Mashed Potato Nuggets are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and such a delicious way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!
This easy recipe is perfect for making with your children and is a great kid-friendly recipe. See lots of recipe variation ideas below as well as tips for success with cooking with toddlers.
We always make extra mashed potatoes with these mashed potato nuggets in mind. These little nuggets are a GREAT way to use up leftover mashed potato.
This recipe can be a simple 2-ingredient recipe by just adding flour to the mashed potatoes to make a rough mashed potato "dough." Or you can add more flavor with fresh herbs, cheese, or seasoned bread crumbs - it all depends on your family's tastes, dietary preferences, and whether you have any picky eaters in your house. More on that below!
This recipe is SUPER flexible - you pretty much can't go wrong with it. Just experiment, add different add-ins, see what your family prefers!
The basic mashed potato nugget recipe
The easiest way to make these nuggets is to just mix mashed potatoes with flour until you get a rough shaggy dough that is easy to shape into a nugget. That's it, just two ingredients! If your mashed potatoes are already seasoned really well, that's all you need. This is what I do because I always add garlic, butter, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs to my mashed potatoes to give them lots of flavor. If your mashed potatoes are a little more simple, then keep reading to the "Additional ingredients" section to see how you can add flavor to these nuggets.
How much flour depends on the texture of your mashed potatoes. Drier older mashed potatoes use about ¼ - ⅓ cup flour per 3 cups of leftover mashed potato. Runnier, creamier mashed potatoes will need up to ½ - ¾ cup flour per 3 cups mashed potatoes.
Start shaping the nuggets, and if they fall apart too easily, stir in a few more tablespoons of flour, a tablespoon at a time, until you get nice firm nuggets that don't fall apart when dredging them with flour.
You can also form the dough into round fritters if you prefer. Here is a picture of my son "helping" me shape the fritters:
I don't use egg to help bind these mashed potato nuggets together because my son is allergic to egg. If you want, you can add an egg and a bit more flour to the potato mixture.
Don't skip the dredging step!
Make sure to dredge the nuggets in extra flour. All this means is having a shallow bowl or plate of flour next to you so you can dip the potato nuggets in the flour on all sides. This will help the nuggets get a nice golden-brown crust and will prevent them from falling apart as they cook.
Additional ingredients for more flavor
If your mashed potatoes are not well seasoned, or if you're starting with boxed mashed potato without seasonings, you might need to add a few ingredients to give these mashed potato nuggets a bit more flavor:
- Salt (start with ¼ tsp, and see if you need more) and pepper - I always add this anyway to make the nuggets tastier. You can also add a pinch of salt to the dredging mixture and stir well, for a saltier crispy coating
- Fresh herbs, such as finely minced parsley leaves, chives, or scallion (about 1-2 tablespoons)
- Cheese! Grated Parmesan, cheddar, pepper Jack (if you like spicy!), Gruyere, mozzarella, or another meltable cheese gives these mashed potatoes such a nice flavor. You can add anywhere from ¼ cup to 1 cup of grated cheese to 3 cups of mashed potato mixture, depending on how cheesy you like things. If using only ¼ cup, it won't really taste cheesy, but the cheese will give it a nice flavor
- Garlic powder (start with ⅛ - ¼ tsp) - I recommend garlic powder instead of fresh garlic for these nuggets so the powder mixes well throughout the potato mixture instead of being raw and chunky. You can also add a pinch of garlic powder to the flour dredging mixture to give it a bit more flavor
- Bread crumbs - you can substitute seasoned or plain bread crumbs for the flour in this recipe, especially for the dredging step. This will give the nuggets a crispier crust
Because there are no raw ingredients in this recipe, this is a really good one to start cooking with toddlers who don't understand the concept of "don't put your hands in your mouth!" And no, they should definitely NOT eat this mashed potato mixture because flour *is* raw and can make people sick, but they will be fine if they accidentally get a lick.
If you know your toddler will want to taste the mixture, just set some aside without flour so they can safety eat that while you cook.
Cooking with toddlers
Cooking with toddlers is a great way for them to get involved in the kitchen and start learning about food, ingredients, and cooking. It is also a great way for them to get sensory play and explore the different textures and colors of various ingredients.
My son is an extremely picky eater, and he gets so upset when he sees specks of parsley or other herbs or seasonings in his food. But having him help stir the parsley into our recipes makes him realize that parsley is not this awful scary thing that I make him it, but a fun add-in that is not scary.
One of the best ways for my son to actually try a new food is when he is playing with it in a no-pressure environment, such as in the kitchen. If I offer him new food at his high chair, he is sure to refuse it. But if we're having fun and being playful with the ingredients, he is much more willing to give it a try. In fact, that's how I got him to try and enjoy his first vegetable!
So I am a huge advocate for getting kids involved in the cooking as early as possible. As an added bonus, you can keep an eye on your kid while you cook, and he or she is not nagging you to play or doing something they shouldn't be doing if you look away for a minute.
More toddler recipes and picky eating resources
If you're looking for more easy recipes to cook with your toddler, try this Mini Broccoli Quesadilla or this Mini Chicken Quesadilla. Toddlers LOVE putting together their own personal mini quesadillas, and it's a great hands-on recipe for them.
If you're looking for soup recipes, try this chicken noodle soup for kids.
If you have an Air Fryer or an Instant Pot, then these two resources might be super helpful:
If you're looking for just a simple fun dessert to make with your toddler, try making Jello with Fruit using fruit juice instead of artificially flavored boxed jello mix.
If you're looking for ways to add some vegetables to your child's diet, check out 11 Kid-friendly Breakfast Recipes with Hidden Vegetables and 13 Toddler-approved Recipes with Hidden Vegetables.
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- 3 cups cooked mashed potatoes
- ¼ + ½ cup all purpose flour, divided (or more, if needed)
- ⅛ tsp salt (use more or less, to taste)
- See notes for optional add-ins and substitutions
- Olive oil for cooking
- Prepare a small shallow bowl or plate with about ½ cup flour for dredging. In a large bowl, combine the mashed potato, ¼ cup flour, and salt and other add-ins, if using. Mix well.
- Form small nugget-shaped patties with your hands. Dunk each patty into the dredging flour and coat the whole nugget in flour. Gently shake off excess flour.
- Preheat a skillet with olive oil (~½ - 1 tablespoon olive oil, depending on the size of the skillet). Carefully place the nuggets into the hot oil and fry undisturbed over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until all the nuggets are cooked. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.
Optional add-ins (add to taste):
- Garlic powder (starting with ⅛ tsp, add to the potato mixture and/or the dredging flour)
- Fresh or dried herbs, such as finely minced parsley leaves, scallions, or chives
- Grated cheese (anywhere from ¼ cup to 1 cup, depending on how cheesy you like things!) - freshly grated Parmesan, cheddar, pepper jack (if you like spice), Gruyere, mozzarella are all good options
- Seasoned or plain breadcrumbs (use instead of flour, if you like)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 396mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g
The nutritional information provided is just an estimate and will vary based on the actual ingredients you use. If you are tracking nutrition for yourself or your child, check with a nutritionist, dietitian, or pediatrician about whether this recipe is right for you or your child.