Let’s Make Quick & Easy Potato Pancakes

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It may not be advisable to introduce a recipe with vivid memories of dry-heaving at the sight and smell of the subject-food, but I feel I must.   I recall sitting at the kitchen table with eyes watering, enduring looks of disapproval and disappointment from every other member of the family.  They wondered what was wrong with me.  I wondered what was wrong with me.  They scowled at me in disapproval.  I was not one of them.  I was a freak.

Uncooked potato pancakes

Dave’s potato pancakes in their pre-fried, natural state.

My parents and every one of my siblings loved potato pancakes.    I’m not certain if it was the smell or the taste that I loathed more as a child (probably the smell).  While growing up, I cannot think of another food that had more consistently initiated my gag reflex.  The smell.  It was the onions.  I know it now.  It was like mustard-gas.  But how could my brother and sisters handle it?  I wasn’t a particularly picky-eater.  There was something about potato pancakes…

I yearn to go back to those days to fully-experience the onion-stank, of those starch-infested potato cakes.  I wonder what is was.  What was it that got in the way?  What caused me to have such a negative potato pancake perspective at such a tender age?  Nearly thirty years have passed since then.  It has taken thirty years for me to give potato pancakes a second chance.  Now, more so than ever before, I wonder what was wrong with me then.  How could I have been so wrong!?  Potato pancakes are, surprisingly, delicious.

I believe it was a Bavarian-inspired pork roast that provoked my return to the potato pancake.  No, it was kielbasa and sauerkraut.  That’s what it was.  I was in need of an additional element to complete a meal.  With the kielbasa and kraut served-up together family-style, I wanted something more, separate.  An add-on side of vegetables seemed lame.  Mashed potatoes seemed right, but meh, he consistency of mashed potatoes didn’t seem to fit.  That was when I went there.  I went to that dark place in my childhood.  I was overcome by a rush of repressed memories.  I could take no more of it; it was time to face the pan-fried demons of my past.

Now, I’m not a conventional cook, and that works for me about 70% of the time.  I have a cabinet full of cook books; I have not opened them in years. To me, cooking is like experimental art.  Baking, by comparison, is like chemistry.  Baking is for people who follow directions.  I have sincere respect for those who can bake, but I cannot.  I say all this as a disclaimer of sorts, because when I talk recipes or cooking, expect a rough guideline, not precision.  Here’s what I came up with for quick and easy-to-make gluten-free potato pancakes:

Potato Pancake Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups – dried/instant mashed potatoes (I regularly use the cheapo Aldi stuff).
  • .5 cup – white rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • .5 medium yellow onion (minced)
  • 1 tbsp. – olive oil
  • 1 – 2 cups – milk (add only what is needed to reach the correct consistency)
  • 2 tbsp. – dried dill
  • 1 tbsp. – smoked paprika (sweet or hot – here’s my favorite very smokey and tasty)
  • 1 tsp. – salt
  • 1 tsp. – black pepper


First, combine the instant potatoes, rice flour, dill, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the egg, minced onion, and the olive oil to the dry ingredients. Finally, add the milk in 1/2 cup increments, stopping to mix and test the

Potato Pancakes

Dave’s (no-hurl) Gluten-Free Potato Pancakes

consistency of the batter as before adding more. You will know the consistency is correct when you can easily hand-form the pancakes without them crumbling, or being too mushy. If you add too much milk, add more instant potatoes until the consistency is correct. This recipe will yield roughly one dozen 4″ diameter potato pancakes (about 1/4″ thick).

Once all of the pancakes have been formed, pan-fry them in about a 1/4″ of canola and/or coconut oil. Be sure the oil is HOT and sizzles prior to adding the pancakes. The golden brown goodness begins at about the 3 minute mark. Expect to fry the pancakes for 3-4 minutes per side. (I usually lower the temperature on the stove a to medium once the pancakes are frying.  If you notice any burnt bits in the pan, you may need to clean out the pan and fry the next batch in new oil.)

Once fried, remove from oil and place on paper towels to dry. To keep warm, place in a warm oven.

Prior to serving, sprinkle the potato pancakes with a pinch of dried dill. Serve with a sour cream or plain.

If you’d like, the finished potato pancakes can be frozen and reheated at another time.  When making these, I’ll usually prepare two batches, one to have with dinner the same night and one to freeze.  Reheat in an oven, toaster, or microwave.


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