There's nothing quite like a freshly made Pfannkuchen. Traditional German pancakes are delicious and oh-so versatile. Whether you're fillings them with sweet toppings or serving them savory style, they're always a hit. And the best part? They're a great way to get your dose of German culture.
Pfannkuchen is an easy to make budget friendly dish that only requires a few ingredients that you have at home. In this post, I show you not only the basic recipe for Pfannkuchen, but also a wide range of completely wonderful fillings and toppings for the delicious German pancakes.
This tipsy cherry compote goes perfectly with German Pfannkuchen. Serve them as an adult dessert and with apple sauce for children. For an incredible black forest dessert experience, add a dollop of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings. So delicious.
The modern pancake evolved in medieval Europe by adding flour to egg dishes that had been around since Roman times.
Pfannkuchen evolved into various regional variations of the same ingredients.
They are known as Palatschinken in Austria, Omletten in Switzerland, and crêpes in France.
Fun Fact: Germans are known for their love of meat, but you might be surprised to learn that Pfannkuchen are a weekly staple dish in many German households that omits meat and saves money on the family budget.
How are pancakes called in German?
Pfannkuchen are known by various names throughout Germany. The German pancake, for example, is also known as Eierkuchen, Eierpuffer, Flädle, or Plinse.
How to pronounce "Pfannkuchen" the correct way in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Pfannkuchen" the right way.
This low-cost dish requires only a few simple ingredients.
- Flour - I usually use unbleached, organic all-purpose flour for these simple German pfannkuchen. But the recipe also works well with spelt or whole wheat flour.
- Milk - use the milk with your desired fat content. If you are making sweet Pfannkuchen, buttermilk is a great choice and brings a bit of freshness to the dough. You can also opt for plant-based milk like almond or oat milk, but you may need to adjust the amount of flour.
- Eggs - German Pfannkuchen without eggs would not be Pfannkuchen; if you are remembering thicker pancakes, then you are probably looking for Eierkuchen. Eierkuchen are basically the same as Pfannkuchen but contain more eggs. I use large eggs in this recipe, if you are using m-sized eggs, you don´t need to adjust the recipe, but if you are using s-sized eggs, it is best to use one more egg.
- Salt - do not omit the salt, your batter will taste flavorless. Even for the sweet dough, a pinch of salt is needed for the best taste.
- Sparkling water - a shot glass full of sparkling water elevates the batter to the next level. If you are making a sweet batter and don´t have sparkling water on hand, a shot of lemon soda or apple soda will also work wonderfully.
- Frying fat - clarified butter or butter plus neutral vegetable oil is the best choice for the tastiest Pfannkuchen you have ever tried.
See recipe card for quantities.
Pfannkuchen are so simple to prepare that it is often one of the first dishes that German children learn to prepare on their own.
Step1: Add flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.
Step 2: Mix until ingredients are blended.
Step 3: On low speed, slowly add the milk and mix until everything is well combined. It is perfect when the batter shows some bubbles.
Step 4: Cover the batter and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. After the resting time, stir about a shot glass of sparkling water into the batter.
Step 5: Melt the clarified butter or butter and oil over medium-high heat, then add one ladle of batter to the hot pan. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl it to evenly distribute the batter.
Step 6: Fry the pancake until golden brown on both sides. If the pan is lacking in fat, coat it again with a bit of clarified butter or butter and oil. Bake the pancakes until the batter is gone.
Hint: If you like it sweet, add some sugar to the recipe.
How to Serve
Pfannkuchen can be served plain or with a variety of delectable fillings. You can serve them as a dessert with sweet fillings or as a main dish with savory fillings. Get inspired by my sweet and savory filling ideas, or get creative and try out your favorite flavor combinations.
These savory fillings are a wonderful addition to your Pfannkuchen and will take them to the next level.
- Ground Meat - brown ground beef with onions and bell pepper slices. Season to taste with your favorite spices. You can also use leftover sauces, such as the gravy that goes with biscuits & gravy or meat sauce.
- Mushrooms, Bacon & Onions - for another tasty filling, fry bacon with onion slices and mushrooms.
- Ham & Cheese - fill the delicious German pancakes with your favorite ham and cheese. This is especially delicious if you then bake them for a few minutes in the oven or air fryer to melt the cheese.
- Asparagus, Ham & Hollandaise Sauce - roll up white asparagus and ham and serve with creamy hollandaise sauce.
- Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon - spread cream cheese on the pancakes, sprinkle with dill, and layer with smoked salmon slices.
- Spinach & Ricotta - spinach and Ricotta are a great vegetarian filling that gained popularity in Germany over the past decade.
- Gyros & Tzatziki - crispy fried Gyros meat and tzatziki are another international cuisine inspired filling that become popular in more recent years.
Sweet Pfannkuchen are delicious served simply with powdered sugar. However, there are numerous sweet variations that you might enjoy.
- Apple Sauce - Pfannkuchen with apple sauce are a hit with both children and adults. A dash of cinnamon takes it to the next level.
- Fruit Compote - fruit compotes are one of the most traditional fillings and are an excellent choice in a pinch. Use whatever variety of compote is available in your pantry.
- Jam - fruit jams are a traditional topping for pancakes that are delicious on their own or additionally sprinkled with powdered sugar.
- Nutella & Banana Slices - my favorite flavor combo for German pancakes is Nutella and banana slices.
- Fresh Berries & Whipped Cream - fresh berries and whipped cream make an easy filling. Simple but very satisfying.
- Quark Cream Filling - this heavenly vanilla quark cream filling is particularly popular in Bavaria and Austria, where they are known as Topfenpalatschinken. If you can't find quark where you live, use full fat Greek yogurt instead.
- Butter & Cinnamon - The flavor of American cinnamon rolls is brought to German Pfannkuchen by butter and cinnamon sugar. A match made in heaven!
- Peanut Butter & Jelly - not a classic German combination but extremely delicious.
Making traditional German Pfannkuchen requires no special equipment.
- large bowl
- hand mixer or kitchen machine (but you can also use a simple whisk)
- measuring cups
- coated pan
Pfannkuchen are best served right after cooking. Pancake leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. Prevent them from drying out by covering them with plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container.
Pancakes can be reheated covered in the microwave or warmed in a pan with some butter. Leftover Pfannkuchen are als0 great to use in Flädlesuppe (German pancake soup) or Topfenpalatschinken.
To keep your pancakes warm while you finish baking the rest of the batter, you can put them in the oven at very low heat. That way, when you're ready to serve, everything will still be nice and warm.
Pfannkuchen - German Pancakes
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 ¼ cups milk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 eggs, large
- 1 shot glass sparkling water or ½ tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. clarified butter or 2 tbsp. butter plus 1 tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt with a handmixer or standmixer. Slowly add the milk at low speed and mix until everything is well combined.
- Cover and chill the batter for about 30 minutes.
- Add about a shot glass of sparkling water to the batter and mix well.
- Melt butter and oil in a medium-high-heat pan, then add about 1 ladle of batter. Lift the pan from the cooking plate and swirl the pan to distribute the batter evenly.
- Fry the pancake until golden brown on both sides. If the pan has too little fat, then coat it again with butter and oil. Bake the pancakes until all the batter is used.
American pancakes are typically smaller, but much thicker and fluffier.
German Pfannkuchen are larger, flat pancakes that are not as thin as crêpes.
When you examine the texture of the surfaces closely, you will notice more differences. While the surface of an American pancake is smooth and mostly even and golden brown, the surface of Pfannkuchen is golden yellow with crispy brown spots.
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