My grandmother’s delicious potato knishes are flaky and melt-in-your-mouth despite the shortcuts that cut the recipe time in half. A great appetizer or side. Don’t count on leftovers!
Potato knishes are a Jewish classic. They are essentially little bites of mashed potatoes wrapped in a dough and baked to a golden brown. My grandmother, born in 1895, made them for special occasions and I loved them. In the 70’s when I was in University, I had a craving for potato knishes, so I called my grandmother and asked her how to make them. I braced for the labor-intensive instructions for this coveted recipe…
“Ok, says Bubbie. First, you buy [Gainsborough] puff pastry dough”.
“Seriously?”, I asked. “Your famous knishes are made with bought pastry dough?”
“Yes, says Bubbie, and then you buy instant mashed potatoes”.
[Shocked silence]. “Instant? you use instant potatoes?” I asked.
“Yes, says Bubbie. And make sure you add some Lipton onion soup mix from the package to give it some good flavour”
OMG. Did my Bubbie over-embrace the new age? But I couldn’t argue with those super delicious, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth knishes, could I?
To this day, I re-create my grandmother’s potato knishes, but I now use real mashed potatoes (which, by the way, are easy to buy if you’re so inclined) and I add my own fried onions. The rest of the recipe is pretty much the same. Why change what’s great? And why spend two hours making knishes when one will do? Nowadays, you don’t even have to roll the dough – it comes in sheets.
So give them a try, shortcuts and all. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love them. They are simply my Bubbie’s delicious knishes. Appetizer or side dish.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Feel free to experiment with the filling. For example, you can use a creamed spinach filling with a bit of nutmeg; a mushroom and onion filling with a bit of sherry; or mix in some sauteed hamburger meat with the potatoes for a heartier knish.
- Here’s our Perfect Basic Mashed Potato recipe if you want to make your own.
- I typically use left over mashed potatoes, but if you know a good place that sells them, go ahead and buy them. Today, you can even get good packaged ‘fresh’ mashed potatoes in the grocery store.
- You can skip frying the onions and just use dry onion soup mix for flavoring (like my grandmother used to).
- The biggest shortcut, of course, is the puff pastry dough which you can buy in most grocery stores. If possible, buy a package with 2 [pre-rolled] sheets. Otherwise, the dough will come in a block which you will have to roll out.
Make Ahead Potato Knishes
Two options for make ahead:
- You can make the knish rolls up to 2 months ahead and freeze them, wrapped well in parchment and foil. Bake as per the instructions whenever you need them (no need to defrost).
- Make the knishes a couple of hours before you need them, including cutting them into serving pieces. Let them sit on the counter. Reheat in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes. (TIP: I do this all the time and strongly suggest it – they get crispier/flakier this way.)
Super Easy Potato Knishes
- 1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted if frozen
- 3 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (fresh, left over, store-bought or instant) Note 1 equivalent of about 4 large-ish potatoes
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp dry onion soup mix (optional) or salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg plus one tablespoon water, mixed (for egg wash)
- Heat oven to 375F.
- MAKE POTATO MIXTURE: To fry onions, heat oil on medium and saute onions for 5-6 minutes just until slightly brown. Combine onion and mashed potatoes in a bowl with a fork. Season with salt and pepper or 2 tablespoons of dry onion soup mix - to taste.
- MAKE KNISHES: On a lightly floured cutting board, unroll one sheet of dough. It should be about 1/4 inch thick or less. Stretch it out a bit if necessary. Spread a log of potato mixture - about 2 inches thick - along one side of the dough, Roll dough over the potato about 1 and 1/2 times, making a log/roll. Cut away rest of dough for the next roll. Pinch seams together well. Repeat with other half of dough on that sheet. Then do the same with the second sheet of dough. If you have extra dough and potato mixture left over, make a 5th roll.
- BAKE: Place potato-filled knish rolls on a large parchment-lined (or foil-lined) pan, seam side down. Brush egg wash on rolls which will create a glazed golden look (optional). Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and flaky.
- TO SERVE: Cut rolls into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal and serve. To make ahead see Note 2.
- To make mashed potatoes: see recipe for Basic Mashed Potatoes
- Two options for Make Ahead:
- You can make the knish rolls up to 2 months ahead and freeze them unbaked, wrapped well in parchment and ziploc bags. Bake as per instructions whenever you need them (no need to defrost).
- Make the knishes a couple of hours before you need them, including cutting them into serving pieces. Reheat in a pre-heated 350F oven for 7-10 minutes. (TIP: I do this all the time and think it's the best way - they get crispier/flakier this way.)
This recipe is being republished with a few tweaks and clarifications from the original post in March 2017.
Other potato recipes you might like: