My favourite dish of all time! My mom used to make Kartoffelpuffer for us for dinner when she had to work late, and it is the best quick meal and comfort food. Perfectly crispy and soft, potato pancakes are simply the ideal food. While you can buy these frozen, they’re easy to make from scratch and well worth it.
Serve these hot with unsweetened applesauce for a traditional meal, or use ketchup if you’d like – no one will know. I am partial to a bit of mayonnaise on the side as well.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Potatoes: starchy potatoes will give you the best crisp texture and soft interior (ask at the shop for starchy, mash, or baking potatoes).
- Flour: I haven’t tried it but don’t see why this wouldn’t work with gluten-free flour (buckwheat would be my recommendation). I always use spelt flour but plain white flour can be used instead.
- Eggs: there is no substitution and I don’t recommend trying to make this recipe vegan as is. My sweet potato latkes have a vegan option and that might work here as well.
- Nutmeg: traditional, but optional. If you don’t like nutmeg, simply omit.
- Pepper flakes: not traditional, but delicious, and I highly recommend including them if you like a bit of spice.
Step by Step
Step 1: shred the potatoes and onion. If you have a food processor, it’ll make quick work of it, otherwise use a box grater.
Step 2: mix with the remaining ingredients, making sure everything is well incorporated.
Step 3: fry the pancakes in a hot pan with enough oil to prevent sticking.
Step 4: flip once the bottom is golden brown and cook the other side. Serve hot.
A lot of recipes will tell you to drain on paper towel, but I don’t use much oil to fry and find that if the pan – and oil – is hot enough, you typically won’t end up with greasy Kartoffelpuffer. It’s when the oil is too cold that you really run into problems. That being said, a tea towel on a plate can be helpful in preventing the pancakes from getting too soft from the steam where they touch the plate.
If you want something more like the store-bought version, grate the vegetables on the finer side, rather than the larger pieces. It comes down to the texture that you prefer, and I like them a little chunkier.
You can mix other vegetables in. We often add a grated carrot to the mix, but be sure to use a harder root vegetable and not something very watery like zucchini, which throws the ratios off.
How to Store
Storage: these are best served immediately, but can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days. I recommend reheating in a frying pan and never in the microwave, which simply causes sogginess.
Freezing: transfer fully cooled potato pancakes to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. Reheat in a frying pan directly from frozen.
- Use a hot pan: this is key to the recipe and if your pancakes aren’t crisp, it’s due to a cold pan (or that you omitted the eggs or oil). Let it heat up before starting, and turn on a fan or open a window, because it’s probably going to get smokey.
- Season well: potatoes suck up a lot of salt, and these will be bland if not seasoned effectively. Taste your first pancake and adjust as needed before continuing.
- Don’t try to bake them: I did test these in the oven and they are not good. Dry, no crunch, chewy, and all-around not worth it. This isn’t an oil-free recipe, just fry them and have a nice time. (There is another method in a dutch oven, but we won’t go into that here – completely different recipe.)
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Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes)
- 1 kg starchy potatoes
- 1 medium onion peeled
- 2 large eggs
- 120 grams flour I use spelt
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes optional
- Oil for frying
- Scrub the potatoes well. Grate them with the onion either using a box grater or the grating attachment on a food processor.1 kg starchy potatoes, 1 medium onion
- Add the grated vegetables to a large bowl and mix with the eggs, flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper flakes (optional).2 large eggs, 120 grams flour, 2 teaspoons sea salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat (cast iron is ideal). Once the pan is hot, add enough oil to just cover the bottom.Oil for frying
- Fry spoonfuls of potato pancake mixture, about two tablespoons per piece, until golden brown on the bottom. This takes about two minutes. Flip, press to flatten, and cook the other side until golden brown and crisp.
- Repeat until the whole mixture has been used. You can make the pancakes bigger, but don't make them too thick or else they won't cook through.
- Serve hot with applesauce and any other desired toppings. Leftovers can be refrigerated for a couple of days and freeze well.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.