Who says potato knishes can’t be enjoyed when you’re following a strict gluten-free diet? I’ve got a simple and delicious recipe for you when you’re ready to make this quintessential savory Jewish treat but don’t want to sabotage your special dietary requirements.
To me, a potato knish (pronounced kuh-nish) is comfort food. The delicious pastry dough filled with savory potatoes is a popular side dish or appetizer in Ashkenazi Jewish households.
Knishes have a rich history dating back several centuries. They are said to be born in Eastern Europe, specifically in areas that are now part of Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania, where Jewish populations once thrived.
Knishes were brought to the U.S. by Jewish immigrants around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Over time, the savory treat has become a popular street food in cities with large Jewish populations, such as New York City.
Nathan’s Famous in New York once carried knishes (I’m not sure if they still do), and you can buy them at delis in New York, including the famous Katz’s Delicatessen in Brooklyn, NY. You can also buy them at the store from Gabila’s.
However, as you can rightly assume, knishes are not typically gluten-free. The fluffy potato filling is wrapped in a pastry dough that is almost always made from wheat flour.
For anyone dealing with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance, I have yet to find a store-bought knish made without gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. But I can tell you they’re not hard to make if you have the right ingredients. And once you make them the first time, you’ll be hooked!
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a few simple ingredients to make this easy recipe for gluten-free potato knishes:
Gluten-Free Puff Pastry: The most challenging ingredient to find – or make – is gluten-free puff pastry. I’ve dedicated an entire article to my struggle to find puff pastry near me. However, if you’re lucky enough to have gluten-free puff pastry at a grocery store near you, buy it and use it for this recipe.
I love the Gluten-Free Easy Puff Pastry Squares because they are perfectly sized for making knishes, but you could also use the brand’s puff pastry sheets.
All Gluten-Free Easy products are made in a certified dedicated gluten-free facility and are certified gluten-free by the GFCO. They’re also kosher parve.
Potatoes: A knish filling is a savory mashed potato, so this recipe needs three large potatoes cut into quarters. I like to use Yukon gold potatoes because they’re creamier than Russet potatoes, but you could use whatever potato you like best.
Kosher Salt: You’ll need kosher salt to season the water for boiling the potatoes and again to season the potato filling.
Onion: For this recipe, I used one medium yellow onion that I sauteed in avocado oil (okay to use canola oil or other vegetable oil) until it was softened and slightly browned. The onions give the potato filling a more savory and complete flavor.
Butter: Butter is an excellent flavor enhancer for the potato filling. If making your gluten-free knishes kosher parve, you should use dairy-free or vegan butter.
Pepper: Pepper will also add flavor and spice to the potato knish filling.
Egg: You’ll also need the yolk of one large egg to create an egg wash (yolk + 1 tsp water) to help seal the puff pastry in place and brush on top of the knish to give it a shiny sheen.
As you can see, gluten-free potato knishes have a simple ingredient list. You’re golden as long as you find gluten-free puff pastry at your grocery store or online!
How to Make Gluten-Free Knishes
The first thing you want to do is prepare your dough. If you’ve bought it frozen, allow it to come to room temperature so it’s easier to handle. If you have to make it from scratch, prepare the dough beforehand so it’s ready to go. If needed, you can use my gluten-free puff pastry recipe.
The next thing you’ll want to do is prepare your potato filling.
(1) Fill a medium or large pot with water 1/2 full. Add peeled and quartered potatoes and a pinch of Kosher salt. Turn the heat to high and bring the potatoes to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer the potatoes in the boiling water for 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Drain, add the potatoes to a large mixing bowl, and mash with a fork.
(2) While the potatoes are boiling, you can prepare the onion mixture. Add two tablespoons of avocado oil and two tablespoons of butter to a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the onions for about 10-15 minutes until they’re soft and start to caramelize.
(3) Add the onion mixture to the mashed potato mixture and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add more salt or pepper, if needed. Set the mixture aside to cool. You will use this to add to the center of each rectangle of dough.
Now it’s time to assemble the potato knishes, combining the puff pastry with the potato-onion filling.
(1) Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400º F.
(2) Lay down a piece of parchment paper on your countertop, or use a silpat mat. If working with puff pastry squares, like the ones from Gluten-Free Easy, roll out the squares on the parchment paper using a rolling pin until they’re 5-6″ long rectangles. If working with a sheet of puff pastry, cut the pastry into 12 four-inch wide by 5-6″ long rectangles. The puff pastry should be rolled out until it’s about 1/8″ thick.
(3) Add a small amount of the mashed potato mixture (1-2 tablespoons) to one side of the rectangle of dough, leaving about 2″ of space around the edges of the dough.
(4) Brush the perimeter of the dough with the egg wash, then fold the dough in half to envelop the potato filling. Use a fork to press all the sides together gently like a ravioli. Place each knish on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 knishes.
(5) Brush the top of each knish with the egg wash, then bake for 14-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. If you want to top the knishes with sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional), do it after applying the egg wash and before baking.
Enjoy as a warm side dish, appetizer, or snack. Many people dip their potato knishes in yellow or spicy brown mustard.
Read to Make Knishes?
As you can see, making a gluten-free potato knish is easy, especially if you have Gluten-Free Easy Puff Pastry or another store-bought puff pastry in your freezer. It’s more challenging to do if you have to make puff pastry dough from scratch.
These beautiful rectangular knishes are a family-friendly side dish that Jews and non-Jews alike can enjoy. They feature a creamy and savory potato filling inside a doughy puff pastry shell. What’s not to like?!?
Where can I find gluten-free puff pastry? As you can see, the knish dough I used is a store-bought gluten-free puff pastry. You can find gluten-free puff pastry at select grocery stores nationwide or order Gluten-Free Easy Puff Pastry online at the Gluten-Free Shoppe. You can also make your own using this gluten-free puff pastry recipe.
Are these dairy-free? Yes, this recipe is dairy-free, as I used dairy-free puff pastry and dairy-free butter.
Is this recipe vegan? The recipe is vegan except for the butter and egg wash. You can swap butter for dairy-free/vegan butter. You don’t have to brush the top of the knishes with egg, although they won’t be shiny. You can also use warm water vs. egg to seal the puff pastry ends together.
Can I buy gluten-free knishes? I don’t know anyone who sells gluten-free knishes, so you’ll have to make them if you want them. If you know of someone who makes gluten-free knishes, please leave a comment below to share.
What kind of potatoes do you use? I use Yukon gold potatoes because they’re creamy when mashed, but you could use Russet or another potato of choice.
Variations: You can add garlic powder or other spices to the potato mixture. Some people use sweet potatoes or a combination of mushrooms and spinach.
Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container or wrap them with aluminum foil and store them in the fridge. They also freeze well. To reheat, thaw them in your fridge overnight, then put them in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes. It will perk them back up.
If you enjoyed this knish recipe, you might also enjoy these beloved Jewish recipes, too:
- Gluten-Free Rugelach Recipe – Apricot Jam & Walnuts
- Gluten-Free Kreplach (Jewish Dumplings)
- Classic NYC Gluten-Free Black and White Cookies
Also, check out my list of 18+ Gluten-Free Recipes For People Who Love Jewish Food.
Gluten-Free Potato Knishes
- 1 Rolling pin
- 1 Baking Sheet
- Parchment paper
- 1 large pot
- 1 large skillet pan
- 1 fork
- 1 pastry brush
- spatulas and utensils
- 1 package of Gluten Free Easy Puff Pastry Squares or other puff pastry of choice see notes
For the Potato Filling
- 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes washed, peeled and quartered (about 3 large potatoes)
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and diced
- 2 tsp kosher salt divided
- 2 Tbsp butter or dairy-free butter
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil or vegetable oil of choice
- freshly ground pepper to taste
The Finish Before Baking
- 1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water mixed together for egg wash
For the Puff Pastry
- If you've have frozen puff pastry, remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw as instructed on the packaging. See notes for preparing your own puff pastry.
For the Potato Filling
- Fill a large or medium pot with water ½ full. Add peeled and quartered potatoes and 1 tsp of the Kosher salt. Turn the heat to high and bring the potatoes to a boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer the potatoes in the boiling water for 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Drain, add the potatoes to a large mixing bowl, and mash with a fork.
- While the potatoes are boiling or thereafter, prepare the onion mixture. Add two tablespoons of avocado oil and two tablespoons of butter to a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion and ½-1 tsp of salt and a few cracks of fresh ground pepper. Saute the onions for about 10-15 minutes until they're soft and start to caramelize.
- Add the onion mixture to the mashed potato mixture and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add more salt or pepper, if needed. Set the mixture aside to cool.
Assembling the Knishes
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Lay down a piece of parchment paper on your countertop, or use a silpat mat. If working with puff pastry squares, like the ones from Gluten-Free Easy, roll out the squares on the parchment paper using a rolling pin until they're 5-6" long rectangles. If working with a sheet of puff pastry, cut the pastry into 12 four-inch wide by 5-6" long rectangles. The puff pastry should be rolled out until it's about 1/8" thick.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of the potato mixture to one side of the pastry rectangle, leaving about 2" of space around the edge. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with the egg wash, then fold the pastry in half to envelop the potato filling. Use a fork to press all the sides together gently like a ravioli. Place each knish on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 knishes.
- Brush the top of each knish with the egg wash, then bake for 14-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
- Enjoy the knishes as a warm side dish, appetizer, or snack. Many people dip their potato knishes in yellow or spicy brown mustard.