German Potato Pancakes from Mashed Potatoes

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While traditional Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes) are made with grated potatoes, much like a hash brown, this is the kind I grew up with and is the perfect thing to make with your leftover mashed potatoes.

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) are a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, or any other holiday.

Every Thanksgiving, my Oma Engels would stand in the kitchen and make these for our evening supper. We always had our Thanksgiving dinner mid-day and, in the evening, would have a simpler meal of turkey sandwiches, all of the sides, and these wonderful Kartoffelpuffer.

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This recipe is extremely flexible.

I had about 4 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes. I added a couple simple ingredients and the quantities will be based upon how much mashed potatoes you have leftover.

In a bowl, combine the following – For every 1 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes you have:

1 egg, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/8 tsp baking powder, and salt & pepper to taste.

Whisk those until thoroughly combined and set them aside for a moment.

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Finely mince a tablespoon or so of onion, again, for every cup and a half of potatoes you have.

Stir these all together with the potatoes until combined.

In a large skillet, melt a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat.

Scoop the potatoes into the skillet. I find a muffin scoop is perfect for this.

German potato pancakes scooped into a skillet

Don’t crowd them.

German potato pancakes in a skillet

Let them cook for just a minute and then flip them over…

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Press them down a little with the back of your spatula, until they are about 3/4 inch thick. Let them cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown and then flip them over one last time to brown the original side all the way.

German potato pancakes in a skillet

Lay them on a plate that is lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oils. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Add butter to the skillet as needed.

Here’s another variation…add some grated cheese to the potato mixture. You could also add some cooked crumbled bacon. Yum!

potato pancake ingredients in bowl

Because these variations are so flexible – if you make “smashed” potatoes in your house rather than “mashed” potatoes – this recipe is perfect for those as well!

Mmmm… these make me think of my Oma.

German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) are a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, or any other holiday.

I miss her dearly.


Kartoffelpuffer – German Potato Pancakes

Constance Smith – Cosmopolitan Cornbread
German Potato Pancakes are an excellent way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. You'll want to make a double batch of mashed potatoes just so you can make these!
4.84 from 43 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine German
Servings 8
Calories 62 kcal


  • 1 1/2 c leftover mashed potatoes, multiply the quantities based upon your potato amount
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tb all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tb minced onion
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • Whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, & pepper until smooth. Stir into the potatoes along with the minced onion until combined.
  • In a large skillet, heat a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Scoop the mixture into the skillet in mounds, about 1/3 cup or so each, do not crowd them.
  • Let them cook for just a minute and gently flip them over. Using the back of your spatula, gently press them to ¾ inch thick. Let them cook about 3 or 4 minutes on that side until it is golden brown on the bottom, then turn them over and finish browning the original side.
  • Place cooked patties on a plate lined with paper towel to blot off the excess oils. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture. Add butter to the skillet as needed.
  • Enjoy!


*Variations – try mixing in some grated cheese, or crumbled, cooked bacon. Get creative!


Serving: 1cCalories: 62kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 83mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g

Nutritional information is auto-generated and the accuracy is not guaranteed.

Did You Try This?I’d Love For You to Share it on Instagram and tag me! @CosmopolitanCornbread

This recipe was originally posted in 2012, and updated in 2021.

20 thoughts on “German Potato Pancakes from Mashed Potatoes”

  1. I’m Irish and Native American, I grew up on the same as you, my family just called them potato cakes. I always loved them. We like them with onion; or green onion; or garlic, depending on what we’re pairing them with. Lady, I love your channel. Thank you for sharing your story and recipes.

  2. So excited to try these! They seem very similar to the ones someone very dear to me tried explaining how to make. Will be making them on Christmas Eve with some bratwurst in her honor. 💕

  3. My mom made these for the family 65 yrs. ago. I still make them today just like your recipe.. I remember as a kid I would sprinkle a little sugar on them when they were warm, they were delicious, sweet and savory. I put some sugar on the ones I made tonight and the memories came rushing back, just like it was yesterday.

  4. Exactly what we were looking for, German tradition with American leftovers. Thank you. These were perfect, though I don’t know what a muffin scoop is. We used an ice cream scoop.

  5. This is the closest recipe I’ve found, to what my mom would make. We never put onion or cheese in ours – and we always at them with jam! I’m going to use this as a starting point and see if I can recreate my childhood memories :D

    • Wow. You are the first person I’ve come across in almost 40 years to say they’ve eaten potato pancakes this way. Same here! I’ve been searching for a recipe for years to recreate what I had as a child. I remember potato pancakes as a sweet dish as well. I plan to use this as a starting point also. I do like this recipe as presented as a savory dish also. Looking forward to trying it this way.

  6. You have leftover mashed potatoes that will not be eaten as leftover mashed potatoes??? :) These look amazing. My stepmom made some that are similar. She added corn. Needless to say the only syrup I used was butter. Though corn fritters are good with maple syrup too.

  7. Just like your grandmother my granny used to cook leftover meals that are heavenly delicious, how I miss her so much all of her recipes are compiled in a book she is my first teacher in cooking.

  8. Looks really good and reminds me a lot like a Swedish dish called "Rösti". Always good to have some recipes for left overs :-)

  9. I pick the cheese and bacon version please!! Yum yum If there were ever leftover mashed potatoes I know what we would be making.

  10. I love your family photos! And love this dish. Years ago I had a ton of mashed potatoes left over from a Thanksgiving dinner, and this is essentially what we did with them for breakfast with eggs the next morning. To die for! Thanks for the wonderful reminder of them. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. Your German potatoes sound delicious. I make them but never put onion in them…don't know why I never thought of that. I'll be making these with leftovers for sure.


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