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German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

German potato pancakes, also known as kartoffelpuffer are fried potato patties made from finely grated potatoes, flour, eggs, grated onion and salt. These can be made using a frying pan or waffle iron.

Commonly served with sweet applesauce, these can also be used as a side dish for any entree.

German potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer) on a white plate with a bowl of yogurt beside it.

Easy Kartoffelpuffer Pancakes

These pancakes originating from Germany can served with any main dish including rinderroulade, bratwurst, schweinshaxe and sauerkraut.

  • These pancakes have a savory flavor that lends well to sweetness from apple sauce, apple butter, sour cream or plain yogurt.
  • Potatoes are shredded in less than 5 minutes using a cheese grater or food processor.
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe using only 5 simple ingredients. Potatoes are inexpensive and create the perfect crispy exterior.
  • These are similar to hash browns or latkes but are rounder and thinner.
  • This recipe uses flour but can easily be substituted with a gluten-free flour, arrowroot flour or corn flour.
Recipe ingredients on a counter including four russet potatoes, bowl of flour, salt and butter, eggs and an onion.

Recipe Ingredients

  • POTATOES: Best potatoes to use are waxy potatoes with middle levels of starch like yukon gold potatoes. I used russet potatoes.
  • ONION: This is grated in a similar way that the potatoes are.
  • FLOUR: All-purpose flour is traditionally used in these pancakes. I was able to use gluten-free flour successfully as well. You can also try potato starch, arrowroot flour, or corn flour instead.
  • VARIATIONS: Try these with leftover cooked mashed potatoes for a variation of the recipe. Chopped green onions, parsley or chives can also be added to the batter.
Four images showing various steps to make the recipe. A white bowl before and after all ingredients are dumped in and mixed. A frying pan with raw pancake patties and then golden brown patties.

How To Make Classic German Potato Pancake Recipe

These crispy cakes are pan fried on each side for golden brown perfection.

  1. Grate potatoes, squeeze out excess liquid according to the full recipe card instructions below.
  2. Add shredded potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt to a large bowl. Mix together.
  3. Scoop potato mixture onto a hot pan with butter or oil. Cook on each side until golden brown and crispy.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

TO SERVE: Traditionally these are served with applesauce or sour cream, but also taste wonderful with gravy, apple butter, a spoonful of plain yogurt, salsa or ketchup.

Leftover German pancakes store well in the fridge in an airtight container. These can be reheated in the microwave or pan fried to revive their crispiness.

HOW TO FREEZE: Cooked pancakes can also be frozen! First, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Add to the freezer for 1-2 hours. Then add these frozen cakes to an airtight freezer bag and seal tightly. These will keep for up to 3-4 months for maximum freshness.

Four images showing steps to shred potatoes. First is a pile of grated potato beside a cheese grater. Second is four potaotes, some are peeled with a vegetable peeler. Third image is shredded raw potato in kitchen towel. Four is bowl of brown liquid with kitchen towel and grated potatoes inside.

How To Shred Potatoes

Medium-sized potatoes are easy to shred, but will produce excess liquid.

  1. Wash and scrub the outside of each potato. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin.
  2. Shred each potato by pressing down the side of a cheese box grater. Keep a towel near as the potatoes will produce excess liquid during this step.
  3. Add the potatoes to a bowl lined with a clean dish towel. Twist the towel with the shredded potatoes inside. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible using your hands to help strain it into a bowl.
  4. Open up the towel and add potatoes to the recipe.
A stack of german potato pancakes close up

Recipe Tips

  • Do not cook the potatoes before shredding. Raw potatoes are used to make the best kartoffelpuffer.
  • Strain as much liquid from shredded potatoes as possible. This step is worth it because it will produce the crispiest recipe results.
  • The frying pan should be hot before adding the pancakes to cook. Adding butter or oil helps fry these rounds extra crispy.
  • Use a 1/4 cup to measure out the batter on to the frying pan. Press each mound flat with a spatula.
  • Look for golden brown color before flipping the pancakes to the other side. This will take 1-3 minutes.
  • Store pancakes in between paper towels to absorb excess oil while baking.
A pile of german potato pancakes on a white plate.

More Potato Recipes

German Potato Pancakes (kartoffelpuffer)

Fried potato patties made from finely grated potatoes, flour, eggs, grated onion and salt. These can be made using a frying pan or waffle iron.
Print Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated yellow onion
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter - or neutral oil or bacon fat for frying

Instructions

  • Wash and scrub the potatoes. Remove the outside skin with a vegetable peeler. Use a cheese grater to shred the raw potatoes. There will be excess liquid produced as you shred.
    Potatoes peeled with a vegetable peeler then shredded with a cheese grater.
  • Add shredded potatoes to a kitchen towel. Wrap tightly and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
    Shredded potato in a dish towel, and bowl of brown liquid with squeezed potato in towel.
  • Grate the onion the same way. Squeeze out excess liquid.
    Shredded onion with a cheese grater and knife.
  • Add grated potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt to a bowl. Mix ingredients together well.
    Bowl of shredded potato, egg, flour and salt. Then ingredients all mixed together in bowl.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp of butter (or bacon fat or neutral oil) in a frying pan over medium-high heat until pan is hot.
    Add ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. Gently flatten the tops with a spatula.
    Reduce to medium heat. Cook until outsides are golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat steps with the rest of the batter using extra oil when needed.
    Place cooked pancakes on a plate with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
    Steel frying pan with 3 potato cakes first image with them raw. Second image with them cooked.
  • Serve with applesauce, sour cream, yogurt or your favorite savory entree.

Recipe Notes:

  • TO SERVE: Traditionally these are served with applesauce or sour cream, but also taste wonderful with gravy, apple butter, a spoonful of plain yogurt, salsa or ketchup.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3-4 days.  These can be reheated in the microwave or pan-fried to revive their crispiness.
  • HOW TO FREEZE: Cooked pancakes can also be frozen! First, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Add to the freezer for 1-2 hours. Then add these frozen cakes to an airtight freezer bag and seal tightly. These will keep for up to 3-4 months for maximum freshness.
  • All-purpose flour is traditionally used in these pancakes. I was able to use gluten-free flour successfully as well. You can also try potato starch, arrowroot flour, or corn flour instead.
Nutrition
Sodium: 257mg | Calcium: 24mg | Vitamin C: 17mg | Vitamin A: 59IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 388mg | Cholesterol: 33mg | Calories: 95kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 1g | Protein: 3g | Carbohydrates: 18g | Iron: 1mg

Please note these nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands and ingredients you choose, and your preferred portion sizes.

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