Kaiserschmarrn

A warm and cosy Austrian dessert comprising of thick, fluffy pancakes which are shredded and served with a tart plum compote. A delicious Kaiserschmarrn recipe with step-by-step photos.

kaiserschmarrn with plum compote in white cast iron pan

Alpine Food

I often think the best part of skiing is the food. It’s the only part of the ski routine that is familiar to me, and the only time during the ski outing that I get to warm up (hint: I don’t ski fast enough to break a sweat!).

Quite often when I am trying to negotiate a steep, icy slope, the only thing that will see me through to the finish line is the thought of a hot meal at the end of that run. Whether it’s a steaming bowl of Pearl Barley Soup, a hearty Raclette or Cheese Fondue, my favourite Swiss Mac & Cheese or a classic Chicken Schnitzel, I look forward to all of the alpine dishes.

And whenever we are skiing in Austria, I definitely always look forward to the Kaiserschmarrn.

What is Kaiserschmarrn?

Kaiserschmarrn is the name of an Austrian dish consisting of a thick and fluffy pancake which is shredded into bite-sized pieces, dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and traditionally served with a plum compote.

As it is a warm dish, Kaiserschmarrn is typically served in winter. In fact, you will find Kaiserschmarrn on many menus in alpine restaurants, listed not as a dessert but actually as a light meal in itself.

I came across this delightful discovery many years ago after a morning skiing (regrettably) with some faced-paced Austrian friends in Kitzbühel, Austria. They told me of a hut tucked away in the forest serving just Kaiserschmarrn, except one had to ski down several tricky slopes and navigate numerous dreaded T-bar lifts to arrive at this mirage. I’m not sure how I finished that ski obstacle course, but I was very happy to eat pancakes for lunch for the first time in my adult life.

kaiserschmarrn with plum compote in cast iron pan

Why This Recipe Works

  • This recipe produces one large pancake cooked in a cast-iron skillet (it is literally a “pan cake”) which is then cut into bite-sized pieces, making it a great dish for entertaining or serving a large crowd.
  • The pancake is thick, light and fluffy due to the beaten egg whites which give the pancakes a soufflé-like texture.
  • Kids love Kaiserschmarrn because the pancakes are already cut up!

Where to Eat Kaiserschmarrn

As Kaiserschmarrn originates from Austria, you can find it on many restaurant menus in Austria, especially in the mountains, and more commonly in the colder months.

Kaiserschmarrn can also sometimes be found on menus in restaurants in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, as well as in Germany.

The Kaiserschmarrn stand is also a very popular feature at Swiss Christmas Markets, and it happens to be the perfect pairing with a mug of Glühwein.

{Kaiserschmarrn at the Zurich Christmas Markets}

Kaiserschmarrn Recipe

This Kaiserschmarrn recipe is a favourite with my kids. They devour all types of pancakes, but they especially love Kaiserschmarrn because it is already cut up for them!

My recipe for Kaiserschmarrn produces a thick and fluffy pancake which has a soufflé-like texture, which makes them very more-ish and perfect for soaking up the plum compote.

However, like any recipe, many variations exist. Some people like Kaiserschmarrn with thinner pancakes, some pancakes are more dense or more eggy, some Kaiserschmarrn recipes include a drizzle of melted butter at the end for extra richness, and some include rum-soaked raisins in the batter.

The majority of Kaiserschmarrn dishes I have eaten in restaurants have pancakes which, in my opinion, don’t really resemble pancakes. Quite often, the “pancake” component is quite dense and eggy, sometimes a bit oily from the butter.

But the one time I ate Kaiserschmarrn which had been made freshly with thick and fluffy pieces of pancake, I realised that there were many variations to this recipe, and that I had just met my favourite version.

For me, I like my pancakes light and fluffy, so I like to eat Kaiserschmarrn with a similar texture.

Cooking Kaiserschmarrn in the Oven

Having tried many Kaiserschmarrn recipes over the years, I have learnt that there are two ways of making this dish: either on the stove or in the oven.

I prefer to make Kaiserschmarrn in the oven. Why?

  • The best Kaiserschmarrn consists of a very thick and fluffy pancake, i.e. the pancake should be about 4 cm/1.5 inches tall. And the best way to cook such a thick pancake evenly is in the oven.
  • Cooking the pancake in the oven also ensures an even colour on the pancake, both on the bottom and on top.
  • If you are cooking the pancake in the oven, there is no need to flip such a large pancake.
  • While the pancake is cooking in the oven, you can make the plum compote.

Cooking Kaiserschmarrn on the Stove

Many people prefer to cook Kaiserschmarrn on the stove, which is totally acceptable as well. However, I actually find cooking the pancake on the stove more difficult. Why?

  • When cooking the pancake on the stove, you need to flip the pancake in order to cook both sides. And it is generally quite difficult to flip such a large pancake without breaking it, unless you have a very large pancake spatula.
  • It is also harder to tell if the centre of the pancake is fully cooked with the stove-top method.
  • If you shred the pancake while the centre of the pancake is not properly cooked, the pancake pieces may continue to cook as you keep tossing them in the pan. But as the pan is so crowded, more often than not, you end up with some soft and soggy pancake pieces.
kaiserschmarrn with plums in white cast iron pan

How to Make Kaiserschmarrn

Step 1

Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Measure the milk into a measuring jug, and add the egg yolks and vanilla.

Whisk the milk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Keep mixing until you have a smooth batter.

kaiserschmarrn batter in white mixing bowl

Step 2

In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

whisked egg whites in white mixing bowl

Step 3

Fold the whisked egg whites carefully into the batter, about one-third at a time. Take care not to deflate the egg whites while doing this step.

kaiserschmarrn batter in white mixing bowl

Step 4

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. I use a cast-iron pan which measures 26 cm/10 inches across the top.

Pour all of the batter into the pan. As you are making one large pancake, the batter should completely fill the pan, but there should still be room for the pancake to rise a little.

Cook the pancake over medium heat for a few minutes, or until the edges around the pancake just start to set.

kaiserschmarrn batter in cast-iron pan

Step 5

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pancake has puffed slightly and is lightly golden all over.

I recommend baking the pancake on an oven rack on about the second highest shelf in the oven. This is to help the top of the pancake brown during the baking time. If you place the rack too high in the oven, the pancake might darken too much; if you place the rack too low, the top of the pancake might be too pale once cooked.

I also recommend placing the pan on an oven rack and NOT a metal oven tray because the latter might make cause the bottom of the pancake to brown too much upon baking. But much depends on the type of pan that you use.

After 15 minutes, the pancake should be fully cooked through. If you give the pan a gentle shake and the centre of the cake wobbles, bake it for a few more minutes.

cooked kaiserschmarrn in cast iron pan

Step 6

Now it is time to shred the pancake. I find it easiest to do this by transferring the pancake to a large plate, and using a knife and fork to cut the pancake into bite-sized pieces.

However, it is more traditional to shred the pancake directly in the pan. If you decide to do it this way, I recommend using two wooden spatulas, or a utensil which will not damage the surface of your pans.

shredded pancake in cast iron pan

Step 7

Placed all of the shredded pancake pieces back into the pan. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar, which will add sweetness and a bit of crunch to the dish.

Return the pan to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the edges of the pancake pieces have crisped up slightly and the sugar starts to caramelise a bit. Take care not to leave the shredded pancake in the oven for too long, otherwise the pancake pieces may crisp up too much and dry out.

kaiserschmarrn shredded in cast iron pan

Step 8

Dust the shredded pancake very generously with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and serve immediately.

How to Serve Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn can be served either as a light meal or as a dessert.

In restaurants, it is often served with a bowl of plum compote or apple compote on the side. The compote serves as a sweet topping to the pancakes, in the same way that you would add maple syrup to pancakes. Hence, the compote should be thin enough to create a sauce for the pancakes.

kaiserschmarrn with plum sauce in white cast iron pan

More Alpine Recipes

Some other alpine recipes which you might enjoy include:

Cheese Fondue

Chicken Schnitzel

Swiss Macaroni and Cheese

Print

Kaiserschmarrn

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 as a dessert
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Austrian

A warm and cosy Austrian dessert comprising of thick, fluffy pancakes which are shredded and served with a tart plum compote. A delicious Kaiserschmarrn recipe with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Kaiserschmarrn

For the Plum Compote

Instructions

For the Kaiserschmarrn

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F (without fan). 
  2. Place a metal rack (not a metal baking tray) in the upper part of the oven. This is to help the top of the pancake brown during the baking time. If you place the rack too high in the oven, the pancake might darken too much; if you place the rack too low, the top of the pancake might be too pale once cooked.
  3. Measure the flour, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients lightly to aerate them.
  5. Measure the milk into a measuring jug.
  6. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the milk, and whisk to combine.
  7. Whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth.
  8. Place the egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl, and whisk until stiff peaks form.
  9. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, one-third at a time.
  10. Melt the butter in an oven-proof non-stick pan or cast-iron pan over medium heat. I use a cast-iron pan with an upper diameter of 26 cm/10 inches.
  11. Pour the batter into the pan. As you are making one very large pancake, the batter will fill most of the pan. Be sure to leave some room for the pancake to rise a little.
  12. Leave the pan on the heat for about 2 minutes until the pancake just starts to set around the edges.
  13. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pancake has puffed slightly and is lightly golden all over.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. At this stage, the pancake should be fully cooked through. If you shake the pan slightly and the centre of the pancake wobbles, this means that it is not yet cooked through. If so, return the pan to the oven for a few more minutes.
  15. Shred the pancake into small pieces. I find it easiest to do this by transferring the pancake to a large plate, and using a knife and fork to cut the pancake. However, it is more traditional to cut the pancake while it is still in the pan, ideally with two wooden spatulas or a utensil which will not damage the surface of your pans.
  16. Place all of the shredded pancake back into the pan.
  17. Sprinkle the shredded pancake with the granulated sugar.
  18. Place the pan back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the shredded pancake pieces have crisped up slightly around the edges. Be careful not to leave the shredded pancake in the oven for too long, otherwise they might become too crispy and dry out.
  19. Dust very generously with icing sugar (powdered sugar).
  20. Serve immediately with the warm Plum Compote.

For the Plum Compote

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the plums have cooked down slightly and the liquid forms a thick syrup. I like to have a compote with the fruit pieces intact, rather than cooked to a jam-like consistency. But you can cook the compote to your liking.
  3. Add more water as necessary.
  4. Taste to see if you need to add more sugar.
  5. Serve the plum compote warm with the Kaiserschmarrn.

Kitchen Notes

VARIATIONS
Many Kaiserschmarrn recipes contain raisins in the batter, which are typically soaked in rum. Place 100 g (2/3 cup) raisins and 60 ml (1/4 cup) rum into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Then set aside for about 15 minutes for the raisins to plump up. Scatter the raisins over the pancake just before placing the pan into the oven.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS
It is traditional to serve Kaiserschmarrn with a plum compote (as per this recipe), but some restaurants also serve them with apple compote (applesauce), which is a favourite with my kids. As Kaiserschmarrn is essentially a very large pancake, my kids also love it served with warm maple syrup.

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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2 comments

  1. Marion 9 February 2022

    Fantastic recipe! The pancake was so delicious and fluffy, tasted better than the ones we usually order when we are in Austria. The kids loved it so much they have been begging me to make it again.

    Reply
  2. Tanja 5 April 2022

    Great recipe, thank you! The pancake is thicker than usual Kaiserschmarrn but we liked it very much! The plum sauce was also very delicious which we could make with frozen Zwetschgen.

    Reply