kitchen adventures: homemade lefse

by Stacy

My husband has issued a moratorium on new kitchen supplies. He says we can’t get anything else until we get more kitchen. He is no fun. But we struck a deal: if he let me get a potato ricer, I would make him lefse.

Lefse, for those of you not raised in the Upper Midwest, is a thin crepe-like pancake make of potatoes, flour, butter, and cream. It is most commonly eaten around the winter holidays, and probably most often of all, purchased from Ingebretsen’s. Despite being of Norwegian descent, my family never had lefse; the only experiences I had with it were at friends’ houses. My mother-in-law often bought lefse near Christmas which my husband really enjoyed. Hence our deal.

The reason that most people buy lefse is that most recipes are scary. The list of equipment is foreign and long and makes the task seem overly complex. I scoffed at the $120 lefse-making kits and said, “Who needs a lefse griddle, lefse stick, lefse rolling pin, and lefse rolling board? NOT ME!” Having never even attempted making lefse before, I was sure these things were unnecessary. Except the potato ricer.

With a vested interest in the process, my husband not only played sous chef and lefse-flipper, but also took most of the process photos. He was dubbed the sous cheftographer for the project, which was his first time ever taking photos with my fancy camera.

Here is my basic equipment version of making lefse:

Peel, quarter and boil your potatoes until fork-tender. Rice the potatoes.

making lefse making lefse

It looks a lot like rice, doesn’t it? Amazing. Measure out 4 cups of potatoes and melt the butter into them. Let cool.

Once cool, add the cream, salt, and sugar, then the flour. Mix well and knead about 10 times. Form the dough into equal-sized patties. I used 2 heaping tablespoons to make lefse rolled out to 8 inches in diameter. Set patties aside to rest for 5 minutes. Preheat pan. Generously flour a rolling surface and rolling pin.

making lefse making lefse

Roll each patty into a thin sheet, adding more flour to prevent sticking.

making lefse

Carefully transfer the circle to the hot pan or griddle.

making lefse

Cook 30-60 seconds per side until bubbles form, then flip.

making lefse

Set cooked lefse on a clean towel, stacked 10-12 sheets high, to cool.

homemade lefse

Serve plain, with butter and brown sugar, or with jam. Fold in half (then half again if large) to store in zip-top bags, frozen for up to 6 months.

They look a lot like tortillas, but the potato base makes them softer and more pliable, and more likely to tear when transferring. My lefse may not be textured from a special rolling pin and they may be smaller, but my husband didn’t mention any of those things. My verdict? Try making lefse. It took maybe 2 hours start to finish including cooling time and gave us a decent supply of lefse. It would be a great weekend project.

homemade lefse


Adapted from
I got about 2 dozen 8-inch lefse from this recipe

2 pounds potatoes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pats
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

1.) Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain well.

2.) Working quickly, rice the potatoes. Gently spoon the potatoes into a measuring cup and put 4 cups of riced potatoes back into the pot in which they were boiled. Add pats of butter and allow to melt. Stir a few times to evenly distribute the butter. Allow the mixture to cool completely.

3.) When the potatoes are cool, mix in the cream, salt, sugar, and flour. Stir until combined, then hand-knead dough about 10 times.

4.) Use a measuring cup to portion out the dough and form it into rounded patties. Using 1/3 cup of dough yields about 12-inch diameter lefse. I used 2 heaping tablespoons to make 8-inch diameter rounds. Set patties aside and let rest for 5 minutes before rolling. Meanwhile, heat your lefse griddle to 500F or heat an empty cast iron skillet over medium heat.

5.) Generously flour a clean, flat surface (such as a round pastry board or counter) with 1/2-1 cup of flour and make sure all the area is covered. Coat your rolling pin in flour, as well. Coat a patty with flour and place it on the flat surface. Roll it into a thin circle smaller than the size of your pan.

6.) Carefully lift the circle using a lefse stick, bench scraper, or large spatula and transfer it to the griddle or pan. Cook 30-60 seconds on the first side — it will bubble slightly — the flip over and cook another 30-60 seconds. Transfer to a clean towel to let cool. Stack 10-12 sheets of lefse per pile and cover with another clean towel.

7.) Enjoy plain, with butter and brown sugar, or with lingonberry jam. Fold extra lefse in half or quarters and store in zipped plastic bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.

homemade lefse

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate January 9, 2010 at 11:05 am

I have never heard of Lefse before. Looks like fun to make though! do you need to put anything (butter, oil?) in the griddle before cooking them?


stacy January 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

You need to feed Loki the food of his namesake’s people! =D

No oil or anything. I used a cast iron skillet; my sister-in-law made lefse on their electric non-stick griddle and didn’t use any oil either. The lefse-specific griddles I have seen are aluminum, though, so I think there is enough butter to keep them from sticking, plus the generous coating of flour from rolling them out.


Kate January 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

A+ for knowing the origin of my son’s name! I can’t tell you how many times people have asked if it was Hawaiian or (my favorite) … “I know someone who named their dog that!”

The recipe looks deceptively difficult, just the kind I like. It’ll make a good project for my husband and I during naptime on a cold winter day.


stacy January 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Ha! Ok, to be fair, I also know someone who named their dog that, but I already knew where it was from!

I like “deceptively difficult,” that’s a good term. They do get sticky and they tear quite easily, but a lot of flour and some patience go a long way. =)


Brooke January 9, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I am impressed. I’ve never been able to successfully make it without a lefse grill. My grandmother used to make Lefse for us every Thanksgiving and Christmas. When she passed away, there was huge argument as to who was going to get the lefse grill. I didn’t get it. But luckily, I can find it in the grocery store here in Colorado. That reminds me, I have some in my fridge right now…


stacy January 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

To be fair, I’ve never made it (successfully or not) with a lefse grill. I honestly think I had only eaten it twice ever before making it, and once was in elementary school — not that I don’t like it, it just wasn’t a tradition at our house.

He was actually hoping his mom would just pick some up from Ingebretsen’s before they came down for Christmas, but since she didn’t, I got a potato ricer. I didn’t get my grandma’s ricer, but I did get her flour sifter!


Jenny January 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Wow! I’ve always wondered what lefse’s made from – I can’t wait to try this for myself. What a fantastic step-by-step! Congratulations, nice work.


stacy January 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Just an extremely flimsy potato-based tortilla. =)
I hope you do try it and enjoy them!


Kelly G. July 13, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Thank you for this recipe. I actually have a lefse rolling pin that my Norwegian grandpa made for me 35 years ago. I am going to try making lefse this weekend!!!!!

P.S. – Your beet green quiche is amazing!!!!!


Stacy July 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Oh, yay! I had plenty of Norwegian grandparents but my family never did lefse, so I am envious of your wonderful heirloom. It’s a sticky dough, but after the first few you’ll get the hang of it. =)

Mmm. I was just thinking about quiche, maybe it’s time to revisit that one.


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