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Matjes Herring in Cream Sauce

Matjes Herring German

Here comes a typical spring meal from the North: Matjes Herring in Cream Sauce! The word “Matjes” comes from the Dutch and it means “maiden”. It refers to the young virgin herrings that are used for this meal. They have a very soft texture and a mild taste and are usually caught in the springtime before they mate.

Matjes Herring

The herring needs to be in the sauce overnight, which makes it even more soft and nice to eat. I am not sure if you can buy this kind of herring anywhere here in the US. I can imagine that the east coast has them but down here in Texas I haven’t come across such herring and had to settle for a common herring in wine sauce. Better than nothing, right? They are however more intense in the taste.


Matjes Herring Video


Side for this Dish

Since the spring also comes with new, small potatoes, the Matjes Herring is usually enjoyed with some fresh, new potatoes. We cook them in their skin and while the Herring and sauce are cold, the potatoes are supposed to be hot. It’s a perfect mix, just trust me on that!


Herring Matjes sauce


Matjes Herring is a great meal on a hot summer day, too. It’s easy to prepare ahead and the next day all you need to do is boiling some potatoes. It can’t get much easier!

Matjes Herring German

Matjes - Hering in Cream Sauce

Herring in a cold yogurt and cream sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dinner, Fish, Lunch (or Dinner)
Cuisine German, Schleswig-Holstein / North
Servings 4 people


  • 1 jar herring or 8 herring filets
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 apples (400g)
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup + a little cream (250 ml)
  • 150 g pickles
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar


  • Start with cutting the onion into halves and then slice it.
  • Set up a pot of water and add 1/4 tsp. salt, bring to a boil.
  • Add the onions to the boiling water and let cook for 1 to 3 minutes, then remove them from the pot.
  • Peel and cut the apples into small cubes (see video).
  • Cut the pickles into slices.
  • Mix the cream, yoghurt and sour cream in a large bowl.
  • Add salt, pepper, lemon juice and sugar.
  • Next, add the onion slices, the apples and mix it well.
  • Wash the herring and cut into 1 inch size, then add to the sauce and mix well.
  • Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  • Enjoy cold with fresh boiled hot potatoes.


Matjes Herring German
You can also enjoy this as a herring salad if you use less of the cream. Instead, use a little more sour cream. Enjoy on bread or as a side or snack.
Herring filet
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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15 thoughts on “Matjes Herring in Cream Sauce”

  1. Hello Barbara , i do not have a recipe for you , i just like eating others LOL ,i am from the UK , I was` very interested in what Trudy had to say , the reason being , my mother in law only died a few days` ago , she was` from East Prussia , and i remember her speaking of the recipe that Trudy speaks about , i was` left wondering ` what town in East Prussia did her mother live , Trudy’s MAY 3, 2020 AT 11:51 PM

  2. hi, great recipe as always.
    if i use fresh herring will i need to cook it and what is the best way, ,please x

    1. I’m afraid I don*t know. I’ve always only bought the prepared herring that comes in a brine in Germany. Here in the US I use herring that is in a wine sauce and I just drain and rinse it. I just bought a jar at Aldi and made some Matjes two days ago.

  3. Werner Peters

    Love your site. I live in Birmingham, Alabama, which unfortunately doesn’t have much of a German/American food scene. Matjes herring are an old favorite of mine! Nowadays I have to make due with Vita herring in wine sauce (also come in cream sauce). Gonna give you’re cream sauce recipe a try soon along with small golden potatoes in skin. Mach’s gut!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you Barbara!
    Moin moin! I am originally from Kiel, Germany and now live in Alabama. I remember “Matjes in Sahnesoße mit Pellkartoffeln” very well.
    This looks very yummy and I will try it soon. I just don’t remember that many apples, just a few.
    Fortunately, we have a small European grocery store here in Huntsville that carries a lot of German food, including Matjes :-)

    Liebe Grüße,

    1. Ich kenne Kiel recht gut, habe dort in den 90’ern viel Zeit verbracht. Schöne Stadt und schöne Strände in der Gegend. Viel Spaß mit den Matjes und guten Appetit!

      1. Dann hätten sich unsere Wege rein theoretisch kreuzen können, da ich 1993 in die Staaten gezogen bin ?
        Ja, ich vermisse das Meer und die frische Luft immer noch und freu jedesmal auf einen Besuch. Ich esse hier auch oft was, was mich an die Heimat erinnert: Hering, Scholle, Schwarzbrot, Brötchen, Schnitzel, Bauernfrühstück, Rouladen, Gurkensalat, Schmalzbrot, Salzlakritz, Schwartau Marmelade, Rote Grütze oder Waldmeister Götterspeise mit Vanillesoße, Haribo Gummibärchen (die echten) ?
        Und jetzt hab ich wieder Hunger… ha ha

        1. Ja, vielleicht haben sich unsere Wege damals gekreuzt :-)
          Unsere Einkaufsliste / Speisekarte hier sieht ganz ähnlich aus. Was ich hier aber wirklich vermisse und nirgends bekomme sind Nordseekrabben und Fischfrikadellen. :-)

  5. John Engstrom

    Swedish Matjes herring is available from Skansen and Abba fom a variety of online sources. I prefer the Skansen because it is packed in glass versus metal, but it is more expensive

    1. I haven’t heard of Skansen but I for sure know Abba fish products. I too prefer glass over metal and will keep my eyes open if I can find this brand here in Texas. Thank you for your information.

  6. Hello Barbara,
    Love watching your videos.
    I’m in Canada and buy salted vacuum packed herring imported from Iceland. The filets have to be soaked in water overnight to remove most of the salt, before making a pickling solution, by combining water, vinegar, seasonings, sugar, sliced onions and garlic in a saucepan, bringing it to a boil. It’s my late mother’s recipe, who was originally from East Prussia.
    I’m familiar with salted Matjes herring, but our German deli only imports from Iceland now.

    I’m curious; where do you live in Texas?
    We are “winter Texans”, spending 3-4 month on South Padre Island. In fact, we just returned home a couple of weeks ago.

  7. Martjes is great with hot potatoes. A varietion I used was to reduce apple to one, add sliced Olive and Gouda cheese. Good recipe.

    1. Lol, if I tell this anyone in Hamburg, people will be shocked! But if you like it that way I think there is nothing that speaks against it. It is probably a German & Mediterranean fusion recipe :-)

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5 from 1 vote
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