Basic Lefse: Norwegian Potato Flatbread

Basic lefse recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Chill: 8 hrs
Total: 9 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yield: 16 to 20 lefse
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
5g Fat
31g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 235mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 8mg 38%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 519mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Perhaps no food is more beloved by Norwegians than lefse. Prepared on special lefse griddles and turned with a long wooden stick, this thin potato flatbread is best served warm with butter and sugar. Brought to the United States' Midwest by Scandinavian immigrants, the American version of lefse is usually made with potatoes and flour, whereas in Norway potato-less lefse is also very common. A cross between a heartier crepe, a chewier tortilla, and a thinner grilled naan, lefse is a great snack or light meal, and is sometimes eaten with fillings like cottage cheese, spreads, salmon, and the similarly traditional lutefisk—dried and rehydrated white fish.

For Norwegian-Americans in the U.S., lefse is a traditional holiday food that can bring the family together while everyone helps with the different tasks involved in making them. If you have a lefse griddle, you're set for success. Because it isn't common to have one lying around, simply use an extremely clean big nonstick pan, or if you're lucky enough to have an electric crepe maker, use that instead. The long wooden lefse stick for turning the crepes makes the task easier but, when handled with care, you can get away with the handle of a wooden spatula for turning the lefse onto the griddle.

You need to rest the dough for at least 8 hours, so it's recommended to prepare the dough the night before you plan on serving the lefse is recommended.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Idaho russet potatoes, about 5 large potatoes

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup flour​, plus more for dusting

For Serving:

  • Butter, to taste

  • Sugar, to taste

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this lefse is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for basic lefse
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Preheat the oven to 175 F. Peel the potatoes, making sure that no peels or eyes remain. Coarsely chop them into 1-inch pieces. 

    Peel potatoes and chop
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. In a stockpot, bring water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil them until they are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

    Boil potatoes
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  4. Drain the boiled potatoes well. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bring them into the hot oven for 15 minutes to dry them further.

    Drain potatoes
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Remove the potatoes from the oven and pass them through a ricer. You need them to be finely riced, so twice through the ricer might give you a better texture. You should have at least 4 cups of riced potatoes.

    Pass potatoes through a ricer
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Mix in the heavy cream, butter, sugar, and salt.

    Mix in salt
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  7. Mix well and place the potato dough in the refrigerator, covered, to chill overnight.

    Mix well before chilling overnight
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Shape the Lefse

  1. Preheat a lefse griddle or your skillet of choice to 425 F. You need a very hot surface to properly cook the lefse. Use a pastry blender to cut the flour into the chilled potatoes, or vigorously knead the flour in until you have a smooth dough.

    Use a pastry blender to cut flour into the chilled potatoes
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  2. With the help of an ice cream scoop, divide the dough into 16 to 20 biscuit-sized balls.

    Divide dough using an ice cream scoop
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Generously flour a pastry cloth or board and a rolling pin. Roll out each piece of dough into a 12-inch circle, dusting with more flour as needed.

    Roll out dough
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Carefully lift the circle with a lefse stick or the handle of a flat wooden spatula. Transfer it quickly to the griddle.

    Transfer dough onto the griddle
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Cook the lefse on the griddle until brown spots begin to appear.

    Fold lefse on griddle
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Flip and cook the other side.

    Flip and bake lefske
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Remove the cooked lefse to a plate lined with a damp clean cloth to cool. Cover with another damp cloth. Continue to cook the remaining dough balls until you've used all of the dough.

    Remove cooked lefse
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  8. Serve the lefse smeared with butter to taste and a sprinkle or two of sugar.

    Lefse with butter
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  9. Enjoy.

How to Store Lefse

  • Lefse can be kept in the fridge covered for up to a week. Simply place a piece of parchment paper in between crepes to stop them from sticking together. Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Freeze the cooked lefse for up to six months. Fold the cooled lefse into quarters and place them in zip-top freezer bags. When you are ready to eat them, allow them to come to room temperature on a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel. Quickly reheat on the griddle right before serving or microwave for 10 to 15 seconds per flatbread.

Recipe Variation

  • Evaporated milk can replace the heavy cream.

How to Use Lefse

While the traditional way to eat lefse is simply with butter and sugar, you can use lefse in just about any way you would use a tortilla or wrap. Get creative with this flatbread:

  • Use tuna, chicken, or egg salad for a quick lunch.
  • Smear them with cream cheese and add deli meats or leftover cooked chicken for a tasty wrap.
  • Enjoy them like a crepe with jam, chocolate spread, or cranberry sauce.
  • Make lefse breakfast, filling it with scrambled eggs and bacon.