German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

>> Monday, December 17, 2012

German Potato Pancakes
Thanks to Lori Stalteri for taking this photo for me.

I have to be honest with you: I don't like some of the traditional German potato pancakes. My grandma (God rest her merry soul) and many before her made them with raw grated potatoes that somehow turned a little gray and gooey in the middle. It just wasn't appetizing or flavorful enough for me.

But I have tasted superb ones in German restaurants like the Brauhaus in Chicago and Mader's Restaurant in Milwaukee, and a cute little local place called The Swedish Cafe. If I like fried potatoes, onions, sour cream and applesauce, surely there must be a way to combine this in a way I enjoy.

Every Christmas, we have a tradition of meeting my daughter and her boyfriend in Daley Plaza for Chicago's Christkindlmarket, and we always share a big plate of pancakes with sour cream and applesauce on the side, and mugs of beer and mulled wine. After our annual trip last week, I was craving them again.

Joe experimented until he came up with the most marvelous potato pancakes I've ever tasted. His trick is to cook the potatoes slightly before draining and frying, and he added the traditional German flavorings of lemon, caraway, and onion to the basic recipe. Next summer, we're going to try these with fresh zucchini, too.

These are filling enough for a whole meal, which is what I ate for dinner that night, along with a bowl of organic applesauce I canned this summer. Joe, being a meat and potatoes man, added some leftover pork carnitas to his pancake plate.


2 lbs (about 6 cups) shredded russet potatoes (we shredded them with the skin on for more fiber & flavor)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground caraway seed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp salt
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup vegetable oil (for frying)


After shredding the potatoes, put them in a colander and rinse them until the water runs clear, to remove some of the white or pinkish starch that will prevent them from crisping. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer 5-10 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to cool.

Place 1/4 of the potatoes into a clean, absorbent dish towel, roll up the towel, and wring out all of the excess water into the sink (this ensures the pancakes will not be gummy or doughy). Place the dried potatoes into a large mixing bowl and repeat with the remainder of the potatoes.

Stir in all the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Heat a large frying pan, then add 1/2 of the oil and spread it around the pan. Scoop out 1/4 cupfuls of the potato mixture and place it in the pan. Use a spatula to press it into a pancake shape. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Use more oil as the pan becomes dry.

As the pancakes are cooked, place them in a single layer on paper towels and keep them on a warm platter in the oven until they're all done.

Makes about 25 1/4-cup pancakes.


amieblythe October 22, 2014 at 10:49 PM  

Vielen Danke for this recipe! It was sooooo good and will now become a family favorite :)

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