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  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Cup, cubed Butter
  • 1 Cup + 1 teaspoon + more for rolling Sugar
  • 2-3 Cups Raisins
  • 1 Packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) Yeast
  • 6, room temperature Eggs
  • 4-6 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Cardamom
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Shortening


A family-favorite holiday tradition.

9 hours

Serves: 84


This is a traditional German holiday treat very similar to the Danish ebelskiver.

Pferden ingredients

This is one of the most important Christmas treats for our family! It is almost as big of a tradition to make as they are to eat. I got my first intro into making these pancake-ball-like treats when I received one of the special pans they are made in from my Aunt Marilyn. With this special gift, I was given her recipe for making pferden. Then when I received Grandma’s recipe box I had her recipe as well (below). They were both wildly different! So then I called mom and we checked those against her recipe – which of course was totally different once again. Although mom’s had more similarities to Aunt Marilyn’s. So, although you see Grandma’s hand written recipe below, the recipe posted on this page is actually closer to the one I received with my gifted pan.

Making these is definitely an all day process. The pferden batter comes together rather quickly but it does need to rise for 4-6 hours. (I’ve generally found that four hours is just about right.) Frying these guys though is a lot of standing, waiting and flipping. You can only make six at a time and each round takes about 4 or 5 minutes per side. Flipping them in the pan is one of the only tricky parts. You really want to make sure that the first underside is fully cooked and then flip over so the top side is underneath and can cook as well. I’ve found the easiest way to do that is with wooden skewers that you gently scoop underneath and slide and twist up until it’s completely flipped.

The proper pan is a MUST! A Pferden pan is very similar to an ebelskiver pan and you can pick up one easily on Amazon. Here is one that is very similar to the pan I have:  Be sure the treat the cast iron well. Here’s a guide on how to care for cast iron if you need it: One thing to make sure of is when you’re frying the pferden, DO NOT use the center whole. It heats up to be way hotter than the other holes and will cook at a totally different time. It is much easier to only use the outer ring and have the same cooking time on each little puff.

Pferden hand written recipe


  • Scald Milk 

    Scald your milk by heating it in a large sauce pan over medium heat until right before it boils. When you see bubbles start forming and rising to the top, you know it's ready. Once scalded remove from heat.

    Pferden recipe milk heating
    Pferden recipe scalded milk
  • Add Butter & Sugar 

    Once the milk is removed from heat, immediately ad the butter, 1 Cup of sugar and raisins. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Set aside and allow to cool.

    Pferden recipe add butter
  • Soften Yeast 

    While the milk and sugar mixture is cooling, soften the yeast. To do so, put the yeast in a small glass with 1/2 Cup of warm water and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Set aside and allow to soften for 5 minutes. You'll see it get really bubbly and frothy.

    Pferden recipe soften yeast
  • Make the Batter 

    While the milk and sugar mixture is cooling and the yeast is softening, crack your six eggs into a large bowl and lightly beat. Once the five minutes for the yeast has passed and the milk is cooled, combine them in a large bowl along with the eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 4 Tablespoons of cardamom and 2 Cups of the flour. Mix well until just combined. Add another 2-4 Cups of flour by 1/2 Cup measurements until the batter is a little thicker than pancake batter.

    Pferden recipe eggs
    Pferden recipe beaten eggs
    Pferden recipe combine ingredients
    Pferden recipe keep mixing
    Pferden recipe add more flour
  • Let Rise 

    Pour the batter into a very large bowl or roasting pan and allow to rise for 4-6 hours. Stir once halfway through the rising process. In the images for the step, you can see first the batter right after it is poured into the bowl. The second image shows the batter after the full rise and the third image shows what it looks like after being stirred.

    Pferden recipe into bowl
    Pferden recipe risen batter
    Pferden recipe batter stirred down
  • Start Frying 

    Start by preheating your pferden pan. You'll want it to preheat for 10 minutes or more. Heat it on medium low to low. Once it's preheated, put a knife tip of vegetable shortening in each of the outside holes (do not use the center hole, it cooks at a very different speed!). The shortening should melt quickly and once it does, put a big Tablespoon or so in each of the outside holes. I use a cookie scoop. Fry for about 4-5 minutes and then flip. I've found it easiest to flip by using wooden skewers and kind of scooping around the edge.

    Pferden recipe preheat pan
    Pferden recipe fry batter
  • Continue to Fry 

    Once each pferden is flipped, continue frying on the other side for an additional 4-5 minutes.

    Pferden recipe flip
  • Cool 

    Once the pferden is done frying, remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool fully. You can stick a meat fork or toothpick into the pferden to check if they're done if you're not sure. The fork or pick should come out clean (not wet) if the pferden is done. Continue the process until all the batter has been fried.

    Pferden recipe cool on rack
  • Roll in Sugar 

    Store the pferden in an airtight container at room temperature for several days or freeze them. When you're ready to eat, simply reheat by a quick turn in the microwave and then roll in sugar.



3 Responses

  1. next Year you should get another pan and have two going-that’s what your grandmother and Aunt Marilynn did. (Of course, I helped, once in a while!)

    1. Oh that’s a great idea! But then I’ve got another one to figure out where to store! LOL I need a bigger kitchen!

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