German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
180 Calories
6g Fat
22g Carbs
10g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 226mg 75%
Sodium 606mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Protein 10g
Calcium 52mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 aka Kartoffelpuffer (Kar‧tof‧fel‧puf‧fer).

Golden, crispy fried German potato pancakes are a real treat. This recipe is quick and easy to make and so delicious, you will be making them over and over again.

Eating freshly made potato pancakes with applesauce at local outdoor weekly markets, Christmas markets, or during Karneval or Fasching are some of the ways Germans indulge in this favorite traditional snack. 

Classic potato pancakes served with homemade applesauce or sour cream are pure comfort food, but you can use your own culinary creativity to amp up the flavor. Add spices or herbs to make this recipe your own. If you want to make a meal out of this recipe, just double or triple the ingredients. 

They are also enjoyed as a side dish with meats such as roasted chicken or pork and include some roasted beets into the meal for a special treat. 


Click Play to See This Traditional German Potato Pancakes Recipe Come Together


  • 1 pound potatoes (about 2 medium or 3 small russets, or any variety of starchy potato)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • Ground pepper (to taste)
  • Ground nutmeg (to taste)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
  • For Serving: applesauce, sour cream (optional)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Wash, peel, and grate the potatoes.

    grated potatoes in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Place the grated potatoes in a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the liquid as you can out into a bowl.

    squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes using a clean dishcloth

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Let the liquid stand a few minutes then carefully drain, leaving the potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.

    potato starch in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the potatoes back to the starch.

    potato starch added to the bowl of grated potatoes

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Mix thoroughly.

    salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg added to the grated potatoes in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Grate the onion over the potatoes.

    grated onions added to the grated potato mixture

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Heat the oil in a large 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.

    large frying pan with oil

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  9. Drop about 1/2 cup of potato mixture into hot oil and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fry 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

    frying potato pancakes in the frying pan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  10. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with applesauce and or sour cream.

    German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) on a paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • Cooked potato pancakes can be frozen and reheated in a 350 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes from frozen.

Recipe Variations

  • Add some scallions or a tablespoon of your favorite seasonal chopped fresh herbs for a pop of freshness. 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 nutmeg. Add garlic powder, turmeric powder, ground sumac, chili powder, or chili flakes to taste.
  • Alternatively, if you are considering serving sour cream as a side to potato pancakes, add the herbs and/or spices to the sour cream instead of the pancake batter. Dividing up the sour cream into two or three portions and flavoring each with a different herb or spice is a terrific way to have something for everyone.