Darina Allen’s Potato and Caraway Seed Cakes

published Mar 15, 2022
Potato and Caraway Seed Cakes Recipe

To use up leftover mashed potatoes, look to potato and caraway seed cakes.


Makes12 (3-inch) cakes

Prep20 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 48 minutes

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potato and caraway seed cakes in a cast iron pan sizzling
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

These simple, delicious caraway-spiced potato cakes were inspired by a description by Flurry Knox’s character in Some Experiences of an Irish R.M., a classic collection of short stories by Somerville and Ross published in 1899.

“While I live I shall not forget her potato cakes. They came in hot and hot from a pot-oven, they were speckled with caraway seeds, they swam in salt butter, and we ate them shamelessly and greasily, and washed them down with hot whiskey and water.”

Reading that made my mouth water, so I knew I had to try and make this work of fiction a reality in my own kitchen. The recipe was an instant hit and we’ve been making it at The Ballymaloe Cookery School, which I co-founded in 1983, for more than 25 years. The recipe is a wonderful way of using up leftover mashed potato. Zero waste is a huge part of the ethos at Ballymaloe Cookery School, so we strive to use up whatever we can.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You Make My Potato and Caraway Seed Cakes, a Few Tips

  • Go for Yukon Golds: The recipe calls for yellow or round white potatoes, but in the U.S. Yukon Gold potatoes are a good swap-in.
  • Cook the potatoes in their skins: Although you can certainly start with leftover mashed potatoes, this recipe includes a method for making them. I recommend boiling the potatoes in their jackets because they retain their flavor when cooked and there is less waste when peeled.
  • Do a taste test: Before cooking off the entire batch, cook off a little morsel of the potato mixture, taste for seasoning, and tweak if necessary. 
  • Don’t toss the peels: Use the potato peelings to make potato peel crisps. Deep-fry until golden-brown and crisp, sprinkle with Irish sea salt, and enjoy. 

Potato and Caraway Seed Cakes Recipe

To use up leftover mashed potatoes, look to potato and caraway seed cakes.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 48 minutes

Makes 12 (3-inch) cakes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 pounds

    yellow or white potatoes (4 to 5 large)

  • 1/4

    medium yellow onion (about 2 ounces)

  • 2 to 3 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon

    caraway seeds

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the potatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided


  1. Place 1 1/2 pounds yellow or white potatoes in a large saucepan and season heavily with kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook until the potatoes are knife tender, about 25 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, finely chop 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1/3 cup). Pick and finely chop the leaves from 2 to 3 fresh parsley sprigs until you have 1 tablespoon. Melt 3 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  3. When the potatoes are ready, drain. Peel while still hot. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill into a large bowl, or place in the bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add the parsley, onion, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and stir to combine. Add 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and stir until combined.

  4. Knead the mixture in the bowl a little until smooth. Transfer to a work surface and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Gather the scraps together and re-roll and cut more rounds until you have 12 total. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up.

  5. Melt 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 of the cakes and fry until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat frying the remaining cakes in 2 more batches, adding 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter to the pan before each batch.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Recipe taken from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen published by Kyle Books.