Six Delicious Recipes for Making the Most Out of Leftover Mashed Potatoes

Homemade shepherd's pie made with leftover mashed potatoes
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If, by some miracle, you serve mashed potatoes to your family for dinner and they leave a decent amount uneaten, be sure to save the leftovers. They're a great vehicle for transforming other leftovers and various odds and ends that you might have in the fridge and pantry--whether it's a small amount of cooked meat, vegetables begging to be used up or the last spoonfuls of condiments from a jar. These six recipe ideas let you take those extra mashed potatoes to a winning encore appearance for breakfast, lunch or another dinner.

1. Potato Pancakes

Leftover mashed potatoes are easily transformed into potato pancakes with the addition of a little flour, baking powder and egg (use about 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 egg for every cup of mashed potatoes) plus your choice of additional ingredients. Corn, shredded cheese and scallions all make delicious combinations, or consider adding diced ham or cooked bacon. Heat enough oil for shallow frying, and drop generous spoonfuls of the mixture in, pressing them down a little to form pancakes. Flip once, and serve them hot and crispy. With an egg on top, they're incredible for breakfast.

2. Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is a classic dish from the U.K. that's perfect when you want a filling, comforting meal on a cold night—or really, any night. The base is ground lamb or beef (with beef it's technically a Cottage Pie) cooked with onions, diced carrots and peas. Thicken it with a little flour, and then stir in and simmer enough beef broth to make a rich gravy. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish; top it with a thick layer of mashed potatoes, which you can poke into crags and peaks with a fork for maximum crispiness as the pie bakes in the oven.

3. Skordalia

An unusual potato-based dip from Greece, skordalia is simple but very tasty. Gradually mix into your leftover mashed potatoes crushed garlic (as much as you desire), olive oil (about 3 tablespoons per pound of potatoes), lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper. Thin the mixture with water to get a dip-able consistency. Serve skordalia warm or cold with a generous drizzle of olive oil on top, alongside pita chips, slices of crusty bread or fresh, crunchy vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers and snap peas. Serve it alongside marinated olives, tzatziki and hummus, and you have the makings of a delightful Mediterranean mezze platter.

4. Gnocchi

If you don't mind making a floury mess in your kitchen, put on an apron and transform leftover mashed potatoes into homemade gnocchi. For every 2 cups of mashed potato, you'll need one beaten egg and approximately 1 cup of flour, plus a few pinches of salt. Mix the ingredients together right on the counter with your hands; knead the dough, and then form it into a ball. Break the ball into smaller pieces, which you roll into long, narrow snakes, ready to be cut into thumb-sized dumplings. Let someone else clean up while you boil the gnocchi and whip up or warm up a sauce.

5. Potato Waffles

Do you have a waffle iron in your cache of kitchen appliances? Put it to good use making crispy-on-the-outside, pillowy-on-the inside potato waffles that will be a certain hit with the kids. For every 3 cups of mashed potatoes, mix in 3/4 cup flour, 2 eggs, some salt and, optionally, a few handfuls of shredded cheese. Cook the mixture as you would regular waffles, until they're golden. Serve potato waffles for breakfast with bacon and eggs, for lunch topped with nacho fixings, or for dinner with fried chicken as a fun twist on an American classic.

6. Croquettes

With leftover mashed potatoes as a base, add any other ingredients you desire, roll the mixture into logs or balls, and then bread them using the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs technique. Shallow-fry or bake the croquettes until they're golden brown all over, and serve them with dipping sauces as an appetizer or filling side dish. Obvious additions to the croquette mixture include cheese, ham, corn and onions, but also consider creative combinations such as leftover pulled pork with diced pickles, mushrooms and spinach, or roasted garlic cloves and brie.