Authentic German Potato Pancakes That Are Easy To Make

Make authentic German potato pancakes that will impress everyone you serve them to, including yourself!

authentic german potato pancakes topped with sour cream and scallions

These potato pancakes are packed full of flavor. They are soft on the inside, and nice and crispy on the outside.

In my hometown area they can be found all throughout the summer, at any fair you go to. I never really remember eating them at home much before my stepfather entered my life. I thought of them as fair food, I guess in some ways I still do.

BUT my stepfather could make one mean authentic German potato pancake, and he made them often. Lucky me!

Ingredients For This Recipe

One of the great things about authentic German potato pancakes is that the ingredients are commonly stocked in the average kitchen.

If you typically keep potatoes and onions on hand, you’re probably ready to go. All of the other ingredients are likely in your cabinets.

Here’s what you’ll need …

Potatoes – Russet potatoes are preferred for this recipe. However, I’ve never met a potato that didn’t make a tasty authentic German potato pancake, just sayin’.

Onions – White onions work really well in potato pancakes. They are sweeter than other onions, and that is a welcome flavor profile in an otherwise completely savory dish. But, as with potatoes, I never met an onion that doesn’t work in this recipe.

Eggs – Farm fresh eggs are always the preferred choice in the kitchen. So, use ’em if you can get ’em. If not, any eggs will do.

Breadcrumbs – Plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs are what this recipe calls for. If you have an Italian style or parmesan breadcrumb that will work too. Any breadcrumb that has a flavor that will compliment the potatoes can be used.

Salt – Salt enhances the other flavors in this recipe.

Ground Black Pepper – Ground black pepper provides a subtle bite to this recipe.

Garlic Cloves – Fresh garlic cloves are recommended for this recipe. If granulated garlic is all you have, go ahead and use that. It will work really well also.

Oil – This recipe uses quite a bit of oil, as the pancakes are fried in oil. Use the highest quality oil you can afford for this. It can get pretty pricey though, so in this house that is usually just a cheap vegetable oil.

Sour Cream (optional) – Sour cream is completely optional for this recipe. It is served as a dip/topping for the pancakes. It’s my preferred way to eat them.

Applesauce (optional) – Some people prefer to serve authentic German potato pancakes with applesauce instead of sour cream. It’s also a great choice, and compliments the dish nicely.

Choosing Potatoes For Authentic German Potato Pancakes

Russet potatoes are by far the best choice for making authentic German potato pancakes. This is because of their high starch content.

potato pancakes frying in a cast iron skillet

The high levels of starch in these potatoes aid in binding the ingredients together. And, quite honestly, it also enhances the flavor of the dish.

BUT … over time I have made these pancakes with every potato imaginable and they all work.

It seems that if you shred, season, and fry a potato, you can’t really lose. It’s just tasty food.

Recipe Variations

I encourage you to try this recipe just as it is, plain and simple.

If you’ve been hanging around the blog for awhile, then you know that I don’t generally go for the plain version of any food. I love herbs and spices, and I believe in using them liberally.

authentic german potato pancakes served with a side of applesauce

But, there is something special about the simplicity of this recipe. And while I do switch it up occasionally, for the most part I just enjoy it as it is. Simple and delicious.

If you want to try a few variations for the recipe, here are some suggestions for you …

  • Add some herbs and/or spices to the potato pancakes. Try chives, scallions, cayenne pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, or rosemary.
  • Season the sour cream topping to your liking. I do put chives or scallions in my sour cream pretty regularly. And any of the suggestions for additions to the pancakes above will work well also.
  • Add cheese and/or bacon to the pancake batter before frying. I’ve had potato pancakes cooked this way before. They are really good.
  • Serve with coleslaw as a side instead of sour cream or applesauce. I have a delicious farmhouse style coleslaw recipe on the blog that is just perfect for this.

How To Cook Authentic German Potato Pancakes

Authentic German potato pancakes are a fried food. I’m sure there are people out there putting them in air fryers, or using some other method of cooking to try to make them healthier for you.

potato pancakes on a dish with toppings

I’m all about healthy food. I pay very close attention to the ingredients in my cooking, because I believe food is meant to nourish on a holistic level; mind, body, and soul.

However, some foods are just best when prepared traditionally. And, in my opinion, authentic German potato pancakes are one of those foods.

So, I fry them oil. On occasion I go even further down the rabbit hole, and I fry them in bacon grease. And then I eat them in moderation.

This recipe is pretty simple to make. All you have to do is shred and drain some potatoes, mix them with the other ingredients, and drop them in a frying pan of oil.

Full instructions can be found at the end of this post. I’ve attached a recipe card there for you. You can even print out the recipe, so that you have it on hand in your kitchen when you need it.

How To Serve Potato Pancakes

You can serve authentic German potato pancakes as a side with just about any dish. Pair it up with meat and a veggie and it makes a complete meal.

frying authentic german potato pancakes in a skillet

It also shines brightly as the star of the meal. Serve it with a side dish of applesauce, coleslaw, pickled beets, or bean salad, and allow it to be the main attraction.

I like to top mine with sour cream. It’s one of the traditional ways to serve this tasty dish, and it’s fantastic.

Sometimes I season the sour cream according to my mood. Chives are always a winning addition to this topping. Cayenne, oregano, and dill are also great choices for this.

I admit that I’m partial to serving this dish savory style. However, according to the research I’ve done preparing for this post, it is often served with fruit compote and dusted with powdered sugar in it’s country of origin.

I’m probably going to give that a try the next time I make it. Because … well … I hear curiosity can kill a cat. And I’m a Leo, better safe than sorry 😉

If you’re making potato pancakes to serve with a meal, lay them out on a paper towel lined, heat safe dish and put them in the oven on the warm setting until all of them are cooked and ready to serve. Otherwise, they will get cold sitting out while you cook, as you can only cook a few at a time.

The very best way to serve them …

With that said, my favorite way to enjoy this dish is served individually straight out of the pan.

There’s something pretty special about everyone hanging around the kitchen, drinking a glass of wine, while they wait for their shot at these tasty potato cakes.

So, have a girls night in, set out some simple cold appetizers, and get a batch of potato pancakes going. Serve them fresh and hot to each guest as they’re done. It’ll be a hit, I promise!

How To Freeze Authentic German Potato Pancakes

Authentic German potato pancakes freeze very well. Lay them out on a parchment lined sheet pan, flash freeze them, put them in a plastic baggie, and then put them in the freezer.

freshly made potato cakes on a plate

They will last this way in the freezer for a few months. I often freeze whatever is left over from making a batch for dinner. It’s usually enough for a meal. But it adds up and, before I know it, I have enough to warm up for dinner one night.

It’s a night I don’t have to cook. All I have to do is put them in the oven and warm them through.

They are not as crispy this way. BUT, I’m willing to sacrifice that every now and again to have a quick, cooked from scratch, convenience meal on hand.

pinnable image for authentic german potato pancakes

If you try this recipe and love it, please give it 5 stars! It supports my work more than you may realize, and I appreciate that a great deal!

You can also show your support by tagging me on Facebook @sustainableslowliving and/or Instagram @slowlivingbydianegail when you post a pic of your finished dish.

authentic german potato pancakes topped with sour cream and scallions
Yield: 10 SERVINGS


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Authentic German Potato Pancakes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. There's no way to eat just one. They're too packed full of classic potato and onion flavor. Serve them on the side of a main dish or make them the main dish, either way you'll be completely satisfied after indulging in this incredibly tasty fair style food.


  • 4 1/2 c russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 c white onion, grated
  • 1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • sour cream (optional)
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • paprika (optional)
  • applesauce (optional)


  1. Place potatoes in a cheesecloth or muslin cloth and squeeze as much juice out of them as you can.
  2. Put them in a bowl with all of the other ingredients and stir together until well blended.
  3. Heat a pan of oil on med-high heat until it is at a rolling simmer.
  4. Drop potato mixture into the oil in large spoonfuls and flatten with the back of the spoon.
  5. Allow to fry until the bottom side of the cake is crispy brown.
  6. Gently flip cake over and cook until the other side is crispy brown.
  7. Line a dish with paper towels.
  8. Remove cakes from oil and set on the lined dish to allow excess oil to drain from them.
  9. Serve with sour cream, chives, and paprika on top.
  10. Or serve with applesauce on the side.
  11. Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 171Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 193mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 6g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 8/28/2022. Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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