Craving German Potato Dumplings? We’ve Got A Great Recipe!
It’s only fitting that we have a recipe for German potato dumplings on a site about European recipes created by a German!
This classic German dish can be tricky to master but when done right, potato dumplings are so tasty. They are usually served up with a meat-based dish and the gravy that goes with it.
If you are new to potato dumplings (you might also know them as German potato balls), it’s important to know that there are actually lots of different potato dumpling recipes in Germany.
In some parts of Germany, Kartoffelklöße or Knödel – as potato dumplings are called in some regions – are not known at all!
Lisa grew up in the northern part of Bavaria, so she is mainly used to Thuringian potato dumplings (which use lots of raw potatoes) and a style of Franconian potato dumplings (using more cooked potatoes than the Thuringian version).
For many years, potato dumplings were a staple of Sunday lunch with the (extended) family. In this guide, we’ll show you how to make a type of Franconian potato dumplings specific to the region of Coburg where Lisa is from.
While some German potato dumpling recipes include eggs, our recipe does not and is kept very simple.
However, unfortunately, it is still easy to get something wrong – so it is very important to be patient when making this recipe and not be disappointed when it doesn’t turn out perfectly the first time. Try again!
And to give you the best chance for it turning out well, we’ll walk you through everything step-by-step (including photos!).
Over the years, Lisa learned from her grandparents how to make these delicious potato dumplings.
Eric became a fan of dumplings the first time he ever had them – they were served up with another classic meat dish called Roulade!
Step-By-Step Instructions for Making German Potato Dumplings
Since the process of making potato dumplings can be tricky to explain, here are the step-by-step instructions with photos.
This way, you can follow along and see if what you are doing is right! We are keen to add in a recipe video in the future!
Fry up some croutons (yes, like fried bread) to place in the middle of the dumplings.
This is just old bread fried in oil and is completely optional but it’s a tasty addition! We’re a fan of the crouton addition, though.
If you’ve got more old bread, you can make another type of German dumpling – Semmelknödel (German bread dumplings)!
Wash and peel those potatoes – remember to save one half for shredding while cutting the other part into halves or quarters (depending on the size) before boiling them in hot saltwater for around 20 minutes until cooked.
Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them with a potato masher or – if you have one – put them through a potato press to remove any potato lumps.
Back to the raw potato: Grate the raw potatoes on the small side of the box grater into a bowl.
Place all the raw grated potato into the “potato sack” – alternatively a cloth bag or kitchen towel – and squeeze out all the liquid.
Alternatively, you could also use a juicer to do this. Just remember that you will need the juiced potato going forward! Set the still covered potato ball aside until you need it again.
Make sure you capture the squeezed out potato water and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Then gently tip the bowl to drain the liquid. You will see the white starch settled in the bottom. You want that starch for later!
Now, you are ready to combine all the ingredients. Dump the raw potato ball into a large mixing bowl and break it up a bit. It should be pretty dry at this point.
Add the cooked potato, the salt, a pinch of nutmeg (optional), and the potato starch (from the bowl of squeezed raw potato liquid). Begin mixing this together and add the required hot water as you go.
Mix all these ingredients vigorously for at least 5 minutes until they are completely combined in the bowl and looking like one smooth “batter”.
Form the potato dumplings into little balls with your hands. They should be just slightly smaller than your palm. Use a little cold water on your hands to keep them from sticking to your palms.
If you want to add croutons, take a 3-4 and use two fingers to push them into the middle of the potato ball. Then close the hole and reshape it. It’s important to make sure that there are no cracks/holes so water doesn’t enter the dumpling in the next step!
Gently place the formed dumplings into the hot water – which is salty and just shy of boiling. It’s important that the water is not boiling! The dumplings should not break apart in the water (if this is the case, add some cornstarch to the “batter”).
They will sink to the bottom first but will rise after about 5 minutes. Leave them in the water for another 15 minutes before removing them. Serve them immediately. Voila – you are done making this style of German potato dumplings!
Potato Dumpling Need-To-Knows
If you’re not familiar with potato dumplings, you might have some questions. We’ll try to answer some common ones in this section, but feel free to leave a comment below if your question is not answered!
Potato dumplings are eaten with all kinds of meats and meat dishes, for example Roulade, Sauerbraten, or even grilled chicken. You pretty much always eat them with some form of gravy, too. Sometimes, they are also served with a side of red cabbage.
Yes, you can – but they don’t taste that great at least in our opinion. A great way of eating leftover potato dumplings is to cut them into slices and then fry them in oil the next day. This is called Kartoffelpuffer – and it is very similar to our German potato pancake recipe. This used to be one of Lisa’s absolute favorite meals when she was a kid. Tastes great with apple sauce!
German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelklöße)
- 2 pounds potatoes, starchy
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup hot water, approximately
- a pinch of nutmeg, optional
The Croutons (Optional)
- old bun/slice of bread, hard
- 3 tablespoons butter for frying
- Optional: Cut the old bun/slices of bread into approximately 1/2-inch cubes. Then heat the butter in a pan, add the bread pieces, and fry them on medium heat until golden brown. Set them aside.
- Peel the potatoes. Take 1/2 of the potatoes, half or quarter them (depending on the size) and boil them in a large pot of saltwater for approx. 20 minutes until tender. You can remove the potatoes from the water with a straining spoon instead of draining them if you want to reuse the water later to boil the dumplings.
- While one part of the potatoes are boiling, take the remaining 1/2 of the potatoes and grate them on the fine side of a four-sided box grater. Put the grated potato pieces into a "potato sack" – or a nut milk bag or even a kitchen towel – and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Make sure to capture the liquid in a bowl. Once you have squeezed out as much liquid as possible, set the "potato ball" aside – it should still be covered with the kitchen towel (or what you used). Also set the liquid aside to allow the potato starch to settle at the bottom of the bowl. Once the starch has settled, carefully drain the liquid.
- Mash the cooked potatoes with a potato masher or press them through a potato press (basically a large garlic press). Make sure that there are no potato lumps left.
- Put the grated potato ball in a big bowl and break it apart into smaller pieces. It should be pretty dry. Then add the mashed potatoes, salt, the settled potato starch from the bowl you set aside earlier (not the liquid!), and mix everything really well with a wooden whisk beater while slowly adding the hot water. Depending on the potatoes you used, you might have to add a little more or less water – so add it in small amounts. Keep mixing for a good 5 minutes!
- Once everything is mixed together well, take a handful of dough and form a ball. If you want to add the bread pieces, take 3-4 pieces, and push them into the middle of the dumpling. Then reform the dumpling to make sure that it is round and that there are no cracks.
- Put the dumpling into a pot of very hot (just under boiling) saltwater. You can reuse the pot and the water from earlier, but you might have to add some more water to it. Start with one dumpling as a test – if it falls apart you might have to add some corn starch.
- The dumplings will rise to the top after about 5 minutes. Let them sit in the hot (not boiling!) water for another 15 minutes before removing them.
- Once you have removed the dumplings from the hot water, serve them immediately. In Germany, they are often served on Sunday with meat such as Rouladen or Sauerbraten and gravy.
- Traditionally, these potato dumplings are made by capturing the potato starch from the potatoes you are using. However, sometimes this is not enough starch. In that case, feel free to use some potato flour or corn starch as a supplement.
- Often potato dumplings are eaten with the bread pieces in the middle – but you can skip this step if you want. One of Lisa’s grandmas always made her dumplings with bread pieces inside, the other one didn’t. So it’s really up to you.
- When boiling the potatoes, make sure you use a large pot since you’ll reuse the same pot for the potato dumplings later.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.
Looking for more German potato recipes? Have a look at these:
16 thoughts on “German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelklöße)”
My mother in law made them. Her recipe used a whole loaf of stale bread and about five ponds of potatoes finely grated and day old bread shredded some salt and pepper and boiled until they floated. We had roast beef and gravy. My daughter is still trying to get them to taste like hers did. She was from Munich.
There are many different recipes for potato dumplings. Yours seems quite a bit different than the one I’m sharing here – mine is more from the Northern part of Bavaria/Thuringia. Thanks for sharing your version, Darcie! I hope your daugther will get the taste just right at some point! /Lisa
The dumplings had a greyish color when cooked & much of the dumpling dissipated while cooking…ended up being about half the size I started with. Any ideas what I did wrong? On a side note, they were delicious, just not very pretty to look at…lol
Unfortunately potato dumplings can be a bit tricky. The greyish color is due to the potatoes oxidizing. That’s why it’s important to work very quickly. Alternatively you can try grating the potatoes right into a bowl of cold water with a splash of vinegar – just remember to drain and squeeze the potatoes really well before continuing on with the next step. Store bought dumplings usually contain additives to keep the dumplings from getting a greyish color. As for why the dumplings dissipate while cooking, there could be a few reasons – the “dough” might be too wet, so squeezing the grated potatoes out very well is important. Adding a little bit more flour or corn starch can also help. It’s also important that the water is not too hot – it should never be boiling. I’d also recommend always starting with a “test dumpling” – if that one turns out well, then form more dumplings and add them to the hot water. If the test dumpling falls apart, try adding a little bit of potato flour or corn starch to the mixture. I hope this helps – this is one of our older recipes, so I’ll update the post with some more info soon. /Lisa
Thank you for your reply☺
I’m going to be attempting these dumplings again soon, implementing a few of your tips.
I haven’t tried the recipe yet but I used to watch my mother-in-law from the first wife make these in her kitchen in …..COBURG. I could not believe I found this recipe as this is by far the best kloesse in all of Germany, Coburg is also famous for the best bratwurst in the universe. I will be trying this very soon.
Side note: My son is an lawyer in Coburg
Oh wow, that just shows how small the world is! Coburger Bratwurst is really good – we always have one when we go back to visit.
Here’s another zinger. My second wife was schwabisch. So here I am an American stationed in Bamberg who learns German initially with a Frankisch dialect and then later Schwabisch, two fairly strong dialects. I sometimes had to translate my wife’s Schwabisch to Frankisch for our friends. It’s why I am such a fan of kloesse and spaetzle and I found the perfect website for both. Thanks!
I also couldn’t believe the mentioning Coburg (my home town) as I was surfing the net for a potato dumplings recipe to make for Christmas. Did you make them yet?
Can the dumplings be refrigerated a day or two before the final cooking and serving ?
I would recommend refrigerating the dumpling dough as a whole and only forming the dumplings shortly before boiling them. You can refrigerate the dumpling dough for a day without problems, just make sure to store it either in a container with a lid or in a bowl with cling film on top (or similar). I hope that helps! /Lisa
My very German grandmother use to make these. She use to call them bombshells. It was something that was always made for the family during ww 1&2.
Add some sugar and put an apricot with the pit replaced by a sugar cube in the centre. That’s an Austrian thing and it’s very very good.
Thanks for sharing!
Its wonderful, my Austrian mother roasted a almond in butter added honey then replaced the apricot pit with the almond rolled apricot in honey butter . Wrapped dough around apricot then cooked it.
At the end roasted breadcrumbs in butter with sugar and sprinkled it over the hot dumpling serve asap.
I made this so simple.Turned out great. My family love them.