As soon as the first snow hits the ground—an indication that winter is here—brightly-lit, festive stalls appear all around the world. These stalls collectively form what are referred to as "Christkindlmarket." These markets range from simple to lavish, quiet to loud. Regardless, these vibrant and creative stalls are a staple during the holidays. More importantly, they always feature mouthwatering food. If you're a Christkindlmarket amateur, don't fret: Here's a guide to these holiday stalls. 

The Basics

Charlotte (Charli) Hu

The German-rooted name makes these traditional market's origins pretty clear. Centuries ago in Germany, allegedly during the Middle Ages, the markets sprung up as a place where townspeople could gather and mingle. They also brought some light and warmth to the cold, dreary winter months.

The stalls allowed local tradesmen and merchants to sell delicacies as well as traditional products, gifts and materials that proved perfect for the holidays. Every regional market is slightly different. For instance, markets in the Czech Republic might sell Trdelnik and Haluski, while markets in Munich might sell Bavarian pretzels, and markets in Vienna might feature Spaetzle

Since the markets remain open until Christmas Eve, they prove a great place for gift shopping. Beside the food stalls and other attractions (this nativity scene, Christmas trees and carousels), the markets also feature vendors who sell hand-crafted ornaments and decorations. 

Currently, the Christkindlmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, is the most popular worldwide. Huge, boisterous markets exist all across Europe, and even in the United States. The Christkindlmarket in Chicago, hosted by German American Events, brings in over one million visitors annually, making it one of the Windy City's most popular winter attractions. 

With so many options at these markets, picking what food to get proves overwhelming. Based on several informal interviews with some of my German friends, I've compiled a mostly comprehensive list of must-try foods. 

Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

What's not to love about a spiced, hot wine? Traditionally sipped on in Europe during Christmas, mulled wine is served warm. You can order red or white. Either way, this is a beverage that'll warm you up while you explore the Christkindlmarket and all its stalls. 

Grilled Chestnuts

If it's in a Christmas song, then these smoky holiday treats are a must-try. Grab a bag of roasted chestnuts to curb your hunger during your Christkindlmarket endeavor. Grab 'em while they're hot.

Roasted Almonds Dusted With Sugar

Don't miss out on sugar-dusted roasted nuts. It's a sweet-and-salty treat that proves perfect for the holidays. Almonds are a personal favorite of mine, but vendors at the Christkindlmarket usually offer a variety of nuts for you to choose from.

Currywurst (or anything with "wurst")

Or anything ending in "wurst," for that matter (think Bratwursts, people). It's a meat-lover's dream. Currywurst is a market favorite among many Europeans, and it's basically sausage drenched in ketchup and dusted in curry powder. It's savory and sweet, all at the same time. However, there are many other sausages available if this particular one doesn't appeal to you.

Leberkäse or Wienerschnitzel With Sauerkraut

Basically, Leberkäse is a version of meatloaf that is similar to a bologna sausafe, while Wienerschnitzel is a pan fried veal cutlet. Think of these guys as traditional German "mystery meat" patties. Don't question what's in them, just trust that they're delicious. For maximum tastiness, eat with some sauerkraut.

Potato Pancake

French fries-addicts, you must try potato pancakes (aka latkes) during your time at the Christkindlmarket. These fried potato pancakes, often served with apple sauce and sour cream, are the best way to enjoy the holidays. Nothing beats these bad boys.


An ode to all lovers of brunch: Crepes at the Christkindlmarket are a serious necessity. Thin pancakes, stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients (Nutella crepes are a personal favorite), are a must-get when you're exploring the markets.


These traditional Austrian dessert originally got its name from the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I, as these shredded pancakes became his favorite thing to eat. They're powdered, shredded and fluffy—what more could you want in a pancake? They're also served with a refreshing fruit jam. 

The winter months prove cold and lonely, but the holiday spirit, bountiful food, and variety of gifts at the Christkindlmarket will keep you (and your stomach) warm and content all through the holiday season. Go beyond your comfort zone to try foods that you never thought you'd eat.