Two Kooks » ALL RECIPES » Side Dishes » Super Easy Potato Knishes Recipe

Super Easy Potato Knishes Recipe

My grandmother’s delicious potato knishes recipe is flaky and melt-in-your-mouth despite the shortcuts that cut the prep time in half. A great appetizer or side dish. Don’t count on leftovers!

Potato knishes are a Jewish classic.  They are essentially little bites of mashed potatoes wrapped in a flaky dough and baked to a golden brown. (Sometimes they are fried. Um, no thanks)

baked knish rolls not yet cut on cutting board

My grandmother, born in 1895, made them for special occasions and I loved them. 

When I was in University, I had a craving for potato knishes, so I called my grandmother (Bubbie) and asked her how to make them. I braced for the labor-intensive instructions for this coveted recipe…

“Ok, says Bubbie. First, you buy puff pastry dough”.

“Seriously?”, I asked. “Your famous knishes are made with store-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 flavor”

OMG. Did my Bubbie over-embrace the new age? But I couldn’t argue with those super delicious, crispy 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.

Bottom line: If you’re in search of the Jewish soul food, give these knishes a try, shortcuts and all. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love them. This is not your classic potato knishes recipe. They are simply my Bubbie’s delicious knishes. With a flaky, golden pastry I love.

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. 

Important: Puff pastry dough is not the same thing as phyllo dough. Make sure you are buying puff pastry dough!

cut up potato knishes on cutting board

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are few variations and substitutions you can try.

  • Experiment with different fillings: For example, instead of potatoes, try
    • a mushroom and onion filling with a splash of sherry
    • mix in some sautéed hamburger meat with the potatoes for a heartier knish
    • a mashed sweet potatoes filling, or
    • veer off the beaten path a with our yummy knish recipe with root vegetable mash to add extra nutrition and flavors.
  • Skip the shortcuts and make from scratch:
  • Add schmaltz for extra flavor. Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat, cooked with onions. Delicious flavor that comes with extra calories (oh well). You can even buy it in some grocery stores, kosher butchers or on Amazon.

Shortcuts

  • Mash potatoes: 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.
  • Onions: You can skip frying the onions and just use dry onion soup mix for flavoring (like my grandmother used to).
  • Puff pastry: 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 pastry is the one that says “made with butter” on the package. 

How to make potato knishes in puff pastry

mashed potato laid on dough
Lay out mashed potato on a sheet of puff pastry dough.
roll of dough with mashed potato mixture inside
Roll up the dough, then pinch it 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 on parchment paper. 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 the knishes ahead and place the cut pieces back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to crisp up. The best!
one potato knish showing flaky crust on top and mashed potatoes inside p1

Knishes FAQ

Where do knishes originate from?

According to Wikipedia, knishes were popularized in North America by Ashkenazi Jewish refugees from the Pale of Settlement (mainly from present-day Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, and eastern Poland). They are now widely available and a staple in Jewish delicatessens.

What are knishes made of?

Traditional knishes are made of mashed potatoes, onions and dough and then baked or fried. Other fillings include kasha (buckwheat groats) or cheese. See ‘tailor to your taste’ above for other delicious filling options.

What nationalities make knishes?

While the origin of the Jewish potato knish recipe is Eastern Europe, other cultures have their own versions like Spanish empanadas, Russian pirozhki and the British pasty.

What to serve with knishes

If I’m using the knishes recipe as an appetizer, I typically serve them with other appetizers like eggplant dip, gefilte fish and 5-minute roasted red pepper dip with this easy naan recipe.

As a side dish, I love potato knishes with classic prime rib and our apricot chicken recipe.

Make Ahead

Two options for make ahead:

  1. Same day: Make the knish recipe a couple of hours before you need it, including baking and cutting the knishes into serving pieces. Let them sit on the counter. Reheat in a 350F/177C oven for 5-10 minutes.  (TIP: I do this all the time and strongly suggest it – it’s the best way to get them super crispy and flaky)
  2. To freeze and bake when needed: You can make the knish rolls up to 2 months ahead and freeze them. I wrap them in parchment (or plastic wrap) then put them in an airtight container or ziploc bag to freeze. Bake as per the instructions whenever you need them (no need to defrost).

Other yummy puff pastry recipes

Need more vegetarian appetizer ideas? 

Check out our popular 20 vegetarian appetizers (with serving tips)

pile of potato knishes on cutting board f
Print Recipe Pin Save Recipe

Rate this recipe here

4.68 from 55 votes

Super Easy Potato Knishes Recipe

My grandmother's delicious potato knishes recipe is flaky and melt-in-your-mouth despite the shortcuts that cut the prep time in half. A great appetizer or side dish. Don't count on leftovers!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Jewish, Vegetarian
Servings: 34 pieces approximately
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry dough (2 sheets), defrosted if frozen, Note 1 about 17 ounces dough.
  • 3 1/2 cups (730g) mashed potatoes (fresh, left over, store-bought or instant) Note 2 equivalent of about 4 large-ish potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix (optional) or salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg mixed with1 tablespoon cold water, mixed (for egg wash)

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 400F/204C.
  • MAKE POTATO MIXTURE: To fry onions, heat oil on medium heat and sauté onions for 5-6 minutes just until slightly brown. Combine mashed potatoes and caramelized onions in a medium bowl with a fork. Season with salt and pepper – or 2 tablespoons of dry onion soup mix – to taste. You can omit the salt and pepper if you are using leftover mashed potatoes that are already seasoned.
  • MAKE KNISHES: You will make two rolls of knishes from each sheet of puff pastry.
    On a lightly floured surface, unroll one sheet of puff pastry dough. It should be about 1/4 inch/0.63cm thick or less. Stretch out or roll dough a bit if necessary.
    Spread potato filling to resemble a log  – about 2 inches/5cm thick – along one side of the rolled dough. 
    Fold dough over the potato about 1 1/2 times in a jelly-roll fashion, making a log/roll. Cut away remaining dough with a sharp knife for the next roll. Tuck ends and pinch seams together well (to ensure filling doesn't seep out).
    Repeat with other half of dough on the same sheet of dough. 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 rolls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, seam side down. Brush egg wash on rolls which will create a glazed golden look (optional). Bake for 25-30 minutes to a golden brown flaky pastry. If any potato mixture seeps out, tuck it back into the knish roll with a knife.
  • TO SERVE: Cut rolls of finished knishes into 2 inch/5 cm pieces on the diagonal and serve. To make ahead (recommended!) see Note 2

Notes

  1. To make your own dough for knishes: see recipe by Food52.
  2. To make your own mashed potatoes: see our recipe for basic mashed potatoes
  3. Filling variations
    • a mushroom and onion filling with a bit of sherry
    • mix in some sautéed hamburger meat with the potatoes for a heartier knish
    • a mashed sweet potatoes filling, or
    • veer off the beaten path a bit with our yummy knish recipe with root vegetable mash to add extra nutrition and flavors.
    • Add schmaltz to the potatoes for extra flavor. Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat, cooked with onions. Delicious flavor that comes with extra calories (oh well).
  4. Make Ahead
    1. Same day: Make the knish recipe a couple of hours before you need it, including baking and cutting the knishes into serving pieces. Let them sit on the counter. Reheat in a 350F/177C oven for 5-10 minutes.  (TIP: I do this all the time and strongly suggest it – they get crispier/flakier this way.)
    2. To freeze: You can make the knish rolls up to 2 months ahead and freeze them. I wrap them in parchment (or plastic wrap) then put them in an airtight container or ziplock bag to freeze.  Bake as per the instructions whenever you need them (no need to defrost). 
 
Nutrition values are rough estimates depending on on puff pastry dough used, how mashed potatoes are made and how many pieces you cut.  

Nutrition

Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 15mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

This recipe, originally published in 2017, has been updated with new information, a few tweaks and clarifications.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




40 Comments

  1. Thank u for this recipe! Looks simple and a perfect choice for the vegetarians at my table. I am thinking I would prefer individual knishes. Have u ever tried that w this recipe? If so are there any changes I should be aware of? Also, can I make a day ahead and let sit in the fridge, or will they get soggy?
    Thanx so much for ur time and ur blog!

    1. My friend does the individual knishes all the time. Here’s how. Make the rolls/logs first as per the recipe. Then cut the rolls into 2 inch pieces. For each piece, tuck the potato mixture in a bit, then pinch the dough to seal the two exposed edges. They should be ok in the fridge for a day (not more), but if you prefer, lay out the pieces on a baking sheet. Flash freeze them, then pile them into a bag or container. Bake from frozen. Hope that helps. And hope you like them! Let me know 🙂

  2. I mix the Kooks recipe two ways mashed potatoes and kasha (prepare as per box directions), potatoes mixed with VERY soft carrots (boiled).
    I would like a recipe for sweet potato filling with cinnamon and brown sugar.

    1. Interesting Gayle! I’ll think about that. Actually I’ve been considering doing a knish recipe with sweet potatoes, but more on the savory side.

  3. 5 stars
    I really loved the idea of using onion soup mix, but I never buy it. I put in a teaspoon each of better than bouillon chicken and beef plus a little extra onion very well caramelized. It worked perfectly. Thanks for a great recipe!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. ♡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!◇

  7. 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!

    1. Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment Belle. Really appreciate it. The knishes bring back memories for me too 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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. Thanks for leaving a comment Judy. Glad you liked the knishes. And great idea about keeping diced onions in your freezer. 🙂

          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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!

  12. 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!

  13. Chi,

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