Recipe: Bern-style rösti

After my lengthy post Potatoes: endless varieties in Switzerland of 14 September 2009, it is only logical that I give you a few ideas about how to use all those varieties of potatoes.

I’ll start by the thoroughly Swiss dish, rösti.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Anker Bern.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Anker Bern.

Rösti is definitely a Swiss dish, but there as many variations as there are cantons in Switzerland. The Restaurant Anker Bern in Bern lists nearly 30 different versions on its menu. The main difference lies in whether to use raw or cooked potatoes, as well as in what is added to the potatoes.

Historically, rösti was breakfast food

At the beginning of the 19th century, rösti was the main breakfast fare in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and probably started in the rural areas around Zurich. They ate it with café au lait. Gradually it moved south towards the Alps, then to Bern where it was given the name it now bears, “rösti”. From Bern it moved towards the French-speaking areas, toward canton Vaud, where it eventually replaced their traditional morning soup.

Recipe for Bern-style rösti

Rösti à la Bernoise, or Bern-style rösti, is made with potatoes cooked in their skins; the potatoes are cooked the day before, so that they are cold and can be easily grated.

The first thing you need to purchase is a special rösti potato grater, called a kartofell in German and râpe à rösti in French. What differentiates it from other graters is its big holes. Smaller holes will give you an effect more like American-style hashbrowns.

This recipe is inspired by the Restaurant Anker Bern’s recipe.

Cook 1 kg of potatoes the day before. I would suggest steaming them in a double-walled Kuhn Rikon Durotherm pan, with as little water as possible, so that they don’t absorb too much water and maintain a maximum of their vitamins. Cook them until they are done, but still quite quite firm. Put in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, peel the potatoes, by hand if possible. Use a rösti grater to grate into large strips, as long as possible. Mix with 1 tsp salt.

Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of lard (saindoux) (the pork butcher or regular butcher can sell this in small quantities) in a cast iron or aluminum frying pan, such as a Swiss Diamond.

Buy a thick slab of bacon (lard) from the pork butcher, around 50 g. Chop into small bits, removing any hard rind.

Add bacon and potatoes to frying pan. Mix slowly, turning gently from time to time with a rubber spatula (metal will scratch a non-stick surface).

After it has started to cook, mash it down with the spatula, so that it forms a large “pancake”. Lower to medium low heat and cover. If it starts to burn, lower heat even further.

After 10 minutes, cover pan with a serving dish of the appropriate size and turn rösti onto a plate, upside down. Carefully slide back into frying pan, with the unbrowned side down, and cover.

The rösti should be golden brown on both sides.

After 10 minutes, pour 2 tablespoons of milk over the rösti. Cook for 10 more minutes. Gently slide it onto a plate and serve.

Firm (but not extra-firm), type B potatoes, such as the Sirtema, Christa, Ostara, Agria, Urgenta, Bintje and Désirée varieties, are ideal for this dish.

Restaurant Anker Bern

B. and S. Bill

Kornhausplatz 16

3011 Bern

T. +41 (0)31 311 11 13

F. +41 (0)31 311 11 71

Opening hours:

Monday-Thursday: 7:30-23:30 H

Friday-Saturday: 7:30-0:30 H

Sunday: 9:30-18 H

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  1. I still love this, after all these years! Thanks for the recipe and a reminder that it’s been too long since we’ve made this at home. And one of my household treasures is a beautiful rösti plate, gently curved, bought in Bern – well worth the cost for its beauty and the way it makes it easier to slide the half-cooked dish back into the pan! Definitely a great present or souvenir, available at the Heimatwerk handcrafted goods shops in Switzerland, including one at Geneva airport, I believe.

  2. Joe Sills says:

    This looks real good. I’ll have to go into Austin to Central Market and see if I can find the types of potato’s you mention, else I’ll have to use what I can find here in central Tejas.

  3. Jonell Galloway says:

    This is a Swiss classic. You have to eat it on a day when you can allow yourself to throw it all to the wind — cholesterol, weight control, balanced diet, etc. — and just enjoy a hearty dish.

    These days, we often eat this when we stop off for lunch on the ski slopes. That way, the potatoes give you carbohydrates for energy, and fat to keep you warm! Plus if you keep skiing after lunch, you will burn most of the calories.

    I don’t think you’ll find many of these varieties of potatoes in Texas however. Take a look at to find U.S. varieties available in your area and that offer the same qualities, i.e. firm but not extra-firm.

  4. […] My first potato plant has just poked its head above the mound where it grows, and my thoughts immediately turned to that Swiss favourite, roesti. […]

  5. Steel Grating, Aluminum Grating says:

    This is a Swiss classic. You have to eat it on a day when you can allow yourself to throw it all to the wind and just enjoy a hearty dish. I really like this post thanks you are sharing a good article post thanks again.