Instant potato flakes aren't exactly high on most lists of pantry essentials. You may keep them around in chilly months as a quick and easy shortcut to creamy mashed potatoes, but they're probably more likely collecting dust on supermarket shelves.
What you might not know, though, is that these little flakes — made most often from either russet potatoes or Yukon Golds that have been cooked, mashed, and dehydrated — can work their magic in a surprising amount of dishes. Similar to potato starch, they can act as a thickener for gravies and soups. But they can also make chicken crispier, focaccia fluffier, and meatloaf more moist. Read on for our favorite ways to use them.
1. Make extra-crispy chicken, fish, or pork.
After dipping chicken breasts or tenders, fish fillets, or lightly pounded pork chops into an egg wash, dredge them in a mixture of potato flakes, Parmesan cheese, and the seasonings of your choice and bake or fry until golden. The flakes create a light and crispy coating that keeps the meat moist, and they're a great gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs or crushed crackers. Think of it as coating your meat in hash browns.
Try the Technique
2. Bake soft & fluffy biscuits, rolls, and focaccia.
Adding starchy instant potato flakes to homemade bread gives it a uniquely soft and fluffy texture, and whatever you make — be it dinner rolls or a sheet pan of focaccia bread — will remain fresh for several days after it's baked. Plus, the potassium from the potatoes causes the yeast to rise faster, meaning you'll be digging in that much sooner.
Try the technique: Potato Dough Rolls
3. Whip up light-as-air gnocchi.
Starting with the dehydrated cooked potato flakes means you can get away with adding less flour to your gnocchi dough — resulting in a fluffier, less gummy gnocchi. Plus, you get to skip over the steps of cooking and ricing whole potatoes.
Try the technique: Rehydrate instant potato flakes with boiling water until you have a fairly crumbly mix. Then stir in the egg, flour, and salt, and proceed as directed in our easy gnocchi recipe
4. Make moist and tender meatloaf.
Replace the binding agent in meatloaf — most often dried or fresh bread crumbs, rice, or oats — with instant potato flakes. The flakes keep the meat tender and moist, and blend easily into the mix. Opt for flavored potato flakes — such as butter and herb — to instantly add flavor to the meatloaf.