This traditional Irish potato cake is made with a mixture of cooked, mashed potatoes and raw shredded potato, bound together with flour and buttermilk, then fried in a skillet.
When I married a man of Irish ancestry, I inherited a very Irish last name. I’m not even a little bit Irish myself. My ancestry is very British. When I told my husband that I made Irish potato cakes, he was thrilled in a way only an Irishman could be. And when I told him I topped them with Crème Fraîche and chives, he laughed and told me my British was showing :)
Boxty is, of course, a traditional Irish potato recipe and there are about as many different Boxty recipes as there are Irishmen. This version is very much potato, with a mixture of mashed potatoes and raw, grated potatoes, held together with some flour and buttermilk. The thick potato batter is then fried in small rounds “on the griddle” or alternately, as one large round “on the pan”.
You can enjoy these potato cakes plain, or top with sour cream and green onion or with Crème Fraîche and chives … as you like. Serve them alongside bacon and eggs for a hearty breakfast or top them with an egg for anytime enjoyment.
- Russet potatoes – these are the large baking potatoes. You will need a total of 18 oz. of potato. Since russets can be quite large, you may find you just need one large potato. If you don’t have a scale, refer to the photos below to see what 18 oz of potato looks like.
- Buttermilk – you can use regular milk here, if you don’t have buttermilk. You can also make your own buttermilk substitute by adding 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar to 1/2 cup of regular milk.
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cooking oil, for frying
- Optional: Sour creme or creme fraiche, green onion or chives, for topping
- Start with 18 oz of russet potato (1 lb, 2 oz)
- Divide into two 9 oz. portions.
- Take one of the 9 oz potato pieces and cube into 1-inch pieces.
- Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Grate the other 9 oz portion of the potato
- Use a tea towel or other clean cloth to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Drain your cubed potatoes, then mash them.
- Combine the grated potato with the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. (Yes, my grated potatoes turned pink! You aren’t seeing things :) It is quite common for grated russet potatoes to turn pink. It’s quite fine to eat them that way.)
- Add the cook, mashed potatoes.
- Add enough buttermilk to make a mixture that is like stiff mashed potatoes.
- Spoon spoonfuls of the batter into a heavy skillet, brushed with oil. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Alternately, add all the batter to the pan to make one large round.
Just a heads up that if you squeeze your shredded potato with a clean tea towel, that the colour/stain from the potatoes may not come out even after washing. So either use a tea towel that you don’t care if it stains, or use an alternate method to get the liquid out of your potatoes (coffee filter, cheesecloth) or just squeeze well by hand.
If you happen to have left-over mashed potatoes, you can use them in place of cooking the cubed potatoes. It doesn’t matter if they are already buttered and salted. Just use 1 cup of them as is. Perhaps reduce the added salt in the batter slightly to compensate for the bit of salt in the prepared mashed potatoes.
As noted, instead of small rounds, you can use the batter to make one large potato cake. A couple of extra notes for the large version –
1) Don’t spread the batter to the edge of the pan, so you have room to flip it.
2) Allow the underside to cook/set well before trying to flip it.
Here is “boxty on the pan”, cooked as one large round and the cut into wedges to serve.
Patience and carefully heat management is the key to Boxty success. The potato mixture is very thick and will take some time to cook through. Count on each batch taking 6-8 minutes (3-4 minutes, per side) to cook. I actually like to flip them 3 or 4 times, watching the heat so that the outside gets golden brown, but not letting it get too dark before the inside cooks. Somewhere around medium-low works best.
Get the Recipe: Boxty Irish Potato Cakes
- 18 oz russet (baking) potatoes, (1 lb, 2 oz)
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, approximately *see Note 1
- Cooking oil
- Preheat oven to 300F and have a baking sheet handy (for popping cooked boxty into the oven while you cook a second batch).
- Start a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Peel your potatoes.
- Take 9 oz of the potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add these potatoes to your saucepan of water. Bring to a boil, then cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan and mash. Measure out 1 cup of mashed potatoes and set aside. Discard any bit of extra mashed potatoes.
- Take another 9 oz potato and shred with a box grater. *Note! Potatoes may permanently stain the tea towel, so either don't use one you care about staining or use an alternate method ie: squeezing by hand. Place shredded potato onto a clean tea towel, coffee filter or doubled up cheesecloth and squeeze out all the moisture in the potatoes. Measure out your potatoes. You should have about 1 1/4 cups.
- Add the shredded potatoes to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with flour, baking soda and salt and stir well to combine and coat the shredded potato well with flour. Stir in the reserved mashed potatoes until combined. Add as much buttermilk as is needed to form the texture of firm mashed potatoes (I generally need to use about all of it).
- Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Brush with cooking oil. Drop a heaping spoonful of the potato mixture into the skillet. Using the back of a spoon, spread and flatten out the mixture into a roughly 2 - 2 1/2-inch round. Repeat adding 2 or 3 more rounds to the skillet, depending on the size of your pan. Lower heat under the skillet to somewhere around medium-low. Cook until the underside is very golden, then flip and cook the other side. Don't rush it. Keep the skillet hot enough, but not too hot, so that the inside has a chance to cook. Figure on 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. Remember that you have raw potato inside that needs time to cook. I like to flip the potato cakes 4 times total, just to be sure they are well cooked through.
- Remove cooked boxty to baking sheet and pop into the warm oven while you cook another batch.
- Will make 6-8 boxty, depending on the size. Serve on their own, as part of a breakfast plate with bacon and eggs, topped with sour cream and green onion, Creme Fraiche and chives or topped with a fried egg.
1) Don't spread the batter to the edge of the pan, so you have room to flip it.
2) Allow the underside to cook/set well before trying to flip it. Nutritional information does not include any toppings. Be sure to read the Ingredient and Cook's Notes above the recipe card for more tips for making this recipe.