What to eat at a Swiss Christmas Market
Walking through a Christmas market makes you tummy rumble, For me, the smells are intoxicating. Cheese melting, sugar caramelising, batter frying, nuts roasting - it all smells amazing, but my biggest issue every time is where to start!
To help you navigate the markets this year, I’ve mapped out a starting point of delicious treats to consider lining up for and tasting. As Christmas Markets become more popular the options for food are also growing, but you will still find these traditional favourites among the newcomers.
1. Äpfelchucheli - or otherwise known as heaven on a plate! Thick slices of apple are dipped in batter and deep-fried ’til crispy and golden. Choose to have these treats with either a dusting of powdered sugar or warm vanilla custard.
2. Heisse Marroni - Warm up those hands with a serving of hot chestnuts that have been roasted on an open fire - a standard sighting on any street corner in Swiss cities in winter, as well as at every market.
3. Magenbrot, Gebrannte Mandeln and co. - These moorish sweet treats may be more associated with the autumn fair than Christmas, but still no market would be authentic without them. Bite through the crispy chocolate outer coating of the Magenbrot to reveal a soft nutmeg and clove spiced cake like biscuit. The smell of Gebrannte Mandeln (or burnt almonds) is almost as addictive as eating them. Warning: once you try one of the caramelised almonds you won’t be able to stop.
4. Raclette - Raclette has become so popular that I’ve even seen it sold in markets in Australia! The cheese is made specifically for melting, with half a cheese wheel placed in special stands that have heating elements that melt the cheese. For a cheese lover, waiting in line is well worth it—until the moment the cheese is scraped off the wheel onto boiled potatoes and served with pickled gherkins and onions.
5. Crepes - Switzerland has a mixture of cultures, and crepes is one French tradition that shows up at every market. Have something as simple as sugar and cinnamon (zimt und zucker) or try a more decadent option like Nutella or even a savory ham and cheese crepe.
6. Sausage - it wouldn’t be a Swiss market without sausages; they appear at every single event throughout the year. You usually have a choice of three different types. Choose between:
- Bratwurst (mostly veal sausage that is white in color),
- Schweinsbratwurst - a pork sausage that has a little more spice added
- Cervelat - the thicker orange sauasage that have a more smokey flavour
Traditionally a piece of bread comes with each sausage, and you can squeeze condiments onto the bread to dip your sausage in if you’d like.
7. Christmas Cookies - There is sure to be a stand with Christmas cookies, from the more traditional varieties found all around the country to more specific ones like the Tirggel, a honey cookie imprinted with images found in Zurich or a Biberfladen also made with honey but a little thicker.
8. Fisch Knusperli - thanks to the many lakes in Switzerland, fresh water fish is a popular thing to eat - and the most famous way to eat it is fried - called Fisch Knusperli. Although more popular during the summer time, you will still find some sort of fish stand at Christmas markets.