Traditional Irish Potato Cakes

Potato Cakes – are they Irish? I grew up with them but I suspect even cooks that weren’t Irish made these beautiful little cakes when they had left over mashed potatoes. What I do know is that Potato Cakes are delicious, perhaps better than the original mashed potatoes. Each little cake is an individual, but each has a delicate, brown crust that once opened reveals the creamy inside.

Traditional Irish Potato Cakes – each has its own personality
Traditional Irish Potato Cakes – each has its own personality

This is a “recipe” that’s not really a recipe, and here’s why. Left over mashed potatoes are always a huge variable in this “recipe.” Every cook makes mashed potatoes differently, and every mashed potato behaves differently in a potato cake.

  • Some are mashed potaoes are chunky, others are thick and stiff, others, still, more refined. Some are mixed till they barely hold together, others are quite starchy, and some may even be beaten or whipped.
  • Mashed potatoes vary in the amount of butter, and many have other add-ins, perhaps cheese or cream cheese, caramelized onion, etc.
  • Some mashed have milk, some half and half, some buttermilk, and all in different amounts.

So likely as not, you’ll have to give up the idea of a “recipe” that produces the perfect potato cake each and every time. You’ll have to tap into the inner cook and feel your way through this recipe and appreciate each little potato cake as having its own personality. Some will hold together well, others flop and ooze…they’re still going to taste great!

So I can get you close…very close…the rest is up to you!

Pricing of $1.10 is based on sale price potatoes $1.99 for five pounds, and a quick guess at the ingredients that go into the mashed potatoes along with the ingredients for the potato cakes.

Traditional Irish Potato Cakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup or more of flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Optional Ingredients: Chives, Cheese (better if in small chunks than grated), sautéed onion, sliced green onion, left over corned beef, cooked bacon.

Preheat skillet over medium heat, add butter. Mix all ingredients except butter in a small bowl. The best way to mix is with very clean hands. This batter should be quite thick, not creamy. If necessary add a bit more flour.

The amount of flour is going to be dependent on how creamy and how rich the mashed potatoes are – the more butter, cheese, etc. in the potato, the more flour will be needed. Do try to add as little flour as possible, though. Better to have a potato cake that runs a bit when heated than one that tastes of a lot of flour.

Mix right before frying and keep the potato mixture cold, if possible; by the time the outside is nicely browned and crunchy, the inside should be heated through and there is less chance they’ll become too “oozy” by the time they are done.

Pick up about a quarter of the batter in one hand and form into a patty, much like one would form a hamburger patty. Place it into one palm and press and turn into a uniform, round, flat shape.

Place into hot pan; brown very slowly in the hot butter, turning once. Best if eaten at once.


  • I should have weighed to get an idea, but I’m guessing if one needed to cook potatoes for this recipe instead of using leftover, probably about 4 medium potatoes, about a pound and a half, would make two cups.
  • These little cakes may be dipped in flour, or dipped in egg, then in flour if desired. They may also go through a breading process of dipping in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.
  • These may be made with left over boiled potatoes, also. Simply mash, mix with a bit of butter and milk and proceed with the recipe.
  • This is a great recipe for “planned” left overs – simply make extra mashed potatoes so there will be plenty to make Potato Cakes.
  • If one has left over mashed potatoes, but doesn’t wish to make these right away, simply form (make them rather thin) place them on plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, bag for later use. No need to thaw, simply cook as directed.

Recipe made March 2014

3 thoughts on “Traditional Irish Potato Cakes”

  1. Pingback: Mashed Potato Bowl

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