Last Updated on 3 years by Tim
I’ve been writing this blog for half a year now and still haven’t published a basics post about German-style boiled potatoes yet.
In the old days, the mighty potato was to Germans what plain rice is until today for most Asians. A staple food that is filling, nutritious, and harmonizes with almost any dish.
There are more than 2900 different potato cultivars around the globe and countless preparation and processing methods.
In this post, I want to give you an overview of the potato varieties used in German cuisine, the basic potato cuts, and how to make perfect boiled potatoes.
The Building Blocks of German Cusine Series
This article is part of my basics series, which will introduce you to key ingredients and preparation methods. You can find all these articles in the ‘Basics’ category of this blog. Listed below are the articles that have yet been published in this series:
- Swabian Egg Noodles (‘Schwäbische Eiernudeln’)
- Swabian Soup Noodles (‘Schwäbische Suppennudeln’)
- French Fries (‘Pommes frites’)
- Swabian Pretzels (‘Schwäbische Laugenbrezeln’)
- Kratzete, Eierhaber
- Duchess Potatoes (‘Herzoginnenkartoffeln’)
- Ribbon Noodles (‘Bandnudeln’)
- Muesli (‘Müsli’)
- German Bread Rolls (‘Weizenbrötchen’)
- Potato Puree (‘Kartoffelbrei’)
- German Potato Dumplings Bavaria-style (‘Bayerische Kartoffelknödel’)
- German Potato Dumplings Thuringia-style (‘Thüringer Kartoffelklöse’)
- German Bread Dumplings (‘Semmelknödel’)
- German Potato Pancakes (‘Reibekuchen’)
- Potato Noodles (‘Schupfnudeln’)
- German Boiled Potatoes (‘Kartoffeln’)
- Homemade Beef broth (‘Fleischbrühe’)
- German Pancakes (‘Pfannkuchen’)
- Homemade Semolina Soup Noodles (‘Hartweizen-Suppennudeln’)
- Chicken Broth (‘Hühnerbrühe’)
- Spaetzle (‘Spätzle’)
Waxy vs. starchy potatoes
Potatoes can be divided into two subcategories depending on their cooking characteristics.
Waxy potatoes are lower in starch than starchy potatoes. They remain firm in texture during cooking and are ideal for making sauteed potatoes and potato salad.
Starchy potatoes, on the other hand, have a soft and fluffy interior. They are ideal for potato puree, potato dumplings, and potato pancakes.
There’s a third type of potato known as ‘
Here’s an overview of the most popular potato varieties used in German cuisine:
- Bamberger Hörnchen
- La Ratte
- Blauer Schwede
- Rote Emmalie
If you’re outside of Germany a lot of these potato varieties might be hard to source, so feel free to use locally available potatoes. Always make sure to inform yourself about their cooking characteristics before purchasing.
The different potato cuts
Germans prefer to keep their potatoes whole. Even though whole potatoes take longer to cook than smaller sized pieces the flavor of whole potatoes is considered far superior.
Germans generally distinguish between unpeeled jacket potatoes, which get peeled after being cooked, and salt potatoes, which get peeled before cooking.
The jacket potatoes are considered the noblest form of potato as all the flavor stays locked inside the potato and there’s no chance for them to turn watery.
Salt potatoes are often served whenever a dish includes a lot of sauce that needs to be soaked up.
The three basic potato cuts commonly featured in German cuisine are cubes, french fries, and wedges.
Potatoes can be cut into cubes prior to cooking whenever you’re short on time. That way they cook much quicker and are ready to eat in minutes.
French fries are usually blanched in oil before deep-frying them for a second time at a higher temperature. Potato wedges are usually blanched in saltwater before oven roasting them.
The best way to cook German boiled potatoes
If you’re cooking regularly I’m sure you’ve boiled potatoes countless times already. They’re one of the simplest foods to cook and there’s really not much that can go wrong.
The only thing to remember is to always start with salted cold water. That way the potatoes cook more evenly so that you don’t end up with an overcooked edge by the time the center is done.
The cooking time of potatoes depends largely on their size. Smaller potatoes take about 15 minutes to cook once the water is simmering while larger potatoes can take 20-30 minutes to cook until tender.
You can easily check the doneness of your potatoes by piercing them with a sharp paring knife. If your knife runs through the potato without resistance, and the potato falls easily off the knife, then it’s ready. Drain the cooking water and eat the potatoes immediately or use them in further preparations.
Boiled potatoes are the basis for many popular German dishes like:
- Pan-fried potatoes (Bratkartoffeln)
- Potato dumplings (Kartoffelknödel)
- Potato noodles (Schupfnudeln)
- Potato puree (Kartoffelbrei)
- Swabian potato salad (Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat)
German Boiled Potatoes (‘Kartoffeln’)
- 1.5 pounds (750 g) potatoes of your choice
- salt, to tase
- Before boiling the potatoes, decide whether you like to prepare jacket or salt potatoes. Leave the skin on for jacket potatoes or peel it for salt potatoes.
- Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Add plenty of salt to the water. It should taste almost like the sea. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, then turn the heat to the lowest setting, and let the potatoes simmer until tender which can take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes depending on their size. You can check for doneness by piercing the potatoes with a sharp paring knife. When the potatoes easily fall off the knife they are ready.
- Drain the potatoes and serve them plain or use them in further preparations. In case you prepared jacket potatoes, peel them before serving while still hot.
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I really love reading up recipes of different countries, i try them out and somehow feel connected even though I may never visit them. I am a Bengali and we use potatoes as ‚ aloo bhaja‘, ‚aloo‘ is potato, bhaja meaning ‚ fry‘. We cut the potatoes in round slices and soak it for some time in salt water, then we deep fry it in mustard oil. Likewise there are eggplant bhaja, bittergourd bhaja, lady’s finger bhaja and always as an accompaniment to dal( pulses cooked with turmeric, salt and spices) and rice, and also with luchi ( wheat dough prepared into small balls and flattened out with a rolling pin and deep fried)- luchi- aloo bhaja is comfort food for Bengalis.
Now I will try out the potato pancake with the apple sauce German style! Danke!
Thank you for your kind comment, Deboleena! I love Indian food – very tasty, especially the various breads, lentil dishes, and potato foods. I can’t wait to travel again and enjoy some of the foods that you have listed. I hope you have fun making the potato pancakes. Kind regards, Tim
I am an American hosting a Swabian-German foreign exchange student, and these recipes are pure gold! I can’t wait to surprise her with some comforts from home! Any tips are greatly appreciated!
Thanks for your comment, Sarah! I’m glad you enjoy the blog and wish you a nice time with your exchange student. It’s been many years since I’ve lived with a host family in the US but I still remember this time very fondly. What a great experience! I wish you a lot of fun trying out some Southern German recipes – Tim