22 irresistible Swiss treats that aren’t (purely) chocolate

Did you know that you don’t have to stuff yourself with chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth in Switzerland?

It’s true.

While chocolate is a major player in our dessert culture, there are tons of alternatives.

In the unlikely event of a chocolate overdose, you can turn to this list of 22 iconic Swiss snacks, desserts, comfort foods and general treats if you ever need to mix things up a little. [toc]

1. Magenbrot

What is it?

Literally translated, Magenbrot means “stomach bread”. It’s an awkward looking pastry which, apart from cacao, contains different stomach friendly spices. Hence the creative name. But you know what they say. Don’t judge a book by its cover. 😃

Where can you buy it?

While you can buy Magenbrot at the supermarket, it’s more common to get it out in the street. Every village and every city has a festival, fair or market of some sort every now and then. That’s where the Swiss usually buy those oddly shaped pieces of goodness in their flashy pink bags.

Magenbrot

Head to the fair to buy yourself a bag of “Magenbrot”…

2. Gebrannte Mandeln

What is it?

Like Magenbrot, gebrannte Mandeln are typical for fairs and markets. Those tempting, candied almonds are hard to miss because you’ll smell them long before you see them. A bit like Subway. But even unhealthier.

Where can you buy it?

Apart from every market, fair or festival, you can also buy gebrannte Mandeln at the supermarket.

Gebrannte Mandeln

… or get a bag of “gebrannte Mandeln” instead.

3. Biberli

What is it?

Biberli are two slices of sweet gingerbread held together with a sticky honey-almond filling. They’re the perfect snack if you’re out on a hike and in need of a quick boost of energy.

Where can you buy it?

The best place to buy Biberli is at the bakery. Especially in the Cantons of Appenzell, where they’re originally from. But if you’re not in eastern Switzerland, head to the nearest supermarket or Kiosk. Biberli are so popular that you can find them anywhere across Switzerland.

Biberli

“Biberli” are a reliable source of energy when you need it.

4. Basler Läckerli

What is it?

As the name suggests, Basler Läckerli have their origin in Basel. They’re basically a very dense and chewy type of sugar-glazed gingerbread with honey, candied fruit and nuts.

Watch out if you have an artificial dental crown or a wobbly tooth, though. You wouldn’t be the first person to head to the dentist after giving in to your Basler Läckerli cravings.

Where can you buy it?

Every city has a Läckerlihuus where you can buy – and try – every imaginable type of Basler Läckerli. Their selection is massive and if you’re after something special, you should head to the Läkerlihuus. But if you’re happy with their original flavour, the supermarket will do the trick as well.

Basler Läckerli

“Basler Läckerli” are worth the risk of chipping a tooth.

5. Kägi fret

What is it?

These chocolate covered waffles are another snack most Swiss carry with them when they go hiking. Kägi fret come in different flavours like orange, coconut and even Japanese matcha. Personally, I prefer the original ones over those fancy creations.

And yes, I’m aware that I just slipped up with my no-chocolate principle. Sorry.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Kägi fret almost everywhere. Supermarkets, grocery stores, kiosks and most mountain restaurants sell them.

Kägifret

“Kägi fret”, another Swiss classic, is a great companion for your hike.

6. Weggli und Brügeli

What is it?

Every Swiss knows this iconic mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack from their childhood. It consists of a Weggli (white bread roll) and a Brügeli (chocolate bar). It’s way less heavy and stuffing than a Biberli and makes for a great light snack.

Apologies for my repeated sloppiness in the no-chocolate sector. But the Weggli und Brügeli is one I just couldn’t leave unmentioned.

Where can you buy it?

Supermarkets usually have a handful of Brügeli very close to their bread section. As do bakeries, by the way.

Brügeli_Weggli

So many Swiss childhood memories are attached to this one…

7. Berliner

What is it?

Berliner aren’t typically Swiss but we love them as much as the Germans and Austrians do. They’re deep fried balls of yeast dough, filled with jam and topped with icing sugar. My online dictionary calls them “jam doughnuts”. I’ll let that pass.

Where can you buy it?

Supermarkets as well as bakeries sell Berliner. Needless to say that the ones from the bakery taste better.

Berlliner

“Berliner” are like a jam sandwich. Just better.

8. Birewegge

What is it?

Birewegge are puff pastry rolls filled with a mixture of dried pear, concentrated pear juice, nuts and loads of sugar.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Birewegge either at the supermarket, the grocery store or certain bakeries.

Birewegge

“Birewegge” are another efficient source of energy when you’re out on a hike.

9. Nussgipfel / Mandelgipfel

What is it?

Mandelgipfel and Nussgipfel are pastry rolls filled with a mixture of nuts, cinnamon, vanilla and various other ingredients. The difference between the two is that Mandelgipfel are filled with almonds, while Nussgipfel can have any type of nuts in them.

Where can you buy it?

If you’re looking for a good Nuss- or Mandelgipfel, I recommend heading to the bakery. You can get them at the supermarket as well but the ones from the bakery just taste better.

Nussgipfel

Unless you have a nut allergy, don’t miss out on trying a “Nussgipfel” or “Mandelgipfel” while you’re in Switzerland.

10. Speckmocken

What is it?

Literally translated, a Speckmocken is a “chunk of bacon”. But don’t worry, it’s 100% vegetarian. It gets its name from its appearance. And if you use your imagination, it actually looks a bit like bacon. At least that’s what its creators thought.

A Speckmocken tastes very similar to a Nussgipfel since their ingredients are almost the same.

Where can you buy it?

If you’d like to try a Speckmocken, there’s no way around heading to eastern Switzerland. This Appenzeller speciality is hard to find anywhere else than in a bakery in the Cantons of Appenzell or St. Gallen. In fact, if you order a Speckmocken anywhere else in Switzerland, you might end up with a real chunk of bacon. Most people don’t know there’s a place where dessert-bacon is a thing.

Speckmocken

Even though “Speckmocken” means “chunk of bacon”, this dessert is 100% vegetarian.

11. Totenbeinli

What is it?

Looks like we’re not quite done with absurd names yet. The reason why those nut-bars are called “legs of the dead” is a little morbid, to say the least. Back in the day, people would have Totenbeinli after a funeral. With a cup of coffee to dip them in because they’re rock-solid and have been responsible for many a chipped tooth.

Yes, we are weird. Sometimes.

Where can you buy it?

Some bakeries sell their own Totenbeinli but I usually buy the ones at the supermarket.

Totenbeinli

“Totenbeinli” – which means “legs of the dead”- taste a lot better than they sound.

12. Vogelnestli

What is it?

Those little “birds nests” consist of short pastry with a jam filled hazelnut rim.

Where can you buy it?

Some bakeries sell their own Vogelnestli but the ones from the supermarket are pretty tasty, too.

Vogelnestli

“Vogelnestli” are a great snack if you’re looking for an alternative to chocolate.

13. Spitzbuebe

What is it?

The more I write, the more I start to question my language. Spitzbueb means “cheeky boy”. It consists of two pieces of short pastry stuck together with jam. The top part traditionally has one or more holes in it, picturing a boy’s face. But as you can see in the photo below, there are simpler versions of the Spitzbueb that don’t remind you of a jam face.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Spitzbuebe either at the bakery or at the supermarket.

Spitzbuebe

“Spitzbuebe” aren’t just popular around Christmas. Even though that’s when people usually make them at home.

14. Schümli

What is it?

Since there’s no official translation for Schümli, I’m going to name them “foamies”. They’re small pieces of chocolate meringue and don’t make for a full dessert on their own. But they’re a great addition to chocolate mousse, a fruit salad or anything that has a splash of whipped cream on it.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Schümli is at the supermarket or at the grocery store.

Schümli

There’s more air to “Schümli” than calories. Pinky promise.

15. Bärentatzen

What is it?

If you take a close look, it makes sense that Bärentatzen means “bear claws”. But apart from sticking between your teeth forever, those chocolate cookies are pretty harmless.

Oh, chocolate again. I guess your overdose is going to last a little longer than expected. My bad.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Bärentatzen at the supermarket and most grocery stores.

Bärentatzen

“Bärentatzen” aren’t nearly as dangerous as they sound.

16. Willisauer Ringli

What is it?

We have another potential tooth-chipper here. Willisauer Ringli are rock-solid cookie-rings that have their origin in a place near Lucerne called Willisau. In order to keep your teeth unharmed, you have two options.

1. Dip them in coffee. Boring but safe.

2. Crack them like a pro. The inventors give clear instructions on how to correctly break a Willisauer Ringli. First, you stretch out your hand and place the Ringli in the centre of your palm. Then you flex your arm so that your elbow sticks out. All that’s left to do now is smash your elbow into the hole of the Ringli. Yes, it’ll look funny and yes, it might take you a few rounds to get the hang of it. But that’s how it’s done.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Willisauer Ringli at any supermarket, most grocery stores or at the factory store in Willisau.

Willisauer Ringli

Apart from potentially bruising your elbow or chipping a tooth, there’s really no harm in eating “Willisauer Ringli”.

17. Bündner Nusstorte

What is it?

No matter how close to starvation you are, one slice of Bündner Nusstorte will bring you right back to life. The combination of nuts, honey and sugar wrapped up in a crumbly tart is perfect if you’re after a lot of calories.

Where can you buy it?

The Bündner Nusstorte, or Engadiner Nusstorte in certain places, is a speciality from the Canton of Grisons. So if you’re in that area, it’s impossible to miss them. But supermarkets all across Switzerland sell them as well.

By the way, in Romansh, the Bündner Nusstorte is called “turta da nusch grischuns”.

Nusstorte

Yes, the “Bündner Nusstorte” is the calorie bomb it appears to be.

18. Kambly Guezli

What is it?

Kambly is one of the biggest cookie factory in Switzerland. They go way back to 1906 when a young Swiss lad followed the call of love and moved to a farming village in the area of Emmental. That’s where he learned how to be a pastry chef and laid the corner stone for the Kambly empire. This story alone makes for a post in itself so I’ll spare you the details here.

For over 100 years, Kambly have produced all kinds of biscuits and savoury snacks. They’re not only hugely popular in Switzerland, but all over the world. Whether you like chocolate biscuits, cookies with pistachio or orange, chocolate foamies or their original “waffles”, Kambly have something for every taste.

Where can you buy it?

If you like free samples, I highly recommend visiting either the Kambly factory in Truebschachen or their factory store in Lyss. That’s where you get to eat yourself through their whole assortment and buy bags of biscuits at a reduced price. Or else head to any supermarket or grocery store to buy a box of Kambly Guezli.

Kambly

“Kambly Guezli” are among the most famous biscuits in Switzerland.

19. Vermicelles

What is it?

Vermicelles is a chestnut dessert that looks a bit like a pile of brown spaghetti, served with meringue and whipped cream. You can try this all year round but during autumn, when chestnut season is in full swing, you’ll find Vermicelles on every dessert menu.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Vermicelles pretty much anywhere. Whether you’re at a pastry shop, a bakery, a café, a restaurant or the supermarket, it’s all over the place.

Vermicelles

Those chestnut “spaghetti” go by the name of “Vermicelles” and are all over the place in autumn.

20. Cremeschnitte

What is it?

This dessert consists of puff pastry, vanilla custard and a sugar glaze. It looks very innocent, but be warned. It’s one of the messiest and most difficult things to eat. If you’re trying to impress somebody with your classiness, do not order a Cremeschnitte! Otherwise, you’re good to go.

Where can you buy it?

Just like Vermicelles, you can find Cremeschnitten at the supermarket, every pastry shop, bakeries and most traditional Swiss restaurants.

Cremeschnitte

“Cremeschnitten” are ridiculously tricky to eat but absolutely worth the struggle.

21. Cremerolle

What is it?

The Cremerolle is the Cremeschnitte’s sophisticated brother. The ingredients are almost the same but they come in a different shape. Instead of being layered, the Cremerolle is a cone filled with vanilla custard, which makes it not nearly as tricky to eat.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Cremerollen at the supermarket, every pastry shop, bakeries and most traditional Swiss restaurants.

Cremerolle

If you fear the struggles of eating a “Cremeschnitte”, opt for a “Cremerolle” instead.

22. Luxemburgerli

What is it?

Those famous, meringue-based macarons come in all flavours imaginable. Sprüngli, the inventor of the Luxemburgerli, offers a wide basic assortment as well as seasonal creations. Your choice comes down to flavours like Black Forest, mandarine, cinnamon, champagne, vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, raspberry and many more.

Due to their costliness, Luxemburgerli are not something you lightheadedly pig out on. Their smallest box with your choice of four macarons costs 4.80 CHF. So if you feel like treating yourself to something special, investing in a box of Luxemburgerli is an excellent choice.

Where can you buy it?

You can buy Luxemburgerli at every Sprüngli store across Switzerland. Or the world, for that matter.

Luxemburgerli

If you’re looking for a place to blow your splurge fund, head to Sprüngli and buy a box of “Luxemburgerli”.

Give your dentist my regards

Truth be told, I could probably extend this list to contain 30, 40 or even more points. But this is where I draw the line because if I buy one more dessert to take a photo of, you’ll be wheeling me out of here and straight into the dental clinic.

So for now, I’ll leave you with those alternatives to give you a break from your chocolate overdose. However, if you come across a dessert I neglected to mention, feel free to share it in the comment section below.

Happy feasting.

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