This Apple Strudel recipe (Apfelstrudel in German) is easier than it seems and so much fun to make. And the resulting strudel is a delicious, festive dessert just like the ones you would get in Austria or Germany filled with sweet, spiced apples and raisins in a flaky crust that everyone will love!
For more German and Austrian-inspired recipes, you should try my German Apple Cake (Apfelkuchen), Hazelnut Lingonberry Linzer Cookies, or my German Apple Pancakes!
Table of Contents
The idea of making real, authentic apple strudel from scratch might deter some from attempting it, but really, it's simpler than you might think. This recipe will walk you through the process with all my tips and tricks to make it easy and give you great results the very first time!
Why This Recipe Works
- Since there is no yeast, the dough won't rise during the resting time, but the acid from the vinegar will relax the gluten strands which will become more elastic and make the dough easier to stretch!
- Some people cheat the system and there are recipes for apple strudel that use sheets of phyllo dough rather than making strudel dough. But we're not scared of trying to make real German apple strudel from scratch, are we? No.
- The simple, sweet filling is made with fresh apples, cinnamon, sugar, and raisins for an authentic taste based on the many slices of apple strudel I ate while in Germany!
I took German all through high school and college. My dad lived in Austria for two years and I thought that if I learned the language too then he and I would be the only ones able to speak it and no one else would understand. I thought that would be the best thing ever.
Except it turned out that my father had forgotten most of his German. And now, sadly, so have I!
I still love and adore all things that remind me of Germany and its language, culture, people, and of course, food. There is just something about Germany that feels so Christmas-y. One of our family Christmas traditions is to have a Weihnachten dinner at our favorite German restaurants. One of my bucket list items is to visit the Striezelmarkt (the famous Christmas market dating back to the 1400's) in Dresden one of these years.
This is a delightful Fall dessert to serve with all the fresh apples that come into season, but it is also so perfectly Christmas-y since the song "My Favorite Things" from "Sound of Music" seems to have become a Christmas song and it includes the line about "crisp apple strudel".
Which I sort of think is a misnomer - a real strudel, from what I have experienced, doesn't seem to be so much "crisp" as possibly "flaky" with delicate layers of strudel pastry created by rolling the thin strudel dough with a thin layer of butter around and around the strudel as the whole thing gets rolled up.
- Apples: My favorite apples for making strudel are Granny Smith (because they are tart and hold their shape), Golden Delicious (because they are sweet with a cider taste), and Honey Crisp or Envy (because they fall somewhere between the two). I recommend at least 2 types of apples, rather than just one kind.
- Raisins: I specify golden raisins in this recipe because I really prefer them in most baking and feel like they have a subtler raisin flavor than the dark raisins. Just plump them in some hot water for 10 minutes before adding them to your strudel so they are nice and soft.
- Lemon juice or vinegar: A small amount of either acid helps the dough relax and gives it some of its elasticity so it's easier to stretch out really thin without tearing as much.
How to Make Apple Strudel
When making a traditional apple strudel recipe from scratch, the only potentially intimidating element is the strudel dough. Rather than rolling out the dough, which is more familiar to most Americans, homemade apple strudel dough gets stretched thinner and thinner, until it is so thin that you could read newspaper print through it.
Like, it's actually a thing to stick a piece of newspaper under the dough and see if you can read what's on it. I used a patterned tablecloth to achieve the same result when making this apfelstrudel recipe.
It's easier than it sounds to stretch your strudel dough as thin as you need it. The trick is to use an acid like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in the strudel dough, knead the dough well to develop the gluten, and then let it rest so that it can fully relax before you attempt stretching it.
- Start by making the pastry dough, which is just five ingredients. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. I find it easiest to use my stand mixer to do this, but it could be done by hand. With the mixer on low speed, add the water, oil, and lemon juice or vinegar. It should start to form a shaggy dough.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until it starts to come together in a ball. If the dough is too dry, add a little additional water onto it so it comes together.
- Remove the dough from the mixer and knead it by hand for a couple of minutes on the counter. Go ahead and slam it down on the counter a couple of times during the process. The purpose is to develop the gluten so you will have a nice, elastic dough later on.
- Place the dough in a light greased bowl, turning to coat the ball of dough, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 60 to 90 minutes. It won't rise because there is no yeast, but the dough needs this time for the gluten to relax. If you tried to roll or stretch it out at this point without resting it wouldn't work very well.
- While the dough is resting soak the raisins in hot water for 10 minutes and mix the cinnamon and sugar together in separate bowls.
- When the dough has rested sufficiently, divide it in half (unless you are making one large strudel) and roll one of the balls into a rectangle, just to get things started. There's no required dimension or thickness, just roll it out a bit (about the size of a large piece of paper will do) so you aren't stretching a big ball of dough. Then transfer it to a large area covered in a large, clean tablecloth or bed sheet.
- Working your way around all sides of the dough, gently stretch and pull the dough away from the center, until it forms a very large, very thin rectangle. If you get some holes, no worries. Eventually you are going to roll the whole thing up and no one will be the wiser.
Pro Tip: One of the ways I have had the most success is to lift and stretch the dough by sliding my hands underneath (be sure to remove rings in advance!) with palms down and gently pulling the dough out from the center, letting it slide off my knuckles as it stretches.
- Once your apple strudel dough is sufficiently thin enough for you to see the pattern of your tablecloth through it, gently spread it with butter and sprinkle half of it with the breadcrumbs. These will soak up some of the juice released from the apples as they cook so you don't end up with a soggy strudel.
- Then arrange half of the apples over the breadcrumbs and butter on half of the dough, leaving a couple inches of border around the edges. Drain the plumped raisins and sprinkle half of them over the top, then sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Now here is the fun part! Fold the border over the apple filling on both sides to hold the apple filling inside the strudel as it rolls.
- Then grasp the cloth or sheet right by the long edge of the strudel on the filled side and using the cloth, fold/roll the strudel onto itself, just like you would cinnamon roll dough. Strudel dough is too delicate to roll by hand, which is why you let the tablecloth help you do the work of rolling it into a log shape.
- Adjust your grip on the fabric to be closer to the now partially rolled apple strudel and lift to roll the strudel again, continuing until the strudel rolls completely up on itself and making sure that the edges that were folded over don't come untucked.
- Roll the strudel right onto your baking sheet lined with parchment paper rather than try to pick it up and transfer it by hand. I literally just held my pan at the edge of the table and used the tablecloth to roll the strudel right onto the baking sheet. Be sure to use parchment paper underneath so the strudel doesn't stick to the pan.
Pro Tip: If you opted to make one large strudel rather than two smaller ones and your strudel doesn't fit on your pan, you can curve it into a "C" or "U" shape and no one will be the wiser when you slice it before serving.
Some people only make one giant apple strudel which they intentionally curve to fit on the pan. I just divided the dough in half to make two separate strudels because I find it easier to work with.
- Brush the tops with melted butter, then bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown on top!
- Let your apple strudel cool for at least 15 minutes before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing into 8 pieces. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
While there are subtle variations like whether to include nuts or raisins in apple strudel, there seems to be a consensus that a traditional apfelstrudel recipe consists of an unleavened, elastic pastry dough that gets stretched (not rolled) incredibly thin, then is filled with breadcrumbs and a sweetened cinnamon apple filling.
Truth be told, this apfelstrudel recipe could really be Austrian, Czech OR German. From my understanding, the history of apple strudel is that is was invented in Vienna, Austria, but became popular throughout neighboring regions like the Czech Republic and southern Germany, particularly Bavaria, where Munich is located and Oktoberfest is celebrated every year.
Yes, if you want to make an easy apple strudel, you can use phyllo dough instead of making the traditional pastry.
This is really best eaten the day it is made while the pastry is still flaky and crisp, but it's still delicious for 3-4 days. I recommend storing it in the fridge, although it would be fine on the counter overnight in an airtight container.
- Don't rush stretching the dough. If you try stretching it and it keeps bouncing back, cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5 minutes before trying again. Sometimes the gluten just needs to relax for a few minutes.
- Measure your flour carefully using the spoon and level method. If you overmeasure, there might not be enough liquid and you might struggle with your dough.
- Slice the apples thinly and uniformly. This helps them bake evenly and avoid tears in the dough as the strudel gets rolled up.
- Based on my experiences living Germany for one summer (I know, it's not much to go on) and traveling through southern Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, I definitely want my apple strudel to have raisins but no nuts. I tried making it with nuts recently, but it just didn't taste the same as the apfelstrudel I would get during my travels.
- Oh, and while perhaps not traditional, I love a big scoop of vanilla ice cream to go along with my apple strudel!
Viel Glück und guten appetit! (Good luck & bon appetit!)
More Apple Dessert Recipes
- Glazed Apple Fritter Yeast Bread
- Homemade Caramel Apples
- Salted Caramel Apple Pie
- Best Homemade Apple Pie Recipe
- Apple Pie Macarons
More Favorites from House of Nash Eats
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German Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (188g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup lukewarm water
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Apple Raisin Filling
- ¾ cup butter melted
- ⅔ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 lbs apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
- ⅔ cup golden raisins plumped in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add in the water, oil, and vinegar while mixing on low speed until you get a soft dough. Change out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, then knead the dough on medium speed until a soft ball forms.
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for 2-3 minutes, until smooth. Slam the dough onto the work surface a few times to enhance gluten development, then shape into a ball and transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, giving the dough a quick torn to lightly coat it in oil on top so it doesn't dry out. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 60-90 minutes.
- When the dough is almost done resting, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the raisins in a bowl of hot water to soak. Peel, core, and slice the apples into thin slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Cover your kitchen table or large counter space with a clean tablecloth or sheet.
- To stretch the dough, first move it from the bowl to a clean, dry surface and cut it cleanly in half with a bench scraper, pizza cutter, or large knife. Set one half of the dough to the side. Shape the other half of the dough into a ball and roll it out as thin as you can.
- Gently lift the dough and transfer it to the clean, flat surface covered by the tablecloth. Working gently, lift and stretch the dough a little at a time. When you first start, you can use your knuckles (be sure to remove all jewelry first) underneath the dough to stretch it like a pizza with the back of your hands. Continue to stretch the dough by lifting gently from the thicker edges and wafting a little air under the dough as you pull away from the center of the dough. As it thins out, the weight of the dough will mostly hold it in place on the tablecloth while you stretch out one side, then the other, increasing the size of the dough and stretching it thinner and thinner each time. As you lift and gently pull, you will see areas where the dough is thinning out and you will know the dough is thin enough when you are able to see the pattern of the tablecloth through the dough.
- Continue to stretch and pull the dough until it is paper-thin and a large rectangular shape. If there is a thick band of dough around the edges, remove it by gently tearing it away or carefully tug on the band, stretching the dough even a bit further to thin that thick band of dough out.
- Using a your hands (or a very soft pastry brush, although I find that my hands work best), gently spread ¼ cup of the melted butter over the entire surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs over half of the dough, then place half of the sliced apples on top of the breadcrumbs. Cover the apples evenly with half of the raisins (and walnuts, if using) and half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Fold the short end of the dough over onto the filling, then fold the sides over as well to create a sort of envelope edge that will keep the filling in place as you roll the strudel. Grab the tablecloth close to the short, filled end of the strudel and lift it, allowing the strudel to roll or fold onto itself. Keep lifting the tablecloth, rolling the strudel into a log, making sure the filling stays tucked inside.
- Carefully transfer the strudel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough and filling ingredients, reserving ¼ cup of melted butter. Both strudel should fit side by side on the same baking sheet with space between them. Brush the tops of both strudel with the remaining melted butter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow strudel to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
- Apples: We like using Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Honey Crisp apples best. But Envy, Opal, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Macintosh, and other popular pie apples will all work.
- Rest the dough: If the dough keeps bouncing back when you try to stretch it, try covering it with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5 minutes before trying again. Sometimes the gluten just needs to relax for a few minutes.
- Measuring: Measure your flour carefully using the spoon and level method. If you over-measure the flour, there might not be enough liquid and you may struggle with your dough more.
- Uniform slices: Slice the apples thinly and uniformly. This will ensure that they bake evenly and help avoid tears in the dough as the strudel gets rolled up.
- Variations: Feel free to leave out the raisin and/or add in chopped walnuts (or other nuts).
This post was originally published in September, 2017. The photos and content were updated in October, 2021.
My helpers were front and center for this one the first time I photographed it back in 2017. They always come running whenever I am making something with apples because they love to eat the peels. Notice 3-year old Rose's arms protectively encircling her horde of peels and her Snow White dress up dress that she wore constantly and 5 year old Clara's missing front two teeth? Those were the days.
Reader questions and reviews
Oh my, this strudel looks amazing. Such a great job. My favorite part of this post is that adorable little munchkin protecting her bounty of apple peels.
Holy moly! I want to come to your house and make one with you! Too funny that your helpers are such big fans of the peels. 🙂
Such an impressive-looking dessert!
When you plan your next trip to Germany let me know. We live in Austria close to the border to Germany. We lived for 5 years in Albany CA.
And never tell an Austrian this is German Apfelstrudel.
By the way very good recipe.
In Austria and Bavaria you can buy Strudel dough in every supermarket.
Thank you, Ulrike! That's so interesting that you can buy strudel dough at any market there!
Sorry strudel is not a german nor an austrian inventian. It comes from the Turkey.
Your photography is so amazing! Do you use a macro lens? I use a Nikon too and have been thinking of getting a macro lens - which one would you recommend??
Thanks, Max! Nope - it's the 24-70 and I love it! It's the only lens I use (or own, lol!) I would love getting a macro lens though!
Which macro lens would you get?
Honestly, I haven't even looked into it yet. But I should! Maybe for Christmas.
Yes u can buy the dough but what about Real real Quark? This is what comes in different strudels like with cherries, I know u can buy it by Aldi but it's not the dry good Quark u use for cheese cakes, full cream or reduced cream whatever you prefer. It's a shame after we have so good products here and no-one can make Quark.
You did a great job rolling the pastry! So thin, just the way it should be. I think you should make one and ship it to me! Or come visit! It looks delicious!
Love seeing your kids get involved!
What a beautiful pastry! This is really my kind of dessert!
If I have no dough hook, and I'm doing ALL of the kneading by hand, what's the physical sign that I've hit the right spot?
It should just be a really smooth, elastic dough. Probably 5-6 total minutes kneading by hand should do it, instead of just 3.
Love recipes work so well.👍🧁🍩🎂🍰🍬🍭🍪
is it 375 or 400° for the oven?
It's 375 degrees F.
I followed all the instructions. My dough was hard as a rock. I let it rest for 90 minutes as stated. I threw it away and made apple cobbler. So disappointed. I could almost taste that beautiful strudel.
Oh no! What a bummer! I wonder what could have happened?
I tried it too and had to adjust the flour to make the dough more workable but in the end, a LOT of butter remained unused... witch makes me think: is some of the butter supposed to go in the dough?! I saw some other "authentic" recipe that used butter in the dough.
That happened to me too! I followed the recipe to a tee, and it was hard as a rock! I added a splash of extra oil to try to soften the dough, but it literally crumbled when I tried rolling it. I still made it, but the consistency was that of thick pie crust. Hopefully it'll still taste good!
The word, "Strudel", I'm told, means "whirlpool" in Austrian dialect. Probably refers to the fact that the original authentic Strudel was rolled up like a cinnamon roll, not a pocket with an apple filling as is often sold in US stores under the same name. A professor at the university that I attended used to demonstrate making Strudel from scratch as part of the annual German week. He would take a ball of dough no bigger than a fist and pull it little by little (no rolling pin) until the whole thing was as large as a kitchen table - and paper thin. In Bavaria (and I assume Austria) now, Strudel is sometimes served with whipped cream and/or a thin vanilla sauce.
I followed this recipe to a tee, twice, and my dough never made it out of the stand mixer. It was super flaky and would not hold itself together. Absolutely nothing happened when I used the dough hook. I guess it was a moisture issue??? Not sure where I went wrong.
Mine did the exact same thing!!!
Can this be assembled ahead of time and then baked later? I'm just trying to plan out the timing for Christmas dinner (Kasespätzle, Reibekuchen mit Apfelmus, und geröstete grüne Bohnen)
I haven't actually tried making this one in advance, but I think it would work out okay. You could also bake it in advance, then reheat in the oven so it's warm and to crisp up the outside again a bit before serving.
I think lard would work (and taste) better than vegetable oil. You would cut it into the dry ingredients, before adding water.
I just finished reading The Berlin Girl, and there’s a LOT of strudel-eating going on in that book. Naturally I had to look up a German strudel recipe and OF COURSE you have one here! Thank you! So now I have to try it. Of course! Getting in touch with my German roots!
I am not sure what I did wrong but I couldn't get this dough to work. I tried twice and it was so tough and dense. I'm experienced in making pie dough and breads so I thought I would be able to do this one. I was disappointed that I couldn't get it to work.
Hi! What apples did you use? I'm guessing granny Smith?
I always use a mix of apples, but Granny Smith, honey crisp, envy, pink lady, and golden delicious are my go-to choices usually.
My strudel dough was hard as heck too! I kept adding a little more water at a time & kneading it. It stretched fine afterwards. I think the recipe calls for less water than actually needed.
I just made this and it turned out perfect!
I'm so happy to hear that!
Thank you so much for this very delicious and super easy to make apple strudel recipe! Will surely have this amazing recipe again! Highly recommended!
What a beautiful and delicious strudel! And I like the dough because it's not thick and so good
Oh my gosh we love this so much! That flaky crust is perfect with that yummy apple filling. We will be making this again - thank you for the awesome recipe!
Love this "German Apple Strudel", looks so delicious, my little one will love this one. thanks for sharing this recipe.
Very similar to mine but a few different items in dough.
How about posting the oven temp!
Hey John! It's 375 degrees F, mentioned in step 3 for preheating. I hope that helps!
Wow, Amy, thanks for sharing. This is amazing. Being dairy allergic I cannot eat store-bought pie or dough and have been craving this. I used unflavoured coconut oil in place of butter and it came out perfect
I'm happy to hear that!
I may have to try this! Thanks for posting it!
I do have one suggestion and that is for baking recipes to also include weight measurements. I know I can do this myself, but it would be nice to include. The measuring ingredients using cups simply leave rooms for errors and extra things to wash. Everyone who bakes really should own a scale- it’s roughly $20 for a decent scale and last a long time.
My mother was German and used to make this all the time. I have seen several posts with dough failures. When we make this we use hot roll mix and it is perfect everytime
That is so fun you have German Heritage! My husband and I lived in Germany for a little bit and we absolutely loved it!
Enjoyed your Apple. strudel recipe. Everything was great,,,except when the photos appeared on the folding dough with apples. The photos went Blank and disappeared.. why???How can we follow the recipe and when almost done the Folding pic goes blank.
I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe! That's so strange that that happened - I just checked on my end and everything is working right and those pictures are showing up on on both my desktop and phone. Try clearing your browser and see if that fixes it?
Can you please tell me the approximate dimensions of the dough should be after I stretch it out if 1) I split the dough to make 2 smaller strudels and 2) if I make one large strudel?
I have never measured it before, but I would guess for the two smaller strudels it's about 1 1/2 by 3 feet? For one larger one, maybe 2 1/2 feet by 4 1/2 feet? Those are total guesses though! I will have to make this one again soon and remember to measure it! Or let us know if you do and how close those guesses are!
Both my mother (German) and mother-in-law (Hungarian) made their strudel dough with butter. They also basted the finished strudel with heavy farm cream before and during baking. The crust of their strudels was never flaky like when made with phyllo dough. The filling they used was pretty well the same as yours.
Hi, just wondering, the dough is very dry and I’ve been kneading the dough on my mixer for over 15 mins and it still not very elastic. Is that normal?
No, that's not how the dough should be and the longer you knead it the less elastic it will be in this case. It only needs to be kneaded with the dough hook until it starts to come together in a ball, then I transfer it to a clean surface and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes until it's smooth. It sounds to me like there is too much flour to water if it's dry. Try measuring the flour by weight (188g) next time. It shouldn't be a sticky dough, but not super dry.
No measures or even oven temperature to bake. That said, I measured as I thought it should be. Still looking for oven temp. We will see how it turns out.
If you have a difficult time finding the recipe card at the end of the post with all of the measurements, temperatures, and bake times, there is a "jump to recipe" button at the time of the page that will take you straight to that information on the post.
**Rock hard dough--Read here**
TLDR: 1/2cup water (instead of 1/3c) and just add flour while kneading OR try a different flour.
I read some other comments before and after. I agree the dough is much more like a pie crust.
On the first go-around, the dough was rock hard, unworkable, and not forming a gluten structure. We threw it out.
I'm thinking it could have to do with the flour; I just used the first flour I could find but the flour only had 3g protein...
When I retried it, I used king arthur bread flour, and to save myself the trouble of working with another rock hard ball, I bumped the water to 1/2 cup and just added flour as needed while kneading.
Im sure it might be more traditional to just use sugar and cinnamon, but Id prefer more flavor so I replaced 50% of the sugar with brown sugar & added an extra tsp of cinnamon as well as a few dashes of cloves/nutmeg.
I read some comments about rock hard dough. That certainly wasn't my experience, it was soft and pliable using the exact ingredients and quantities quoted. I used plain white all purpose flour (super market own brand), I put everything except the water in my blender, put the lid on and blitzed it for a few seconds and then gradually poured the Luke warm water. The dough formed into a ball about 20 seconds after pouring all the water. I removed it from the blender and patted it into a ball. Let it sit a minute and then kneaded for about 3 minutes. Popped it in a plastic bag and five minutes later gave it another knead for a couple of minutes. I left it for about 40 minutes. I rolled it with a rolling pin on parchment and this was the hard part. It came out pretty good though. Thanks for the recipe!
Sounds like you did all the right things! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for the review!