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 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. This is not your classic potato knish recipe. They are simply my Bubbie’s delicious knishes. With a flaky, golden pastry I love. Appetizer or side dish.
Tips for working with puff pastry
- 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.
- Defrost the puff pastry overnight in the fridge or for 40-60 minutes at room temperature.
- 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.
Tailor To Your Taste
Here are few variations and substitutions you can try.
- 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 sautéed 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.
- 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:
- You can make the knish rolls up to 2 months ahead and freeze them, wrapped well in parchment (or plastic wrap) and foil. Bake as per the instructions whenever you need them (no need to defrost).
- 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:
- vegetable strudel recipe
- skillet chicken vegetable pot pie (shortcut)
- cheese twists
- puff pastry tomato tart
- cinnamon puff pastry rolls
- easy peach tarte titin (for beginners)
- puff pastry apple tart (30 minutes)
Need some other vegetarian appetizer ideas?
Check out our popular 20 vegetarian appetizers (with serving tips)
How to make potato knishes
Super Easy Potato Knishes
- 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 olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix (optional) or salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 egg plus one tablespoon water, mixed (for egg wash)
- Heat oven to 400F/204C.
- MAKE POTATO MIXTURE: To fry onions, heat oil on medium heat and sauté were onions for 5-6 minutes just until slightly brown. Combine 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.
- MAKE KNISHES: On a lightly floured surface, unroll one sheet of dough. It should be about 1/4 inch/0.63cm thick or less. Stretch out or roll dough a bit if necessary. Spread a log of the savory filling potato mixture - about 2 inches/5cm thick - along one side of the rolled dough. Fold dough over the potato about 1 and 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 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 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 filling seeps out, tuck it back into the knish roll with a knife.
- TO SERVE: Cut rolls of finished knishes into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal and serve. To make ahead (recommended!) 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. 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.)
This recipe is being republished with a few tweaks and clarifications from the original post in March 2017.