As a southerner, I’m innately drawn to just about anything fried in oil—this easy German potato pancakes recipe included. And being partially German I also enjoy any chance I get to use fun words like kartoffelpuffer. Although I think we can all agree the German menu is the most entertaining.
At the bottom of this post is a printable recipe card for you to keep. It covers the ingredients and basic steps of this easy German potato pancakes recipe but check back to this post for all the details.
Easy German potato pancakes recipe
The best thing about this particular menu item is that this German potato pancakes recipe is pretty simple to make from scratch and doesn’t take all that long. There’s no yeast that needs rising or dough that needs kneading. It’s just straightforward crunchy goodness.
These classic potato pancakes are perfect as an appetizer, a side dish, or just as a plain ol’ snack and would make a great addition to any Oktoberfest-themed party or German Christmas market-themed celebration and you’ll find them at all the best US Oktoberfests. Check out more great Oktoberfest appetizers here.
Fun Fact: Potato pancakes are a dish popular in many European cultures including, but not limited to: German, Polish, Austrian, Dutch, Czech, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Slovakian, and Jewish cultures. We call them potato pancakes but you may also know them at latkes.
Tools you’ll need
This easy German potato pancakes recipe has pretty minimalist kitchen requirements, just the way I like it.
- Grater, one with a “fine” option like something you’d use for parmesan cheese
- Medium sized bowl
- Thin towel (tea towel), mesh bag, etc.
- Skillet, medium or large
- Paper towels
- 6 medium-sized potatoes — I use golden potatoes but you could also use russet
- ½ a large onion, or a small onion if that’s what you’ve got
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 gloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, I prefer the kosher kind
- 4 tbsp oil for frying, canola or vegetable
- Applesauce + cinnamon – optional
- Sour cream + chives – optional
Pro tip: I can’t recommend this garlic mincer enough. Such a game changer. Such a time saver! I will never use anything else.
How to make German potato pancakes
Making potato pancakes is, thankfully, on the easy end of the German cooking scale. But like most German dishes, it does require a wee bit o’ physical effort. Perfect for building up your beer-drinking muscles, I always say!
Prep the potatoes
Wash, peel, and finely grate the potatoes and the onion, keeping them separated at this point.
Keep in mind you want those potatoes finely grated, not shredded. Otherwise we’re just making McDonald’s hash browns here which, in all honesty, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I do love me some McHashbrowns. But that’s not why we’re here!
Using a clean tea towel or mesh bag, add the grated potatoes and wring out as much of the liquid as you can. This will actually require more effort than you’d expect so keep on squeezing! (Should I include “elbow grease” as one of the ingredients? Please advise.)
Possibly important note: The tea towel I used for this was white. And now it’s very much not. Even after a trip through the washing machine the towel is now permanently brown. Maybe don’t use your favorite white tea towel?
Discard the liquid and place the wrung out grated potatoes back in the work bowl. At this point your grated potatoes should look something akin to canned tuna.
Fun Fact: There are other potato pancake recipes that utilize the starches from the liquid in place of flour, but this is not one of those recipes. I tried. Without a centrifuge, I have no idea how this is possible. Remember: my wanderlusty recipes always take the shortest, easiest route to Tasty Town.
Complete the mixture
Add the grated onion (which, you’re right, looks a lot like frozen lemonade), 2 beaten eggs, the 2 cloves of minced garlic, the 1/3 cup of flour, and the 1.5 teaspoons of salt to the grated potatoes. Stir until well combined and your mixture is little more than mush. However, if you think your mixture is too mushy, stir in a little bit more flour.
Cook the pancakes
Add 4 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. (I put it on a 7.) Allow a few minutes for it to heat up.
Once the oil is hot, add the potato mixture to the oil in 1/3-cup scoops. Use a spatula to flatten them out to your desired thickness and do so as quickly as possible as they’ll take their shape almost immediately. Personally, I like them as thin and crispy as I can get ’em.
Two at a time works best, but you can do more if your skillet is big enough.
Fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until they’re as brown as you prefer. I like mine PDB, pretty damn brown.
Pro tip: To avoid getting splashed with hot oil, I flip my pancakes ever-so-carefully by sandwiching them between two spatulas.
Transfer each of the cooked pancakes to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
Serve with your choice of toppings: traditional applesauce with a dash of cinnamon (my preference) or sour cream with chives. Or whatever else you can come up with. Someone on Instagram told me ketchup and that’s a completely valid suggestion in my McBook. And, as always, a big German beer.
- 6 medium-sized potatoes
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (+ more for preference)
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- Applesauce + cinnamon (optional)
- Sour cream + chives (optional)
- Wash, peel, and finely grate the potatoes and onion, keeping them separate.
- Wring liquid out of the potatoes using a tea towel or mesh bag. Discard liquid, add potatoes back into work bowl.
- To that bowl also add grated onion, eggs, garlic, flour, and salt. Stir to combine. (Add more flour if needed.)
- Add 4 tbsp of oil to large skillet over medium heat.
- Drop potato mixture into hot oil using 1/3-cup scoops. Flatten to desired thickness with spatula.
- Cook each pancake for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (Longer if you like yours super crispy.)
- Transfer each to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Serve with your choice of toppings. Enjoy!
These potato pancakes are best if eaten right away but aren't terrible if heated up later. Avoid the microwave which will make them soggy and reheat in a 400°F oven for 5-10 minutes.
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How did your Kartoffelpuffer turn out?
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