German word of the day: Schmalzkuchen

For today’s word of the day, we have chosen a special Christmas treat that is best found on Christmas markets and which name varies depending on where they are eaten. And they taste better than they sound, promise!

German word of the day: Schmalzkuchen

If you’ve spent a holiday season in Germany, chances are high that you have stumbled across a bag full of Schmalzkuchen on one of the numerous Christmas markets.

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Schmalzkuchen translates to “lard cakes” and is basically fried unsweetened yeast dough, covered in powdered sugar. So Schmalzkuchen is basically just tiny squared donuts in a bag.

And nowadays, lard isn’t the traditional way of frying them anymore. As vegetarianism is continuously rising in Germany, it becomes more and more common to fry the cakes in vegetable fat.

Schmalzkuchen can be bought in different sized bags – from the small “I’ll just have a nibble”-portion to the big “enough for a family of five”- portion – mostly for quite reasonable prices for a Christmas market. 

Caution, though: There’s a lot of powdered sugar on the cakes. And a lot in this case means A LOT. If you try to cool down the cakes by blowing gently in the bag or even if you let out an uncontrolled breath, chances are high that your face, your clothes and everything in a one-metre-radius will be covered in sweet powder. 

Now, people that are not from the north of Germany might not even know what this article is about based on the title. That is because the greasy donuts are one of the things in Germany which name varies depending on the region you’re in. For everybody who is confused, here is a short overview: 

In parts of Northern Germany (especially Lower Saxony and Bremen, they’re called Schmalzkuchen or Schmalzgreben. If you’re from Potsdam or Lübeck, you might know them as Mutzen.

In Saxony, where cooking the cakes in lard is more common than elsewhere, they are called Kräppelchen, which is connected to the word Krapfen (a jam-filled donut.) If you are based in Franconia, however, you might know them as Striezel.

A woman indulges in Schmalzkuchen at a Christmas market in Hanover. Photo: DPA

Example sentences:

Hast du Lust auf Schmalzkuchen?

Would you like some donuts?

Mein Lieblingsessen auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt sind Schmalzkuchen.

My favourite food on the Christmas market is donuts. 

In Leipzig werden Schmalzkuchen “Kräppelchen” genannt.

In Leipzig, the donuts are called “Kräppelchen.”

Do you know more names for Schmalzkuchen? Let us know in the comments below!

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Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

This article was produced independently with support from Lingoda.

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German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.