Leftover Mashed Potatoes Into Potato Cakes

~ by Texas Homesteader ~ 

I use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato cakes. Quick & easy and a great way to rework leftovers into something delicious. Soft & pillowy inside, crunchy outside – POTATO CAKES! 

POTATO CAKES! I use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato cakes. Quick & easy and a great way to rework leftovers into something DELICIOUS! #TexasHomesteader

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Several weeks ago I found myself with an abundance of potatoes and realized there was no way RancherMan & I could eat them all before they went bad.

So I went into high-gear preservation mode & dehydrated many of them. And some of them went into the freezer.

But I’ve found RancherMan’s absolute FAVORITE way to eat leftover mashed potatoes – POTATO CAKES!

Freezing Excess Fresh Potatoes

Most of the potatoes were cooked and frozen for future meals. When I freeze potatoes I cook and mash them but add nothing else. No salt, pepper, milk or butter – just cooked mashed potatoes.

I typically section them in sandwich bags into serving-sized portions & freeze them into individual bricks.

To use them I’ll pull a brick of frozen mashed potatoes out of the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. (The thawed mashed potatoes usually release quite a bit of water. That potato water is not wasted but usually added to my weekly endless soup pot.)

The now-thawed and drained mashed potatoes are often enjoyed for supper that night by simply heating them and adding salt & pepper, a small pat of butter and maybe a light splash of milk.

Neither RancherMan nor I can tell a difference in these potatoes and the potatoes I’ve cooked fresh & mashed. So it’s a great way to reduce food waste if you’re not going to be able to go through that whole bag of potatoes before they go bad. 

Using Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Now we don’t often eat fried foods but I view it as I view anything else in our healthy diet – moderation in all things. So occasionally I’ll make RancherMan a batch of potato cakes – or some folks call them potato pancakes. They’re super easy to whip up.

Turn cold leftover mashed potatoes into a more exciting side dish - potato cakes! #TexasHomesteader

I pull out those leftover cold mashed potatoes and if they were previously frozen I’ll thaw & drain the water from them. Then into a bowl the potatoes go.

I’ll add an egg and some minced veggies like onion or garlic or maybe bell pepper. It all depends on what I have on hand needing to be used. But I always mince them up small since diced veggies wouldn’t really have time to cook in these potato cakes.

Then I’ll add salt & pepper and enough fine bread crumbs to make the mixture thick enough for me to roll into small 1.5″ – 2″ balls.

I like to have another saucer of breadcrumbs set aside to coat the potato cakes one final time before frying them.

Cooking The Potato Cakes

Here’s how I cook them: I take out my cast-iron skillet and add enough Bacon Grease to cover the bottom, about the same quantity of oil as if I were making french fries I suppose. Then I turn the stove to medium heat.

When the oil is hot I take a potato ball and roll it in my reserved bread crumbs, pressing it gently into a thick patty & being sure to coat all sides. This is an optional step but I like the crust it adds to my potato cakes.

Then I take that patty and drop it into the hot grease. I continue to make up the remaining potato cakes in the same manner.

After a short time I gently flip the potato cakes to brown the other side. Then I serve ’em up as a side dish with our supper. 

They’re crispy on the outside and soft and savory on the inside. We LOVE them.

Since potato cakes are made from leftover mashed potatoes it’s a very inexpensive way to remake a leftover item into something new & delicious. Planned Leftovers, y’all!

Recipe Flexibility

As I mentioned earlier it’s so easy to change ’em up each time to either use what you already have or to flavor them to go with your meal. 

Sometimes I add shredded cheese or chopped chives to the mixture. And sometimes I season them with Italian or Mexican spices to go with our main-dish theme.  And I’ve been known to make white gravy & ladle over them too. It’s very flexible and a very forgiving recipe.

Keep in mind that the potatoes need to be cold to make them easier to handle. And the potato cakes are slightly fragile going into the skillet.

I sidestep that by doing a final roll in breadcrumbs to coat the outside, as well as making sure the oil is already hot before placing the potato cakes in the skillet. That helps to crisp the crust on the outside quickly and eases the flipping too.

Making potato cakes from leftover mashed potatoes is such an easy way to make my handsome RancherMan happy at suppertime.

POTATO CAKES! I use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato cakes. Quick & easy and a great way to rework leftovers into something DELICIOUS! #TexasHomesteader

You know I simply CAN’T follow a recipe and am guilty of amending it each & every time I make it. And you don’t have to either.

Add whatever seasonings your family likes and mince a few fresh veggies to mix in & add flavor too if you want!

But here’s the base recipe I start with:

Potato Cakes

Use cold leftover mashed potatoes and remake them into potato cakes. Soft and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside. A delicious way to eliminate leftover food waste. #TexasHomesteader

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword leftover, leftovers, mashed potatoes, planned leftovers, potatoes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 5 people
Author www.TexasHomesteader.com


  • Cold Leftover Mashed Potatoes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs or more if needed to make a thick potato mixture
  • Minced Onion, Bell Pepper, and/or Garlic To Taste, (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Additional Breadcrumbs for Coating


  1. Into cold leftover mashed potatoes mix one egg and some minced onion, bell pepper and/or garlic into potatoes. Season with salt & pepper and then mix in enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture thick enough to roll into approximately 1.5" - 2" balls. Set aside about another 1/4 cup breadcrumbs if desired for coating.

  2. Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of your skillet and heat at medium until hot. Take each ball of potato and roll in reserved breadcrumbs to coat, mashing ball into a thick patty and place patty into hot oil. Cook about 3-4 minutes each side or until brown. Serve hot.


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37 thoughts on “Leftover Mashed Potatoes Into Potato Cakes

  1. Renee

    I first experienced these after I married my husband. My mother-in-law made what she called potato pancakes and they were oh so good. This recipe looks yummy too!

  2. Margy

    I think I like the crispy potato pancakes even more than the original mashed potatoes. This recipe sounds even better than the one I use. – Margy

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Us too Margy. I’m always sure to get the oil good & hot first, roll my potato cakes in one final coating of breadcrumbs and toss ’em in my cast-iron skillet to get them good & crispy on the outside, hot & smooth on the inside. Ummmmm… ~TxH~

  3. Greg Hill

    I am always thrilled when a see a left overs repurposed into another meal with a completely different taste texture and look. Great Job !! again to bring simple to the table, saving time money and less food waste.
    Your rocking in Texas … ~TxH~

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      (blushes) Always such kind comments Greg. Thanks!! Oh, and I made plenty of these potato cakes for RancherMan to enjoy for a supper side, and some STILL left over! I’ll pop ’em in the oven to re-crisp them and he’s going to be over the moon when he finds out he gets to enjoy them tonight too! ~TxH~

  4. Rachel

    As many of us have experienced especially around the holidays, to many mashed or baked potatoes. I love being able to re-use leftovers in a way that will make them not taste like leftovers. I am excited to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday.

  5. Terri Presser

    Yum, these look great and delicious. I am reading this before breakfast and now I am really hungry. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  6. Gentle Joy

    Yum….. we like these… and I don’t know why I don’t make them more often! Thank you for the reminder. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Kyra

    These look so great! I have tried to make potato cakes in the past but without egg and they never really turn out, they just crumble when I try to flip them. Do you have any suggestions for what I could use instead of the egg?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The egg is the binder Kyra, it helps keep everything together. Also when I roll the potato cakes I’ll usually roll them in breadcrumbs before dropping them in the skillet. Also you want to have the oil in the skillet already hot so it will make that potato cake surface crusty and that will help them stay together when they’re flipped as well. Give ’em another try, you’ll love them! ~TxH~

  8. Anna

    My husband is a big fan of potato cakes too. His favorite is mashed potatoes with a little cheddar, cilantro and jalapenos. Put an over easy egg on top and he is in love!

  9. JES

    These look delicious! I am thinking with some breakfast eggs in the morning too. A nice ranch-style meal ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! I really enjoy my visits here and always get ideas!

  10. Margy

    This was a trick I learned from my mom to use up old mashed potatoes. They are the best cooked slowly in real butter until crisp on the outside. I think my husband like these more than the original mashed ones. – Margy

  11. Lydia @ Thrifty Frugal Mom

    Oh, my mom used to make these with leftover mashed potatoes and we loved them! In fact, we often hoped that there would be leftovers just so we could enjoy these. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Nicole

    That is the perfect thing to do with leftover mashed potatoes. I bet they don’t last long!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I may purposely make too much mashed potatoes one night to assure there’s leftovers for making potato cakes the next night, but there dang sure isn’t any potato cakes leftover – ever. My man loves them. ~TxH~

  13. Amy M

    I haven’t had potato pancakes in ages. These look delicious! I’ll need to remember this idea for leftovers later on.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve been told potato cakes have been around for ages, but I never had them as a child. When I made them for RancherMan several years ago, he FLIPPED! Now I purposely make too many mashed potatoes so we’ll have plenty leftover for potato cakes the next day. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~TxH~

  14. Sandra

    These make me think of mom ๐Ÿ™‚
    She used to make these when I was a kid!

  15. Stephanie

    My mom used to make something similar to this when I was growing up and I always loved them! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  16. Gentle Joy

    I haven’t had potato pancakes since I was a kid…. have thought of them and known my family would love them, but just never made them… or remembered exactly how to do it….. We will be making them now…. my family will LOVE these. One problem though… is that we NEVER have leftover potatoes… (what are leftovers anyway???? ๐Ÿ™‚ Big family… lots of growing boys…. they eat a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚ We will be making potatoes on purpose for this, though. Thank you for posting this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Erlene

    It’s not often that our family of six has leftovers, but I love this idea of potato cakes. Kind of reminds me of Japanese croquettes. Will give this a try for some of our meatless meals. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday Linky Party. Pinned.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thank goodness I had a bag of fresh potatoes that would go bad during our week-long vacation absence so I had to cook/mash/freeze them to preserve them. It was only with this glut of prepared potatoes that I stumbled upon the idea of potato cakes. It’s now a ranch favorite here! ~TxH~

  18. Maria

    What a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes! These sound great!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Ya know Maria, we NEVER have leftover mashed potatoes because RancherMan loves them. But I had to cook & mash several pounds of potatoes and freeze them because we were going out of town for a week and the potatoes wouldn’t have made it until our return. That’s the reason I was looking for ways to use leftover mashed potatoes, but RancherMan loves potato cakes even more than mashed potatoes! ~TxH~

  19. Amanda (Moming About)

    Ironic that I was just wondering what I could do with leftover mashed potatoes. I think you read my mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Lori Hart

    My dad used to do this for breakfast with our leftover potatoes. This looks amazing!! Found you at Back to the Basics. I am one of the hostesses of Tickle My Tastebuds and would love you to stop by and link up this recipe if you have not yet already. Here is the link http://bit.ly/1pffa2F

  21. Lisa from Iroquois

    I use our left over mashed potatoes to make potato biscuits. Yummy. Never tried to freeze the leftover potato and then re-use later, but that sounds like worth trying too.

  22. CTY

    Growing up these were made with mashed or shredded potatoes & shredded garden whatever– zucchini. carrots, onion, green tomatoes. We called them Alot kes (meaning a lot of latkes). We were the only ones I knew of that had them with applesauce. People look at me strange when I say we ate them with applesauce. I think we’ll have them for dinner tonight (thanks for the idea). Just the cakes & applesauce.
    Another idea for leftover mashed potatoes is to mix them with severely shredded, cooked boneless chicken & 1 egg then roll them into croquettes. Next roll them into bread crumbs and place on cookie sheet; brush with olive oil and bake 15 min at 450F. I make biscuits & gravy to go along, BTW left over croquette biscuit sandwiches with a little mayo make an awesome sack lunch.

  23. Mindie Hilton

    These sound so comforting and good. My mom knows how to pinch a penny, and she use to make something similar for us.

  24. April

    Your Potato Pancakes look delicious! I just started a new link-up – Meal Planning Monday Recipe Link-Up, and would love to invite you to share your recipe at my linky party. ๐Ÿ™‚ http://www.aprilshomemaking.com/2014/03/meal-planning-monday-recipe-link-up.html

  25. Tamara Hampton

    I giggled and nodded knowingly about “not eating alot of fried foods” here in East Texas and they fry anything and everything here. I remember a conversaton with a friend about fried biscuits… I couldn’t believe they would deep fry a biscuit! Im with you though and over time my husband has seen the light that not everything has to have an oil bath to be good! Potato pancakes are a favorite here… we have never rolled them in bread crumbs and I am going to have to try that.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL Tamara – fellow Texan understands the fried thing! I like fried food – c’mon everyone knows fried chicken can’t be beat. But for the sake of health we only eat fried foods in moderation. Give the final coating of bread crumbs a try, I find that makes a pretty large difference in how well everything holds together as well as adding a delicious a crispy crunch. ~TxH~

  26. Candy C.

    My hubby is a big fan of potato pancakes too. I usually try to start with leftover mashed potatoes with the milk and butter already in them and don’t have much luck. I see now that I need to start with leftover plain potatoes! Thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Hummm Candy, wonder if you could toss in a few more breadcrumbs or maybe a spoonful of flour for your mashed potatoes with milk & butter already mixed in? As long as you can make them into a firm-ish ball you should be good to go. I also find that coating the ball with breadcrumbs before placing it in the skillet helps to form a crispy crust that holds everything together. ~TxH~

  27. Karen

    Girl after my own heart. You have such great ideas for stretching the pennies… right down to the potato water for the endless soup pot. Never thought about freezing leftover mashed potatoes. Potato pancakes make my hubby happy too. Thanks for the recipe!


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