German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) Recipe

Potato rstis with apple puree
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  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 pancakes (4 servings)
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Different variations of potato pancakes are extremely popular in many parts of the world including the United States. Now, you can make them at home with this simple recipe for German potato pancakes.

Classic potato pancakes served with homemade applesauce or sour cream are considered by many to be pure comfort food. However, what is great about the recipe below is that you can use your own culinary creativity to amp up the flavor. Add some scallions or a tablespoon of your favorite seasonal chopped fresh herbs for a pop of flavor. Basil, sage, tarragon, thyme, or rosemary also would work well with this recipe.

Another way to flavor potato pancakes is to add different spices to the batter instead of the nutmeg. A teaspoon of garlic powder, turmeric powder, ground sumac, chili powder, or chili flakes is a great flavor boost to this recipe.

Alternatively, if you are considering serving sour cream as a side to potato pancakes, add the herbs and/or spices above to the sour cream instead of the pancake batter. Dividing up the sour cream into two or three portions and flavoring each portion with a different herb or spice is a great way to add several flavors in one serving. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound potatoes (about 2 medium or 3 small Russets or any variety of starchy potato)
  • 1/2 onion (medium)
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (start with a lower amount; you can add salt at the table)
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • Ground nutmeg to taste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup oil (vegetable for frying)

How to Make It

  1. Peel and grate potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the liquid as you can into a bowl. Let the liquid stand a few minutes, then carefully drain the liquid, leaving potato starch at the bottom of the bowl. Add the potatoes.
  2. Grate the onion over the potatoes. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan. You can use a nonstick pan and just a few drops of oil if you wish but for best results use 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil.
  1. Using about 1/2 cup measure, drop the potato mixture into hot oil and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fry 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  2. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with applesauce and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Germans Love Potato Pancakes

Golden, crispy fried German potato pancakes are a real treat and something Germans miss when they move away. 

Eating freshly made potato pancakes with applesauce at local outdoor weekly markets, Christmas markets, or at Karneval or Fasching are wonderful ways Germans normally indulge in this favorite German treat.