Let's talk about something mega-lecker! Apfelküchlein, or, as we say in Swabia, Apfelküchle. These small, delicious apple pancakes are the perfect treat for breakfast or an indulgent dessert. If you've never had these, think about a soft baked apple ring in pancake dough. They're so light and fluffy but also crispy, and the apple adds a delicious sweetness.
Apfelküchlein are not without reason very popular in Germany. They're not just super tasty, they're also really simple to make. So if you ever find yourself craving something sweet or need a last-minute dessert for guests, these babies are a lifesaver.
If you are a fan of lecker German desserts, like Bavarian cream, Griessbrei or Milchreis, then you might want to check out my ultimate recipe collection of the best traditional German desserts.
What are Apfelküchlein aka Apfel Küchle?
These German style apple pancakes are completely different from what Americans think of as German pancakes. German pancakes are often referred to as fluffy Dutch babies that are baked in the oven when Americans refer to German pancakes.
But these delicious pancakes are baked in a pan on the stove. Fresh apple rings, dipped into delicious batter and fried in butter, which makes them absolutely heavenly. If you've never had Apfelpfannkuchen before, you're in for a real treat!
Even if you've never made pancakes from scratch before, you'll love how simple this recipe for German Apfelküchlein is. Since it's so simple, it's one of the dishes that German kids can make all on their own.
This kind of pancake is particularly popular in southern Germany, but it has made its way through Europe and the USA. Traditionally, this dish is served as a dessert, but it is also sometimes served as a dessert or even as main meal and is especially popular with kids.
The tasty apple pancakes have different names in different regions of Germany. In Bavarian they are called Apfelkücherl and in Swabia and Franconia Apfelküchle. In Austria they are called Apfelkrapferl or Apfelraderl.
How to pronounce "Apfelküchlein" the correct way in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Apfelküchlein" the right way.
How to pronounce "Apfelküchle" the correct way in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Apfelküchle" the right way.
Ingredients & Substitutes
Easy to make with just a few ingredients, that are patiently waiting for you in your pantry.
Apples: This recipe works best with general-purpose apples that have a mildly tart flavor. I.e. Pink Lady apples, Braeburn apples, Jonathan apples, Empire apples, and Cortland apples. But I also like honey crisp apples for this dish.
Lemon: Lemon juice prevents the apples from browning. If you don´t have a lemon on hand, you can use lemon juice from a bottle or place the apple rings into a water bath until you are ready to use them.
Eggs: I used large eggs for this recipe. If you only have medium-sized eggs, you don´t need to adjust the recipe. If you are using small eggs, I would recommend using three instead of two.
Flour: I usually use all-purpose flour for these apple pancakes, but the recipe also works well with spelt or whole wheat flour. In a pinch, you can also use pastry flour or even bread flour. Be aware that you might need to adjust the amount of flour, though.
Milk: If you've made any of my other recipes before, you probably know that I always love to use full-fat products for the best taste. But you certainly can substitute a fat-reduced product.
Beer: Use any beer you like and even serve it with your Apfelküchlein as a dessert. Well, it might sound strange, but you should give it a try. For an alcohol-free version, use sparkling apple cider soda. If you can´t find that, sparkling water or a lemon-flavored sparkling soda like Sprite or Mountain Dew would also work.
Baking Powder: Baking powder helps the pancake dough nicely puff up. If you don´t have baking powder on hand or don´t like to use it, you can leave it out. The apfel kuechle will not puff up as well but still taste amazing.
Vanilla Extract: In Germany, Vanillezucker (vanilla sugar) is used, but as this is difficult to get outside of Germany, I substitute for vanilla extract. Vanilla paste or fresh vanilla bean seeds can also serve as substitutes.
Sugar: German recipes are less sweet than American recipes. The batter recipe calls for only three tablespoons of sugar, as the apfelküchlein will be sprinkled with extra sugar after frying. Please feel free to add more sugar to your taste if you like it sweeter.
Salt: A pinch of salt helps the egg whites to beat up nicely and will balance out the flavor.
Butter: I use real butter, but you can substitute margarine or neutral oil.
See recipe card for quantities.
Making Apfelküchlein from scratch is easy. Don´t feel tempted to use pancake mix. You can make your own batter in no time without preservatives and artificial ingredients. The best part is that it is also way cheaper!
Mix the sugar with the cinnamon either before you start the recipe or while the apple pancakes are baking.
Peel and core your apples, and then cut them into ½-inch thick slices.
Sprinkle some lemon juice over the apple rings to avoid browning. Additionally, the lemon juice adds even a bit more freshness. If you don´t mind a little oxidation, you can leave this step out.
Separate the egg yolks and whites into two mixing bowls, and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with a pinch of salt.
Mix the egg yolks with the vanilla extract and the sugar until light and creamy.
Then sift the flour and baking powder on top and mix to combine. Add the beer or apple soda and milk and mix.
Fold in the egg whites.
Add oil and butter to a large pan and melt on medium heat.
Dip the apple rings into the batter, allow the excess batter to drip off, and place into the pan.
Fry on both sides until they are a nice golden brown.
Try this dish with other fresh or canned fruit. Pears, all kinds of berries, apricots and peaches are also a wonderful choice for this dessert.
To make this recipe, you need these kitchen tools.
- cutting board
- lemon squeezer (optional)
- two mixing bowls
- smal bowl and spoon to combine sugar and cinnamon OR
- small fine mesh sieve to sprinkle the apfel kuechle with powdered sugar
- sieve for flour and baking powder
- large pan
Leftovers don´t keep very well and tend to become soggy, so it is best to only fry as many as you are planning to eat. Leftover apple rings and the batter can be stored in the fridge for at least 2–3 days.
How to Serve
Apfelküchlein are best when served warm. You can keep them warm in the oven in case you want to prep them.
They are wonderful as is or even better with a dollop of whipped cream, vanilla sauce, homemade vanilla cream pudding, or vanilla ice cream.
For a deluxe version serve with homemade Bavarian cream. You can make the vanilla mousse like cream dessert a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
Apfelküchlein - Swabian Apfel Küchle
- 2-3 large apples
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
For the batter:
- 2 eggs
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup beer or sparkling apple soda
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tbsp. melted butter
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
For the topping:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar or powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon optional
Prep & Pancake Batter
- Peel and core apples and cut them into half-inch thick rings. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the apple slices to keep them from browning.
- Separate the egg whites and yolks into two separate mixing bowls.
- Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt, until firm peaks form.
- Add the vanilla extract and sugar to the egg yolks and beat until light and creamy.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and combine.
- Melt the butter and add it, along with the beer or apple cider and the milk, to the batter. Mix until well combined.
- Fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Add oil and butter to a large pan and melt on medium heat.
- Dip the apple rings into the batter, allow the excess batter to drip off, and place into the pan. Fry on both sides until they are a nice golden brown.
- In the meantime, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
- Remove the apple pancakes from the pan and allow them drain on a kitchen towel.
- Toss still warm in the sugar-cinnamon mixture or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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