My mother-in-law has lived in this area her whole life. I knew which traditional recipe I wanted to make to go with our Cologne post, and I knew she would be the right person to ask. So this is Miss M’s Oma’s recipe for Reibekuchen: German potato pancakes.
She has been making this recipe for so long, she just makes it by feeling. So when I asked her for the recipe, she actually went and found me some old recipe books so that I would have the amounts I would need. The first was a book published in 1939 about cooking with electricity – “Das elektrische Kochen,” which probably tells you something. The one that I used was new the year she got married: 1968. It’s called “Das
What are Reibekuchen?
Reibekuchen (literally: grated cakes) are German potato pancakes. They are also known as Kartoffelpuffer, Kartoffelpfannkuchen, Kartoffelplätzchen or Reibeplätzchen.
How are Reibekuchen served?
My mother-in-law grew up eating them with Apfelkraut, a highly concentrated form of apple sauce that is also a traditional food from the Rhineland. She still eats them this way. Her father apparently would eat them on rye bread with the Apfelkraut.
You can also find the German potato pancakes at fairs served with sour cream and smoked salmon.
Sometimes – and this is how I served them tonight – they are served with pork dishes, though crispy Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes), Spätzle (an egg
We had roast pork with Reibekuchen, apple sauce, sautéed snow peas and a creamy sauce with oyster mushrooms and bacon. Miss M, our picky little eater, ate her Reibekuchen and apple sauce, but would not even let me put the rest on her plate.
They are also a great alternative side dish for Christmas or Thanksgiving Dinner.
Tips for the perfectReibekuchen
There are a number of alternative versions of this recipe for German potato pancakes.
You can substitute the flour for semolina or polenta or another type of flour in the case of allergies.
Some recipes also suggest substituting the grated onion for grated apple. This, of course, makes the potato pancakes sweeter but means you don’t need any apple sauce.
The recipe I found in “Das
Whatever you do, there are two things you need to ensure:
- Really squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes. It will be quite brown and you might get more than you expect. If you leave it in, it will make the Reibekuchen soggy and they will fall apart.
- Use starchy potatoes, the kind that you would use for mashed potatoes, gnocchi or baked potatoes in their jackets. In German, these are called
mehligkochend, or, literally, floury potatoes. Russet, Idaho and Yukon gold are all good examples of starchy potatoes.
Are you going to serve your Reibekuchen sweet or savoury?
Reibekuchen, or traditional German pancakes, are an easy-to-make meal or side dish. They are delicious served with apple sauce or Apfelkraut, or as a side dish with roast meat: the perfect recipe for Autumn.
How are you serving your Reibekuchen?
Reibekuchen – German potato pancakes
- 500 g potatoes peeled
- 1 large egg
- half a white onion
- approx. 25 g plain flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated nutmeg to taste
- oil and/or butter for cooking
- Grate the raw potatoes into a bowl. Thoroughly squeeze off any liquid.
- Grate the onion into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well to form a ‘slurry’.
- Heat the oil and/or butter in a frypan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add an overflowing tablespoonful of the potato mix, spreading it around until it is less than 1 cm thick.
- Bake on both sides until golden.
- Remove from the pan and place on some paper towel to soak up any excess fat before serving.
- Serve hot.