A classic potato knish is a must have nosh, where a flavored potato mixture is encased in a delicate, flaky pastry. Beautifully golden on the outside, and tender on the inside. Enjoy this knish recipe warm, room temperature, or even cold!
Like so many Jewish foods, potato knishes have a rich backstory. We’re talking about that today, along with the recipe that includes step-by-step photos and a video tutorial.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make New York knish, today is your lucky day! Finding recipes for potato knishes is few and far between, and the ones available seem very…unreliable. So I’ve really been experimenting to get this one right – I’ve made so many batches of homemade potato knish, it’s slightly obscene. The good news is, I perfected it for all of you, so you don’t need to spend days and weeks searching, and I provide step by step photos and a video tutorial. Huzzah!
Full disclosure: Making potato knishes is not quick. Between the dough, the potato mixture, sautéing the onions, forming them, and baking, plan on spending a couple hours. But it’s worth it! The best part is knishes can be enjoyed warm, room temperature, and even cold. They’re a great on-the-go bite or picnic food.
What is a Knish?
Nobody knows exactly when the first knish was created, but in 1910, Yonah Schimmel’s opened a knishery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, offering it up as street food from a pushcart. Old school! And it has been loosely accredited to him. Like many Jewish Eastern European immigrants, he knew how to create food when ingredients and money were lean. Since then, the knish is a staple at Jewish delicatessens. They’ve also been very Americanized and mass produced, with many different variations. There’s nothing like a classic knish, though.
A knish is a potato mixture wrapped in delicate dough, brushed with an egg wash, and baked until golden. The inside is tender and steamy, while the outside is crisp and flaky. Carbs stuffed with more carbs, without apologies. One knish is filling!
Traditionally, a knish is round, not square, baked, not deep fried, and always made with homemade dough, not puff pastry. The filling can include caramelized onions or even chopped up meat (like leftover corned beef – yum!), but the main ingredient is potato. And while it’s definitely considered a Jewish “nosh” you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy them. I mean, who doesn’t love flaky pastry and flavored potatoes?!
Potato Knish Recipe Ingredients
For my knish recipe, I went the traditional route with homemade dough and a potato-onion filling.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Knish dough. There is nothing fancy or unusual about any of the dough ingredients – mostly pantry staples like flour, eggs, oil, white vinegar, baking powder, and kosher salt – with the one exception of schmaltz, which is rendered chicken fat and has so much great flavor. This is very common addition in Jewish food. You can usually find a jar of it near the oils. If not, use bacon grease.
- Knish filling. As for the filling, you’ll need Yukon gold potatoes, diced onion, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, butter, kosher salt, pepper, and more schmaltz (or bacon grease.)
How to Make Knish
As mentioned above, making knishes is not difficult, but is sort of an all day thing, so plan your time accordingly. It’s done in a few steps: 1) making the dough 2) making the filling 3) forming them, and 4) baking. Here’s a brief summary:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
Knish Dough. Making knish dough is similar to making a pie crust. Mix together the dry ingredients, make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients, then combine, mixing by hand until the dough pulls together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and set it aside while you make the filling.
Knish Filling. The filling is a combination of seasoned mashed potatoes, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and sautéed diced onions. The filling should be room temperature or slightly warm. If it’s hot, it will melt the dough.
Assembly. The dough gets divided in half and rolled out into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. The filling is then divided in half and placed over the long end of the dough, leaving a little bit uncovered on all sides to brush with egg wash. The dough is stretched over the filling and rolled up, pressed to seal, and ends trimmed.
Forming the knish. Using a bench scraper, mark (but do not cut) dough into 8 equal pieces. Flour the side of your hand and press into the marks. Rub back and forth against the counter to separate each piece. Position each piece with one cut end facing down and the other facing up. Squish down the top and tuck everything into the center to form a round knish.
Bake. Brush bottoms with olive oil and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush egg wash on top. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 40 minutes.
What to Eat with Potato Knishes
Knish can certainly be enjoyed all on their own, but serving them with your favorite mustard, horseradish, or sauerkraut is popular and recommended. Knish are great warm, at room temperature, or even cold – they’re great picnic or lunchbox food.
How to Store Potato Knishes
- Make the dough ahead. You can make the knish dough and use it right away or keep it wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If it’s chilled, let stand at room temp for a bit to soften before trying to roll it out.
- Leftovers. Wrap any extra baked knishes in foil or an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. They will keep up to 5 days.
- Freeze. I like to make a double batch of potato knishes and freeze a bunch for later! Let cool completely, then place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer until solid. Then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. They will keep frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Reheat. If you prefer them warm, gently reheat the knish in the oven at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until warmed through. Or you can pop them in the microwave for 1-3 minutes or until the center is hot (but the dough won’t be crisp.)
Video: How to Make Potato Knishes
If you’re a visual learner, we’ve got you! Here is a video for more help. To make this knish recipe, scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.
More Jewish Food:
- Challah Bread
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Potato Latkes
- Sufganiyot (Jelly Donuts)
- Cheese Blintz
FOR THE DOUGH
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or more as needed), spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg , beaten
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) OR bacon grease (see note)
- 1/2 cup warm water
FOR THE POTATOES
- 2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes , peeled and quartered (about 6 medium/large)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper , to taste
FOR THE ONIONS
- 1/4 cup butter , sliced
- 3 cups diced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons schmaltz
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- salt and ground black pepper , to taste
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons water , or as needed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , or as needed
MAKE THE DOUGH
- Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add beaten egg, vinegar, canola oil, schmaltz, and warm water. Mix by hand until dough pulls together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and set it aside while you make the filling (or place in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
MAKE THE MASHED POTATOES
- Place the potatoes in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt (not table salt) and enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add in the sour cream, shredded cheese, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and mash (but leaving some texture, since you’ll mash again with the onion mixture. You don’t want them gummy.)
SAUTE THE ONIONS
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, schmaltz, and kosher salt; cook and stir until onions are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to the bowl with the warmed mashed potatoes. Season with a touch more salt and pepper. Mash until combined and let cool to room temperature.
ASSEMBLE THE KNISH
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
- Divide dough in half; flatten one half into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a larger rectangle about 1/8-inch thick, pulling the corners as needed.
- Place half of the filling over one long end, about 3 inches away from the edges. Beat egg with water and brush over the opposite end and a little on the sides. Stretch the dough to cover the filling, then roll up toward the egg-washed side. Fold the last 3 or 4 inches over the top, then press in the seam to seal roll over so seam-side is on the bottom. Trim off excess dough from the ends.
- Using a bench scraper, mark (but do not cut) dough into 8 equal pieces. Flour the side of your hand and press into the marks. Rub back and forth against the counter to separate each piece. Position each piece with one cut end facing down and the other facing up. Squish down the top and tuck everything into the center to form a round knish.
- Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Brush bottoms with olive oil and place on the prepared baking sheets. Brush leftover egg wash on top.
- Bake in the preheated oven until lightly golden-brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool until just warm or room-temperature.Serve with your favorite mustard, horseradish, or sauerkraut.