I’m no grandma, and this isn’t my grandma’s recipe either. That said, I’ve rolled out hundreds of pounds of potatoes in almost 20 years now since my days as a “semi-professional lefse baker” at a Scandinavian bakery. I’ve made just about every mistake — ahem, learned every trick in the book along the way. Follow this guide, you’ll have perfect lefse too!
What you need to make lefse
1. High fat dairy. You need full-fat heavy cream and butter as it aids in the elasticity when rolling to get perfectly thin, transparent sheets. I’d even go so far as to suggest you track down European butter, which has a higher fat content. If you’re in MN/WI keep your eyes peeled for Hope Creamery products, as they’re the best you’ll find. Kerrygold can be found pretty widely and is great, too.
4. Lefse stick. Trust me, you need this stick.
5. Potato Ricer. The worst thing that can happen is lumps when rolling. They gunk up the pastry board and rolling pin, and turn all your lefse sheets into sticky hole-ridden lace. A potato ricer ensures they’re even. This $15 gadget will change your life (plus, a potato ricer is the perfect quick fix when you want mashed potatoes for just 1-2 people!).
You might notice there’s no lefse griddle on the essential list. Before I invested in one I used a pan on the stovetop — and later “upgraded” to a $20 pancake griddle. If you don’t want to invest in a giant, expensive countertop appliance you’ll might only use once a year —go for it. But, you can make do with what you’ve got, just roll your sheets the proper size to fit your setup.
The best lefse recipe
The recipe below for 5 lbs of potatoes makes about 40 sheets of lefse and takes me about 2 hours to roll and cook. Depending on your attention span and level of commitment, you may want to adjust your quantity accordingly!
Day 1: Potato Prep
5 lbs potatoes (Russet work well due to their high starch, and low moisture content.)
1 stick of butter
You want your potatoes really dry and cool for lefse making or you’ll end up with a wet, sticky mess when rolling. So, cook ’em up a day ahead of time. Start a large pot on the stove and heat to boiling while you:
- Wash and peel the potatoes.
- Use a paring knife and be sure to remove any eyes or tough/dark spots from the potatoes that the peeler missed — tough spots won’t rice evenly and will make a sticky mess out of your whole operation when you get to cooking.
- Dice the potatoes for even cooking — plus, it makes them easier to rice.
- Boil until soft when tested with a fork.
- Drain the potatoes.
- Rice while hot.
- For every 4c riced and lightly packed potatoes, add 3 T of butter, cubed.
Mix the butter into the hot, riced potatoes. You don’t want any unevenly distributed chunky bits of butter, or you’ll end up with a sticky mess when you get to rolling.
Pat the warm, buttery riced potatoes into a 9×13 pan and let cool uncovered on the counter. Remember how I said dry potatoes are the best? Allow them to steam off any extra moisture.
- Put in the fridge overnight.
Day 2: Roll and Cook!
Per 4 cups of lightly packed, riced potatoes as prepared on Day 1, add:
1.5 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
½ C heavy cream
Plus, a generous amount of extra flour. Seriously, lots and lots and lots. Don’t be stingy here! I load the pastry rolling board and rolling pin cover with about 1/3 cup of flour to start. In-between rolling each sheet, I add another 1 Tbsp or so to the board to keep it slick.
- Mix the dough
Blend riced potatoes, sugar, flour, salt, and heavy cream well. I find a dough hook works well and give it a good 2-3 minutes on medium.
- Prep your dough into patties
This is a solid time-saver once the rush of rolling and cooking begins. Roll into balls slightly larger than a golf ball and press gently between your palms. Place back into the 9×13 pan, and put the pan back in the fridge so the dough stays cold.
- Pre-heat your cooking surface
Start at 375. You can go as high as 400 if you’re a pro level baker with a fast approach, but 375 is a good temp to start with. My husband and I usually tag-team: one rolling and one flipping and crank it up to 400.
- Prepare your rolling surface
Put ⅓ cup flour on the pastry board and rub it in. Roll your covered rolling pin across the floured board several times to coat it as well.
- Roll on, lefse baker!
Pull a couple lefse patties out of the fridge.
It helps a ton when the lefse dough stays really cold, so I only pull out 3-4 patties at a time.
Put another 1T flour on the pastry board, drop your patty on the board, and put another 1T flour on top of it — remember, don’t be stingy here.
Roll it out: your sheet is thin enough when you can see the print from the pastry board just peeking through.
- Grab your lefse stick, and gently slide it under the sheet. Slide it back and forth the entire span of the sheet, making sure the sheet is completely free from the pastry board or it will tear when you try to lift it.
- With the lefse stick in the center of the sheet, gently lift it off the board and transfer to the griddle: place one edge on the griddle and roll the stick beneath the sheet toward the opposite end, until the entire sheet is on the griddle — you’ll flip it with this same technique.
- Keep an eye out for when the sheet has some light brown marks, and flip it.
- Let each sheet cool thoroughly before stacking, or the delicate sheets will collect moisture in-between and fuse into a thick, sticky lefse disc.
- Drop another 1T flour back on your pastry board, another lefse patty, and top it with another 1T flour….. roll, cook and repeat.
I keep a sharp, flat knife on hand to quickly scrape down any sticky spots on the pastry board or rolling pin. Even the smallest sticky spot is the greatest enemy of the rolling business, so I scrape them down and drop some extra flour on any offending areas.
Once your sheets are dry, stack them 2-3 thick and fold into quarters; they’ll more easily fit in a zip-lock that way.
They’ll store in the fridge for a couple weeks, or freeze. I’ve enjoyed lefse from the deep-freeze a year later!
Can I make gluten free lefse?
I’ve never tried it, but can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t work. If you give it a try, I’d love to know how it goes!
Can I make dairy free lefse?
YES! I have successfully made this recipe by replacing the butter with lard, and cream with almond milk (another non-dairy substitute would likely work the same).