German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

Golden brown German potato pancakes with small bowls of sour cream and apple sauce

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 6 to 8 pancakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
250 Calories
15g Fat
25g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 250
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 47mg 16%
Sodium 265mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 12mg 58%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 646mg 14%
*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.)

Several Eastern European countries have their own variation of potato pancakes, including Germany. This simple recipe for German potato pancakes, called kartoffelpuffer (kar‧tof‧fel‧puf‧fer), is easy enough to make at home, and the golden, crispy fried pancakes are a real treat, perfect served with homemade applesauce (which cuts the oiliness) or sour cream.

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. These potato pancakes are also enjoyed as a side dish with meats such as roasted chicken or pork. Serve them as part of a delicious dinner or make smaller pancakes and serve as an appetizer; kartoffelpuffer are also wonderful at brunch when topped with a poached egg.


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

"These potato pancakes come together quickly and fry up crisp and delicious. Serve with traditional sides like applesauce and sour cream. Make the recipe your own by adding spices to the bowl before frying, and top with a sprinkle of parsley, or any other herb you like." —Diana Andrews

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound russet potatoes, about 2 medium or 3 small

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Ground nutmeg, to taste

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

  • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving, optional

  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley, optional garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for German potato pancakes recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Wash, peel, and coarsely grate the potatoes.

    Coarsely grated potatoes in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Glass bowl with foamy potato liquid next to twisted dishtowel filled with squeezed potatoes

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Let the liquid stand a few minutes, then carefully spoon out and discard the top layer of liquid, leaving the potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.

    Thick tan-colored potato starch residue in the bottom of the glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the potatoes back to the starch.

    Grated potatoes added to the bowl with the starch

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Grate the onion over the potatoes.

    Grated onions added to the grated potato mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Mix thoroughly.

    Eggs and seasonings added to potato mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, until it begins to shimmer.

    Large heavy frying pan with oil

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Drop about 1/2 cup of potato mixture into the hot oil and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fry, undisturbed, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

    Golden brown potato pancakes frying in oil in a frying pan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with applesauce and sour cream, if you like. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

    Golden brown potato pancakes degreasing on a plate lined with paper towel

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


If making several batches of potato pancakes, be sure not to pile them on top of each other once they're finished cooking; they will become soggy and lose their crispy exterior. Once drained on paper towels, place the kartoffelpuffer on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and keep warm in an oven at a low temperature, 200 F to 250 F.

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 would work well with this recipe.
  • Another way to flavor potato pancakes is to add different spices to the batter in place of the nutmeg. Add garlic powder, turmeric powder, ground sumac, chili powder, or chile flakes to taste.
  • Alternatively, if you are 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 offer a variety of flavors to try.

How to Store

To assure crispiness, the cooked potato pancakes should be frozen instead of refrigerated. Place cooled pancakes in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, package in a zip-top bag or airtight container with parchment or wax paper between the layers. Reheat from frozen on a baking sheet in a 350 F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Why Save the Potato Starch?

The leftover starch from the grated potatoes helps to bind the mixture together and prevent the pancakes from falling apart when frying. The starch takes the place of flour or matzo meal, which are often used in latke recipes, another type of Eastern European potato pancake.