Krapfen, Berliner, Donuts
Baked, Bread, Dessert

German Doughnuts (‘Krapfen’)

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Last Updated on 3 years by Tim

Krapfen are a staple food in Germany during the fifth season of the year, the carnival season. It doesn’t matter if you like to celebrate carnival the traditional Southern way or the jovial Rhineland way. You’ll find some Krapfen on every coffee table in Germany this time of the year.

They’re also known as “Berliner” or “Pfannkuchen” in some other parts of Germany but I’m not very fond of these names. Berliner doesn’t sound natural to me and the word “Pfannkuchen” is reserved in my vocabulary for thin German pancakes. I mean, it’s the literal translation: Pan + Cake. Who knows what’s going on in the mind of Berlin people!?

For me, the perfect Krapfen has to be light and airy and hold a lot of filling. The jam in the center is what makes it perfect. Without it, it’s just a bland doughball.

How to prepare the dough

The dough for Krapfen is easy to prepare and very forgiving. I do use all-purpose flour for them as I don’t want them to be too chewy as would be the case with strong bread flour. It’s best to use a stand mixer for kneading so that you won’t have to incorporate any extra flour.

Mixing the dough

Once kneaded, the dough won’t be sticky at all. You should be able to handle it without any additional flour on your work surface.

It’s important that you leave your dough to rise for half an hour before you divide it into individual pieces. That way you will have the chance to deflate it and briefly knead it again for an even distribution of the air bubbles in the dough. If you skip that step, the dough won’t rise evenly!

You will need to leave the Krapfen to proof for a long time. At first, they will look tiny. But you will see that after about 3.5 hours at room temperature they will have puffed up to more than double their initial size.

Dough balls before rising
Dough balls after rising

How to perfectly fry the Krapfen

The Krapfen should just barely be able to hold their shape when you put them into the frying oil. That way they will turn out super airy.

For the frying oil, you can use clarified butter or neutral vegetable oil. Clarified butter yields the best taste but is quite expensive to use because you need a lot of it. I know that it is even more expensive in the US. So, if you are cost-conscious, use canola or sunflower oil.

The frying temperature shouldn’t exceed 340 °F so that the surface of the Krapfen won’t burn. A lot of recipes tell you that if you fry them too low, they will absorb a lot more oil. However, this isn’t true. I’ve shown you in a post last week, that frying temperature doesn’t have a big influence on oil uptake in food.

Frying the Krapfen

For Krapfen, 320 °F is the sweet spot. That way they will develop a nice crust and get a good rise. About 3 minutes of frying per side is usually sufficient to fully cook them through.

Don’t skip filling your Krapfen with jam

It’s important that you let the fried Krapfen cool down for at least 15 minutes before you fill them with jam. I like to use sour jerry jam for filling but it’s totally up to you which jam you chose. Plum or apricot jam would work evenly well.

It’s best to dust them with powdered sugar right before serving. I like to enjoy my Krapfen together with a cup of coffee or tea. As delicious as these are, I don’t think you will have any leftovers. But just in case, they freeze fine. Just don’t keep them on your counter for too long so they won’t dry out.


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  2. Hannelore Cooper

    can you make this with dry yeast and how much?Also can i use regular unbleached flour Thank you

    • Yes, dry yeast is possible: For active dry yeast divide the fresh yeast by 2.5 (so use 8 grams), and for instant dry yeast divide by 3 (so use 6.5 grams). That’s about 1 package of dry yeast (in Germany they are sold in 7 g packs).

      All flour in Germany is unbleached! It has been forbidden by law for over 50 years to bleach flour. The chemicals used for bleaching are not good for your health. Whenever possible, avoid bleached flour. The only important thing is that you don’t use strong bread flour because you don’t want chewy doughnuts. Unbleached cake flour is best.

      I hope that helps, Tim

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