Rösti, a naturally gluten-free Swiss Tradition

by Jenn on March 6, 2011

in Breakfast,Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains

Rösti with Asparagus Flowers!

If there were any dish the could compete with fondue as the most popular food in Suisse, I think it would be rösti.  Actually, I’m pretty sure rösti is probably more common than fondue in many places.  Rösti is essentially a fried potato pancake, and the possibilities for customization are truly endless.  Several regions en Suisse have their own versions, but the simplest is comprised of simply grated potatoes, salt, and some type of fat for frying.  In restaurants I have been to, it’s not uncommon to see rösti served with meat, or fresh green vegetables.  With the sight of beautiful asparagus finally reappearing again  I knew they would be perfect for our rösti.

Tree buds

Springtime brings with it change and hope, color and light.  Walking around outside in the bright sunlight this weekend, I felt like I was coming out of a deep hibernation, finally waking up again.   Really, I’m just happy that Winter is done soon.  It hasn’t been the most intense weather-wise for us in Europe, however it has been draining, and an overall emotionally exhausting time.  But with the flower blossoms and tree buds, sunshine streaming through the morning mist and birds chirping again comes asparagus, one of the first greens of the changing seasons. Seeing asparagus in the market just brought a smile to my face and I know things are looking up :)

Rösti with Asparagus

Rösti is a rather simple dish, and yet over the past year my husband and I have tried and failed countless times at making successful rösti.  We’ve even bought bags of the pre-made mixes thinking to ourselves,  “well maybe we can’t cook and grate the potatoes in just the right way, or figure out the precise amount of oil needed.”  That didn’t work so we went back to cooking from scratch again.  We’ve tried using different pans, we’ve tried different flipping methods, anything we could think of to make this rather simple dish work.  Our biggest issues? Getting the pancakes to actually hold their shape.  No matter what I tried, I always ended up with just a tasty potato hash.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but not rösti.


But my husband and I finally figured it out – so in case you are also rösti challenged, here are a few tips that should help you out –

Rösti lessons, learned (some the hard way)
Lesson 1 – one MUST use non-stick or castiron pan
Lesson 2 – it helps to stir potatoes around a bit at first, and then once they’ve cooked a little form into shape
Lesson 3 – a lid does wonders to help them cook in time
Lesson 4 – do NOT flip it too early, and use the sliding plate trick which requires more coordination than I have
Lesson 5 – understand some things are best left to others while you just photograph the pretty end result
Lesson 6 – no matter what, fried potato anything is bound to be delicious no matter how it looks

For flavors, you can pretty much add whatever you want to rösti.  Some versions are made with cheese, even apples, some with bacon, or herbs, so be creative.  And accompany it with whatever you like.  Can be a great way to start off the morning with eggs and bacon, or an accompaniment to a dinner.  Nearly every region of Switzerland has their own spin on this classic dish. So go ahead and make something traditional, or try a variation that is all your own. Mine is below, and is particularly tasty with fresh asparagus :)

Maybe Springtime is trying to arrive.... Rösti with Asparagus

Also submitted to – Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays


Swiss Rösti

Preptime: 1 hour
Cooktime: around 20 -30 min per rösti
Yield: 4-6 rösti

  • 3 kg. potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 200g gruyère cheese, grated
  • 100g diced lardons (i.e. bacon), cooked
  • pepper & nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • butter for frying

*can be dairy free if you omit cheese and use oil instead of butter for frying


  1. Boil the potatoes until they are about halfway done – they should still be firm.  Drain and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, take them out of the fridge and peel and then grate them.   A food processor works well for this.  Once grated, press them against a strainer to squeeze the water out.
  3. To a large mixing bowl, add the grated potatoes, garlic, onions, cheese, lardons, and a healthy amount of pepper and nutmeg.  Mix with your hands.  Then add in an egg and use your hands to mix, so that everything is evenly coated.
  4. In a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet, heat up and melt a few tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat – you at least want the entire bottom of the pan to be covered.
  5. You can make large rösti or smaller individual ones, the essential steps are the same.  Add potatoes to the pan, let cook a couple minutes, then turn them and let cook a couple minutes more.  Then use your spatula to shape the potatoes into pancake form and cover, continuing to cook until the bottom has formed a brown crust (around 15 minutes depending on your size/shape/heat).
  6. At this point you need to manage the flip.  Remove the lid, and use your spatula to *gently* loosen the rösti from the pan if necessary.  Place on top of your rösti a plate, upsidedown, of similar (or larger) size.  Lift the skillet and plate together, draining any excess liquid off into a bowl, then continue to turn the skillet completely upside down so that plate is now right side up and underneath everything.  You can now take off the skillet and return it to the stove, and the rösti should be completely flipped onto the plate.
  7. The other side of the rösti should be cooked because of being covered by the lid during the cooking process and should now be able to be served.  If not, you can re-add melted butter the to skillet and very carefully slide the rösti off of the plate and back onto the skillet to brown the other side.  Repeat the flip process, then serve.

*Allergy Note – Some rösti recipes don’t use any egg at all either, so it is totally possible to omit the egg if you need to.  Also, know that when dining out and ordering rösti, it is still worth asking that no flour was used in the preparation.  I have come across a couple recipes that blend a little flour into the eggs to mix with the potatoes.  Though I have yet to encounter a glutenicious version in a restaurant so far en Suisse, it’s worth checking just in case.