A recipe for Berliner (German Filled Doughnuts)! These fluffy, yeast-based doughnuts are fried until golden and filled with jam.
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A favorite during Karneval (Fasching, Fastnacht, Carnival, Mardi Gras) and New Year’s Eve, these rich and fluffy German doughnuts go by many names across Central Europe.
I know them as Berliner, but in Berlin and Brandenburg they are known as Pfannkuchen (which I know as thin pancakes)! Other names include Krapfen, Kräppel, Kreppel, and Fastnachtsküchle.
Making the Dough
If you have access to German flour, this dough can be made with Weizenmehl Type 405. For those in Northern Virginia, I’ve come across the flour at German Gourmet in Falls Church. Otherwise, use all-purpose flour.
Do not pack in the flour when measuring or you may end up with too much. To measure flour, gently spoon it into the measuring up and level with a knife without pressing down. The most accurate way to measure is by weight.
When adding the yeast to the milk, make sure the milk isn’t too hot or it will damage the yeast. The temperature should be about 105˚F (40˚C)- just warm enough to activate. Allow to rest at room temperature until frothy, about 10 minutes.
If the dough is too crumbly and just won’t come together after mixing everything together thoroughly, add some more milk a splash at a time. Give it some time to blend fully with the flour before adding more.
Add just enough flour to create a smooth and workable dough. Too much flour or overworking will cause the bread to become dense.
I flavored the dough lightly with a teaspoon of lemon zest. This is optional, but adds a refreshing contrast to the jam filling. Other options include vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, or even a splash of rum.
In a warm kitchen, the first rise should take about 1-1 1/2 hours to double in size. During the winter with cooler temperatures, it sometimes takes closer to 2 hours.
Same goes for the second rise before frying. Warmer kitchens may only need 30 minutes while cooler temperatures will need closer to an hour.
After rolling the prepared dough into a sheet about 3/4 inch (2 centimeters) thick, I cut out the individual doughnuts using a 3 inch (7.5 centimeter) circular cutter. Do not twist the cutter as you press down. Some recipes divide the dough into portions and roll into balls to form.
Frying the Berliner
The most important part of cooking the Berliner is the temperature of the oil. Too low and the doughnuts won’t fry and will just soak in the oil. Too high and they will become too dark before the center has had a chance to cook.
Keep the temperature no higher than 340˚F (170˚C) and adjust as needed.
Once heated, fry the puffed doughnuts in batches. Do not crowd the pan. They need room to rise in the oil.
Place a lid (I recommend glass so you can keep an eye on the color) over the pan immediately after adding the doughnuts. This will help them puff and create a light ring around the center.
Once lightly golden (after about 2-3 minutes), remove the lid and fry uncovered on the other side until golden.
There are a couple of options for coating the doughnuts after frying. You can roll the freshly fried doughnuts in a bowl of granulated sugar (best right out of the oil) or wait until the doughnuts have cooled and coat in a layer of powdered sugar.
I sometimes do both, coat in the granulated sugar, then dust with powdered sugar after filling. Some swap the sugar for a sweet icing drizzled over the top.
Filling the Berliner
Allow the doughnuts to cool slightly before piping in the filling. To fill the doughnuts, I use a Bismark Metal Piping Tip– number 230.
The type of filling depends on the region and personal preference. My favorites are strawberry and red currant jam. The kids prefer a chocolate hazelnut spread. Raspberry jam, apricot, cherry, cream and Pflaumenmus (Plum Butter) are also popular.
As a joke, you may even find one filled with mustard.
Make sure the jam does not have any large pieces of fruit or they will get stuck in the tip.
These Berliner are best within a few hours of frying and assembling, but will keep for up to a day at room temperature in an airtight container. Refrigerate the doughnuts if they have a cream filling.
Looking for more Doughnut recipes?
This recipe was originally posted in February 2013 and updated in January 2024.
Berliner (German Filled Doughnuts) Recipe
Adapted from Group Recipes
Berliner (German Filled Doughnuts)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) lukewarm milk 105-115˚F, 40-46˚C
- 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour or Weizenmehl Type 405
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 10 ounces (283 grams) jam raspberry, strawberry, plum, cherry, or apricot
- Powdered sugar or granulated sugar for dusting
- In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm milk. Stir briefly and allow to sit at room temperature until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt.
- Mix in the milk with frothy yeast, egg yolks, egg, and butter until a soft dough forms.
- Knead on a lightly floured surface just until elastic and smooth. Place in a large bowl, cover, and allow to rest at room temperature until doubled, 1-2 hours.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a sheet about 3/4 inch (2 centimeters) thick.
- Cut out circles (do not twist) with a 3 inch (7.5 centimeter) circular cutter. Bring together the scraps of dough and repeat to get as many doughnuts as possible.
- Place the doughnuts 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart, cover with a towel, and allow to rise at room temperature until puffy, 30-60 minutes.
- Pour 2 inches (5 centimeters) of vegetable oil in a large saucepan and heat to 340˚F (170˚C), no higher.
- Once heated, gently add a few of the puffed doughnuts, taking care not to overcrowd. Immediately cover with a lid.
- Fry until lightly golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then remove the lid and flip to fry uncovered until golden on the other side.
- Transfer to a towel-lined platter and repeat with remaining doughnuts, keeping the temperature no higher than 340˚F (170˚C).
- If coating with granulated sugar, toss the doughnuts in a bowl of the sugar immediately after removing from the oil. If coating with powdered sugar, wait until after piping the doughnuts to coat.
- Once the doughnuts have slightly cooled, fill a pastry bag with a Bismark piping tip with desired jam.
- Pipe the jam into each doughnut, then top with powdered sugar.