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Savoring the Unique Flavors of Labskaus: A North German Delicacy

Hello there, foodies! Today, we will be embarking on a culinary journey to the heart of Northern Germany, to savor a dish that has been warming hearts and bellies for centuries: Labskaus. This traditional meal, with its rich history and robust flavors, deserves to be in the spotlight. So, put on your chef’s hat and get ready to explore the delightful world of Labskaus.

What is Labskaus?

Labskaus is a culinary gem hailing from the northern regions of Germany, particularly Hamburg. At its core, it’s a hearty, rustic meal made from corned beef, beetroot, potatoes, and onions, all mashed together to create a unique, savory dish. The vibrant pink color of Labskaus, thanks to the beetroot, is a feast for the eyes, while the blend of flavors tantalizes your taste buds.

The Fascinating History of Labskaus

The history of Labskaus dates back to the 18th century, a staple for sailors who needed food that could be preserved for long voyages. The ingredients were easy to store and lasted for extended periods, making it a perfect sea-faring meal. Over time, this sailor’s fare has evolved into a beloved dish in Northern German cuisine and has found its way into gourmet kitchens and food festivals.

Tips and Tricks to help you make the best Labskaus

  1. Quality Ingredients: The taste of your Labskaus heavily depends on the quality of the ingredients. Make sure to use fresh beetroot, high-quality corned beef, and fresh potatoes for the best results.
  2. Corned Beef: For a more authentic taste, you can cook your own corned beef instead of using canned. It requires more time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it!
  3. Beetroot: You can use both canned and fresh beetroot. If you choose fresh, make sure to cook it until it’s tender. Keep in mind that fresh beetroot may require more preparation time.
  4. Texture: Traditionally, Labskaus has a mashed, almost porridge-like consistency. However, if you prefer a chunkier texture, you can roughly chop the ingredients instead of mashing them.
  5. Flavor Balance: Labskaus has a unique flavor profile. The tangy pickles and sweet beetroot balance the saltiness of the corned beef. Feel free to adjust the quantities of each ingredient according to your taste preferences.
  6. Serving: Labskaus is traditionally served with a fried egg on top and pickled herring or rollmops on the side. If you’re not a fan of pickled fish, you can serve it with pickled cucumbers or pickled beetroot instead.
  7. Cooking Time: Don’t rush the cooking process. Allow the flavors to meld together by cooking the mixture on a low heat for a longer period.
  8. Leftovers: Labskaus tastes even better the next day when the flavors have had more time to meld together. Store it in the fridge and reheat before serving.

Remember, the best part of cooking is making a dish that suits your personal taste. Feel free to experiment with Labskaus and create your own version of this traditional North German delicacy. Enjoy your culinary adventure!

Variations of Labskaus

Labskaus is a dish that has been adapted and tweaked in many ways across different regions and even households. Below are some of the most popular variations of this hearty North German dish:

  1. Norwegian Labskaus (Lapskaus): In Norway, the dish is often made with fresh meat like beef or pork, and a variety of root vegetables including potatoes, carrots, and rutabaga. The ingredients are cubed, not mashed, resulting in a chunky stew.
  2. Liver Labskaus: In some variations, liver is used instead of or in addition to corned beef. This version has a stronger, more distinct flavor.
  3. Vegetarian Labskaus: For those who do not eat meat, a vegetarian Labskaus can be made using a meat substitute or by simply increasing the quantity of vegetables, and adding mushrooms or lentils for a protein boost.
  4. Fish Labskaus: In some coastal regions, fish like herring is added directly into the Labskaus mix, offering a unique, seafood twist to the traditional recipe.
  5. Labskaus with Apples and Prunes: This is a slightly sweeter version of Labskaus, often found in Denmark. The addition of apples and prunes provides a delightful contrast to the savory ingredients.
  6. Labskaus with Bacon: Some variations of Labskaus include bacon, which adds a smoky flavor to the dish.

Remember, one of the beautiful aspects of traditional dishes like Labskaus is the room for personalization. Feel free to experiment and make the dish your own!

Delighting in Labskaus

The flavors of Labskaus are a perfect blend of earthy, tangy, and savory. The beetroot adds a sweet, earthy tone, while the corned beef provides a robust, meaty flavor. The gherkins offer a delightful tang, and the fried egg on top creates a perfect finish to this hearty dish.

Labskaus is more than just a meal; it’s a taste of Northern German history and culture that you can enjoy right in your kitchen. So why not give this traditional Labskaus recipe a try? It’s a culinary adventure you won’t want to miss.

Remember, food is about exploration and enjoyment. Stay tuned for more exciting journeys into the world of international cuisine. Until next time, happy cooking!

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Hearty North German dish with corned beef, beetroot, and potatoes.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: German
Keyword: beetroot, Corned Beef, Labskaus
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 365kcal


  • 2.5 cups Corned Beef
  • 4 cups Potatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • 4 Pickled Gherkins
  • 2.5 cups Beetroot cooked & peeled (use gloves to avoid staining)
  • 4 large Eggs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Pickled herring and rollmops optional for serving


  • Begin by boiling the potatoes in a large pot until they're tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, drain and mash them. Set aside.
    4 cups Potatoes
  • Dice the onions and gherkins, and chop the corned beef into small pieces.
    2 Onions, 4 Pickled Gherkins, 2.5 cups Corned Beef
  • In a large pan, sauté the onions over medium heat until they're golden and fragrant. This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Add the corned beef and gherkins to the pan with the onions, cooking for another 5 minutes until the beef is heated through.
  • Dice the cooked beetroot and add it to the pan. Stir in the mashed potatoes and mix everything together.
    2.5 cups Beetroot
  • Season your Labskaus with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Salt & Pepper
  • While the Labskaus is cooking, fry the eggs in a separate pan to your liking.
    4 large Eggs
  • Serve the Labskaus hot, with a fried egg placed on top of each serving. If desired, you can also serve with pickled herring or rollmops on the side.
    Pickled herring and rollmops


Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 953mg | Potassium: 1451mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 38IU | Vitamin C: 69mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 4mg

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