Pan-fried potatoes
Potatoes, Sides, Vegetables

Pan-fried potatoes with bacon and onion (‘Bratkartoffeln’)

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Last Updated on 4 years by Tim

Pan-fried potatoes are a home cooking favorite all across Germany. They’re simple to make and so much more flavorful than French fries. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, but also surprisingly light.

The potatoes are typically fried together with bacon, onions, and chives. And if that doesn’t sound good enough by itself, let me tell you the secret that separates great pan-fried potatoes from good ones. It’s the knob of butter swirled around the pan at the end of the frying process.

If you’re not excited to get into your kitchen right now and make a batch of pan-fried potatoes then I honestly have no clue how to make your mouth water. I mean, it’s potatoes + bacon + onions + butter. That’s the essence of German cuisine. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Waxy potatoes make the best pan-fried potatoes

It’s best to use a waxy potato variety for this dish. You do want the outside of the potatoes to get crispy and you do also want to keep your potatoes in shape while frying.

And even though there are people who make pan-fried potatoes from raw I still very much prefer the version with pre-cooked potatoes. In the old days, pan-fried potatoes were a way to use up leftover jacket potatoes from the day before. So they’re very much the equivalent to Asian fried rice.

Jacket potatoes get cooked skin on. That way the nutrients and taste are better preserved during the cooking process. It also prevents the inside of your potatoes from turning watery.

Peeled jacket potatoes

It’s easiest to peel them while still warm. You can pierce them with a fork and use a sharp paring knife to remove the potato skin. It will slide easily off the flesh.

You then slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Wet your knife before slicing to prevent it from sticking to your potato slices. These potato slices can then be directly used for pan-frying.

Or, even better, leave them in the fridge overnight. It’s not without a reason that day-old pan-fried potatoes taste better than fresh ones. The surface of your potato slices will dry out overnight in the fridge resulting in a crispier crust.

Give your potatoes enough time in the pan to crisp up

Pan-fried potatoes need a lot of time in the pan to properly crisp up. By the time they are crispy, your aromatics will have burned. Therefore, it’s best to fry the bacon and onions beforehand and return them to the pan just before serving.

Bacon frying inside a saute pan

The biggest mistake inexperienced cooks make is that they overcrowd the pan. Pan-fried potatoes are really not a good dish to make if you have to feed a crowd.

The potato slices should fit into your pan in one even layer. Otherwise, they will steam rather than fry leaving you behind with a soggy mess. So if you’re cooking for more than 2-3 people make sure to fry your potatoes in batches.

I know that it can be hard to just leave things in the pan untouched. But you really need to give your potato slices time to crisp up. They shouldn’t be turned over more than 3-4 times. The more you turn them, the more they will break up.

Why smart cooks salt their potatoes at the very end

The best time to season your potatoes with salt is right at the end. When you’re about to take them out of the pan. If salting before or while frying, the salt will draw out moisture to the surface of the potato slices preventing them from crisping up. Everyone who’s experienced with deep-frying foods will know what I’m talking about.

Pan-fried potatoes finished with a knob of butter

I decided to sprinkle my pan-fried potatoes with finely minced chives. Parsley or even a little rosemary are other herbs that are very popular and go insanely well with potatoes.

These potatoes can be eaten by themselves with a sunny side egg. They’re also commonly eaten with creamed spinach on the side. But you can really eat them with whatever dish you like. There’s hardly any dish that cannot be improved with some pan-fried potatoes on the side.

I hope you’re looking forward to next weeks recipe because I’m going to introduce you to another dish that is traditionally eaten with pan-fried potatoes: sour tripe. It’s a unique Swabian dish that is very little known outside of Southern Germany and I’m very excited to share it with you.

So make sure to practice your pan-fried potato skills this week.


  1. That looks so good!!!!!

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