HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


potato pancakes from leftover mashed?

When I was a kid my mom made potato pancakes out of leftover mashed potatoes. I really liked them, but never paid any attention how she did it. Now I am getting so bored with our sides that I thought about the pancakes, and tried a couple ways, but they were a disaster. I got some boxed mix, and it was okay, but . . . I tried taking some and mixing an egg in them, then fried them, but that wasn't very good, either. What should I be doing?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Disclosure: I've never made them out of anything but grated. However, I see a few possible problems. First,too much moisture. Second, too little texture. My mother in law puts the potatoes thru a meat grinder when making her latkes so they are finely textured but not pureed. I think you could prob do this with fresh potatoes but I'd avoid the boxed stuff. You need to add a little matza meal (in my house - but you could prob use bread crumbs if that isn't a pantry staple for you!), grated onion, egg and then fry. They should hold together in the palm of your hand and NOT be watery. You need to use a lot of oil, more than you think you'll need. I am always shocked at how much oil I use when making latkes. Can't recall the exact recipe I use but it'a combo of Cook's Illustrated and Joan Nathan. Oh,and plenty of salt! I also add chopped scallion & parsley for color

    1 Reply
    1. re: doc_k55

      I know this was posted sometime ago, but in searching for leftover recipes today. I saw this.
      My Nana used to make the best and what she did was:
      She only added corn starch to the potato's (that's it) then formed the patties and has a little extra on side on wax paper if still moist and just added a little more to each side if needed.
      Then just fry them in a little vegtable oil.
      No egg , No bread crumbs.
      They are the best nice light crispy crust and I always loved them with beef gravy or just sour cream and put the salt and pepper on after. She died 2 yrs ago. So, glad she taught me how. She was Irish and lived thru the depression so she knew her potato's! I think this is what you may have been searching for?

    2. I've only made potato pancakes with grated bits so I can't help there.

      Other suggestions for your leftover mashed potatoes: Perogies filled w mashed and cheese or sauteed onion...or as a topping for Shepherd's Pie or maybe make potato soup?

      1. My mom did the same thing. You need to add flour also to your mix of potatoes and egg. I also like some grated onion. Oh the memories

        1. I've made these off and on, trying to reproduce what my father used to do (I didn't pay attention either), with mixed success.
          He did something with bacon grease, milk, egg, and flour.
          He would start by adding half the milk and all the bacon grease to the MP, then mix the egg, flour, and remaining milk separately, then would mix the two together and come up with a thick batter. How much of each ingredient I have no idea.
          Then he would cook them over low or medium low heat until golden brown. Called them flannel cakes.

          1. Mix with flour and a bit of egg. Pat out to about 5mm thick, then fry.

            Part of classic British "full" breakfast - we call them potato cakes.

            1. Are you using a boxed mix for your mashed potatoes? Perhaps that's the reason it's not tasting so good.

              I used to do this with leftover mashed potatoes when I was a kid. Mashed potatoes was my usual Saturday morning breakfast. If there were leftovers, I would make mashed potato cakes for lunch. I've always used egg as a binder. If your potatoes have too much moisture, flour would be necessary. And using a non-stick skillet with plenty of oil helped as it would brown more so it wouldn't fall apart when you flipped them over.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Miss Needle

                No boxed mix for the mashed! I just tried a box mix for potato pancakes. I didn't add flour, and it seems that is the problem!

              2. If you put a lot of milk in your mashed potatoes, you'll need to add something else to them to keep them firmer when you make pancakes. Otherwise, they'll be really REALLY soft. I'd add flour, but if you have instant potatoes hanging around, they'd work even better. I just mince an onion, add S&P, and whatever else happens to be in the fridge that might go well.

                1. I add a bit of egg to the potatoes, then dredge in cornmeal- gives a nice crunch to the outside.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DGresh

                    I coat mine in panko to get a crunch.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Do you grind the panko to a finer consistency than what it comes in? I bought some panko, but still haven't used it, because it looks a bit thick to me.

                      1. re: danhole

                        No, no, do not grind, or you will lose the superior crunch.

                    1. re: Sharuf

                      Actually, Sharuf, this sound more like what she did than anything else, because I do remember her grating some raw potato! But the recipe doesn't look right. It says to cook the potato and then grate it, but I know she didn't do that.

                    2. Or mix with leftover cabbage and fry to make what, in the UK, we call "bubble & squeak". Good with leftover roast beef or pork and gravy. Or sausages & ketchup.

                      1. Potato cakes made from mash potatoes is a traditional Ecuadorian dish, called llapingachos. The recipe in this link mashes the potatoes without any extra liquid, and then chills the balls of mash a bit. They are then stuffed with a bit cheese and fried. The usual topping is a savory peanut sauce.


                        This CIA recipe also looks good (including video):

                        A problem with using leftover mashed potatoes is that they often are on the soupy side. Egg works as binder, but also adds liquid. A nonstick skillet helps a lot, though clearly they can be made without this aid. Chilling in the fridge is also not traditional.

                        If the mix is too wet it spreads, and is impossible to turn. Without the nonstick or enough oil, a crust forms, but sticks to the pan.

                        I don't know if potato type (starchy v waxy) helps or not. The usual Ecuadorian potato is yellow, suggesting that medium waxy Yukon Golds are a good choice (but that is just a guess).


                        1. This is DH's "secret" recipe for leftover mashed potatoes.
                          Roll golf ball sized balls of very cold mashed potatoes. Cut dime size pieces of cream cheese and dust with cayenne pepper. Insert the cream cheese into the potato balls.
                          Dip in beaten eggs and dredge with a combination of seasoned bread crumbs and flour.
                          I don't have a deep fat fryer, so I put about 1" of oil in a dutch oven and fry the potato balls, turning to brown evenly. He called these Peruvian Potates and they are always a big hit.

                          1. Plain cold from the fridge mashed potatoes can be formed into small patties and immediately sauteed in hot oil. I am assuming the potatoes are stiff when taken from the fridge, and I am assuming you used real potatoes and mashed them at least the day before. You want to sautee them in oil hot enough to form a bit of a crust, Too little heat and they fall apart. I use med high on my cooktop, and I use a non-stick skillet.

                            I too ate this in my chilhood, and taught myself how to duplicate it. Have fun!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sueatmo

                              This is the way that my mom makes them, and under the same terms: kind of stiff, cold, mashed the day before, and in *enough hot oil*, on a non-stick, on high.

                              I've had more or less success in making them. Something I learned from Amanda Hesser that helped is to resist the temptation to peek under the potatoes while they're cooking, and don't move them around a lot. Otherwise, the crust doesn't form, and you wind up with smeary oily mashed potatoes with bits of fried brown crud in them.

                              1. Hi, I am new as of today and think I may have replied to the person under orig.
                                My Nana made the best, All she did was add Corn Starch to the potato's,that's it. No egg , No bread crumbs. She would form them and keep some extra corn starch on side on wax paper if still moist and just dab in one more time before frying in a little vegtable oil. Nice light crispy coat,
                                And I would love to eat them with beef gravy or just sour cream. And add the salt and pepper after to each's taste. She was Irish and grew up during the depression, So she knew her potatos! She died 2 yrs ago and so glad I watch her cook this and many other's.
                                This may be what you were looking for? I know this was posted some time ago, but in my search for some Thanksgiving leftovers ran across this post.

                                1. Some of these responses are confusing potato cakes and latkes. Latkes are made from raw grated/pureed potato, egg, a binder like flour or matzoh meal, and sometimes onion. Danhole seems to be referring not to latkes but to fried patties of mashed potato.
                                  The potato pancake mix is kind of a bastard hybrid of the two, and not as good as either.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    and any of these options fried in duck fat vaults them onto a whole new level.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Your right, greygarious. I should have noted to danhole , my Nana's where you just add the cornstarch is just left over mashed potatos. Potato Pancake. plain and simple. Keeps them from falling apart.
                                      In my home of 2 picky little eater's.. one (no skins allowed) other (no pepper allowed) ugg
                                      I season after on top. And let all add what they want.
                                      I like anything potato, no matter what there called. lol (smile) yum!

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        My mother made wonderful latkes (just like everyone's mother, she made the best). They are made from raw grated potatoes. When she made mashed potatoes, though, we'd whine for her to make extra, so she could make CHREMZELS (how it sounds, not necessarily how it's spelled) the next day. I don't remember how she did it, I just remember how good they tasted, and how the question: Which is better, latkes or chremzels, could never be answered in our house. When I've attempted to recreate them, I mostly add an egg (if I have a lot of potatoes) and maybe some bread crumbs, or sometimes even nothing if I think the consistency will work. People have mentioned what I find to do the trick: enough oil, hot enough, let it sit without stirring or disturbing until it develops a golden brown crust, then turn. Only one turning! I'm getting hungry ----