Polish Potato Pancakes (Placki Ziemniaczane)

Polish potato pancakes stacked five-high on a white plate with sour cream on top

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 16 potato pancakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
357 Calories
21g Fat
38g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 357
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 106mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 13mg 66%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 751mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polish potato pancakes, known as placki kartoflane or placki ziemniaczane in Polish, are delicious and delightful. This traditional recipe comes from Gwizdały village in the Mazovia region of Poland and it's surprisingly easy.

Traditionally, Catholics eat potato pancakes on Fridays in Lent as a meat substitute. Many cuisines have their own take on them, including Jewish latkes, Czech potato dumplings, and Lithuanian zeppelins. They offer a rich source of protein and are great on their own or as a side dish, even outside of the Lenten season.

You can add to the flavor of your potato pancakes in a variety of ways. Simply add grated garlic, onion, carrot, parsnips, zucchini, or other vegetables to the batter before frying. They're also really good with chopped bacon. You'll find it best to serve these thin, crispy pancakes hot, either sprinkled with sugar or dolloped with sour cream and applesauce. 

Grated raw potatoes can become gray rather fast. You can prevent them from turning dark by soaking them in cold water with either lemon juice, vinegar, or vitamin C powder while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Just be sure to drain and pat them as dry as possible before making the batter—this makes for a crispier pancake, too.

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"This is a tasty, classic recipe for potato pancakes. I opted to grate my potatoes using the grating blade of my food processor to save some time. A lot of liquid accumulated in the bowl from the grated potatoes and onion, and I found that I had to drain off some of it." —Young Sun Huh

Polish Potato Pancakes/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and finely grated (about 2 1/4 pounds total)

  • 1 medium onion, finely grated

  • 2 large eggs

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • Granulated sugar, for garnish

  • Sour cream, for garnish

  • Applesauce, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients gathered for Polish potato pancakes

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  2. Add the potatoes, onion, eggs, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to a large bowl.

    Potatoes, onion, eggs, salt, and pepper mixed in bowl

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  3. Add enough flour to bind the mixture together while leaving it somewhat thin.

    Flour added to potato pancake mixture in bowl

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  4. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Heat until hot, but not smoking.

    Skillet heating with oil for potato pancakes

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  5. Drop a 1/4 cup of potato mixture into the skillet and spread out to form a 3-inch circle that's about 1/4-inch thick.

    Dollop of potato pancake mixture in frying pan with oil

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  6. Fry until brown on the bottom (don't turn until the pancake is brown or it will stick), about 3 to 5 minutes. If needed, reduce the heat to medium to prevent burning.

    Browned potato pancake being flipped in skillet with oil

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  7. Turn the pancake and fry the other side for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

    Potato pancake browning in oil in skillet

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  8. Drain on paper towels. Serve with granulated sugar, sour cream and applesauce if desired.

    Potato pancakes draining on paper towels on a plate

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Tips

  • If you don't like the idea of grating potatoes by hand, there are a couple ways to get around it. One is to use your food processor with a grating disk. You can simply send potato chunks down the chute and, while the processor is running, add the onion, eggs, seasonings, and flour as well. Use only a portion of the flour, stirring in more as needed.

Variations

  • You can use almost any starchy potato for these pancakes; there's a lot of nostalgia surrounding those made with russet potatoes, but Yukon gold will work, too.
  • Frozen hash browns will really save time when you want potato pancakes, although the flavor and texture will be different. Just thaw and drain the hash browns, and mix them with the other ingredients—no grater or food processor needed.
  • If you need to make these gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix instead, adjusting the amount as needed. Or, you can simply grate the potatoes into a bowl and drain off some of the water, leaving the potato starch (it will look milky white) behind to help bind them.

How to Store and Freeze Potato Pancakes

Like most fried foods, potato pancakes taste best the day they are made, as soon as they're cool enough to eat. But if you have leftovers, you can wrap them in foil or place them in a lidded container in the fridge for a couple of days. To freeze, let them cool completely and transfer them to a zip-close freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months.


The best way to reheat potato pancakes is in a hot oven (about 400 F) directly on the oven rack, for about 5 to 10 minutes until they're crispy, depending on whether they were refrigerated or frozen beforehand.


You can certainly use the microwave to reheat potato pancakes, but the texture may be gummy and not to your liking.

How Do You Keep Potato Pancakes Warm and Crisp?

To keep the potato pancakes crispy and warm until serving, once they're cool enough to handle after they've drained, transfer them to a baking sheet. Place in a 200 F oven to keep warm for several minutes while you continue to prep more pancakes, or whatever else you're going to serve them with.