German Food Guide
German Food Guide
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Potatoes (Kartoffel or Erdapfel)

The potato is a root vegetable from the plant Solanium tuberosum. Worldwide, over 300 tons of potatoes are harvested annually, making it the world's most widely grown crop. make up a large part Globally, there are around 4,500 varieties of potatoes. Only a small percentage of these are actually used for food. The others are used for animal food, alcohol production (i.e. Vodka), potato starch, potato flour, etc.

The potato originated in Peru and Chile, and was introduced into Europe by a 16th century Spaniard. Although it was known in Peru and Chile as food, in Europe it began its popularity as a beautiful flowering plant in royal pleasure gardens as well as in medicinal gardens. It was introduced into Germany by botanist and Doctor Carolus Clusius in 1589. The potato was not accepted as food until the 17th century, and then only for farmers and the poor. However, the famines of 1719 and 1743 soon convinced people of the viability of potatoes as an important food source.

Today, in Germany, and throughout Europe, the potato is one of the most important foods. It makes up a large part of the German diet. In fact, on average, each German consumes 150 pounds (70 kg) of potatoes annually. Potatoes are cooked and prepared in many different ways. Here, we define some of the most popular potato dishes and provide some recipes.

Popular Potato Dishes

Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen)
Potato Pancakes
Photo: © Hemeroskopion -

Potato pancakes are known and loved throughout Germany. They are typically made from potatoes (either raw or cooked depending on the regional recipe), eggs, flour, oil or butter, salt, and pepper. Some regional recipes include additional ingredients, such as onions, yeast, milk, lemon juice, etc. The pancakes are pan-fried in oil until crispy and golden brown.

Potato pancakes go well with sweet as well as savory foods. They are often served with apple sauce, peaches, pears, and other fruits. Likewise, they also go well with meats with sauces (such as roasts, Sauerbraten, and Goulasch), smoked salmon, caviar, and smoked trout.

Pan Fried Potatoes (Bratkartoffel or Kerschder)
Pan Fried Potatoes
Photo: © ExQuisine -

Pan fried potatoes are quick and easy to make, and enjoyed throughout Germany. They can be made from either raw or boiled potatoes. They are typlically pan fried in some butter or oil until golden brown and crispy. Some regions add other ingredients, such as onions.

Pan fried potatoes go well with a number of German dishes, such as Schnitzel, any sausage (such as Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Frankfurter Würstchen), fish, etc.

Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelklöße)
Potato Dumplings
Photo: © kameraman -
Potato dumplings are favorite in several regions, including Thuringia (Thüringen), Bavaria (Bayern), and the Rhineland region . In these regions, a roast (with sauce of course!) isn't considered complete without potato dumplings.

There are several varieties of potato dumplings. Some versions are made with cooked potatoes. These have the consistency of mashed potatoes and, when done correctly, are light and fluffy. Potato dumplings made from raw potatoes are a bit grainy in texture and have a shiny surface.

To cook potato dumplings, they are added to simmering salt water. When dropped in, they will drop to the bottom of the pot. However, when they are fully cooked and ready for serving, they will float to the top of the water.

Potato dumplings taste best fresh. Leftovers can be reheated in a frying pan with a little butter. Potato dumplings can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Longer refrigeration, however, causes the dumplings to absorb moisture, making them too wet and fragile to handle.

Potato Salad (Kartoffelsalat)
Potato Salad
Photo: © Melissa Bagnara -
Potato salad is loved in Germany because of its universality. It goes well with a variety of dishes, including Schnitzel, Wurst, seafood, and other meat dishes.

Contrary to what you've probably heard about German potato salad, there is no one "typical" recipe. There are as many varieties of potato salad in Germany as there are people with thelast names Schmidt, Meier, and Müller. The only common denominator is cooked potatoes. From here, recipes differ on type of potatoes used, freshly boiled potatoes vs. potatoes boiled the day before, temperature of the salad when served, and ingredients.

Some recipes use mayonaise, some use a vinaigrette, some use chicken broth, and some use a combination of these. In addition to the potatoes, other ingredients could include pickles, cucumbers, mustard, leeks, garlic, onions, apples, cabbage, eggs, bacon, wurst, seafood - anything is possible.

Potato Soup (Kartoffelsuppe)
Potato Soup
Photo: © Carmen Steiner -
Potato soup is a traditional soup enjoyed throughout Germany. As with many potato dishes, recipes vary by region and family, so there is no one typical German potato soup. Of course, the main ingredient in this soup is potato, which is cooked in broth or salt water along with other vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions. Once the vegetables are cooked, the potatoes are usually mashed or pureed. Crispy bacon pieces or grilled onions are added to the soup, along with various herbs and spices.

This soup is most often served with wurst (sausages), such as Bockwurst, Frankfurter Würstchen, and Leberwurst. Bread or rolls are also served with the soup, which are usually crumbled into the soup.

Photo: © manla -
Kroketten are rolls of mashed potatoes and other ingredients, that are dipped in eggs and bread crumbs, then fried to a golden brown. They are served as an accompaniment to meat dishes (they go especially go well with meat dishes with sauces).

Schupfnudeln (Also known as Kartoffelnudeln and Fingernudeln)
Photo: © kab-vision -
Next to Spätzle, Schupfnudeln are the most popular side dish to meats. Schupfnudeln are made out of cooked, mashed potatoes and formed into finger-thick noodles. Other ingredients include flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. They are cooked in salt water for 3 minutes, then pan fried in butter until crispy and golden brown.

Schupfnudeln are a specialty of Bavaria (Bayern), Baden, and Swabian (Schwaben). It is most often served as a side dish to goulasch and roasts. It is served as a main dish with Sauerkraut and salad. Schupfnudeln can also be enjoyed as a dessert - they are covered with cinnamon sugar.

Potato Cake (Kartoffelkuchen)
The Potato Cake is a specialty of Swabia (Schwaben). It is made with a yeast dough base, which is topped with an egg and potato mixture.

Buttermilk Potato Pancakes (Buttermilchgetzen)
Buttermilk potato pancakes originated in the Ore Mountain region (Erzgebirge) in Saxony. Here they make their potato pancakes with the addition of buttermilk, eggs, onions, and bacon.

Heaven and Earth (Himmel und Erde)
Himmel und Erde is a dish made from potatoes, apple sauce, and bacon. In the Rhineland, it accompanies Blutwurst. In Mecklenburg, is is made with pureed pairs instead of apple sauce.

Sweet & Sour Potatoes (Saures Kartoffelgemüse)
Sour & Sour Potatoes are a specialty of Bavaria (Bayern). Potatoes are cooked with other root vegetables, such as carrots. The mixture is then seasoned with sugar and vinegar to give the dish a sweet and sour flavor.

Hoppelpoppel is a specialty of Berlin and an excellent way to use left-overs. In this dish, meat is cut into strips. It is then scrambled together with eggs, potatoes, onions, and seasonings.

Sweet Apple & Potato Noodles (Schleizer Bambser)
Schleizer Bambser is a sweet potato dish from Thuringia (Thüringen). A dough is made from cooked potatoes, apples, eggs, and sugar. They are placed over noodles, then the dish topped with cinnamon sugar and is baked in the oven until golden brown.

Potatoes (Kartoffel)
Photo: © Judy Tejero Photography

Potato Recipes

Kartoffelpuffer  (Potato Pancakes)
Kartoffelpuffer (mit Zwiebel)  (Potato Pancakes (with Onions))
Dicker Hans Kartoffelpuffer  (Potato Pancakes "Fat Hans")
Bayerischer Kartoffelsalat  (Bavarian Potato Salad)
Kohlrabi Eintopf  (Kohlrabi Stew)
Sauerkrautpuffer  (Sauerkraut-Potato Pancakes)
Sauerkraut Bier Suppe mit Würstchen  (Sauerkraut Beer Soup with Frankfurters)
Leberkäseauflauf mit Sauerkraut und Kartoffeln  (Leberkäse Sauerkraut Potato Casserole)
Kartoffeln mit Spargel und Kräutercreme  (Potatoes with Asparagus and Herb Dressing)
Kartoffelauflauf mit Spargel  (Potato and Asparagus Casserole)
Spaghettikürbis-Kartoffelpuffer  (Spaghetti Squash & Potato Pancakes)
Kartoffelsuppe  (Potato Soup)

Pan Fried Potaotes
Photo: © HLPhoto -

Potato Storage Tips

When storing potatoes, remember 3 things: dark, dry, and cool. Here are some important storage tips.

Store potatoes in a dark area.
Place potatoes in a dark paper bag which allows air to reach the potatoes. Do not use plastic bags.
Store potatoes in a dry place. Humidity and moisture promotes rotting and mold formation.
Store potatoes away from fruits.
Store potatoes in a cool, but not freezing, area.
Don't drop potatoes. Dropping them causes bruises.

Boiled Potatoes
Photo: © T. Lieder -

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