A Brief History of Flammkuchen – Germany's Pizza

Flammkuchen | © Moritz Barcelona / Flickr
Evelyn Smallwood

Wood-fired ovens, crispy thin crust, crème fraîche, bacon and onions, it’s no wonder Flammkuchen is one of Germany’s most popular menu items. It’s pizza, but better. Here’s all you need to know.

Like most of Germany’s traditional food, Flammkuchen has simple origins. While French chefs were busy preparing food to impress kings, German food was aimed at filling the hungry stomachs of tired workers. In the years when bakers would bake with wood-fired ovens, they would test the temperature with a small bit of bread. When it cooked properly, then it was time to get started on the day’s batch.

Inevitably, one day a baker got tired of eating plain bread and put some crème fraîche, bacon and onions on it before putting it in the oven. Et voilà.

Flammkuchen originated in the Alsace region, which, after years of flip-flopping between Germany and France is now geographically, if not culturally, within French borders. The neighbouring German state, Saarland, also now claims Flammkuchen as its own invention. The confusion is not limited to food. The Alsatian dog, German Shepherd to Americans, is also originally from Alsace.

Geopolitics are complicated. Flammkuchen is not.

Served piping hot from an oven set as high as it will go, it works best as a light meal for a biggish group of people. Sitting on a patio after a summer hike with good friends, enjoying some nice German white wine, by a kitchen that keeps the Flammkuchen coming is a pleasure difficult to beat.


Different toppings are an option and more modern food establishments may try a deconstructed version, but the classic bacon, creme fraîche and onion is really the perfect combination. Anything else veers too close to pizza. While there are times when cheesy, meaty gooeyness is just what the doctor ordered, the allure of Flammkuchen is that it contains just enough of everything and not a gram more.

When cooking Flammkuchen at home, the limiting factor is the oven. High temperature is important in order to get the crispiness in the crust. If the oven can get to 250C or 500F, and the pizza stone or tray is heated in the oven before the Flammkuchen is put in, then alles in Ordnung.

German food blogger Nicole Stich has an excellent recipe on her site Delicious Days. If time is short, the rye flour is not strictly necessary, though it does help add a bit of crunch to the crust. All it takes is two hours (most of which is spent letting the dough rise) for Flammkuchen to become tonight’s dinner. Yum.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article