Classic German Potato Pancakes (German: Kartoffelpuffer) are made from freshly grated potatoes fried to golden brown perfection. Crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.
German Potato Pancakes - Kartoffelpuffer
You might know this German Potato Pancake recipe by another name - Kartoffelpuffer.
If you've ever been to Germany in December, you might have run into these savory treats while visiting one of the country's many Christmas markets.
In summertime, you'll often find easy Kartoffelpuffer on many beer garden menus. But you don't have to travel faraway lands to make your own. Thankfully they are quite easy to make at home.
Grated potatoes and onions are combined with eggs, flour, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Quickly fried golden-brown and served with a side of apple sauce.
You might have come to find this recipe by searching for Reiberdatschi, Kartoffelpfannkuchen, Reibekuchen, or any of the many, many names Germans use to describe potato pancakes. So what are they?
In short, we are talking about grated raw potatoes and onions combined with eggs, flour, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. And fried until golden-brown. It's one of those easy recipes you'll make again and again.
Why This Recipe Works
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS - In the past, this dish was known as peasant food. Why is that good? Because the ingredients are simple and easily available. And chances are good, you'll already have everything in your fridge and pantry.
FUN FACT - Germans store eggs in the pantry, not in the fridge. But that's a story for another day.
BATCH READY - Got a big family? No problem. You can easily double or triple this recipe.
Please check the recipe card below for a detailed, printable ingredient list.
POTATOES - Look for a good all-purpose potato such as Yukon Gold. Here's why. Some prefer waxy potatoes for their pancakes. However, some German recipe books recommend a starchy variety (i.e., Russet potatoes). I use Yukon Golds because they offer the best of both worlds.
ONION - I like to use sweet onions because they fry up beautifully. But you can also use yellow onions.
EGGS - Adds richness to the dough. Take the eggs out first so they have time to reach room temperature.
FLOUR - All-purpose flour works well. You could use potato flour or potato starch if you have some, but when I don't, I'll just use regular plain flour, which works.
SEASONING - To season our German Potato Pancakes, you'll just need some nutmeg and salt. Pretty simple.
How To Make German Potato Pancakes
For detailed, printable instructions, please check the recipe card.
- Peel potatoes and grate potatoes with a box grater.
- Transfer shredded potatoes onto a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze excess moisture.
- Combine the drained grated potatoes, diced onion, eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Drop a ¼ cup of the potato pancake mixture into the hot oil. Use the back of a spoon to lightly flatten the potato cakes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping once.
- Transfer a plate covered with paper towels. Dap excess oil with a paper towel.
Recipe Sucess Tips
- Depending on how watery your potatoes are, you might need to add more flour.
- Make sure you take enough time to squeeze the potatoes through a clean dish towel. Removing the excess water is key and will prevent the potato pancakes from falling apart.
- My Oma used to fry potato pancakes in 'Schmalz' (lard), but it's something I don't keep. Instead, I use unflavored vegetable oil such as canola or sunflower oil.
What To Serve With Potato Pancakes?
This might be an unusual question, but it depends a little on whether you serve German Potato Pancakes as a main dish or a side dish. In my house, potato pancakes were the main dish. But you can also serve it as a side dish. Serve fewer pancakes per person.
- APPLE SAUCE - The classic that you can't go wrong with.
- CREME FRAICHE - a thick, creamy cultured cream. You'll typically find it in your supermarket's fancy cheese section.
- SOUR CREAM - is similar to Creme Fraiche but much easier to find. And a dollop of sour cream is delicious.
- YOGURT DIP - something like a Cucumber Dip is another great side to serve with potato pancakes.
- SMOKED SALMON - add a few slices of smoked salmon, sprinkle with some chives or green onions and enjoy
- COLESLAW - a small side of creamy coleslaw or Broccoli Slaw goes well with the potato pancakes
Finish with a slice of freshly baked Streuselkuchen (German Crumb Cake), and you have a tasty German dinner and dessert.
More Simple Side Dishes You'll Love
- Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Bacon Rolls - Stuffing rolled in bacon!
- Potato Dumplings
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Knödel - German Bacon and Bread Dumplings
- Grate potatoes and onion. (I use a box grater.) Transfer shredded potatoes onto a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze excess moisture.
- Combine grated potatoes, onion, eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Drop a ¼ cup of the potato pancake mixture into the hot oil. Use the back of the cup to lightly flatten the pancake. Add 3-4 additional scoops (depending on the size of your skillet or frying pan). Make sure to leave space between the pancakes.
- Fry until golden-brown on both sides, flipping once.
- Transfer onto a paper towel-covered plate. Allow excess oil to drip off. Serve with a side of apple sauce.