A list of the most popular German dessert recipes. Enjoy!
To make your browsing easier we have organized our list of most popular German desserts into categories. Go directly to the recipe groups listed above or keep reading to find your new favorite.
Of course there are overlaps, for example many of the popular traditional Oktoberfest desserts also belong under German pastries or German cakes and vice versa.
About German desserts
Anyone who has lived in Germany or spent at least a week there and paid attention to the ways of the locals will tell you that the Germans have great love and respect for sweet treats combined with passion for local and seasonal ingredients.
It is hard to miss that enjoying various Kuchen with afternoon coffee or tea is a deeply ingrained cultural practice and the overall daily lives of the people include multiple traditional specialties catering to one’s sweet tooth. German bakeries will bever go out of business!
When it comes to desserts Germany has a vast and rich culinary heritage.
Oktoberfest & Bavarian Desserts
Oktoberfest, the biggest folk festival in the world is famous for its beer, but the food is just as important, if not even more so.
The dessert options are truly decadent and reflect the regional Bavarian character of the festival.
Best when eaten fresh out of the fryer, these puffy yeast dough pulled donuts are a long time classic. Typically served with a generous dusting of powdered or vanilla sugar. Popular all over Germany. Recipe here.
A chilled custard with a delightful, light texture thanks to the addition of whipped cream. Much better than a pudding! Frequently topped with fresh raspberries or other fruit, strawberry sauce or dark chocolate sauce. It is also commonly served as a classy unmolded stand alone dessert. One of Germany’s quintessential desserts. Recipe here.
Fresh apple rings are dipped in a very light, fragrant batter and fried to perfection. Best enjoyed still hot and with a scoop of ice cream. Recipe here.
Possibly the most recognizable German dessert – the apple strudel, is fragrant with spices. Commonly served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. During Oktoberfest it is often offered dusted with sugar as seen above. Cinnamon sugar is another approriate finishing touch. Recipe here.
Once again – this delicious treat is a favorite on the Wiesn but also at the Christmas markets. Easy to make with irresistible aromas and taste. Recipe here.
These German sweets are popular all throughout fall – from Oktoberfest to the many Christmas markets around Germany. Recipe here.
Freshly baked goods are a staple of German life and the realm of the sweet ones among them includes a variety of decadent treats.
These yeast rolls are sweetened with milk and have a soft and airy texture. Sometimes they can be stuffed with cherries or other seasonal fruit, most often they are served freshly baked along with warm vanilla sauce. Recipe here.
Most commonly fried, but with baked variations as well. The classic Berlin donut is soft, airy and filled with jam. Hundreds upon hundreds of variations exist, but this recipe is for the original.
A ‘mess’ of torn pieces of sweet, fluffy pancakes with nice caramelization served with raisins (frequently soaked in rum). This dessert has Austrian origins. The story goes that Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph I (1830–1916) loved eating this dish, hence the name (Kaiser=emperor). Kaiserschmarrn has many variations, but the classic recipe is our favorite.
The most famous examples honor various abundant local ingredients – for example apples, almonds and Kirschwasser.
The luxurious flavors of this light cake by far surpass its good looks. The filling is a rich, yet light custard and the topping includes honey, mmm. Recipe here.
This multilayered cake is typically enjoyed around Christmas. It consists of multiple layers of caremelized cake batter (like a cross-section of a tree with its rings, hence the name). While it is a bit labor-intensive to make the results are more than worthy of the effort. Recipe with video here.
Rich layers of chocolate, vanilla cake batter, buttercream, tart cherries, and chocolate ganache. Recipe here.
A favorite with afternoon coffee across Germany this apple cake has many regional versions. Some are more moist and reminiscent of pie, others are topped with streusel. When the apple slices are placed on top of the batter and sort of ‘sink’ into it is appropriately called ‘sunken apple cake’ or Versunken Apfelkuchen. The shape varies – round or sheet style like this one.
This decadent specialty of the Baden-Württemberg region shares the popularity status of Apfelstrudel and Bayerische creme. The classic version has sour cherries, chocolate and Kirschwasser (brandy distilled from the fermented juice of cherries, many liquor stores stock it in the United States). Recipe here.
Much lighter than its American counterpart, this cheese cake is made with quark, a dairy product akin to a fresh cheese which is greatly favored in Germany. You can substitute with full fat ricotta or thick yogurt.
Served ‘naked’ or topped with fruit, Käsekuchen is a nationwide favorite and for a good reason. Recipe here.
Another Bavarian specialty that has become popular across the country and into neighboring Austria and Switzerland. Enjoyed year round but especially so in summer in celebration of plum season.
There are many recipes for it and the arrangement of the plums on top can be quite elaborate with some of them. Streusel and slivered almonds are common additions. Here is how to make it. We also love this one.
This traditional winter and holiday offering is really easy to make. Choose a rich, spicy red wine. Recipe here.
Traditional coffee companion cake with an affinity for almonds and if you so desire could be drizzled with orange juice and almond liqueur for an extra decadent touch and delicious moistness (plus the alcohol helps to preserve it). Recipe here.
A classic German fruit bread made for the holidays. Dried dark fruit, citrus and nuts impart festive flavors. aromas of nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and cardamom abound. Recipe here.
CURIOUS FACTS: German Chocolate Cake is NOT German and Spaghetti Ice was an Italian Invention
It’s original name was German’s Chocolate Cake, after the American baker and pastry chef who created the type of dark baking chocolate used in the cake – Samuel German. He developed the chocolate in 1852.
Later on the ingredient was used in many cakes and pastries but one particular all American recipe stood out. It became known as German’s Chocolate Cake and became a national staple. Over time the possessive apostrophe was dropped from the name giving us German Chocolate Cake.
Spaghettieis (Spaghetti Ice Cream) This relatively new German dessert was invented by an Italian immigrant, Dario Fontanella. He pressed vanilla gelato through a spaetzle maker to create spaghetti like strands and topped them with red berry sauce and shaved white chocolate. Watch about this dessert here.
Just like in the United States and elsewhere in Europe in Germany cookies are most popular during the winter holidays. We’ve included some of the most popular ones below.
Classic holiday German cookies. Short bread at their core, these little treats have hundreds of variations. Marzipan, apricot jam, chocolate, walnuts are frequently added. Sometimes they are entirely covered with chocolate. This is a good base recipe.
These Marzipan cookies from Frankfurt are one of the favorites at Christmas markets in Germany, especially in the North. Recipe here.
Classic gingerbread cookies with brown sugar and honey, usually shaped as balls and smothered with icing. Recipe here.
Short bread cookies cut in triangular shapes, covered with crushed nuts and their corners dipped in chocolate. Our absolute favorite German cookie. We use this recipe.
If you didn’t find what you were looking for among the options above a great resource for German desserts (especially cookies) is this book – Classic German Baking: The Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites. We love the easy to follow recipes included in it and the fact that the needed ingredients are easy to find.
You can also purchase cake mixes (ex. Bienenstitch Cake Mix or Black Forest Cake Mix) and imported German cookies such as Pfeffernusse and Lebkuchen (Trader Joe’s has some really good ones every holiday season). Not to mention decadent bars of German chocolate.
- BAVARIAN DONUTS (AUSGEZOGENE KRAPFEN)
- BAVARIAN CREAM (BAYERISCHE CREME)
- APPLE RING FRITTERS (APFELKÜCHLE)
- APPLE STRUDEL (APFELSTRUDEL)
- CANDIED ALMONDS (GEBRANNTE MANDELN)
- CANDY APPLES (KANDIERTE ÄPFEL)
- SWEET MILK ROLLS (BUCHTELN)
- BERLIN DONUTS (BERLINER)
- GERMAN FUNNEL CAKE (STRAUBEN)
- QUARK DONUT HOLES (QUARKBÄLLCHEN)
- Kaiserschmarrn (Emperor’s Mess Pancakes)
- BEE STING CAKE (BIENENSTITCH)
- BAUMKUCHEN (TREE CAKE)
- DANUBE WAVES (DONNAUWELLE KUCHEN)
- GERMAN APPLE CAKE (APFELKUCHEN)
- BLACK FOREST CAKE (SCHWARZWÄLDER KIRSCHTORTE)
- GERMAN CHEESECAKE (KÄSEKUCHEN)
- GERMAN PLUM CAKE (ZWETSCHGENKUCHEN)
- RED WINE AND CHOCOLATE CAKE (ROTWEIN SCHOKOLADENKUCHEN)
- GERMAN BUTTER CAKE (BUTTERKUCHEN)
- CHRISTMAS STOLLEN CAKE (CHRISTSTOLLEN)
- GERMAN MARZIPAN COOKIES (BETHMÄNNCHEN)
- GERMAN GINGERBREAD COOKIES (PFEFFERNUSSEN)
- NUT CORNERS (NUSSECKEN)
- Choose your favorite German dessert recipe from the list above. Follow the link to the ingredients list and instructions.
- Gather the ingredients and prepare a delicious German sweet treat.