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How to make potato cakes

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall / 02 March 2016 ( 16 June 2020 )

Find out how to make potato cakes with this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It's perfect for using up leftover mashed potato by turning it into these delicious fluffy potato cakes.

Potato cakes
Turn leftover mashed potatoes into delicious potato cakes

Cooking time

30 minutes




  • 300–500g mashed potato or well-crushed roast potatoes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1–2 tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1–2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Rapeseed or sunflower oil, for frying
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


This recipe for crisp and fluffy homemade potato cakes is terrific for a cooked breakfast or brunch, either served plain (but well seasoned) or with a traditional selection of fried, poached or scrambled eggs, bacon, black pudding, fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes etc.

Alternatively, you can use these potato cakes as a vehicle for even more leftovers, stirring vegetables, herbs, cheese and/or extra seasonings into the basic mashed potato cake mixture.

Making the potato cakes

In a bowl, mix together the potato, egg, flour and milk – the amount of flour and milk you should add will depend on the amount of mash. It needs to be a fairly thick dough, so you may not need any milk at all, especially if the mash is quite soft to start with.

Season the mixture well with salt and pepper and stir in any extra ingredients that you would like to add (see tips and swaps, below).

Using lightly floured hands, form the mixture into potato cakes, about 2cm thick and 7cm in diameter.

You’ll need to cook the potato cakes in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Heat a thin film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 3 or 4 cakes and fry for 3–5 minutes each side, until crisp and golden brown.

Drain the potato cakes on kitchen paper and keep them warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

Delicious with bacon and indeed any – or all – of your favourite breakfast components.

Tips and swaps for potato cakes

Add any of the following to the potato mix for extra flavour:

  • Herbs, such as chopped parsley, chives, soft thyme, lovage or chervil.
  • Sliced spring onions, finely diced shallots, or sautéed chopped onions and/or leeks.
  • A little finely chopped garlic.
  • Good pinch of English mustard powder.
  • Handful of grated cheese.
  • Some crumbled leftover cooked bacon, or even sausage, haggis or black pudding. Or try a few bits of shredded ham.

Extract taken from River Cottage Love Your Leftovers by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £20) Photography © Simon Wheeler.

Whether you like them boiled, mashed or stewed, there’s plenty to discover with our other potato recipes, or try this recipe for sweet potato cakes


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.