Irish Potato Cakes

Potato cakes are a perfect way to use up left-over mashed potatoes.  Known as tattie scones in Scotland, potato scones in the Isle of Man, or fadge in parts of Northern Ireland, these savory, fried potato patties make a great side dish.

 

Whenever I cook mashed potatoes I make extra, because I love potato cakes.  However, a word of warning.  If you like your mashed potatoes really ‘soupy’ and add lots of extra milk and butter, it will be very hard to form potato cakes without adding cups of extra flour.  They lose their distinctive flavor when too much flour is added.

I find store-bought mashed potatoes don’t work too well for this recipe. They are laden with extra milk and butter.  Also, American potatoes tend to be a little more watery than the Irish variety.  In Ireland we love starchy, ‘floury’ potatoes.  We often refer to potatoes as balls of flour.

So the moral of the story is don’t make your mashed potatoes too loose if you plan to make potato cakes.

Ingredients

 

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (half for the dough and half for kneading)
  • 2 oz butter (half melted for dough and half for frying potato cakes)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 large beaten egg

 

Add the mashed potatoes to a large mixing bowl.  I like to take the potatoes out of the fridge about 30 minutes before making these cakes, since when they are really cold I find it harder to form the dough.

Add 1/4 cup of the flour, reserving the rest of the flour for kneading the dough.

Next add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of onion powder.  My grandmother would have told me:

“It’s far from onion powder you were raised.”

But I just like the subtle hint of flavor it adds.

Feel free to add pepper.  I sometimes use white pepper since I just don’t like to see black flecks of pepper in my cakes.  Usually I make them pepper free.

You can season these cakes anyway you choose.  I sometimes add curry powder, or chives.  The possibilities are endless.  Today I thought it best to share my basic recipe, but feel free to experiment with the flavor.

Next I take out my trusted potato masher and use it to combine the flour and seasonings throughout the mash.

Add 1 ounce of melted butter, and half of a beaten egg.  The amount of liquid needed varies depending upon the original consistency of the mashed potatoes you are using.

A typical Scottish tattie scone recipe does not call for egg, using only melted butter to bind the ingredients together.  However, I like to use just a little egg.  I find the dough is easier to work when I do this.

Use your hand to form a dough ball.  Add extra flour as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a floured rolling surface.  I sprinkle the second 1/4 cup of flour for the kneading process.

Knead the dough gently and press it out into a circular shape about 1/2 inch thick.   You might want to use a rolling pin, but I find this dough very easy to work and just press it flat with the palm of my hand.

Next I use a scone cutter to shape my patties.  Alternatively you can just cut the big circle into 8 triangular pieces, by first halving it, then quartering it, and then cutting each quarter in half.

But I just like these little circular patties – probably because that’s the way my mom made potato cakes.

Reknead the dough remnants and rework into a flat circular shape to cut out more rounds.  This recipe yields between 8 and 10 cakes depending upon how thickly form them.

Next melt the butter in the bottom of a large skillet.  I like to use my cast iron skillet.  I think the cakes brown more evenly in it.

Add 5 to 6 potato cakes to the pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Don’t try to fry them all at once by crowding the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low.

Fry them for 8 to 10 minutes on each side.  It is best to cook them slowly over gentle heat.  Otherwise the outside crust will burn before the flour in the center has fully cooked.   A taste of raw flour can ruin this recipe very easily.

Peak under a cake by lifting it with a spatula to see if it is ready to flip.  Once they have a lovely golden brown outer crust, turn them and cook on the other side for an additional 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve potato cakes hot for lunch, as a side for chops, salmon or ham.  The possibilities are endless.   In Ireland they are often served for breakfast as part of a traditional Irish fry, with bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms and fried tomatoes.

Here is the printable recipe:

Irish Potato Cakes

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Region Irish
Potato cakes are a perfect way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. Seasoned, fried potato patties are very popular in Ireland where they are also called fadge, and in Scotland where they are known as tatty scones.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2oz butter (half melted for dough and half for frying potato cakes)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Large beaten egg

Directions

Step 1 Add the mashed potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
Step 2 Add 1/4 cup of the flour, the onion powder and salt. Mash together.
Step 3 Add one ounce of melted butter and half of a beaten egg. Mix together to form a dough. Add additional flour as necessary.
Step 4 Transfer the potato dough onto a floured surface. Knead lightly and flatten into a circle between 1/2 inch high.
Step 5 Use a round cookie or scone cutter to cut out potato cakes. Re-knead the dough remnants to cut out more circular potato cakes.
Step 6 Melt 1 ounce of butter in a large skillet. Add the potato cakes. Fry on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, until they are a golden brown color.
Step 7 Serve immediately as a side dish for grilled fish, pork chops or any main course of choice.

I hope you all enjoy this little taste of Ireland and Scotland.

Halloween potato cakes

Here are some Cheesy Irish Potato Cakes I made for Halloween.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

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Comments

  1. They do make a great side and are a wonderful way to use leftover mashed potatoes! Your cakes look perfect and bet they taste as good!

    • Bonnie – I think they taste extra good when you fry them in butter rather than oil. My husband’s family are from Co. Donegal so they refer to these little potato cakes as ‘”tattie scone” like in Scotland. Whenever he sees leftover mashed potato in the fridge he usually says – “how about some tattie scone tonight?”

    • Laura Worsey says:

      Enjoyed your blog, I too am Irish(co leitrim) but living in UK and an English mummy!! Am now starving having read through how to do the potato cakes, Im off to raid my fridge!!

      • Hi Laura – I am so glad you found my website. Although you are in England and I am in Ireland, we probably have a lot in common, with shared experiences living away from home. It is early morning here, and after reading your comment, I got to thinking how lovely potato cakes would be for breakfast. I’ll have to see if I have any leftover mash in the fridge too.
        Take care, and thanks again for stopping by.
        Mairéad

  2. Ahh, one of my favorite Irish foods. Looking very tasty, Mairead!

  3. I just showed this to my wife and her face lit up! Can’t wait to try them Mairead.

  4. Yum!! I love these!

  5. Have you tried the trick where you peal the spuds then cut them into 1/4’s then boil them just to the point where the sharp edge on the 1/4 begins to go into mush in the water. Drain at that point. The outside will be cooked but their own heat will cook them the rest of the way. It’s at this point that you decide the amount you are going to make into cake. For you don’t mash them you allow them to finish cooking in the 1/4’s as they vapour will dry them out more than if you mash them at that point. Later, when you want them, crush them into that ring having salted and peppered them. To cook wipe a bit of oil on a pan/skillet with a bit of kitchen paper. You don’t want to wet them. But frankly it’s far far easier to throw the switch on the DFF.

    • Peel even.

    • Vince – I’ve never tried this tip for cooking potatoes for mash. Sounds like a great way to get good, floury potatoes. My mother cooks her spuds until just before they are done, then drains them and puts a towel under the lid, so the steam will finish cooking them. I’m going to have to try your tip.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  6. can you try adding your recipes to foodlve.com under your name ? will be useful to share it for more people

    • Sure – I’ll take care of that a little later today, once the kids are tucked up in bed and peace returns to the house. Thanks for the recommendation and for letting me know about your wonderful site.
      Mairead

  7. MMMMM…these look so good. Really, really good!!!
    If I use rice flour, I could make them gluten free!

    • Kay – Rice flour or chick pea flour would probably work just fine to make these gluten free. They don’t need a lot of flour to bind the mashed potato together. Potato flavor is what predominates. As always, thanks so much for checking out my recipes.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

      • A teaspoon of the dried potato might work also. It’s a dry binding agent you’re looking for really. The flour provides nothing other that the strands of gluten. I doubt the chickpea would work for any time I made Hummus the consistency was that of jam. Thick jam granted, but jam nonetheless.

  8. are these delicious looking potato cakes also know as potato pancakes if not do you have the recipe for them… my mom has been asking for them…

  9. Stephanie Faulkner says:

    My grandmother, from Cty Cork, made these all the time – and I do too. Sooo good with a nice poached egg popped on the top in the morning! A difference in hers was not using flour at all. I take left over mashed potatoes – cold out of the fridge – and form them into free form patties. Brown s l o w l y in butter until there is a good crispy crust on both sides. I like the idea of adding chives to the mix – and would probably used dried chives, mix them in the left overs before putting them in the fridge so they would reconstitute over night. mmmmm . Will try your version too. Always open to new stuff!!

    • Stephanie – I love your idea of serving these potato cakes with a poached egg perched on top. HP sauce ( an Irish brown sauce) instead of hollandaise and you have the Irish version of Eggs Benedict. Thanks so much for checking out my recipe and for your great tips.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  10. my mom has always used celery salt in place of regular and sprinkles the pepper on top after placing them in the skillet. It is a fight over them when I come home.

    • Tiphany – What a great tip from your mother. I am really enjoying everyone’s suggestions for these little potato cakes. I truly think the possibilities for different seasonings are endless. Thanks so much for your comment.
      Mairead

  11. Mmmmmm. Can’t wait to try these!

  12. Mairead, these look so good. That’s interesting that Irish potatoes are a bit different from what we have here in the U.S.

    • Cheryl – There are many kinds of potatoes in Ireland, all with names never heard of here in America. There are golden wonders, Kerr’s pinks, Prince Edwards and varieties named after so many English royals it’s mind-boggling. I was surprised when I first came to America and there were so few choices.

  13. We normally don’t have many potatoes, so I’ll have to specifically get some to mash up! I was going to ask if whole wheat would work as well as white (I would assume it would- just might change the taste a bit) but I think I’d probably try them without flour first.

    • Aimee – Unlike you we normally have a lot of potatoes – it’s just what we grew up on. Whole wheat flour will change the taste of the potato cakes a little and the texture, but you really don’t need a lot of flour. They will turn out pretty good with just potatoes. Remember to decrease the amount of egg if you don’t use flour – not as much binding needed without flour.
      Hope you enjoy these.
      Mairead

      • Growing up we had them quite a bit, but something happened after having kids and I just can’t handle them anymore. I think it’s related to the high amounts of starch though and now that I know how to release that I’m ok again. I just have to remember to buy them more often! Thanks for the tip on the egg- I’m not sure I would have thought of that!

  14. Mairead- these were wonderful!! We used gold yukons, which weren’t the best choice, so I had to add quite a bit of flour until they firmed up a bit. But they were delicious and my kids in particular loved them!

    • Aimee – These really are simple and delicious. You will find that every variety of potato requires a different amount of flour for binding. The amount of flour sometimes varies from day to day even when using the same kind of potato. I no longer measure anything when making potato cakes. To quote my granny, it is a “fistful of this, and a fistful of that.” Anyway, so glad your little ones gave their seal of approval.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  15. That’s great to know! I’ll keep that in mind as we try these out with different potatoes. We enjoyed them with a roast, and it was nice to have something different to soak up the gravy/juices with. Our farmer’s market has tons of sweet potatoes right now…do you think these would work well in making potato cakes?

    • Aimee – I think if you use sweet potatoes only you will need far too much flour to bind them. When you use too much flour the taste can overwhelm the potatoes. I would recommend using half regular potato mash and half sweet potato mash to get a better consistency. Let me know how they work out. I might even give this a try too.
      Mairead

  16. FADGE!!!! My grandmother used to make fadge for us! It’s one of my great memories of her, standing with with her apron hanging from her neck, serving us a plate of triangular shaped “fadge” with butter and jelly on the table. Even have a copy of her recipe written in her own handwriting. I’ve never been able to make it quite like I remember.

    • Maureen – We love “fadge” in our house. I call them potato cakes, but my husband says “fadge” being a Donegal man. You are so lucky to have your recipe written in your grandmother’s very own handwriting. That truly is a family treasure. I hope my recipe helps you recreate her fadge. She may not have cut out circular cakes, but instead patted her dough into one large circle, then cut it into eight triangles for frying.
      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my recipe.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

      • This touched a cord with me. I watched my grandmother and my auntie make Irish potato cakes, but they cooked the dough base( like yours) in the oven . They scored first , making it easier to cut into triangles. The ingredient that made them true Irish potato cakes was the addition of caraway seeds.

        They were served hot covered in butter. Yum…Any left overs were cut into chip like pieces and fried alongside bacon, eggs and black pudding .

        I used your recipe tonight,added the caraway seeds, but used gluten free flour and they turned out really well. Thank you for reminding me of a happy memory.
        Best wishes Noreen..Originally from Dublin.

        • Noreen – I’m so glad your potato cakes brought back happy memories of your childhood. Caraway seeds would be a wonderful addition to this recipe, and really would add a taste of Ireland to these old favorites. I love your grandmother’s tip of using the left overs cut into chips to serve alongside a good Irish fry.
          Best wishes, from one Dublin girl to another.
          Mairéad

  17. Thank you thank you! Been trying to get the consistency right for cut outs and this is it. The photos are big and clear and really help, too. Out comes the shamrock cookie cutter!

    Ellis Ni C.

    • Eilis – So glad you found my recipe. It is perfect for using cookie cutters – just add the liquid gradually so you achieve the right doughy texture. Making shamrock potato cakes is a brilliant idea.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  18. Hi . Your recipe made me hungry! I took a look at my mother’s recipe for this . Every Sunday for tea, we had potato bread made with leftover mash from Sunday lunch. Her ingredients were potato, flour and salt. Nothing else – except hard work. After adding salt to the potato, she added flour gradually, kneading all the while as though making bread. I recall this taking some time, and she ended up with quite a stiff dough. She rolled this out with a rolling pin to about an inch or an inch and a half thick. She then cut it into triangles She barely greased a heavy iron frying pan and put the potato cakes in, turning them when they were cooked and brown on the underside,. The heat was not too high as they needed to be cooked through. When done, they were split in two and eaten hot with butter that melted and the whole thing was YUMMY! Also from Donegal and we called them potato cakes.! How can you live without balls of flour in your life?

    • Angela – “Big balls of flour” proclaims a sign on the Strabane side of the bridge when traveling from Derry to Donegal through Lifford. We always laugh thinking what on earth do Americans think they are selling. Your memories of your mother’s potato cakes are so vivid – I felt I was transported back to her kitchen, waiting eagerly to see if they were ready. Hot with melted butter – there is nothing on earth quite like potato cakes.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  19. Heather @ Rise & Shine Life says:

    My husband & I have Irish blood in our families (although I’m not sure how far back we’d have to go to see it :) & so I decided I wanted to learn to make foods from Ireland & the other countries our families represent! I am so excited to have found your blog! I made these Irish Potato Cakes last night & they were a hit! I only had sweet potatoes on hand, so I used those along with Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb, black pepper, coconut oil, brown rice flour & almond flour (to make them gluten & dairy free). OH. MY. GOODNESS!! These were DELISH & disappeared within seconds. When my picky husband inhales a new food & asks for more, I know that recipe is a keeper! Thank you for sharing these with us!

    • Heather – Thanks for this great tip and feedback about your success using sweet potatoes for this recipe. I’ll definitely have to give these a go with some sweet potatoes. I’ve only ever used regular spuds, but now that I am an American I need to give the sweet taters a try.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding these great suggestions.
      Best wishes,
      Mairead

  20. as a child I enjoyed irish potatoe pie made at home [not mine but Marcys home her grandfather maked it it was a recipe that was passed down in the family [Irish of course] it had potatoes butter carroway seeds but thats all I remember and I love to make and eat it. Does anyone have such a recipe?

    • Suzie – I have a recipe for a potato and onion cake, which I bake in the oven. Were there onions in Marcy’s grandfather’s recipe? I think my recipe might be what you are looking for. I’ll dig my recipe out of the pile and give it a try soon. I’ll post it if it is a success. I haven’t made it in years, since my husband is not a fan of onions.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      All the best,
      Mairead

  21. I especially like to bake a few extra potatoes and use them in this recipe – the baking really brings out the potato flavor. I am making several loaves of brown bread, using your recipe, to give to friends later this week. Thank you for sharing! We really enjoy your recipes.

    • Kelly – Thanks for your great tip of using baked potatoes for this recipe. I bet it really heightens the potato flavor. I use baked sweet potatoes for my sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving time, but never thought to use a baked potato for this recipe. I’m going to make potato bread later this week, so I might try using a baked potato in it.
      So glad you found my site and that you enjoy my recipes.
      Take care,
      Mairéad

  22. Hi
    I’m English but living in Australia. I’m missing buying and eating potato cakes that much that I am going to try to make them myself! Do you know which potatos are best to use? There isnt a lot of choice over here and they are all really small, not great for jacket potatos…

  23. Maureen O Hanlon says:

    Thank you Mairead, Im going to make these they look lovely :) I love the step to step way you show how to make all your recipies :):)

    • Hope you enjoy them, Maureen.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

      • Hi Mairead,
        My husband and I have retired from the UK to Spain. I love your recipe, Can you please tell me if they are suitable for freezing?
        Saludos, Sheila

        • Sheila – You can freeze these potato cakes in small batches, in a plastic bag with as much air as possible removed. They might taste a little different and their texture is not as good as when they are freshly made. I never freeze mashed potatoes since their texture changes with freezing. I think these cakes don’t freeze perfectly because they are composed of so much potato. Hope this helps.
          Happy New Year to you.
          Mairéad

  24. I first tasted potato cakes as a young soldier serving in northern Ireland during the early 70’s. They were made for us by a lovely old irish lady who took pity on us when we patrolled her area in south Armagh god bless her. She even wrote out the recipe for me. I now make them for my own grandkids and they love them. Something good from a dark time.

    • Den – What a lovely story. God bless the little old lady who brightened your days with her potato cakes. I’m so glad your grandchildren love this little taste of Ireland too.
      All the best,
      Mairéad

  25. This was wonderful! Perfect way to start the day with some sausage and eggs. My son especially loved them.

  26. Lyssabye says:

    I made these for the first time and they were delicious! Thank you for sharing!

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