We first encountered Kaiserschmarrn after a day of exploring the salt mines and visiting the quaint village of Hallstatt. We were looking for a rustic Tyrolian restaurant and stumbled into what seemed a kitschy, over-the-top mountain lodge. You know the type, snow shoes, old wooden skis, a wide assortment of antique kitchenware, and a roaring fire in a soot-stained, stone fireplace.
I can’t even remember the meal, I’m sure it was delicious, but when the kaiserschmarrn came out and was placed on the table, I was won over. This had to be the best restaurant for miles around. The mixture of fluffy pancake and caramelized sugar, paired with a homemade applesauce was heaven on a plate. We like kaiserschmarrn so much, we’ve even added it to our list of foods you need to eat in Germany.
Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links; when you click on these you can purchase a product or service at no extra cost to you, but doing so provides us some income to run the blog, and we thank you.
The Original Kaiserschmarrn
I’m not really sure about the origins of kaiserschmarrn, but given the literal translation (kaiser = emperor and schmarrn = mess) I can hazard some guesses. Of course, the internet is full of theories and stories; however, most point squarely at Kaiser Franz Joseph I as the emperor in question.
I like to imagine the Austrian emperor sitting at his splendid dinner table, demanding something different from his cooks, a new dessert. Maybe something like those fluffy American pancakes everybody was raving about. However, the distraught chef down in the kitchen just couldn’t manage to flip his pancakes without destroying them.
In frustration, the chief cook angrily chopped up the pancakes, dusted them with powder sugar, added a spoonful of plum jam to the plate, and exclaimed, “take away this emperor’s mess!” And the original kaiserschmarrn was born.
What is Kaiserschmarrn?
Kaiserschmarrn is a fluffy pancake that has been chopped up into bitesize pieces. Then it is caramelized with some sugar and butter, and served up hot with rum raisins, apple sauce, plum jam, ice cream, or whipped cream.
Traditionally this is brought to the table in one rustic pan to be shared among the table guests. But I have also seen it served on a plate in a more individual fashion. Either way, you can control the sweetness by using the jam or sauces, bite by bite. My favorite method, however, is to mix it all together and then just dig in.
This simple, tasty dish only has a few ingredients. Egg, milk, and flour make the basic batter then it’s sweetened with a little sugar and lightly flavored with vanilla. The original kaiserschmarrn recipe we learned living in Bavaria includes spiced rum raisins, and that really kicks it up a notch.
Our recipe makes four servings, but there are times when I like to make just a single serving for myself, or a kaiserschmarrn for two. So we came up with this basic ratio so now we could make kaiserschmarrn for one, two, three or more. Just follow the ratio for the number of servings needed, and choose an appropriate sized frying pan.
Kaiserschmarrn 1 person Serving
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 cup milk
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar (divided)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons butter (divided)
- Optional: 1 tablespoon rum-soaked raisins(1 tablespoon rum + 1 tablespoon raisins soaked together for about 30 minutes)
Start by making the basic pancake mixing the egg, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, the rum raisins (go ahead and give it a try) and half the sugar until smooth. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a frying pan on medium heat, add the batter, and cover the pan. After about three minutes the pancake should be a nice brown on the bottom so flip it over and continue to fry for 3 more minutes covered.
The last step is the most fun. Chop up the pancake in the pan using a spatula (don’t use a metal utensil on a nonstick pan). Throw in the remaining butter, and sprinkle on the rest of the sugar and then toss the whole mess about in the pan for another three minutes to caramelize the sugar. Take it off the heat and eat it right out of the pan!
To make a larger batch just multiply the ingredient quantity by the number of servings you need. Use an 8″ pan for one serving, 10″ for two or three, and a 12″ for a four serving kaiserschmarrn.
After that first kaiserschmarrn in Austria, we were happy to discover this dish can be found throughout the Alps. We’ve enjoyed it in other Austrian towns and villages, of course, but we’ve also found it on the menu in Germany and Switzerland. Luckily, you don’t have to travel to Europe to try this amazing dessert. Follow our recipe and make it for yourself!
This is the perfect recipe for kaiserschmarrn. You can try with or without rum raisins. Either way, it's yummy!
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar (divided)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup butter (divided)
- Optional: 1/2 cup rum-soaked raisins
- 1/4 cup spiced rum
- 1/4 cup raisins soaked together for about 30 minutes)
- Whisk the eggs, flour, milk, salt, vanilla and half the sugar (1/4 cup) in a large bowl until smooth.
- Melt 1/2 cup the butter in 12 inch non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
- When the pan is hot add the batter, cover the pan, and continue cooking for about three minutes.
- After three minutes, lift the lid and check for browning underneath the pancake. Once it has browned, flip the pancake, cover the pan and continue cooking about three minutes.
- Remove the lid, and test for doneness. The pancake should be browned on both sides.
- Using the edge sides of two spatulas, chop the pancake in the pan into large bite-sized strips, add the remaining butter and sugar and toss the kaiserschmarrn in the hot pan to melt the butter and caramelize the sugar (this takes about three minutes).
- Remove from the heat, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Pro tip: If the pancake is too large to flip easily, cut it in half or fourths and flip the smaller pieces individually.
Optional: Add rum raisins to the batter before pouring into the pan.
Try serving your kaiserschmarrn with a variety of toppings. I love it with applesauce, whipped cream, or even cranberry jelly!