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Super Easy Potato Knishes

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. 

baked knish rolls not yet cut on cutting board

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 knish recipe, 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.

Tips for working with puff pastry

  1. Buy frozen puff pastry in the frozen section of your grocery store. Try to get a box with two pre-rolled sheets (no rolling needed). And, if possible, buy a kind that says “made with butter” for a richer taste.
  2. Defrost the puff pastry overnight in the fridge or for 40-60 minutes at room temperature. 
  3. Work with cold dough. It’s much easier to work with cold dough. Don’t let it sit on the counter for too long. If the dough sticks, sprinkle a little flour on the work surface. 

cut up potato knishes

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.
  • If you want to veer off the beaten path a bit, try our yummy knish recipe with root vegetable mash to add extra nutrition and flavors.
  • Here’s our Perfect Basic Mashed Potato recipe if you want to make your own.

Shortcuts

  • 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. The best puff pastries are the ones that say “made with butter” on the package. 

Make Ahead Potato Knishes

Two options for make ahead:

  1. 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).
  2. Make the knish recipe a couple of hours before you need it, including cutting the knishes 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.)

Other puff pastry recipes you might like:

How to make potato knishes

mashed potato laid on dough
Lay out potato on sheet of dough
roll of dough with mashed potato mixture inside
Roll, then pinch dough to make a seam. Make sure that there are no holes for the potato filling to come out. 
uncooked knish rolls on pan
Lay out rolls on a pan, seams down. Brush with egg wash for a glossy finish. 
baked knish rolls not yet cut on cutting board
Bake the potato knishes until golden brown. If some potato filling leaks out, tuck it back in with a knife. 
cut up potato knishes on cutting board 1
Cool for 5-10 minutes and cut into serving size pieces. TIP: make them ahead and place the cut pieces back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to crisp up.

one potato knish showing flaky crust on top and mashed potatoes inside p1

baked knish rolls not yet cut on cutting board
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4.6 from 44 votes

Super Easy Potato Knishes

These easy 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.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Jewish
Servings: 34 pieces approximately
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted if frozen about 17 ounces dough.
  • 3 1/2 cups (730g) mashed potatoes (fresh, left over, store-bought or instant) Note 1 equivalent of about 4 large-ish potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix (optional) or salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg plus one tablespoon water, mixed (for egg wash)

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 400F/204C.
  • 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/0.63cm thick or less. Stretch it out a bit if necessary. Spread a log of potato mixture  - about 2 inches/5cm 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 (to ensure filling doesn't seap out). 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 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy/flaky. If any filling seeps out, tuck it back into the knish roll with a knife.
  • TO SERVE: Cut rolls into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal and serve. To make ahead (recommended) see Note 2

Notes

  1. To make mashed potatoes: see recipe for Basic Mashed Potatoes
  2. Two options for Make Ahead:
    1. 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).
    2. Make the knishes a couple of hours before you need them, including cutting them into serving pieces. Recommended. 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.)
 
Nutrition values are rough estimates depending on on puff pastry dough used and how mashed potatoes are made.  

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Super Easy Potato Knishes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 90 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 5mg2%
Sodium 38mg2%
Potassium 15mg0%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 7IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 3mg0%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?We'd love you to rate it above under 'rate this recipe' or in the comment section below. Thanks!

This recipe is being republished with a few tweaks and clarifications from the original post in March 2017. 

 

 

34 Comments

  1. I am going to make this for rosh hashannah. If I freeze the rolls and then bake when I need it. Will it easy to cut fresh out of the oven.

    1. Hi Alta. Yes, you can bake them after freezing, then cut them into pieces fresh out of the oven. But make sure the knishes are well browned and flaky. My preferred way is to freeze, bake, cut – up to a few hours before serving – then reheat for 5-10 minutes at 350f to warm and crisp them up. Hope that helps. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! Good luck.

  2. 5 stars
    Cheryl here’s my latest pics, and “how i did it”.

    https://i.ibb.co/HGdM5p3/knishes.jpg
    https://i.ibb.co/TqW6Cj2/knishes2.jpg

    HOW I DID IT:

    Put the following 2 items overnite in fridge:

    (1) 30″ x 8″ froz. puff pastry to thaw (21 ounce)
    (2) filling mixture

    Baked on parchment paper approx. 35 min, or until appears golden/flaky.

    FILLING INGREDIENTS:

    6 Idaho potatoes ranging from smallish to medium-large
    hand-full of fresh green-beans which i picked and froze
    then i diced the frozen green beans
    Large carrot, peeled and grated
    White onion, diced
    2 eggs (one for filling, and the 2nd for egg wash)
    extra lite olive oil, for frying
    TB margarine, softened
    2 TB lite mayo / TB organic sugar / 1/2 tsp. salt
    Pure water (gradually, spoon-by-spoon, if needed to thin the mix)

    FILLING INSTRUCTIONS:

    (1) Wash potatoes, then boil them approx. 20-25 min. Leave unpeeled. Pour out the hot potato-water, and then fill the potato-pot from ice-cold faucet. That cools the potatoes so you can skin them by hand. Transfer the skinned-potatoes to large bowl.

    (2) Fry the diced onion till somewhat browned, then dump them in w/the potatoes.

    (3) Now use that same fry pan to fry the diced green beans and grated carrots. Then dump the green-orange mix into the potato-onion bowl.

    (4) Add one egg, plus the margarine, mayo, sugar and salt.

    (5) Mash well – add water gradually, if needed, to thin the filling mix.

    (6) …then followed Cheryl’s instructions … #3 and #4.

  3. ♡Your Bubbie was absolutely brilliant♡! The traditional knish & broccoli potato knish have been a regular deli treat during my lifetime, esp. since going vegetarian several decades ago. (Buh-bye pastrami on rye…sniff, sniff.) These beautiful savory treats always seemed super intimidating to make by scratch. Thx for sharing your dear grandmother’s clever “cheat” method. Will definitely try it w/your tweaks. (Not a mushroom fan, but will check out your varations too.) Thankfully, this recipe seems remarkably achievable. ◇God bless you both!◇

  4. 5 stars
    Made these per your EXCELLENT and EASY instructions for New Year’s Day – first of all, it was hard to platter without scarfing down the entire batch. My daughter said, “Mom! Are you going to leave any for us???” Ummmmmm . No. One bite took me back to wonderful memories of my dad bringing home knishes from the deli as a special treat. Thank you for sharing your Bubie’s recipe and story!

  5. One more observation, is that today i tried breaking apart the knish, but even though I had cut them into sections prior to freezing the rolls, they remained stuck together as a continuous roll.
    …Meaning that unless i defrosted the 5-section-roll in fridge overnite, i couldn’t break off one knish at a time to bake.

    Secondly, once its frozen, it was required to bake 35 min. in 350-degree toaster oven.
    Not 10 min. =Only= if its thawed out, then it might take 10 or 15 min. to bake in toaster oven.

    1. Hi again Judy, The first “make ahead” instruction is to make and freeze the unbaked knishes. If you wrap the knish rolls individually in parchment (not touching each other) before you freeze them, you should have no trouble. Just unwrap, place on a parchment-lined pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes.

      The second “make ahead” instruction is for making the knishes a few hours ahead, leaving them on the counter, then reheating them (and crisping them up) for 10 minutes before serving. I hope that clears it up! I’ll try to make that a little clearer in the instructions. Thanks.

  6. Hi, Cheryl, this looks nice & easy, but how many ounces is each pastry-sheet, please?
    Otherwise the ratio of dough to filling can get skewed.

    1. Hi Judy,
      Brands will vary in weight a bit. For example, Pepperidge Farm is about 8 1/2 ounces sheet and Dufour comes as one square piece of dough at 14 ounces (so half is 7 ounces). Hope that helps.

      1. 5 stars
        Cheryl, I just made your potato knishes, from a 21 ounce store-bought puff-pastry. It came out to 25 knishes total. I.E. Five short rolls, with five knishes per roll. It’s delish. I immediately baked one roll in my toaster oven, and the other four rolls are waiting in my freezer. I keep diced spanish-onion in my freezer, so i fried some of that in 1 1/2 TB olive oil plus a sparing TB margarine. Also added to the fry-pan approx. a tsp cane-sugar, and one TB veg.soup-mix. I didn’t bother with an egg glaze, as i only care about taste. I could care less if the rolls are pale.

          1. YW Cheryl – as for the frozen onions, what’s really handy is to pay a bit extra for those free-range eggs which come in see-thru plastic cartons, and then you get 24 compartments for storing diced-onions, because those cartons are bi-folded, though no guarantee that all those cartons are bi-folded. I.E. there might just be 12 compartments.

  7. Can I bake them and then freeze them and defrost them at a later date and reheat.? Or am I better just to prepare them and freeze PRIOR to baking?

    Thanks,

    Jodi

    1. hi Jodi, It’s better to prepare them, freeze them (roll in parchment then in full and ziplock bag) and bake them when you need them straight from frozen. No need to defrost. Baste with egg wash before baking, not before freezing. Hope that helps.

  8. Made the knishes last night. I only had the puff pastry cups but I rolled them out enough to place a heaping tablespoon full of mashed potatoes and then covered with another rolled out cup They were excellent!! Thank yoy!!

  9. I made them and they taste quite good. The only problem I had was they stuck to the foil. When I was able to separate them from the foil, I flipped them and had to stick them back into the oven so the underside can be cooked.

    But, the flavor is yummy.

    1. Hi Daryl. Thanks for the comment. Sorry about your sticking issue. To avoid that, I spray the foil with oil or, even better, use parchment. You shouldn’t have to flip them over. One trick is not to crowd the pan. Another is to bake them longer as you did. They are best we’ll well baked, flaky and crispy. Glad you like the taste despite your challenges!

  10. Chi,

    I think the site looks Stunning and the Recipes are Fabulous. Have a dinner party coming up and will use Everything!!

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