Skip to Content

German Potato Pancakes: History & Recipe

We take pride in providing authentic travel recommendations based on our own experiences such as unique images and perspectives. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product or book a reservation. Learn more ›

I grew up with German heritage and spent a lot of summers in Germany with my grandparents. German food is a solid and memorable part of my life.

I remember my grandma whipping up a delicious batch of crispy potato pancakes. It was tradition to eat them at dinner, which is different from the typical North American breakfast. Nowadays, I still happily eat breakfast foods for all meals.

The true origin of the German Potato Pancake remains unknown. It’s theorized that they were crafted around the 16th century when potatoes were first introduced to Europe.

Over time, they’ve become a treasured meal at home and a popular street food. You’ll find them at many festivals, including the famous German Christmas Markets.

These delectable eats also go by Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen.Although typically a savory meal, sweet apple sauce, powdered sugar, and cinnamon sugar are common garnishes. German potato pancakes are a hit throughout Central Europe.

This traditional German dish is simple to make. The basic recipe consists of potatoes, eggs, flour, and water mixed into a thick batter before being cooked on both sides.

Serve it with your favorite toppings or as a side to any entrée. While classic German potato pancakes are pan-fried, you can also use a waffle iron or pop them in the oven.

German Potato Pancakes

What are German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)?

Fried potato pancakes on a ceramic plate
Timolina / Shutterstock

German potato pancakes are grated potatoes that are pan-fried on both sides to perfection. With a crispy exterior that’s fluffy on the inside, these golden brown pancakes are absolutely delicious.

They make for an incredible meal, snack, or side. The consistency is similar to thick American-style pancakes with a delightfully crispy texture.

The best part about the German potato pancake is that it is extremely versatile. If you’re feeling sweet, top them with apple sauce or a fruit compote.

For a savory version, pair them with schnitzel, sauerkraut, and bratwurst. Whether you’re a beginner cook or a seasoned chef, potato pancakes are super easy to whip up and don’t require much prep time.

History of German Potato Pancakes

Homemade traditional potato pancakes, served with sour cream sauce
Elena Hramova / Shutterstock

The exact origin of the German potato pancake is unknown. They were traditionally made in all regions of Germany and became a popular item over time.

Potato pancakes were originally a peasant food since the ingredients were easy to access and affordable. Nowadays, you’ll find them at Christmas markets, festivals such as Oktoberfest, and as a family favorite in German homes. They make for an incredible meal or side dish.

German potato pancakes go by many different names and vary by region. They’re commonly known as Kartoffelpuffer, Reibekuchen. or just simply pancakes.

Many variations of the potato pancake exist throughout Europe. Ireland has Boxty, Russia has Draniki, and Poland has Placki Ziemniaczane to give you a few examples. Each country offers its own spin on this classic and beloved dish.

How to Make German Potato Pancakes

Boy helping in the kitchen to make potato pancakes
Nastuffa / Shutterstock

German Potato Pancakes can be made in many different ways. The following is one of the more popular methods:

Prep (approximate): 15 minutes

Cook Time (approximate): 10 minutes

Calories (approximate): 175 calories for two

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Mix flour, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add grated potatoes (or leftover mashed potatoes) until mixed.
  3. Gradually add boiling water to make a thick batter.
  4. Heat vegetable or canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. It should reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add more oil if needed to make more pancakes.
  5. Drop the batter into the hot oil with a tablespoon, ensuring the pancakes do not touch each other. Flip and fry until golden brown on both sides, about five minutes per side.
  6. Drain pancakes on paper towels to remove excess oil from cooking.
  7. Serve with apple sauce, sauerkraut, sour cream, or as a side dish for any entrée such as bratwurst.

Play around with some of the flavors. Add in some chopped onion and minced garlic. For a different texture, you can also try riced potatoes or leftover mashed potatoes.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, I highly recommend Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Other gluten-free options include rice flour, arrowroot, tapioca starch, and potato starch could also be used.

If you don’t like the taste of flour, add corn flour, cornstarch, or potato starch. There are endless combinations when it comes to creating your masterpiece.

Mix finely chopped parsley, chives, green onions, or nutmeg into the pancake batter for a flavor fusion.

See Related: Types of Wine in Germany

Can You Make German Potato Pancakes from Mashed Potatoes?

Potato pancakes with sour cream and a background of herbs and garlic
Stepanek Photography / Shutterstock

Yes! Here is a quick potato pancake recipe using mashed potatoes. For an interesting twist and added color, you can also use sweet potatoes.

Prep (approximate): 5 minutes

Cook Time (approximate): 10 minutes

Calories (approximate): 330 calories per serving

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • water as needed
  • vegetable oil or canola oil, for frying
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, brown or white sugar, to taste

Method:

  1. Mix mashed potatoes, flour, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually add boiling water to the potato mixture. Stir until it creates a thick batter.
  3. Heat vegetable or canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. It should reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Drop the batter into the hot oil with a tablespoon, ensuring the pancakes do not touch each other. Flip and fry until golden brown on both sides, about five minutes per side. Add more oil if needed to make more pancakes.
  5. Drain pancakes on paper towels to remove excess oil from cooking.
  6. Serve with apple sauce, sauerkraut, sour cream, or as a side for any entrée such as schnitzel.

See Related: Top-Rated Restaurants in Berlin

German Potato Pancakes Recipe

potato pancakes with cottage cheese with garlic, parsley, served with sour cream dip
from my point of view / Shutterstock

As mentioned previously, there are many delicious recipes out there containing different ingredients. This method uses both grated potatoes and onion. I find that the grated onion adds a nice tangy flavor profile to the final product.

Servings: 1 batch

Prep (approximate): 15 minutes

Cook Time (approximate): 10 minutes

Calories (approximate): 325 per serving

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups finely grated raw potatoes
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated onions
  • vegetable oil or canola oil, for frying

Method:

  1. Mix potatoes, eggs, salt, flour, and onions in a large bowl. 
  2. Heat vegetable or canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat. It should reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Using a tablespoon, drop batter onto a well-greased griddle, cast iron pan, or a large skillet.
  4. Cook them for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Both sides should be cooked until they turn golden brown. Add more oil if needed to make more pancakes.
  5. Drain pancakes on paper towels to remove excess oil from cooking.
  6. Serve immediately with desired sides and toppings.
  7. Enjoy!

How To Serve

It is tradition to serve them with apple sauce. If you prefer a savory taste, sour cream is a nice choice.

Kartoffelpuffers, or German potato pancakes, pair well with sweet spices or condiments, such as delicious handmade bread made from minced cloves or fresh fruit. The possibilities are endless. Other incredible choices are:

Sweet Pairings:

  • Apple Butter
  • Berries
  • Cinnamon topping
  • Fruit Compote
  • Maple Syrup
  • Pumpkin Butter

Savory Sides:

  • Bacon
  • Bratwurst
  • Eggs
  • German Goulash
  • Grilled or sautéed onions
  • Ketchup
  • Red Sauerkraut
  • Ricotta
  • Sausages
  • Sautéed mushrooms

The authentic German potato pancake recipe is very simple and easy to make. It uses common household ingredients that are more than likely in your pantry.

Freshly made potato pancakes are an amazing way to enjoy breakfast with other dishes. They’re also a great addition to hot lunches and dinners.

Freezing Potato Pancakes

Batch cooking takes the guesswork out of what to eat. I highly recommend making these in large quantities to freeze for later use. It’s a great way to start your day if you’re not a morning person.

You’ll be delighted to discover that potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) can be frozen. Once cooked, allow them to cool completely. Once they’re at room temperature, place them in an airtight container or bag before freezing.

They will last in the freezer for up to two months. When you are ready to eat them, reheat them with your preferred method.

You’ll want to bear in mind that freezing items may cause the taste and texture to change. The longer they stay in the freezer, the more likely they are to succumb.

Reheating Potato Pancakes

There are several ways to reheat your potato pancakes. For optimal results, I highly recommend reheating them in the oven or toaster oven.

Toaster Oven: To reheat, cook pancakes in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 5-10 minutes or until they’re crispy and hot.

Oven: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Arrange pancakes on a baking sheet and cook for 5-10 minutes or until they’re hot and crispy.

Microwave: Place one or two pancakes on a plate. Cover them with a damp paper towel so they don’t get dry. Microwave on high for 30-90 seconds or until heated through.

Campfire: Yes, we added an incredibly epic and cozy way to reheat these delectable bites. This method will require some patience.

Wrap pancakes in aluminum foil and place them in the middle of a fire. Kick back and relax, as these could take around 20-30 minutes to heat.

German Potato Pancakes: History & Recipe

Craving for some German potato pancakes? You make your own German potato pancakes with a simple and easy-to-follow recipe!

Type: Dessert

Cuisine: German

Keywords: german potato pancakes, german potato pancakes recipe, how to make german potato pancakes, german dish, traditional german food, german potato pancakes recipes

Recipe Yield: 4 servings

Preparation Time: PT15M

Cooking Time: PT10M

Total Time: PT25M

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups finely grated raw potatoes
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-2 tablespoon grated onions

Recipe Instructions: Mix all ingredients and drop by tablespoon full onto a well-greased griddle or skillet. Bake for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat on both sides until golden brown. Make them thin. Serve immediately.

Editor's Rating:
4

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Make the Potato Pancake Fluffier?

Use mashed or sweet potatoes instead of shredded potatoes for a fluffier pancake. You can also add baking powder to your potato mixture. Use anywhere from 1/4 to 1 teaspoon, and watch the magic happen.

Where did Kartoffelpuffer originate from?

The potato pancake is a quintessential dish in Germany, where it’s known as Kartoffelpuffer. Unfortunately, the exact origin of potato pancakes is unknown.

It is believed potato pancakes were first crafted around the 16th century when potatoes were brought to Europe. Kartoffelpuffer is also a popular item served during Lent.

What Are German Potato Dumplings? Are They Made the Same as Kartoffelpuffer?

German potato dumplings, known in Germany as Kartoffelklöße, are made with cooked potatoes, flour or potato starch, egg, and spices. Starchy potatoes such as Idaho or Russet potatoes work best.

Roll dough into a long cylinder, cut into individual dumplings, and cook in warm water for 10-15 minutes. Serve with meat and gravy.

Related Recipes

Related Resources

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    ↑ Top