German potato pancakes, called "Kartoffelpuffer" or "Reibekuchen", are one of the most delicious German dishes! They are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and have the best flavor. And be sure to serve them with sweet applesauce to fully enjoy this German comfort dish!
If you’ve tried German potato pancakes before, then you’ll know how delicious they are. They are crispy, flavorful, and just one of the best comfort foods to ever exist!
And if you’ve never had them before, please be sure to give them a try! You can either serve them with applesauce for a perfect blend of sweet and savory. Or serve them with smoked salmon and horseradish for a savory and delicious meal.
Plus, German potato pancakes are actually super easy to make! You just need the right recipe (this one 😃), some extra time to pan-fry these super tasty potato patties, and a little bit of strength (or a food processor) to grate everything.
German Potato Pancake Ingredients
To make German potato pancakes, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Potatoes: The best potatoes for this recipe are yellow potatoes like Yukon Gold. They are easy to grate, starchy, and soft enough to make dough while keeping their structure. If you don’t have Yukon Golds, you can use russet potatoes. Just keep in mind that the pancakes will have less structure.
- Onion: You’ll need one onion to make these pancakes taste flavorful. Please be sure to not skip the onion as it is crucial for the flavor of Kartoffelpuffer.
- Eggs: Eggs are used to bind the dough, so definitely make sure to use them!
- Seasonings: You only need salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg for this recipe. They really elevate the flavor of the potato pancakes, so be sure to use them!
- Vegetable oil: You can use any type of vegetable oil that has a high smoke point. You’ll need it to pan-fry the potato pancakes.
- Sides: I strongly recommend serving the Kartoffelpuffer with sides like applesauce or smoked salmon. As they are mild in flavor, they taste better with some type of side dish or dip.
How to make German Potato Pancakes
Making German potato pancakes is actually super simple! Just follow these steps:
- Grate the ingredients: First, peel and grate the potatoes and onions. You can use a food processor to make things easier.
- Drain the ingredients: Next, place the grated potatoes and onions in a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag. Remove the excess moisture and catch it in a bowl. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes.
- Prepare the potato mixture: Now place the drained potatoes and onions in a bowl. Add the eggs and seasonings. Then stir until combined.
- Add the starch: The potato starch should now be sitting at the bottom of the bowl with the liquid. Gently pour the water into another bowl or sink and keep the potato starch (thick white mass). Then add the potato starch to the potato mixture and stir.
- Pan-fry the pancakes: Preheat some vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Then add a little bit of the potato mixture to the pan and shape it into a pancake. Repeat until there is no space left. Pan-fry the potato pancakes for 7-10 minutes per side. Remove and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Add more oil to the pan if needed and repeat.
- Serve: Serve the potato pancakes with your side of choice and enjoy!
Tips & Notes
Here are a few notes that I recommend reading through before trying this German potato pancake recipe for the first time.
- Stick to the recipe. I know that it is tempting to change recipes but please be sure to stick to this one. I want the potato pancakes to turn out perfectly and changing the ingredients or ratios may affect the flavor and texture. So please make sure to follow the recipe as written.
- Grate the potatoes and onions finely. Coarse potato and onion pieces don’t pan-fry as nicely. Working with them and making a nice potato dough is also harder. So even if it takes a little bit longer, I’d recommend grating everything on the fine side of your grater.
- Don’t worry if the potato starch isn’t perfectly separated from the water. A little bit of moisture won’t do much harm (you actually don’t want the potato mixture to be too dry), so just do your best and gently pour the water into the sink or bowl and keep the potato starch to bind your pancakes.
- Adjust the heat when pan-frying the pancakes. I always start off with medium-high heat and then lower it as needed. Most of the time I pan-fry the potato pancakes over medium heat. Just make sure that the potato pancakes brown nicely on the outside and cook evenly on the inside.
What to eat with German potato pancakes
Here are a few traditional ways to enjoy German potato pancakes:
- Sugar and cinnamon: A mix of sugar and cinnamon is a classic topping for German potato pancakes. So if you have a sweet tooth, feel free to add some!
- Applesauce: A very traditional (and super delicious, aka my favorite) combination is potato pancakes served with applesauce. It’s just the perfect combo of savory and sweet with a hint of acidity and moisture from the applesauce. If it is your first time making German potato pancakes, I’d highly recommend serving them with some applesauce!
- Smoked salmon: Smoked salmon (with horseradish) is another classic combination when serving German potato pancakes. They are super delicious and turn your Kartoffelpuffer into a savory and flavorful meal.
- Horseradish or sour cream: Any type of crispy potato needs a refreshing and herby dip! Horseradish is a classic one for German Kartoffelpuffer but sour cream tastes just as delicious!
- Green salad: Serving a green salad is less traditional but really great for adding vegetables to your meal! So feel free to prepare a classic salad with your favorite leafy greens and serve it alongside these crispy potato pancakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
In most regions, they’re either called Reibekuchen or Kartoffelpuffer. There are also other names but they are less common.
The two main ingredients are potatoes and onions. Other ingredients include eggs, salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg. The ingredients are super simple but taste really great!
This really depends on the recipe you use! Many people like to use a small amount of flour to bind the potato mixture better. This recipe is gluten-free and only uses the potatoes’ starch to bind the potato mixture. There is no need to use flour, just be sure to stick to the recipe.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the potato pancakes! To reheat them, I’d recommend using the oven or air fryer to make them crispy again. But feel free to use the microwave if you don’t have another option or want to save some time!
More delicious and easy potato recipes
Potatoes are a super nutritious, versatile, and delicious vegetable! Here are a few of my favorite potato recipes that I recommend checking out.
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- German Potato Soup
- Fried Potatoes and Onions
- Herbed Mustard Potato Salad
- Batata Harra (Spicy Potatoes)
German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
- 2 pounds potatoes peeled and finely grated
- 1 yellow onion peeled and finely grated
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup vegetable oil more as needed
- applesauce for serving
- First, peel and grate the potatoes and onion finely. You can also use a food processor to speed up the process.2 pounds potatoes, 1 yellow onion
- Next, place the grated potatoes and onions in a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag and remove any excess moisture. Catch the liquid in a bowl and let it sit without moving it too much to separate the potato starch from the water.
- Place the drained potatoes and onions in another bowl. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg. Then stir until combined.2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Now gently pour the leftover potato water into another small bowl to separate the potato starch from the water. The potato starch looks like a thick white mass that is sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Add the potato starch to the potato pancake dough and stir until combined.
- Next, preheat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Then add some of the dough to the pan and shape it into a pancake. Repeat until there is no space left in the pan.¼ cup vegetable oil
- Pan-fry the pancakes for 7-10 minutes per side over medium heat. Remove them from the pan and let the pancakes sit on a plate lined with paper towels to remove any excess oil. Add more oil to pan-fry the next batch if needed and repeat until there is no dough left.
- Serve the pancakes with applesauce and enjoy!applesauce
I made this recipe and sérved them with sour cream and apple sauce. This is the same recipe my grandma gave me. I use a box grater so potatoes and onions are really finely grated. Awesome
Hi Janet, that sounds delicious! Applesauce is also my favorite for enjoying Kartoffelpuffer. 😊
A little confused. Is potato starch an unlisted ingredient or is it something that forms when you squeeze the liquid out of the grated potato bag ? Sorry maybe I missed something Thanks
Hi Elaine, the potato starch forms when you let the squeezed water sit in a bowl. It's a thick white mass that will be at the bottom of the bowl. I didn't list it as you don't need to buy anything, it's part of the potatoes. You can also check out the post or recipe box for detailed instructions. Hope that clarifies things! 😊
We enjoy our potato pancakes with chili and a dollop of sour cream. The only problem is keeping up with frying enough pancakes for my family. They DEVOUR the pancakes, not just eat them!!!
Hi Sally, that sounds delicious! And I can totally relate, the potato pancakes disappear way too quickly. 😄