Mama’s Potato Cakes


This is a recipe I’ve wanted to bring you for almost three years but am just now getting to it today. The reason I have waited so long for Mama to do this post is because nobody makes potato cakes like my Mama :). These things are so good they’re almost sacred. Knowing how much I love hers, I wanted her to be able to show you how she does it. Here is what she says about them:

This was my Mama Reed’s recipe.  She was a wonderful grandmother who worked hard all day long and never let anything go to waste.  She must have made extra potatoes because I can’t see her having enough left over to feed 10 kids plus herself and Papa Reed.  Kids usually love these so I would think they would eat 3 or 4 at least and probably more since half the kids were boys and worked on the farm.  After my mama and daddy got divorced Mama Reed had me help her with supper everyday and then Daddy and I would eat there.  I see now that she was doing this in order to teach me how to cook and I am so grateful for it.

I have so many of her recipes in my head that I need to write down.  Now I am thinking about making roast beef hash like she showed me and ham hash like Granny made.  Guess I need to lay out that ham bone that had so much meat on it and start chopping ham! If y’all don’t mind, I’ll come back and do a post on those one of these days, too.

Note to Christy: Did you know that I learned how to cut up a whole chicken thanks to Mama Reed and if I was really hungry I could catch it and wring it’s neck, then pluck it and singe the little pin feathers off it!  Now that’s something not everyone knows how to do!!

You’ll need: Flour, Leftover cold mashed potatoes*, Eggs.

Whatever flour you have on hand (self rising or all purpose) is fine for this but you really really really really ~insert about ten more “really”‘s here~ need to use real mashed potatoes. Save those instant ones to thicken your stews with and use in the crust on my taco casserole recipe.

We gotta make these puppies up right!

To your mashed potatoes, add egg and mix up really well. Then add flour. Stir it up really well with a fork until well blended like this. It will be very thick and sticky.

You can also add some finely diced onion at this point as well if you like but Mama leaves that out because this is one of the grandkid’s favorite things to eat and they aren’t that big on onions. Kids are weird this way – give ’em ten years or so and we think they’ll come around!

Heat just a little bit of oil (about two tablespoons, it doesn’t take much) in the bottom of a skillet and place over medium  heat for two to three minutes, or until hot.

This is important because if you don’t heat your oil first, your potato cakes will be greasy.

Scoop out heaping spoonfulls of potato mixture into the hot oil.

Dip the back of your spoon into the oil and then press down with it onto the potato cakes to flatten them a bit.

Fry until browned and then carefully flip them over and brown on the other side.

This photograph is a bit shaky but that is probably because a slew of grandkids ran through the kitchen as Mama was taking it. Between Austin, Jake, Lane, and Elle, her house stays hoppin’! On those occasions that we go to visit and throw our kids into the mix, it’s a wonder Mama’s walls are still standing!

Once they are browned on both sides remove to a paper towel lined plate and eat up!

Mama’s Potato Cakes
  • 2 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 whole egg
  • ¼ cup flour (all purpose or self rising)
  • 2 T. finely diced onions, optional
  1. Mix egg into mashed potatoes with a fork until well blended. Add flour and onions (if using onions) and mix well. Mixture will be very stiff.
  2. Pour approximately 2 T. oil into skillet and heat over medium heat.
  3. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of mixture into hot oil. Dip back of spoon into oil and mash potato mixture to flatten to about ¼ inch thick. By dipping the back of the spoon into the oil, the spoon will not stick to potatoes making flattening them much easier. Fry until browned and then flip and continue to brown patty on other side.
  4. Remove to paper towel lined plate to serve.
  5. Note from Mama: I do not use onions in my potato cakes since my grandmother never did. It is strictly personal perference. But if you do, make sure to dice them fine so that they will cook in the short amount of time it takes for patties to brown.
  6. *Makes about ten potato cakes

To read more about Mama Reed, check out these posts:

For every Goliath… there is a stone.

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  1. Susan McNeil says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been trying to find this recipe as this is how my mother use to make potato cakes and i couldn’t remember exactly how she did it. I love these so much, so thank you again for putting this old fashion recipe on line. i am so grateful to you.

  2. Linda C. says

    Christy, thank you so much for this recipe. My mother passed away 7 years ago and this is exactly how she made her potato cakes. I actually tried making them a week ago and knew they just weren’t like hers. I knew she added flour but never thought about the egg. I will treasure this recipe!

  3. Donna says

    This exactly how my mom makes them. I have done my own take and added green onions or jalapeno peppers….I like to roll my mine in panko crumbs for an extra crispy outer coating.

  4. uche says

    Woow, this recipe is really nice. But, in Nigeria where I come from, every woman knows how to kill, a chicken, pluck the feathers and cut it up. Am sure you ll enjoy the country…..

  5. Debbie says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. It tastes the same as when my mom made them and reminds me so much of her. One of the few recipes I neglected to get before she passed away.

  6. Carol says

    This is the best way to use up mashed potatoes. My boys would start eating them before I finished frying them all. I remember doing the same thing when I was growing up. My mom or I never used onions, daddy didn’t like them and neither did my boys. I’m glad I’ve found so many of your recipes that are like my mother’s. It sends me down a wonderful memory lane.

  7. Elaine says

    Christy, this is a great recipe! My italian grandma use t0 make these all the time for us, except she added a bit of parsley to the mashed potatoes and then she would dredge them thru some Italian bread crumbs before frying. This helped them not fall apart when flipping them !

  8. Diane Baranyai says

    Christy, These are just like the potato cakes my mom would make…She passed away 2 yrs ago and never got to make them for her greatgrand kids…Now I make them and they all love them, so once again thanks for bring back memories of my childhood…

  9. Becky High says

    I made these last night to go with crescent dogs and green beans. They were a hit! I was always hesitant to make potato cakes from leftover mashed potatoes because the ones I made before always fell apart. These didn’t. Hallelujah! And thanks!

  10. Trish S says

    Oh my gosh – my Sweet Aunt Dot made these for me when I was a little girl and I’ve never been able to duplicate them…yours look JUST like hers (and I’ve looked at a bunch of recipes). I’m going to try these…wish me luck!

  11. Julie says

    I just made these for my husband tonight and he can’t stop eating them or telling me between bites how wonderful they are and how he can’t believe I’ve never made these for him.
    Ty so much for posting this recipe. It’s like my Mom made me dinner tonight.

  12. Krysteen Young says

    I have some leftover mashed sweet potatoes that I am going to make into potato cakes. Hope they turn out as good as the potato cakes my Grandmother used to make with mashed potatoes. I have really enjoyed your posts. I never got any recipes from great or otherwise grandmothers or aunts. I am collecting them now for my five kids to have as they learn to cook. Thank you so much.

  13. Dee says

    Gosh, mom has been gone for over 10yrs! I could never remember the ratio for the flour! Remembered the eggs, but again, ratio! :) Your recipe is what I needed tonight! Thank you so much! What a life saver you are! Tastes just like mom’s! :) Oh by the way, I marked your page under my favorites for recipes!

  14. jbpk2010 says

    Hey I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this recipe, cause I have been trying to remember how my grandmother made hers cause they are one of my favorite things, and all the recipes have all kinds of stuff in them. And I could just never get mine right. Thank so much!!!

  15. Terri says

    Thank you for the recipe. My mom never made these. When i recentlygot married( I’m 49) my husband requested these. Because he is from the south, i chose this recipe. It was a big hit. Again, than you!

  16. Geri says

    I was raised on potato cakes, I am now 73 and still often make these even though I am now only cooking for my husband and myself, we love them. The only thing I would mention is I like to leave a few lumps of potato when mashing them. I use a potato masher, never a mixer which whips instead of mashing and leaves no lumps.

    We like the flavor of a bit of minced onion also even though my mom did not add onion to hers.

    Thanks for the “old” recipes, most of which I know of but my memory is not what I would like it to be.

    My mom made a raisin pie which I loved but I have not found the right recipe for it. I remember she used vinegar in some way and the filling was brown and not too sweet. This may sound odd but the flavor was wonderful!

  17. Jennifer Bristol says

    My Italian grandmother used to make these! Then we’d dip/coat them in Cinnamon and Sugar for a tasty treat.
    THANK YOU for posting this, all the other recipes add in other stuff, and I’ve been wanting to make them like Grandma used to.

  18. Ann Updegraff says

    Thank you so much for the recipe and for a printable view. Many websites are just posting facebook, pin, etc. and not just letting me print the recipe. Therefore, I have to highlight their recipe and print it. It is easier to just hit the print button like you have so I can print it immediately.

  19. says

    I just discovered your website today, and so glad I did. I’m a fellow Alabamaian, so we are practically neighbors! I love your site, and “listening” to you talk, it’s almost like visiting a friend.

    These potato cakes are exactly like my mama made, and I’m ashamed to say I had forgotten about them. Now I gotta make some mashed Tater’s so I can have leftovers to make these.

  20. Melissa says

    I love potato pancakes! My mom makes them just like this, except she does add a little onion. I have tried several times to make them, but no one makes them like my mama! We live in north Alabama, too.


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