Nana’s Potato Pancakes is our family’s version of an Americanized boxty. Made with leftover mashed potatoes, they whip up in no time for a delicious and fun side dish or brunch recipe.
So many of my favorite recipes are from our family recipes. Nana’s corn pudding and Mom’s pierogies are favorites with me. Then there’s hot pepper jelly, beer cheese, cabbage rolls. Not to mention the cookies we made every year. Just pure comfort food in my book.
What is boxty?
It’s sort of like a latke but made with mashed and grated potatoes. You can bake, boil, or pan fry boxty. Boiled boxty is like a huge potato dumpling. Baked is made in a loaf pan like a bread. Pan fried is exactly how I prepared these pancakes. However, boxty is not a famine recipe, as some might incorrectly call it.
Boxty is one of those recipes that people were making for decades and maybe centuries before an official record of the dish was published. It’s mentioned in a book from 1828 but was known across the country well before then. Sort of like all those country pasta recipes from Italy like alfredo and carbonara.
What is a potato pancake?
Have you heard the saying that all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares? Latkes, boxty, Swedish raggmunk, Korean gamja-jeon, and Polish placki ziemniaczane are all potato pancakes.
They’re essentially some form of potato (mashed, boiled, grated, etc.) mixed with some form of flour or meal like matzo meal. There’s a binder like eggs or applesauce and they’re mixed with either sweet or savory seasonings. Then there’s the toppings like sour cream, applesauce, powdered sugar, fruit, etc.
There are many different ways to make potato pancakes. You can make potato pancakes from mashed potatoes. Then there’s shredded potato pancakes like latkes. There are potato pancake recipes without flour that probably use matzo meal like latkes or coconut flours. Maybe a nut flour? That might be interesting to try but not this time.
How do you make potato pancakes?
Well, that depends on the type you’re making. These are easy potato pancakes with mashed potatoes. They are not potato pancakes with grated potatoes. You could add some if you want. I didn’t because I am not the biggest fan of grating things. The hubs usually volunteers to do that for me. He was in the living room. I just wanted to whip these up real quick. The mashed potatoes make these potato pancakes easy and super quick..
Making potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes makes them super easy! You don’t have to boil and mash potatoes before making them. I’m sure that’s how Nana and her ancestors morphed the boxty recipe into this one.
And it’s not like you have to morph it that far. Just omit the grated potatoes. And there’s the whole repurposing leftovers because you don’t have a lot of money for food. Necessity is the mother of invention and I’m sure that’s how boxty and these mashed potato pancakes came into being.
Mashed potato for dinner means potato pancakes for breakfast.
If we had mashed potatoes for dinner at Nana’s it was almost guaranteed that we would have potato pancakes for breakfast the next day. I don’t remember having hash browns or home fries. I only remember having potato pancakes using mashed potatoes for breakfast at her house. Of course, my memory is not the greatest. Maybe we did have hash browns. But those potato pancakes cooked up in some bacon grease is heaven in my book.
As you can see in this picture, these are potato pancakes with cheese. You could totally make a loaded potato pancake with green onions and bacon. There are minced onions already in this potato pancake recipe, but you could swap green onions if you want. We have made them loaded and they are super delicious with a couple of fried eggs for breakfast.
This is one of those potato pancake recipes where you kind of have to eyeball things. It all depends on your mashed potatoes. Are they whipped? Super creamy? Hand mashed? All those will affect the amount of flour that you will need for these potato pancakes. Mine were whipped and super light and creamy. I added a 1/4 cup of flour but probably could have used one or two tablespoons more to make them fluffier.
Nana’s potato pancakes are creamy and fluffy.
The baking soda makes them slightly light and fluffy while still keeping that creamy mashed potato goodness. The onions and cheese add delicious flavor. Then the crispy, pan fried crust on the outside. My mouth is watering. I think there’s a few left in the fridge. I might have to heat them up for lunch.
The batter is not like pancake batter. It’s thicker so they will not spread when you put them in the pan. I usually wet my hands a little and press them to about 1/4 inch thickness. For me, that’s the perfect thickness because the baking soda fluffs them up to about 1/2 inch when it’s time to flip them. I carefully flip them and cook until golden brown on the second side.
What do you put on potato pancakes?
Now in our house, we have an argument about toppings. I am a purist with sour cream. I have never in my life put applesauce on potato pancakes. That wasn’t even an option in our house. Even though we have some German in our roots, it was always sour cream for us. The hubs on the other hand doesn’t like sour cream at all. The only way he will eat it is stirred into sauce like Swedish meatballs.
I, on the other hand, can eat it plain. Like straight out of the container with a spoon. I see you making that face. Yes. I love sour cream that much. And I will spread each of these potato pancakes with enough to have a decent amount of sour cream with each bite. That cool creamy goodness makes potato pancakes taste amazing.
See what I mean? Don’t they look totally scrumptious with that sour cream on there? And I would put a dollop about that size on each of those for extra creamy goodness. Then I’d sprinkle them with more onions and shredded cheese. Maybe some bacon crumbles.
I’ve also topped them with chili and cheese, salsa and crema. They could be a delicious base for eggs benedict. I bet some smoked salmon could be great on there, if you liked salmon that is. But as y’all know I don’t. But I do love Nana’s potato pancakes. It’s a perfectly delicious and easy potato pancake recipe.
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine everything but the olive oil in a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat (or a two burner griddle pan like I used).
- Spread the olive oil over the skillet.
- Drop the batter by 1/4 cup fulls into the pan.
- Cook on medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook 7 to 10 minutes on the second side until puffy and golden brown.
- Serve topped with sour cream and chopped green onions.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 200Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 37mgSodium 652mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 5g
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!
- Beer Battered Bangers by Palatable Pastime
- Boxty by Magical Ingredients
- Irish Soda Bread Muffins by Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Lime Poke Cake by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Nana’s Potato Pancakes by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Raisin Irish Soda Bread by Art of Natural Living
- Shephard’s Pie by That Recipe