Perfectly crisp edges with soft and fluffy insides, this Kartoffelpuffer Recipe, also known as German potato pancakes, is super easy to make at home with minimal ingredients. Serve this beloved German comfort food with a side of homemade applesauce for an easy snack or as a side dish with your favorite main course recipes.
You don’t have to travel to Germany to experience the joy and deliciousness of Kartoffelpuffer, aka Reibekuchen, Reibeplätzchen, Reiberdatschi, Grumbeerpannekuche, or simply, German potato pancake. Typically served with a side of applesauce or tart berry preserves, German potato pancakes are seen as a more versatile potato dish as compared to traditional American breakfast hash browns, which are typically served with eggs and bacon.
My introduction to Kartoffelpuffer was when I was living in Germany circa 2012 as an au pair. One of the children’s favorite after-school snacks was frozen Kartoffelpuffer reheated in oil on the stovetop- always served with a very generous serving of applesauce.
It’s true that applesauce may be the favorite, but these crispy, salty, savory fried pancakes are also served with heavier German food like Jägerschnitzel (Pork Schnitzel & Mushroom Gravy) or Bratwurst and Sauerkraut, making them a fantastic addition to your next weeknight dinner.
Best Potatoes for German Potato Pancakes
The best potatoes for German potato pancakes, or “Kartoffelpuffer,” are starchy potatoes, as they hold together well and get crispy on the outside when fried. In the US, the most common type of starchy potato is the Russet potato, making it an excellent choice as it’s easy to find.
Russet potatoes have a high starch content and a low moisture content, so they yield crispier pancakes. They also have a neutral flavor that absorbs the flavors from the other ingredients – like the onion, salt, and pepper.
How to Make German Potato Pancakes
1. Combine the flour mixture: Mix together the flour, whisked eggs, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Mix well until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
2. Prepare the potatoes: Wash and peel the potatoes. Shred the potatoes using a box grater using the same holes you would use to shred a block of cheese. Immediately add the shredded potatoes to the flour mixture. Mix everything together.
3. Grate the onion: Mince or grate the onion and add it to the shredded potato mixture. Mix well to combine.
4. Fry the pancakes: Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Scoop ¼-⅓ cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil and flatten it slightly with the back of a spatula. Repeat this step 2-3 more times to add more pancakes, leaving some space between each of them in the pan. Work in batches to cook the pancakes for about 6-8 minutes on each side or until they turn golden brown and crispy.
5. Drain on a paper towel: Once cooked, transfer the crispy patties to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining potato mixture until it is all used.
6. Serve: With apple sauce and freshly chopped parsley or chives if desired.
Tip for the Crispiest German Potato Pancakes
Starchy potatoes – like Russets – will quickly turn brownish orange after being shredded or sliced. To prevent this, you’ll want to add them to a bowl filled with cold water as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In this case, you’ll notice that the water turns cloudy white. The cloudiness is from the potato starch washed away from the potatoes. When making German potato pancakes, we want that potato starch!!
To reserve as much potato starch as possible, scoop the grated potatoes from the bowl of water with a slotted spoon allowing as much water to drip back into the bowl as possible before drying the shredded potatoes thoroughly. Next, allow the starchy water to sit for a minute or two- the denser starch molecules will settle on the bottom of the bowl. Carefully pour out the water that’s now on top of the potato starch. Use a spoon to scoop out the potato starch left on the bottom of the bowl and add it to the shredded potato and flour mixture.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: First, allow the pancakes to cool to room temperature before layering them by placing a piece of parchment or wax paper between each pancake to prevent them from sticking together. Place the pancakes in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. Transfer to the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days or the freezer for up to 2 months.
Reheating: If they’re frozen, you can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or reheat them directly from frozen, allowing extra time for reheating. Reheat them in a skillet over medium heat or in an oven (or air fryer) preheated to 375°F (190°C) until they’re hot and crispy again.
More Potato Recipes
- German Potato Salad
- Easy Creamy Potato Salad Recipe
- Potato Skins
- Garlic Butter Boiled Potatoes (How to Boil Potatoes)
- Perfect Baked Potato Recipe (How to Bake Potatoes)
If you try making this Kartoffelpuffer Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)
- Combine the flour, eggs, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Mix well until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Add the shredded potatoes and onion to the bowl. Mix everything until the potatoes and onion are evenly coated with the flour mixture.
- Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Scoop ¼-⅓ cup of the potato mixture into the pan and flatten it slightly with the back of a spatula. Carefully place the flattened mixture into the hot oil. Repeat this step 2-3 more times to add more pancakes, leaving some space between each of them in the pan.
- Cook the pancakes for about 6-8 minutes on each side or until they turn golden brown and crispy. (You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of the pancakes.)
- Once cooked, transfer the pancakes to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Repeat the cooking process with the remaining potato mixture until it is all used.
- Serve with apple sauce and freshly chopped parsley if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)