Apfelschnecken are just what you needed in your German-pastry-missing life! They’re German Apple Cinnamon rolls (and I layered mine with marzipan).

About this Recipe


German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen

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These warming German Apple Cinnamon Rolls with a thin layer of rich marzipan in the filling are just what you need for brunch this weekend! Then imagine yourself having picked these up from a local German bakery while sipping on your Kaffee, peeling away the layers and indulging. Heals homesickness instantly for me, especially when shared with friends and family over good conversation. Fun Fact: Apfelschnecken translates from German to ‘apple snails.’

German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen
German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls?

Apfelschnecken are easier to make than you think! And no special tools are required! The yeast-raised dough is brushed in butter, then topped with a thin layer of rolled-out marzipan. No rolling pin? Use a wine bottle! Next, it’s the apple chunks before rolling everything into a ready-to-slice log. The slices are brushed with more butter, then topped with vanilla sugar. I love me all the butter and you shouldn’t skip these steps. The butter layered into the whole roll really brings amazing flavor to this recipe. I like to have my Apfelschnecken touch while they’re baking, which helps them to not dry out as much, but traditionally you would bake them as socially distanced pastries. So maybe that’s just me craving some closeness. 😉 I decided to make my German Apple Cinnamon Rolls smaller than usual (simply make your rectangle bigger when rolling out the dough) and arrange them in a triangle to resemble a tree.

Side Note: Marzipan is a delicious, pliable almond paste often found in German candy. 

German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen

What’s Vanilla Sugar?

Vanilla sugar (Vanillezucker) is a standard ingredient in German baking and not as easy to find in the United States. In most cases, vanilla extract can be used instead. However, sometimes you just want to stay true to how Germans do things and use the real vanilla sugar (like in this recipe).

You can easily make vanilla sugar at home by letting scraped-out vanilla bean pods and sugar sit in a small, airtight sealed container (for example, after baking Vanillekipferl, for which you’ll need the vanilla seeds). Shake it up every now and then to really get the flavor to get to all the sugar.

Don’t have vanilla sugar handy? Just use plain sugar, then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract with the lemon juice when marinating the apples for your Apfelschnecken.


German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen
German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen

Who Invented Cinnamon Rolls?

Nope, it wasn’t Cinnabon. Rumor has it that they originally appeared in Sweden. They eventually then made it to Germany and the US via Swedish immigrants. So whatever idea you had about cinnamon rolls having to be covered in thick, gooey frosting, just know that Europeans don’t do that (not that I don’t also love me a good American cinnamon roll!). But don’t worry, the calories did not go missing with this recipe. 😉

Apfelschnecken Drink Pairing

Of course MIMOSAS were fist to come to mind when thinking brunch! And because ’tis the season, cranberry mimosas sounded like a great choice! I love Schlumberger Brut sparkling wine from Austria, as it’s prepared using the traditional champagne method at a fraction of the cost and tastes amazing. Simple combine with some cranberry juice, then garnish with fresh cranberries and fresh rosemary twigs. Prost! Find out where Schlumberger is available near you.

German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen
German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen


More German Christmas Recipes

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Pork Loin Roast

Dirndl Kitchen Dampfnudel on a Plate with Christmas Decorations


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Even More German Christmas Recipes

Christmas time is here! Make sure to subscribe to my blog now, so you’re not missing out when this new German Christmas recipes go live!

German Apple Cinnamon Rolls Apfelschnecken dirndl kitchen
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German Apple Cinnamon Rolls: Apfelschnecken

These warming German Apple Cinnamon Rolls with a thin layer of rich marzipan in the filling are just what you need for brunch this weekend! Makes 12 standard sized Apfelschnecken or many small rolls.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Baking, Brunch, Kaffee
Cuisine: German
Keyword: baked apple recipe, German apple baking recipe, German apple pastry recipe
Servings: 12 rolls
Calories: 207kcal


Apple Marzipan Filling

  • 1 log marzipan
  • 2 apples I used Granny Smith
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 lemon juice only
  • vanilla sugar see notes in post; use regular sugar if you don't have it
  • 4 Tablespoons butter melted, may need more
  • cinnamon sugar optional


  • Combine the yeast, milk and sugar and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Knead together with all other dough ingredients until you end up with a smooth dough. Cover and allow to rest in a warm spot until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
    80 milliliters milk, 30 grams sugar, 7 grams active dry yeast, 300 grams all-purpose flour, 1 Tablespoon sour cream, 70 grams butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Peel, core and small dice the apples, then toss with the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
    2 apples, 1/2 lemon
  • Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius/ 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Roll out the dough in a large rectangle, brush on some of the butter (you'll need some for later too). The larger you make your rectangle, the smaller the Zimtschnecken will be.
    4 Tablespoons butter
  • Roll out the marzipan to approximately the size of the rectangle and layer on top. Distribute the apples over the marzipan, drizzle with some more melted butter and coat in vanilla sugar and cinnamon.
    1 log marzipan, vanilla sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Roll up and cut into slices (if you're cutting standard size, you're ending up with about 12 rolls; I made smaller rolls, so I had more). Transfer onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a baking mat. You can choose to have the rolls touching if you would like. Traditionally they would not touch, but to create the tree, I decided to have them touch.
  • Brush the rolls with some more butter before baking, sprinkle with vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar , then transfer to the oven (middle rack) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
    4 Tablespoons butter
  • Optional: brush the rolls with more butter after baking, then sprinkle or press upside down into some cinnamon sugar.
    4 Tablespoons butter, cinnamon sugar


Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 317IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

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I received compensation from Niche Import Co. in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may be compensated if you click certain links.