The Best Lefse Recipe Ever

Friday, December 18, 2009

I am not of Scandinavian decent. That said, I am Scandinavian at heart…especially when it comes to Lefse. My dear grandmother-in-law was widowed at age 20, with a toddler to care for and soon after entered into an arranged marriage of sorts. She married the cousin of her 2 sisters husbands (they were married to brothers). Her new husband was from Norway. Grandma quickly learned to cook Scandinavian. Although Grandpa Fritz passed away long before I entered the family, Grandma still kept the tradition of making Lefse every year at Christmas. YUM!! After we moved to Minnesota in 1999, I sought out Beatrice Ojakangas. She lives in Duluth, MN and has written some great cookbooks, including The Great Scandinavian Baking Book (I highly recommend this book).

My oldest daughter and I took her Lefse class and had such a wonderful day making Lefse. I try to set aside a time each busy Christmas season to make this wonderful treat. Below is the recipe directly from Beatrice’s blog. The notes are hers and I agree it is the best lefse recipe ever.

The Best Lefse Recipe Ever - Beatrice Ojakangas

This recipe makes a large amount of lefse - about 100 rounds. If you like you can easily cut the recipe in half or even in quarters. Just a couple of things I would like to emphasize. 1) That you refrigerate the mashed potato mixture UNCOVERED overnight or at least 8 hours until it is really cold. 2) that you do NOT add flour until just before you're ready to start rolling out the lefse. If it stands too long, either at room temperature or in the fridge, it will water down and you'll have a mess on your hands. However, this makes delicious lefse.
Oh, I know - many people have their own favorite recipe, but this one works!

Beatrice Ojakangas teaches lefse lessons at First Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota in November.

10 pounds Russet potatoes (very important that they are Russets!)
1 pound butter (not margarine)
1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream
1 and 1/2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
Flour (added later)
Utensils you will need:
Lefse grill
Lefse sticks
Rolling pin and sock
Pastry cloth covered board
Potato ricer
Potato masher
Ice Cream Scoop that measures about 1/3 cup
Large piece of plastic, like a garbage bag split open
Terry Towels
Ziplock bags for storing the finished product

Peel, boil (just until done, don’t let the potatoes get mushy), drain, rice, and mash the potatoes.

Mash in the butter, whipping cream, salt and sugar until no lumps remain. Turn into a large bowl, smooth the top and cool, UNCOVERED, in the refrigerator overnight.

Next day, preheat the grill to 480 to 500*F. (You don't grease it, it must be dry.)
Place a large plastic bag on the counter and lay a terry towel on top – you will stack the cooked lefse on one end and fold the towel and plastic over. The towel absorbs moisture, the plastic keeps it just moist enough. Rub the rolling surface with flour. Rub flour into the sock-covered rolling pin. Cut cold mashed potato mixture into quarters. Remove one quarter into a bowl and put the rest back into the fridge. Working with one quarter at a time, mix in 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Using your hands, mix the flour into the potato until well blended. Once you add flour to the potatoes, you are committed to that batch of dough – if you let it stand too long it will get soft and sticky. (You can keep the remaining 3 quarters in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.) With an ice cream scoop, scoop out balls about the size of a golf ball and form quickly into a ball. Dust the ball with flour and flatten it out. Place onto the floured, cloth-covered, pastry board and with a floured sock-covered rolling pin, roll the dough out evenly into a large circle. Don't hesitate to use plenty of flour at first. Wet spots can become a problem. (If you do get a wet spot, rub flour onto it and with the straight edge of a plastic dough cutter, scrape carefully to remove as much of the wet spot as possible.) Using a lefse stick, transfer the round onto the heated grill. The lefse will begin to bubble. Peek at the grilled side – you’re looking for nice, light brown spots. Slide the stick under it and carefully flip it over. If edges of the lefse begin to get dry, brown and curl, you are grilling them too long. If it is not browning well, but remains light, your grill temperature is to low. Stack the cooked rounds one on top of the other and cover with the towel and plastic. You’ll need a towel and plastic for each quarter of the dough. Cool 4 to 5 hours, then carefully, fold each lefse into quarters and place into ziplock bags (I usually put a dozen in a bag). Refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze. Makes about 100 lefse.

Linking this post Michael's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Be sure to check out the others posts there.


  1. I think it is wonderful that you set aside time every year during the busy holiday to make Lefse. it looks complicated to me!! Maybe you can just some some this way!! lol! Grandpa Fritz would be proud. Mrs. P.!


  1. Mary said...:

    These sound absolutely wonderful. How great that you were able to attend the Ojakangas class. If this recipe is an indication, you really learned a lot. Blessings...Mary

  1. Vicky said...:

    I came over from Robin's site today after I saw your comment there... I am of Scandinavian descent and love, love, love lefse!! But I have never made it before. I've heard of the woman that teaches the class however and am so jealous you've attended! Such a cute site you have! Thanks for sharing and perhaps one day I'll get brave enough to try!!

  1. Martha said...:

    These look yummy! I've heard of them but never have eaten them! May have to seek them out next time I go to Minnesota!

  1. I do not know what these are, but am wondering if you have a picture of the finished product. Or is the cookbook cover picture what they are?
    I love your blog!!

  1. Mrs. P. said...:

    Donna...Lefse is a flatbread made from potatoes. Similar to a tortilla but oh, so much better. The mosaic picture above shows a ready to eat lefse in the upper-middle.


  1. Sherry said...:

    Oh, the lovely food you have posted last week. Your making me hungry. Such nice photos.

  1. What a lovely story. I don't believe I've heard of this, will be something new to try after the first of year, when I have a bit more time. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. hugs ~lynne~

  1. Anita said...:

    Sounds yummy...I would love to take a cooking class..for something particular like this or just in general. Sounds like something fun you can share. Thanks for your visit...come back soon.

  1. They sound delicious, I've never heard the word before. I think it is great to keep up old traditions.


  1. This is a fascinating story and a beautifully written recipe for this Scandinavian treat! I enjoyed reading all of it in detail! Thanks so much for sharing the history and the recipe! Warm wishes, Coralie

  1. Anonymous said...:


    My name is Jami Warne and I grew up in South Dakota (around Wartertown)!
    I have a question about your recipe for Lefse. Do you have to use a ricer when making it and exactly where can I find one or is there a substitute for this method? It has been 25-30 years since I have had lefse and I now live in Oregon. I want my kids to try it, (Trying to preserve a little family tradition).
    Thank you for your input! I love your site on the web! Just ran into it by googling.
    Happy Holidays...

  1. Jami -- I hope you check back here for an answer to your question -- without an email address, I couldn't answer you directly.

    A potato ricer is a pretty important piece of equipment in making lefse -- it gives the potatoes the perfect consistancy -- light, fluffy and not smashed. These days you can find this inexpensive piece equipment at most kitchen shops -- even Walmart carries them. If you cannot find one, the closest thing would be to run the cooked potatoes thru a fine grater or food processor blade.

    Hope that is helpful :)


  1. Anonymous said...:

    My aunt and I have made lefse for about 20 years together at Christmas time. A few pointers from our experience. Always use Russet or Netted Gem potatoes all other potatoes have too much moisture. Only mix a small portion at a time so the dough doesn't get sticky. Lefse is a hit at Christmas time for our family.

  1. bcberg said...:

    I just finished my first batch of Lefse for the season, using your recipe and the results are great! I've been making it for about 7 years and lost my previous recipe in a move I made this past summer. I'm glad I did! This worked out so much better.easier to roll out and the taste is so much better! Thank you so much for the recipe. I will be using it for years to come!!!!

  1. bcberg said...:

    I just finished my first batch of Lefse for the season, using your recipe and the results are great! I've been making it for about 7 years and lost my previous recipe in a move I made this past summer. I'm glad I did! This worked out so much better.easier to roll out and the taste is so much better! Thank you so much for the recipe. I will be using it for years to come!!!!

  1. elorc79 said...:

    Hello I am from norweigan descent and I live in New Mexico. Not many people have heard of lefse down here. I tried your recipe last night for a party at my daughters school. They turned out great! You are very thorough on your instruction and it was a great recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  1. Roxy said...:

    I've been looking around for a few days for a new recipe and I like yours the best. I took over making lefse a couple of years ago and after last year I about threw in the towel and said forget it I'm never doing this again. Things were sticking & I don't have all the right equipment (it's on my wishlist). I really hope your recipe does the trick and thank you for your wonderful directions.

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