Bramboraky – traditional Czech potato pancakes are a great side dish (or a quick snack) made from grated potatoes and infused with garlic, herbs and spices. It can be served with traditional beef goulash or eaten on it’s own.
You can usually buy ‘bramboraky’ at Prague fast street food stalls, farmer’s markets or you might see it listed as a side dish on the Czech restaurant’s or pub menu.
Bramboraky are perfect hot, but can also be eaten cold, which makes them the perfect travel snack! I often make them to take with me when I go for a long hike in the countryside outside the Prague.
Why make this recipe?
- Great side dish or a perfect snack
- Quick to make
- Can be eaten hot or cold
MORE TRADITIONAL CZECH RECIPES
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What exactly are potato pancakes – bramboraky?
This is one of the easier dishes to explain! Bramboraky are translated to English as ‘potato pancakes’, but they are much thicker and sturdier than the fluffy breakfast pancakes you might be used to!
If you are familiar with a traditional English cooked breakfast, then the flavour and texture of ‘bramboraky’ is fairly similar to ‘hash browns’ plus bramboraky have extra herbs in or garlic.
Bramboraky are often eaten on their own as a fast food snack or as a side dish (instead of dumplings or boiled potatoes) with traditional Czech Goulash or other meat dishes.
You can easily eat bramboraky any time of the day and whilst not exactly traditional, they are also perfect for late breakfast or a brunch.
The traditional version of Bramboraky includes garlic as a flavouring, but also caraway seeds, herbs and other spices. Other versions include pieces of smoked meat, sausages added to the mixture.
Any specialist equipment needed?
You don’t need anything specific for this recipe, just a frying pan or a pancake pan. You can also make these potato pancakes on a griddle.
My top tips on making this recipe successfully the first time round
Grate the potatoes on a fine grater (the potatoes will cook through quicker)
Squeeze as much water from the grated potatoes as possible before starting to mix all the ingredients together
Medium to hot heat is best for frying these potato pancakes
Ingredients & Possible Substitutions
Starchy, floury type of potatoes are best for this recipe, but in reality any potato will do. I wouldn’t bother using new potatoes as they are fiddly to peel and grate, but I’m sure if you didn’t have anything else, they will work too.
You might find recipes recommending specific types of potatoes for this recipe, but please remember that this was a simple dish prepared by home cooks, so they would really use any potato they had at hand.
The only potatoes I’ve never used for this recipe are sweet potatoes, but in theory they will work too. The final flavour will be obviously different, so just bear that in mind if you want to try them.
Any kind of milk is fine to use, including non-dairy and plant based milk. Using full-fat milk will add extra fat and a buttery flavour to these pancakes.
Any kind of plain type of white flour (all purpose) is fine to use with this recipe, but don’t use strong bread flour, which has far too much gluten for this recipe.
This recipe is easily adaptable to gluten-free version by using any kind of gluten-free plain flour mix. You might need to add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to your recipe otherwise the potato pancakes might fall apart.
This recipe would work without egg, in case you run out, but the egg does help to hold everything together nicely.
I use whatever I have at hand – any kind of salt is fine with this recipe.
Traditionally, there would be quite a lot of salt in this recipe, but over the years I’ve toned down the amount I normally use, so I’ve included just enough to make it taste good.
If you prefer more salt, please add more in.
Use freshly ground black pepper to suit your taste.
Garlic is a personal preference. Some people prefer to add so much in that they could easily use their ‘bramboraky’ to ward off vampires!
The amount is entirely up to you! I sometimes leave out the garlic altogether and use caraway seeds instead.
Caraway seeds are optional and I normally use them if I skip the garlic.
Since potato pancakes recipes vary from region to region, you might also see different versions with marjoram, nutmeg or other herbs added to the mixture.
Again, it’s a personal preference, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little!
oil vegetable, sunflower or lard
Traditionally bramboraky would be fried in lard to give them extra flavour, but these days most people will probably opt out for vegetable or sunflower oil.
It might be worth mentioning, that if you are vegetarian (or vegan) and you opt out for a meatless dish in a Czech restaurant and order bramboraky as a side dish, check with the staff if they haven’t used lard for frying the potato pancakes.
To make these potato pancakes into more of a substantial snack you can also mix in pre-cooked smoked meat, chopped-up sausages or even cheese.
How to make potato pancakes – Bramboraky
Peel all the potatoes and grate them with a fine to medium grater plate.
Drain as much water as possible from the potatoes using your hand, colander or even a clean teatowel.
Add the milk and egg and mix all together.
Add the flour, your choice of spices, crushed garlic, salt and ground pepper and mix.
Heat up a large frying pan with vegetable oil or lard and start frying your potato pancakes – few at a time.
Add just enough batter to make them less than 1 cm thick (1/4 inch). Fry on both sides until golden brown with crispy edges.
This should take about 2 minutes on each side, depending on how deep your oil is (the deeper the oil is the quicker the potato pancakes fry).
Serve hot with your choice of salad, sausages or main meal of goulash.
How else you can make this recipe? Variation on this recipe, Allergies, dietary requirements
Vegan version – skip the egg and use plant based milk
Dairy free version – use plant based milk
Gluten Free version – use gluten free flour and a pinch of xantham gum (unless already in the flour mix)
IBS – leave the garlic out and go easy on frying oil when making these potato pancakes. You can also swap the milk for plant based one and use gluten -free flour if you have difficulty digesting these.
What else you can serve this recipe with (side dishes), perfect with, Recipes that go well with this recipe
How to serve potato pancakes
Traditional Czech potato pancakes (bramboraky) are usually served as a side dish or a snack eaten on its own.
You can use bramboraky as a side dish with various meat stews, fried cheese or any other meat dish, which you would normally serve with potatoes.
This depends on how big you make these pancakes, but I usually get about 12 hand-sided potato pancakes from this recipe size.
can I scale up or down this recipe?
Yes, absolutely! Whilst this is a simple enough recipe, it requires a fair amount of standing around a frying pan waiting for the pancakes to be ready. This is why I often double up the recipe and then freeze 1/2 or more of the potato pancakes batch for later.
This saves me quite a lot of time and I know that I have a good side dish or a snack in the freezer if I don’t have the time to cook.
You can also half this recipe. To do this you have the option to either keep the one egg in and add less milk or use the leftover equivalent of a 1/2 egg (for example if you are making an omelette in the morning you can save 1/2 egg for this recipe to be made later on).
Can you make bramboraky in advance?
Yes, absolutely! You can make potato pancakes in advance and keep them in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
If you know you are not going to eat them all within that time, just freeze them – ideally on the same day you’ve made them.
How to store this recipe if you have any leftovers
The best way to keep your ‘bramboraky’ is in an air-tight container (especially if you’ve used a lot of garlic) and in the fridge. Potato pancakes should be fine for about 2-3 days, but I’ve often had them for longer than that and they were fine too.
How to freeze potato pancakes
Alternatively, freeze the ‘bramboraky’ – potato pancakes on the same day you’ve made them, making sure that they are completely cold before you put them in the freezer.
The best way to freeze these potato pancakes is to place them individually on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and freeze them as they are.
When they are completely frozen, stack them up into a freezer-suitable container or a large plastic bag using pieces of greaseproof paper in between each bramborak.
This way, you’ll end up with bramboraky that you can take out individually and they won’t be stuck together.
Your potato pancakes should last in the freezer for a minimum of 3 months.
How to re-heat bramboraky
15- 30 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick or you can also heat them up in the oven at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for about 5-7 minutes.
If you don’t have access to microwave or oven, you can also re-heat the bramboraky in a frying pan by carefully warming up the pan with the pancakes. You don’t need to add any oil and don’t need to fry them again, just gently warm through on a low heat, turning them until they are hot again.
Potato Pancakes (Bramboraky)
- 500 grams potatoes 1 pound
- 60 ml milk 1/4 cup
- 75 grams all purpose (plain) flour 1/2 cup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons carraway seeds optional
- 2 teaspoons marjoram to taste
- oil vegetable, sunflower or lard
- Peel all the potatoes and grate them with a fine to medium grater plate.
- Drain as much water as possible from the potatoes using your hand, colander or even a clean teatowel.
- Add the milk and egg and mix all together.
- Add the flour, your choice of spices, crushed garlic, salt and ground pepper and mix.
- Heat up a large frying pan with vegetable oil or lard and start frying your potato pancakes – few at a time. Add just enough batter to make them less than 1 cm thick (1/4 inch). Fry on both sides until golden brown with crispy edges. This should take about 2 minutes on each side, depending on how deep your oil is (the deeper the oil is the quicker the potato pancakes fry).
- Serve hot with your choice of salad, sausages or main meal of goulash.
This blog post was originally written on 3 May 2021 and last updated on 15 January 2023