Labskaus is a well-known dish in northern Germany. Like so many others, it arose from adverse circumstances. First mentioned in the 16th century, Labskaus is primarily a dish for seafarers who transformed the hard salted meat often carried on board into an edible meal for scurvy sufferers.

At that time, the puréed corned beef was simply served with potatoes that had also been puréed. Due to shore excursions by the often toothless sailors, the dish now enjoyed great popularity on the mainland as well. It was here that people began to add other ingredients.

Today’s version is still made of cooked salted meat, plus maties, beetroot, gherkins and onions. Everything is mashed together and stewed in lard and boiled with the cooking and cucumber water. In addition, boiled and mashed potatoes are often mixed in and the labsaus is served with pickled cucumber, fried egg and Bismarck herring or rollmops.

Labskaus with rollmops, spiegelei and beetroot on a plate.

Recipe Labskaus

A traditional dish from northern Germany
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Course: main dish
Cuisine: Northern Germany
Keyword: savoury
Difficulty: Experienced
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 2 servings

Ingredients & Shopping list

  • 1 tin Corned Beef (ca. 340 g)
  • 2 onions
  • 500 g potatoes (floury cooking)
  • Beetroot in a jar
  • Gherkins
  • bay leaves, cloves, salt, pepper
  • Oil or butter
  • Eggs
  • Maties fillets


  • Corned beef in salted water with a larded onion (whole, peeled onion with a bay leaf and clove inserted) for about 40 minutes. simmer. 
  • After approx. 20 min. add the peeled potatoes.
  • Dice the other onion and fry it in a pan with a little oil.
  • After 40 min. remove the larded onion from the water and drain the potatoes and corned beef into a fine sieve. Keep some water back.
  • Mash potatoes, meat and sautéed onion in a saucepan until mushy. Use the cooking water to determine the consistency of the porridge.
  • Season to taste with pepper and salt.

Tips & Hints

Serve Labskaus with fried egg, pickled gherkin, beetroot and maties.
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