This traditional German pancake recipe (called Pfannkuchen there) is the one I grew up with in Germany. While it has nothing to do with the popular oven-baked 'Dutch baby pancakes,' each is delicious and has its place. My pancake recipe is the middle ground between American pancakes and French crêpes and gets fluffy from beaten egg whites and sparkling water mixed into the pancake batter.
I love eating Pfannkuchen (also called Palatschinken or Eierkuchen) either rolled up and filled with Nutella or jam or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
For the savory pancake version, try my popular German potato pancakes. These German quark pancakes (packed with protein) and my cousin's German yeast pancakes (similar in taste to sourdough pancakes) are also so good!
Fun fact, Pfannkuchen in Berlin are Berliner donuts, another super popular German recipe that I have perfected over the years!
German pancakes vs dutch baby
I never knew about dutch baby pancakes (also called German pancakes) growing up in Germany. So are German pancakes actually from Germany? The fast answer is yes, but they look a lot different!
Dutch baby pancakes (also sometimes called German pancakes) were invented by Americans using a basic German pancake recipe. They are baked in the oven to create a soufflé type texture. While dutch baby pancakes are super tasty, they have nothing to do with actual German pancakes, other than that the egg ration in the batter is similar, which have more egg in them than American pancakes (and why they are also called Eierkuchen in German, meaning egg cakes).
What are German pancakes?
Traditional German pancakes are cooked in a skillet on the cooktop, and are not as thick as American pancakes, and not as flat as crêpes. They are not the same as oven-baked Dutch baby pancakes (also ironically called German pancakes).
German pancakes are texture-wise somewhere in between the American pancakes and crêpes, contain more egg, and are often rolled up and filled with jam or Nutella. I always sprinkle mine with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for the extra sweet note.
Germans don't typically pour maple syrup all over their pancakes, although sugar beet syrup is popular in Germany as well. In Germany, Pfannkuchen are often served as a meal for breakfast or lunch and sometimes even dinner. If you're looking for savory German pancakes, try out my popular German potato pancakes (similar to Latke).
How to make German pancakes
Making German pancakes is easy! What makes German pancakes rise is the egg! I separate my egg whites from the yolks, and beat the whites separately, then fold them into the pancake batter later. This, and the addition of sparkling water and a little baking powder, adds an extra fluffy texture to the pancake. It creates a thickness that's somewhere in between an American pancake and a thin crêpe.
I then bake my pancakes with some butter in a skillet on the cooktop and sprinkle it with either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar after cooking. I sometimes fill them with jam or Nutella and roll them up. While this recipe is best enjoyed fresh out of the pan and tend to taste dry when stored and reheated.
You can also make little pancakes similar in size to American pancakes. They are also less tricky to flip. I love using my pancake flipper to help me flip the big version more easily.
To make traditional German pancakes that taste just like from Germany, you need just a handful of ingredients.
- Eggs. This recipe packs more eggs than American pancakes. That's why Pfannkuchen are also called Eierkuchen (egg cakes). I separate the eggs and beat the whites separately to fold them into the pancake batter, creating an extra fluffy texture.
- Salt. Just a pinch to get the egg whites to stay nice and firm.
- Brown sugar. I like the warming taste of brown sugar, but feel free to use regular cane sugar instead. These pancakes aren't naturally sweet, so most people dust them in powdered sugar or sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar after cooking.
- Baking powder. Just a bit to add to the fluffy texture.
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour.
- Milk. I use 2 percent cow's milk because that's what we always have on hand for the kids. You can substitute by using plant-based milk instead.
- Sparkling water. This adds a fluffy texture to your Pfannkuchen, but if you don't have it on hand, simply replace it with more milk.
- Butter. I don't add butter to the pancake batter, but instead, melt it in the pan before pouring in the batter.
Love this German recipe? Subscribe to my blog for weekly emails with even more inspirational German recipes (you also get a German meal guide freebie!).
Traditional German Pancakes (Pfannkuchen)
- 2 eggs separate whites from yolks
- 1 pinch salt
- 5 grams brown sugar substitute with white cane sugar if you don't have brown sugar
- 2 grams baking powder
- 120 grams all-purpose flour
- 120 milliliters milk Substitute with plant-based milk if you would like. I use 2% cow's milk.
- 120 milliliters sparkling water No sparkling water? Simply leave it out and use either more milk or regular water.
- 15 grams butter for the skillet to cook your pancakes in
- Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. The salt helps the egg white stay firm. You should be able to turn your bowl upside down without the egg white running out.2 eggs, 1 pinch salt
- With a blender or whisk, mix together the egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, flour, baking powder, milk and mineral water.5 grams brown sugar, 2 grams baking powder, 120 grams all-purpose flour, 120 milliliters milk, 120 milliliters sparkling water
- Fold egg whites into the batter. You should not be able to see any white streaks anymore.
- Over medium heat, add a little bit of butter to a large skillet, pour half of the batter and let cook until golden brown on both sides. I love this pancake flipper, which helps me not break the large pancakes. You can also make mini versions by pouring smaller amounts of batter into the skillet.15 grams butter
- Dust with powdered sugar or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. You can also fill your pancakes with jam or Nutella.powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, jam, Nutella