Lefse (Scandinavian Potato Flatbread)

Lefse (Scandinavian Potato Flatbread)
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cooking lefse
Fresh lefse, right from the hot griddle!

This is what we wanted you to save leftover mashed potatoes for: lefse. We’ve wanted to make these for a while, but we never seem to have leftover mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are just so good that we generally eat them all the same day we make them. But, this time we planned ahead, and made more mashed potatoes than we could eat. All so we could make lefse the next day. Want to see how to make lefse? Just follow along.

We did have a recipe for lefse from Fire + Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking, by Darra Goldstein, but it used barley flour and started with one large russet potato. We didn’t have barley flour (we thought about grinding some), and we had mashed potatoes. So, we hit the Internet, but every recipe started with making mashed potatoes (from 5 to 10 pounds of potatoes), then adding flour. That’s fine, except we don’t know how much mashed potatoes come from 5 pound of potatoes, so we couldn’t judge how much flour to add. Eventually, we just decided to use about 1/2 cup flour for every cup of mashed, making it easy.

Lefse (Scandinavian Potato Flatbreads)

Yield: 8 lefse

Lefse (Scandinavian Potato Flatbreads)


  • 2 cups (480 g) leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 slightly heaping cup (160 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Abbreviated Instructions

In a medium bowl, stir together flour and mashed potatoes until it looks as if they'll form a dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface, and, with the aid of a dough scraper, knead about 20 times so you have a smooth, but soft, dough.

Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat a griddle, or heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat.

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a disc.

Working with one disc at a time, on a heavily floured work surface, roll into an 8- to 9-inch circle. Place on griddle and cook until beginning to brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned in spots, another 2 minutes. Place on a plate while you continue making lefse.


Ingredient discussion:

While you could make up mashed potatoes for this recipe, we think it’s just better to use leftover mashed potatoes. If you measure by volume (measuring cups), just remember this: 1 part flour, 2 parts mashed potatoes. Or, if you measure by weight: weigh the mashed potatoes, divide the amount by 3, and add that much flour. Either way, each cup of mashed potatoes (240 g) will make 4 perfect lefse. We used leftover Rosemary Mashed Potatoes, but plain mashed is probably more traditional.

Procedure in detail:

making lefse
Lefse is made from mashed potatoes and flour, nothing else.

Mix flour and potatoes. Place the mashed potatoes in a medium bowl and add the flour. Use a mixing spoon to start combining. Soon, most of the flour will be mixed into the potatoes and the dough will nearly come together. Turn it out onto a clean work surface.

kneading dough
It’ll only take a little kneading to incorporate all the flour. Don’t over-knead the dough, or you’ll have tough lefse.

Knead. Using your hands and a dough scraper, knead the dough about 20 times, or until all the flour is incorporated. You aren’t kneading this like dough, but, rather, folding and pressing flat. The dough will be soft and a bit sticky, so the dough scraper comes in handy to lift and fold the dough over itself. Once kneaded, shape into a disc about an inch thick.

Rest. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as 24. This gives the flour a chance to fully absorb moisture and develop enough gluten to hold the dough together.

Heat griddle. Place a smooth griddle or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and allow it to warm. A cast-iron pan is ideal for this, but any large heavy skillet should work. You do not need to oil the pan.

dividing dough
We cut the dough like a pie to make eight wedges.
preshaping dough
Pre-shaping the dough makes for easier rolling later. You won’t have to shape (and possibly get sticky dough on your hands) before each rolling.

Divide and pre-shape. Unwrap the dough and divide it into 8 roughly equally-sized pieces. Take each piece and shape into a small disc about 1/2 inch thick. While it isn’t necessary to pre-shape all the pieces, it is nice, when rolling out the dough, just to grab the next pre-shaped piece and start rolling.

rolling lefse
Use just enough pressure to roll the dough; too much, and the dough will break apart.
rolled lefse
The lefse will roll out as thin as a tortilla, 8-9 inches in diameter.

Roll. From here on out, work with a single piece of dough at a time. Generously dust your work surface with flour, and place a piece of dough in the middle. Add another dusting of flour, and start rolling, using very light pressure. The dough is soft enough that the weight of the rolling pin is just about enough to roll it out. As you work, roll from different angles, and check to make sure that it isn’t sticking to the surface below. Add more flour as needed. Continue rolling until you have a circle about 8 to 9 inches in diameter.

Fry. Lift gently and place the lefse on the hot griddle and let cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Lift and check to see if it has browned in spots. If so, flip, and cook until the other side has browned. Once done, remove to a plate. After cooking one or two lefse, we found that we could start a lefse on the griddle, roll the next halfway, flip the cooking lefse, and finish rolling while the one on the griddle finishes. You’ll work out a similar rhythm.

We love lefse! They’re sort of like a tortilla, only softer, with a slight potato flavor. They freeze well, too. Simply fold into quarters, place in a bag, and pop into the freezer. To eat, simply thaw and warm, either in a medium hot oven or the microwave. We will say that with a soft dough as this, they’re a little difficult to roll out — a generous dusting of flour really helps — so four stars, although the taste is worth five.

Worth the trouble?

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