Do you have lots of leftover mashed potatoes? Try this easy recipe for Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes with Cheese! Made with 4 simple ingredients and ready in just 15 minutes, they make the best quick meal or appetizer.
Classic German potato cakes are one of my all-time favorite recipes. I don’t make that kind of potato pancakes very often though, because shredding, pressing and draining the potatoes can be quite time-consuming.
I had this sudden idea that I could try making potato cakes from leftover mashed potatoes, and I have to say – they turned out better than the real deal!
They come together in 5 minutes, and they cook in about 10. So basically that’s food on the table in 15 minutes, which is pretty amazing in my books – especially if you’re making these the day after Thanksgiving!
Ingredients you’ll need
Here is a visual overview of the ingredients in the recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities!
Make without leftover mash
I know I’m a big advocate for fresh family cooking. But with little kids at home? I get it, 100% from scratch cooking is not always an option.
If you’re looking for a quick finger food so your toddler can eat by themselves while you nurse the baby, these work just as well with instant mashed potatoes.
I love cheddar in these, but pretty much any shredded cheese will work. I have made them plenty of times with Gouda or Mozzarella, and they were always a hit.
Add more flavor
You can add chopped chives, finely diced ham, cooked and crumbled bacon, chopped green onions… to the pancake batter, if you like. So many ways to switch up the flavor here, and they come out delicious any way you make them.
How to make potato cakes
Combine all ingredients: Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir them together until smooth.
The amount of flour you need heavily depends on the consistency of your mashed potatoes, so start with the amount given in the recipe, then increase from there if the batter is very runny.
Shape cakes: I like using a cookie scoop to shape the potato mix into cakes. If your mashed potatoes were very firm, you may need to shape them into discs by hand.
Otherwise just drop them into a sizzling hot skillet with oil and lightly flatten with the back of a rubber spatula.
Cook cakes: These turn out best when pan-fried.
Just heat some oil in a large nonstick skillet, then cook them on both sides until browned and crispy on the outside and heated through all the way on the inside.
These are best served right away while hot and fluffy!
Mashed Potato Pancakes FAQs
There are differing opinions on this, but I’m a stickler when it comes to food safety, so I never store leftover mashed potatoes for more than 2-3 days in the fridge.
While these do taste best fresh, they can be frozen for convenience/to save leftovers.
To freeze: Let the potato cakes cool completely, then flash-freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer until solid (1-2 hours) before transferring them to a freezer-friendly bag or container. Label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months).
To reheat: Take as many potato pancakes as you need from the bag or container and defrost them on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Reheat in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave until steaming hot all the way through.
We love these with sour cream, applesauce or cranberry sauce (great to use up those leftovers, too!).
If you want to make these for a St Patrick’s Day spread (kind of a cheat’s Irish Potato Pancake, or Boxty), they go great with Irish Stew! I also have a traditional Irish Boxty recipe, if you’re looking for that in particular.
I’m sure these leftover mashed potato cakes would work just as well as a side dish or a fun appetizer – at least my toddler thinks these are the best finger food ever!
More recipes for holiday leftovers
Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes
- 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 2 oz finely shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 tablespoons flour or more depending on how creamy your potatoes are
- Oil or nonstick cooking spray, for frying
- Make potato cake batter: Stir the mashed potatoes, eggs, cheese and flour together in a large bowl. Start with 6 tablespoons of flour and add more if needed. You should end up with a slightly sticky, soft dough that can be shaped into disks.
- Shape cakes: With a cookie scoop, scoop out balls from the potato dough and flatten them into thick discs between damp hands. Making your hands slightly wet will prevent the dough from sticking to them.
- Cook cakes: Heat the oil or nonstick cooking spray in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place the potato cakes in the hot frying pan and cook them until golden brown on either side, about 3-5 minutes each. Serve hot.
- Pretty much any shredded cheese works, Mozzarella or Gouda are delicious, too.
- Feel free to add your favorite mix-ins: Cooked and crumbled bacon, finely diced ham, chopped chives, chopped green onion…
Freezer instructionsTo freeze: Let the potato cakes cool completely, then flash-freeze them on a baking sheet in a single layer until solid (1-2 hours) before transferring them to a freezer-friendly bag or container. Label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months). To reheat: Take as many potato pancakes as you need from the bag or container and defrost them on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Reheat in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave until steaming hot all the way through.
More recipe information
Mashed potato recipes
I definitely have some mashed potato recipes you can try – a regular and an instant pot variety. Both make great leftovers for mashed potato cakes 😉