Find out how easy it is to make a classic German apple strudel (Apfelstrudel) at home with this step-by-step recipe.
Whether you have a big harvest of apples or are looking for an authentic German dessert, this traditional apple strudel recipe is both easy and delicious!
While the finished classic dessert might look complicated, it is surprisingly simple to make. All you need is lots of good apples and everyday ingredients. While I have a reputation for eyeballing things, for this recipe I recommend you follow the exact measurements for the best results for your homemade strudel dough!
With this authentic apple strudel recipe from Southern Germany, I am certainly cultivating my German heritage!
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Why you’ll love this recipe
Who doesn’t like a classic apple dessert, right?
With just the right amount of cinnamon, tart apples, a flaky crust, and crunchy nuts, this family favorite is just as good or better than your favorite apple pie.
If you’re new to this recipe, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the steps. Just follow the step-by-step instructions below. Once you have made it a few times, you will see that it is actually really easy.
German apple strudel ingredients
These are all the ingredients you will need:
- neutral vegetable oil such as avocado oil
- bread crumbs
- raisins (brown or golden raisins)
- chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds)
- vanilla bean
- egg yolks
- corn starch
- powdered sugar
What are the best types of apples for making this strudel recipe
The short answer is that Granny Smith apples are probably the best apple variety that you can get in the US. You want to use a firm and tart apple.
Since we have an abundance of Gravenstein apples where we live, I always prefer to use locally grown, fresh apples. However, they are not the ideal apple for strudel. Therefore, I make sure to choose firm apples and add a bit of lemon juice to the filling to make up for the lack of tartness.
Many people like to use 2-3 different varieties of apples so definitely play with the recipe here.
Helpful tools and equipment
Here is some equipment that will make making this recipe easier:
- Stand mixer: even though the recipe amount for the dough is almost too small for a stand mixer, I still prefer to use it for the first 10 minutes of kneading.
- Rolling pin: While experience bakers can stretch and pull the dough either over the backs of their hands, I still need a good rolling pin.
- Good knives: I use a small pairing knife for peeling and cutting the apples. My favorite ones are German carbon knives (and yes, they are not stainless!). You can also use a vegetable peeler for peeling the apples.
- Kitchen towel: I prefer to roll out and stretch out the dough over a kitchen towel. Ideally, one with a good print or pattern. My cousin has the most beautiful selection.
- Roasting pan or baking sheet: It is okay if your apple strudel leaks during baking. Therefore, I like to use something with a rim to contain those juices.
- Parchment paper: I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper to make the clean-up easier.
How to make the German apple strudel
I like to think of this recipe in three parts:
How to make the strudel dough:
- In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, vinegar, oil, and water. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It needs to be on the sticky side so you may have to add a tiny bit more water or flour.
- Place the soft dough ball on a work surface and knead it by hand for a few minutes. Use a stretch and fold method. Turn the dough into a smooth ball.
- Very lightly grease a small bowl with a little bit of oil, place the dough ball in the bowl and rub a little bit more oil on the surface.
- Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in a warm spot for at least one hour.
How to make the filling:
While the dough is resting, make the filling.
- Over low-medium heat, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove the breadcrumbs from the skillet, place them in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut the apple quarters into very thin slices. Place them in a medium bowl.
- Combine apples with raisins, some lemon juice (if you’re using rather sweet apples), chopped nuts, and breadcrumbs. Mix all the ingredients well. Set aside.
- Mix sugar with cinnamon and set aside.
How to make the apple strudel:
- Preheat your oven to 400˚F.
- Place the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Gently roll the dough into a rectangle and move to the side.
- Place a heavy kitchen towel onto your work surface and lightly flour it. Place the dough onto the towel. Using both the rolling pin and the back of your hands, roll and stretch the dough. Ideally, it needs to be so thin that you can see the pattern or design of your kitchen towel shine through. Cut any thick edges if you have them.
- Brush the entire stretched dough with melted butter.
- Add the cinnamon sugar to the apple mixture and combine well.
- Place all the apples on one-third of the rolled-out dough and press them firmly into place.
- Fold over the edges of the strudel dough and using the towel roll it into a strudel. Go slow and press the apples in the dough to make the strudel as firm as possible.
- Carefully transfer the strudel onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
- Brush the top of the strudel with more melted butter.
- Bake the strudel in your preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the strudel is golden brown.
- Brush some more melted butter over the top. Let it cool for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the strudel generously with powdered sugar.
Making the vanilla sauce:
- In a heavy saucepan, gently heat 1 ¾ cups of milk over low-medium heat.
- In a separate bowl, combine ¼ cup of milk, starch, sugar, two egg yolks, and the mark of ½ vanilla.
- Just before the milk reaches the boiling point, remove the pot from the heat.
- While constantly stirring with a wire whisk, add the milk slurry.
- Return the pot to the burner. Continue to stir over low heat until the sauce thickens.
How to serve this German apple strudel
The classic way is to serve this apple strudel with a generous helping of warm vanilla sauce.
However, you can serve it with whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. And sometimes, you just need to eat it without anything else.
Traditionally, people will eat this German apple strudel as dessert. Depending on your portion size, you could make this a light meal in and of itself. It might even be your next breakfast if you have a sweet tooth.
Strudel recipe variations:
- Vinegar: you can use lemon juice instead of vinegar. If you don’t have or like either, you can certainly omit them completely and just add a tiny bit more water.
- Raisins: if you don’t like raisins, don’t add them. If you do like raisins a lot, add some more. It’s that simple. You can also use rum-soaked raisins.
- Walnuts: I have also used chopped hazelnuts in this recipe and thought they were delicious. Feel free to use your favorite nuts here or use no nuts at all!
- Other fillings: Once you have mastered the strudel dough, you can fill it with anything you like. Just imagine a savory filling of mushrooms. Let your creativity lead you to great recipes!
- Strudel dough: While this dough is certainly the classic way to make this apple strudel, you can also use phyllo dough if you’re short on time.
How long does apple strudel last?
Obviously, your apple strudel tastes best when it’s fresh out of the oven and served warm. If you are not eating everything, here are a few tips to make it last:
- On the counter: I recommend covering it and eating the apple strudel within 2 days.
- In the refrigerator: If you’d like to keep your apple strudel fresh a little bit longer, you can put it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to two days. You can then crisp it and warm it up in the oven at about 200˚F for a few minutes.
- In the freezer: There are two methods here. The best one is to freeze the apple strudel unbaked. Just wrap it tightly and bake it as you would normally. For the other method, you freeze the already baked apple strudel as soon as it has cooled down. You then put it in the oven at about 250˚F until warm and crisp. Apple strudel when wrapped tightly lasts about 4 months in the freezer.
These tips will help you be successful in making this German apple strudel.
- Strudel dough: the dough needs to be on the sticky side! Even though I have included metric measurements, you can always add a bit more water or flour depending on what you’re getting.
- Kneading: this strudel dough improves with lots of kneading. I like to knead it for about 10 minutes in my stand mixer. Then I like to knead it by hand with a stretch and fold method.
- Warmth: it also helps the strudel dough to keep it in a warm place. Some people warm up a pot over the stove, turn off the heat, place the strudel dough inside, and cover the pot with a lid.
- Resting time: One hour is the minimum resting time but longer is better. You can even make the dough the night before.
Authentic German Apple Strudel
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 TBSP neutral vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water
- 4 TBSP butter
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 pounds tart and firm apples
- 5 TBSP melted butter
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup chopped nuts
- powdered sugar
- 2 cups milk
- ½ whole vanilla bean, scraped
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- For the strudel dough:
- In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, vinegar, oil, and water.
- Mix into a soft but slightly sticky dough. Knead for 10 mins.
- Turn the dough ball onto a work surface. With your hands, knead the dough in a stretch-and-fold method. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
- Rub the entire dough ball with a little bit of oil, place it in a small bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rest in a warm spot for at least one hour.
- For the filling:
- In a small skillet, melt 4 TBSP of butter. Add the bread crumbs and toast them over low-medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl and set aside.
- Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut them into very thin slices and place them in a medium bowl.
- Combine the apples with raisins, chopped nuts, bread crumbs, and lemon juice (if the apples are on the sweet side). Mix well.
- Combine the sugar with the ground cinnamon and set aside.
- Preaheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Once the dough has rested for at least one hour, place the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll into a rectangle.
- Lightly flour a heavy kitchen towel. Place the dough onto the kitchen towel. Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll and stretch the dough until it is so thin that you can see the towel shine through.
- Add the cinnamon-sugar to the apples and mix well.
- Place the apples to about ⅓ of the stretched dough and press the apple mixture down.
- Fold the sides of the dough in. Using the towel, roll the dough from the apple side like a jelly roll, pressing the apple mixture as you go.
- Carefully transfer the strudel roll onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush melted butter over the top of the strudel.
- Bake the strudel in a preheated oven for 30 mins or until golden-brown.
- Remove the apple strudel from the oven, brush with more melted butter, and let cool down.
- Make the vanilla sauce:
- Over low-medium heat, in a heavy saucepan, heat 1 ¾ c of milk.
- Combine the remaining ¼ c of milk with the vanilla, sugar, starch, and egg yolks.
- Before the milk reaches boiling, remove from heat. While constantly stirring, whisk in the milk slurry. Return the saucepan to the low heat. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens.
- Generously sprinkle the apple strudel with powdered sugar.
- Serve a slice of warm apple strudel with a a big helping of vanilla sauce.