at Cafe Mimosa in Hamburg
Since this Streuselkuchen had a cherry filling, it was technically a Kirsch Streuselkuchen. It was also delicious.

Streuselkuchen translates to crumb cake, but don’t confuse it with the Entenmann’s version that many Americans (including us) grew up eating. Germany’s version is way better. And why not? The concept of topping cake with a crumbly top (i.e. streusel) began in Silesia when the region was part of Germany. It’s now part of Poland.

German bakers typically fill Streuselkuchen with fruits like apples and sour cherries. The buttery cake pairs well with coffee – hence why it’s sometimes referred to as coffee cake.

6. Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesauce (Steamed Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce)

Dessert in Munich
Sharing this sweet Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesauce in Munich provided a sweet ending to our meal.

Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesauce sounds more exotic than steamed dumplings with vanilla sauce. However, unlike Shakespeare’s roses, this German dessert tastes divine no matter what you call it.

While these steamed, yeasty dumplings can be either sweet or savory, adding vanilla sauce makes Dampfnudeln sweet. Frying them in butter makes them crispy and adding fruit jam makes them healthy. Well, we like to think of them as healthy but we also like to think that we’re tall. Maybe one day…

7. Franzbrötchen

Franzbrotchen at Nord Coast Coffee Roastery in Hamburg Germany
We paired this Franzbrotchen with specialty coffee when we ate the German pastry for breakfast in Hamburg.

Hamburg’s Franzbrötchen reminds us of a French croissant. It also reminds us of a Finnish Korvapuusti. Perhaps it was inspired by both. Or neither.

Either way, we fell for Franzbrötchen during our first trip to Hamburg and fell for it again during our second visit. The sweet pastry makes a great little breakfast or afternoon treat. It’s even better when paired with coffee.

Discover the best specialty coffee shops in Hamburg.

8. Knödel (Dumplings)

Knodel in Hamburg
Additions like roasted plum and fresh mint elevated this Topfenknödel dessert from good to great when we ate it in Hamburg.

Knödel are popular in European countries like Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia. Needless to say, they’re especially popular in Germany.

Similar to Dampfnudeln, German Knödel can be either sweet or savory. We like to eat them both ways. We especially liked eating the sweet version we ate in Hamburg with roasted plum, vanilla sauce and sliced almonds. We literally scraped the plate clean – the dessert was that good.

Discover more great food in Hamburg.

9. Lebkuchen

Oktoberfest
We ogled these heart-shaped Lebkuchen when we attended Munich’s Oktoberfest in 2018.

Despite its kitschy appearance and similarity to gingerbread, Germany’s Lebkuchen is a traditional German treat that dates back to the 13th century when monks first baked them. Baking is no longer a necessity as modern Germans can buy heart-shaped Lebkuchen at Christmas markets as well as at Oktoberfest and other festivals.

It’s probably better to buy Lebkuchen at a German Christmas market or at a festival like Oktoberfest than to make the sweet treat at home. The Lebkuchen recipe has an extensive laundry list of ingredients that includes eggs, flour, honey, sugar, nuts, candied orange and lemon peel as well as exotic spices like anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and mace.

Be aware that there’s a tradeoff for this shortcut. While homemade Lebkuchen is soft in texture, the commercial version is harder and crunchier. We’re okay with the tradeoff when bakers add colorful designs to their Lebkuchen creations.

10. Krapfen (Berliner Donuts)

Inside a Berliner Donut at Hofpfisterei in Berlin
We ate this Berliner in Berlin. However, since we were in Berlin, it was called a Krapfen.

While JFK wasn’t claiming to be a donut when he famously stated “Ich bin ein Berliner,” we can understand any potential confusion on the matter. After all, Germany’s Krapfen are called Berliner Donuts outside of their home country.

Similar to jelly donuts eaten around the world, Krapfen are yeasty pastries filled with jam, fried in oil and sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can eat one for breakfast with coffee or as an afternoon snack.

Discover more great food in Berlin unless you’d rather discover the best Berlin coffee shops.

11. Kaiserschmarrn (Shredded Pancakes)

Kaiserschmarrn at Gerodsauer Muhle in Baden Baden
This ginoromous serving of Kaiserschmarrn arrived with sides of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, cherry compote and applesauce when we ordered the messy dessert at a Baden-Baden restaurant.

While most countries eat pancakes for breakfast or lunch, Germans shred puffy pancakes, caramelize them and serve the resulting ‘mess’ for dessert. They also add extra bits like raisins and powdered sugar as well as sides like applesauce and jam.

We’re not being rude when we call this dish a mess. Named after an Austrian kaiser who clearly liked the dessert as much as we do, Kaiserschmarrn loosely translates to Kaiser’s Mess. The messy dessert is especially popular in Bavaria and can be found each autumn at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

12. Mandelhörnchen (Almond Horns)

Mandelhornchen at Conditorei Cafe Beek in Baden Baden
We felt lucky when we we purchased this Mandelhörn at a Baden Baden cafe.

Mandelhörnchen have a lot going on. Not only are the horseshoe-shaped pastries coated with almond flakes and dipped in chocolate, but they also have marzipan centers.

The marzipan center was a sweet surprise since we were expecting the Mandelhörnchen to be crunchy like Mandelbrot. Instead, we found the Mandelhörn to be as chewy as it was delightful. We literally devoured the tasty almond pastry in two minutes and were tempted to buy another.

13. Stollen

Four Slices of Stollen in Baden Baden
The top layer of powdered sugar transformed this Stollen we bought in Baden-Baden from a Christmas bread to a Christmas dessert that also doubled as a Christmas breakfast.

Germany’s Stollen has stolen our hearts.

It’s not that the simple Christmas bread studded with candied fruits and nuts is particularly unique. But, as we discovered in Baden-Baden, versions baked with mandel (i.e. almonds) and marzipan hit our breakfast sweet spot. Plus, its top layer of powdered sugar doesn’t hurt Stollen’s cause.

Discover awesome places to eat in Baden-Baden including the cafe where we bought this Stollen.

We weren’t the first to discover Stollen’s charms – its history dates back to the 16th century when Stollen was more of savory bread than a dessert. It quickly became popular in German cities like Dresden, a town famous for hosting Europe’s oldest Christmas market as well as an annual Stollen festival in December.

German Candy

Assorted German Candy at Baden-Baden Hotel
This hotel honor bar made us happy with its variety of German chocolate bars and German gummies.

Many people don’t realize that Germany is a candy country, rivaling countries like Switzerland and Italy in terms of its candy selection. We don’t say this lightly since we’re candy fans who often buy chocolate bars and fruity confections both at home and when we travel.

When we’re in Germany, these are the candies that most tickle our tastebuds:

14. Chocolate Bars

Holiday Ritter Sport Bar at Baden-Baden Train Station
Traveling to Germany in the winter has its benefits including this seasonal Spekulatius bar featuring milk chocolate and speculoos.

Move over France and Switzerland. While Valrhona and Lindt are divine, Germany produces enough chocolate types and varieties to keep us from ever getting bored. As a bonus, German candies are delightfully different from our favorite American candies as well as our favorite British candies.

Top German chocolate brands include Duplo and Milka as well as our personal favorite, Ritter, which has been producing chocolate in Germany for over a century. The opposite of old-school, Ritter produces more than three dozen square-shaped ‘sport’ bar varieties, each sold in a colorful snap-open package.

Our favorite Ritter Sport bar flavors are milk chocolate (Mindi), dark chocolate (Daryl) and cornflakes (both of us). We’d add corn tortilla chips to this short list but that unique chocolate bar flavor is challenging to find outside of Germany.

15. Haribo Gummies

Haribo Gummy Candy at Baden-Baden Train Station
The challenge isn’t finding Haribo gummies in Germany – instead, it’s deciding among the candy company’s many varieties.

Haribo started a global gummy craze with its goldbärren (golden bears) but the German candy produces many more varieties of soft, chewy candy. Other gummi options include fruit salad, dinosaurs and happy cola bottles. We’re not exactly sure why these bottles are happy but they make us happy so there’s that.

Founder Hans Riegel didn’t invent the gelatin-based candy concept but he was likely the first to make gummies shaped like bears. Though Haribo has since gone global, Riegel’s creation is still a local favorite throughout Germany with no end in sight.

16. Heiße Schokolade (Hot Chocolate)

Chocolate Drink at Chocolate Museum in Cologne
This hot chocolate warmed us from the inside out when we drank it at the Chocolat Grand Café inside Cologne’s Schokoladenmuseum.

Heiße Schokolade is Germany’s version of hot chocolate. Not to be confused with Trinkschokolade made with powdered chocolate, Heiße Schokolade, made with actual chocolate, is the real deal and worth the calories.

To be clear, Germans didn’t invent hot chocolate. That honor goes to the Mayans. However, drinking Germany’s Heiße Schokolade topped with whipped cream on a cold winter day is nothing short of heavenly.

Planning Checklist

Hungry for More Desserts?

Check out our dessert guides for France, Italy, New Orleans, Portugal and the World as well as our Copenhagen Bakery Guide, Lisbon Pastel de Nata Guide and Paris Pastry Guide. If you like ice cream, check out our gelato guides for Bologna, Lisbon, Naples, Rome, Venice and Verona. If you like candy, check out our favorite American candies and our favorite British candies. We have a guide for Christmas desserts around the world too!

View the latest Web Story.

About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Original Publication Date: January 23, 2022

Dieter

Sunday 10th of July 2022

The best thing about German desserts and candies is that they are not overly sweet like here in America. Comparing our standard candy bars with something like Ritter Sport will tell you immediately that the Germans use better ingredients and less sugar. That said, the various fruit-in-season Tortes, Bundt cakes, the inappropriately named Mohrenkoepfe, and best of all, the baked German cheesecakes that are not just a huge pile of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (and a lot healthier too) are not to be missed.

Isolde Brunson

Sunday 5th of June 2022

Thank you for that awesome list I miss all the wonderful cakes and pastries and those Mandel hoerchen you can't find nowhere in the us this are my favorites if you know where I can buy them please let me know thank you great job

Janet Znyski

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Vielen DANKE! You brought back many memories. Pflaum kuchen is a desert my Omie would make. Butter kuchen is another one. Rote groetze is a red pudding.. Would love easy recipes. Unfortunately no one wrote them down and they have passed on. Im so glad to read of your travels and delicious findings! Especially the hot chocolate. Our favorite is the bienenstich!

Nakitumi

Monday 21st of February 2022

Yeah, Bienenstich is missing and Donauwelle too.

Also, that image of Dampfnudel is wrong, I'm afraid. Looks more like a piece of Streuselkuchen in vanilla sauce than any Dampfnudel (or Germknödel) I've ever eaten.

Kris

Saturday 19th of February 2022

Finally a list of German food that had Dampfnudeln on it. When I was stationed in Germany I would buy them at the bakery and eat them plain like a roll then I was introduced to them with vanilla sauce or apple butter. I need to dig out the recipe and give it a go again to see if I can come closer to the flavor. I happen to be snacking on Haribo Vulcano Sauer at the moment. Only buy Haribo that is in German not English, American Haribo is garbage.