Easy Potato Cakes Recipe Using Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Transform your leftover mashed potatoes into crispy, cheesy potato cakes that melt in your mouth. These Mashed Potato Cakes make an irresistible side dish or vegetarian entree and are ready in under 20 minutes!

Stack of golden mashed potato cakes on plate topped with sour cream and green onions.

Whether classic mashed potatoes, crockpot mashed potatoes, or Instant Pot mashed potatoes, I am known to always make more mashed potatoes than needed.

And that is not by accident!

Not only does my family love mashed potatoes in all shapes and forms, but we also love recipes made using leftover mashed potatoes, like Pierogi Lasagna and these Mashed Potato Cakes.

Reasons to Love This Potato Cake Recipe

  • Unbelievably Delicious. Featuring a crispy exterior and a creamy, cheesy interior, Mashed Potatoes are simply irresistible. They remind me of a giant version of pan-fried gnocchi. Soft and light, yet crispy and decadent all at the same time. 
  • The Best Use of Leftovers. Not only are these potato cakes mouth-wateringly tasty, but they are also incredibly easy to make. When paired with a side salad or leftover veggies you have a hearty vegetarian meal.
  • Versatile. You can use this recipe for potato cakes using any leftover mashed potatoes you have on hand. This recipe even works using leftover mashed potato casserole. You can also opt to add in bacon, green onions, or even diced ham for a creative spin on mashed potato cakes.

Notes On Ingredients

Ingredients for mashed potato cakes labeled on counter.
  • Mashed Potatoes: While just about any variety of leftover mashed potatoes will work in this recipe, I suggest starting this recipe with thick, creamy, well-flavored mashed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. Don’t be tempted to use instant mashed potatoes to make mashed potato cakes. 
  • Eggs+ Flour: Both eggs and flour are the binders used to keep the leftover mashed potato cakes intact. Use all-purpose flour for best results.
  • Seasonings: The amount of seasonings needed to make your mashed potato cakes flavorful, will depend on how flavorful your leftover mashed potatoes are. If well seasoned, you won’t need to add anything more than a bit of onion powder and additional salt. If you feel that your mashed potatoes are lacking flavor, increase the amount of salt added. 
  • Cheese: Adding shredded cheese is optional, but is so incredibly good. I love using sharp cheddar, but mozzarella cheese or Swiss cheese will work as well. 
  • Oil: You can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or even simply cooking spray to pan-fry the potato cakes. I don’t recommend using butter as it can brown too quickly when pan-frying.

Optional Additions

  • Garlic: If you love the flavor of garlic, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 2-3 cloves of roasted and mashed garlic.
  • Bacon: Bacon and potatoes are a match made in heaven! Fold in up to ½ cup of chopped pan-fried or baked bacon to the mashed potato cake batter. I would suggest decreasing the added salt in half, as bacon can already be quite high in sodium.
  • Ham: Leftover baked ham or Instant Pot ham is another great addition to potato cakes. Add up to ½ cup of finely diced ham to the mashed potato cake batter. Just like with bacon, I would suggest decreasing the added salt by half if adding ham to the potato cakes. 
  • Green Onions or Chives: Add up to ⅓ cup of minced green onions or chives for a fresh, oniony flavor. 
  • Sour Cream: I add sour cream to nearly every variety of mashed potatoes I make. If your leftover mashed potatoes were not made with sour cream, add 2 tablespoons of sour cream to add a creaminess to the dish, along with a bit of tang.

Tips on How to Make The Best Potato Cakes

The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Start with flavorful leftover mashed potatoes. Give your mashed potatoes a taste. If they are bland or lacking flavor, increase the added salt. If they are not creamy, add 1-2 tablespoons of sour cream.
  2. Don’t overwork the potato cake batter. I recommend whisking the eggs prior to adding the leftover mashed potatoes, that will make it easier to incorporate the potatoes into the eggs, without overworking them, which can make them gummy or tough.
  3. Gradually add flour. If you find your potato cakes are not holding their shape, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time. You want the potato cakes to be thick, yet soft, and able to be shaped. If you add too much flour, your potato cakes will become dense.
  4. Shape patties before pan-frying. Potato cakes cook up quickly. I recommend shaping all the patties at once rather than shaping and adding them directly to the frying pan. This will help to ensure even cooking.
  5. Don’t turn up the heat. In order for the potato cakes to brown evenly and warm through, you want to panfry over medium heat. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat. That can result in potato cakes that are burned or not cooked through.
Baking dish lined with paper towels filled with potato cakes.

∗Serving Suggestions ∗

Whether served as a side dish alongside leftover roasted turkey or baked ham or served as a vegetarian entree paired with a Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, I recommend dolloping the potato cakes with a bit of sour cream and sliced chives or green onions.

Storage Instructions

Because this recipe starts using leftovers, it is best not to store Mashed Potato Cakes for longer than 2 days in the refrigerator. I also recommend not using leftover mashed potatoes that are more than 3 days old.

  • Refrigerate: Transfer the cooled mashed potato cakes to an airtight container, with layers separated by parchment paper or wax paper, to prevent the potato cakes from sticking together. Store the potato cakes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Freeze: Let the potato cakes cool completely, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid, or about 2 hours. Transfer them to a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze for up to 1 month.
  • Reheat: If refrigerated, pan-fry the potato cakes over medium-high heat in a lightly greased skillet for 1-2 minutes per side or until warmed through. If frozen, bake the potato cakes on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until warmed through. I don’t recommend thawing frozen potato cakes before reheating, as they can become soggy.

More Delicious Recipes Using Leftovers

If you tried this recipe for Mashed Potato Cakes, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.

Stack of golden mashed potato cakes on plate topped with sour cream and green onions.

Mashed Potato Cakes

Transform your leftover mashed potatoes into crispy, cheesy potato cakes that melt in your mouth in under 30 minutes!