German Potato Pancakes (Reibekuchen)

Classic German Potato Pancakes Are So Easy To Make!

Searching for a great comfort food recipe? German potato pancakes are definitely one answer!

Sometimes called Reibekuchen and sometimes Kartoffelpuffer, these hearty fried potato pancakes are delicious when hot and make for a filling meal!

stack of golden brown german potato pancakes with cheese and chives on top
German potato pancakes are very easy to make!

Lisa ate potato pancakes growing up (and we still eat them now). For Lisa personally, there is a difference between the German terms mentioned above.

Reibekuchen are made with raw potatoes while Kartoffelpuffer are made with cooked potatoes or leftover potato dumplings – but this is debatable.

Lisa personally likes them more from cooked potatoes – but this version below is also tasty!

german potato pancakes on blue plate with grey napkin beside

The nice thing about potato pancakes is that they are very easy to make.

In this version, you only have to grate the potatoes and onion, add a few more ingredients, and then fry it up. That’s all – and in no time at all, you can be munching on warm fried potatoes.

potato held in hand being grated using metal grater into bowl
Look at that potato grating form – go, Lisa!

Germany has a long history with potato pancakes. They used to be considered a “peasant food” because potatoes were accessible to grow or buy, fairly cheap and filling to eat.

These days, you can also find potato pancakes at German Christmas markets all over the country in late November/December. We’ve been lucky enough to eat them fresh off the fryer in some markets and they really hit the spot in the cold weather!

crispy potato pancakes on plate with scoop of quark and chives
Served with a little quark for a great taste!

If you’re wondering what to serve with potato pancakes – you can enjoy them two ways: Sweet or savory.

To have then sweet, serve them with a side of apple sauce (it’s absolutely delicious). You can also serve them up with a quark (a soft cheese), sour cream, or a garlicky yogurt sauce for a more savory version of the pancake. It’s up to you!

Related Recipes

For those searching for more great potato recipes, have a look through these top dishes that feature potatoes in all ways, shapes, and forms!

stack of golden brown german potato pancakes with cheese and chives on top

German Potato Pancakes

These hearty, crispy fried potato pancakes are simple to make and delicious to eat! Served best hot, these pancakes are best eaten with a sweet apple sauce, a savory garlic sauce, or even a creamy quark!
4.66 from 55 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper, if you want savory pancakes
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 medium-sized egg
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  • Wash and peel one pound of potatoes and peel one small onion.
  • Grate the potatoes into a bowl using the grating side (the side everyone knows about and uses to grate cheese) of a four-sided grater. Grate the onion, too. If grating the onion doesn’t work, you can very finely chop it with a knife.
  • If there is excess water in the potatoes (it drips out when squeezed in the hand), drain some of the potato water.
  • Add one pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper if you want the pancakes savory, flour, and the egg.
  • Mix everything together until the batter is well mixed. This works best if you do it with your (clean) hands.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and add two tablespoons of batter per pancake. Make sure the pancake is not too thick or too large to ensure proper cooking. You probably won’t be able to fit more than 2-4 pancakes into your pan at the same time.
  • Cook until both sides are golden brown (3-4 minutes per side), then remove them from the pan. Put them on a paper towel or similar to allow the oil to absorb. You can then put the pancakes in the preheated oven to keep them warm.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the batter. Add more oil as needed.
  • Serve immediately with apple sauce for a sweet taste or sour cream, yoghurt, or quark for a savory taste.

Notes

  • Definitely eat these potato pancakes hot because they just taste best hot out of the pan.
  • These potato pancakes are versatile – they can be enjoyed sweet with apple sauce or savory with garlic sauce or quark.
  • If you know you are going to enjoy the potato pancakes savory, you can add more salt, pepper and other spices (such as garlic powder) into the batter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 30mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

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.

Course German Recipes
Cuisine German
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32 thoughts on “German Potato Pancakes (Reibekuchen)”

  1. It can be tricky to get them to stay crispy when making a very large batch. If they are on the thinner side, they usually hold up better. I would also try to avoid overlapping them too much in the oven so they don’t get too moist. Alternatively you could also try putting them in the air fryer for a minute or two before serving if you have one. I hope that helps! /Lisa

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I made these tonight. Potatoes, onion, chives, salt, pepper, flour and 1 egg. I grated the potatoes in my food processor and the onions on the Madeline.They were Delicious. You want them crispy. Serve with sour cream or Apple Sauce. We only had sour cream. I missed the Apple Sauce. We will have them again❣️

    Reply
  3. My grandma made potato pancakes when I was a child. My great grandma came from Germany and that is what I had. Thanks for the recipe. What is the difference between lakes and potatoe pancakes.

    Reply
    • I also have great memories of my grandma making potato pancakes. There’s no difference in the basic recipe – latkes are potato pancakes. There might be some slightly different versions (added spices etc.) as is the case for many recipes with long traditions. Potato pancakes are popular in Germany and many other parts of Europe in Jewish as well as non-Jewish families. In my family, we always called them Reibekuchen oder Kartoffelpuffer. /Lisa

      Reply
    • Yes, you can freeze them. I would recommend frying the potato pancakes, letting them cool on a plate lined with paper towels (to catch any excess oil) and then freezing them once they have cooled. Make sure the potato pancakes don’t overlap, otherwise they will freeze together. As for reheating, you can let them thaw a bit, then fry them in a pan on low/medium heat until they are fully heated. Alternatively, you could reheat them in the air fryer or the oven. I would not recommend the microwave as this would make the potato pancakes mushy.

      Reply
  4. German Potato pancakes are great. The only thing is after frying, I top mine with grape jell, sour cream and butter. Oh so good .

    Reply
  5. You don’t necessarily have to grate your potatoes. You can roast and mash or boil and mash them and use the same recipe. I find these are less oily. I add corn to mine as well. Tasty!!

    Reply
    • That’s true! If you make potato pancakes with cooked potatoes, then there’s no need to grate them (in fact, it would be a bit difficult to do). When making potato pancakes with raw potatoes though, we would recommend grating them because this way the fine potato strips cook better when frying the potato pancakes in the pan.

      Reply
  6. Made exactly as specified in recipe. Easy to follow. Delicious German Potato Pancakes! Served with a dollop of sour cream and finely sliced spring onions. I plan to make these again. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Your recipe calls for “potatoes”. There are many different varieties of potatoes to choose from. What variety works best? I’ve always used Russets for their high starch content. I also like Yukon Golds if they’re available. Ordinary “boiling” or “eastern” potatoes will work in a pinch, but they’re not nearly as good as Russets, IMO.

    Reply
    • You are right, Stu – there are many different types of potatoes. When we originally published this recipe, we were still living in Europe so couldn’t try it with North American potatoes firsthand. Now I would say Russet potatoes, Idaho potatoes, Yukon gold or classic white potatoes would work really well. Thanks for the reminder to update the recipe!/Lisa

      Reply
  8. We heat cream of mushroom soup with allspice and a whole onion for about an hour.( simmer). Mix the soup with some water and spice according to taste. When done remove the onion and dispose of it. This was our Friday meatless supper when growing up.
    I forgot to tell you to add vinegar to taste when putting the mixture together.( Very important to the sauce).
    Serve over your potato pancakes.Linda

    Reply
    • Or the polish link, Ukrainian link, Hungarian link etc. How about dumpling: Chinese, Japanese, Korean. Are perogies Russian, Ukrainian , Hungarian or are they just dumplings. Is eating dumpling cultural appropriation. Then which culture are we appropriating from. Is fusion cooking appropriation, then from which culture. Is jerk chicken really Jamaican or does it come from Haiti. Really good food is just good food.

      Reply
  9. I think you if you’re going to make a blog about German pancakes you should at least acknowledge the Jewish significance of them….

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment! Since neither Eric nor I are Jewish, we didn’t want to misspeak about the connection between Latkes and Jewish culture. We would be very interested in hearing about the significance if you would care to share with us 🙂 /Lisa

      Reply
  10. If you let the potato water sit after you’ve drained off the excess, starch will settle to the bottom. Drain off the liquid and put the starch with the grated potatoes.

    Reply
  11. Taste is perfect, easy to make. I grated the potatoes last night so this morning they were not white, alittle dark. So grate potatoes and onions before you plan to cook them.
    Thanks

    Reply

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