Home » How to Eat Like a Hobbit: Pan Fried Tater Cakes

How to Eat Like a Hobbit: Pan Fried Tater Cakes



Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!

Or, in this case, fry them up into cheap, filling potato cakes! These tasty, pan-fried bites of potato goodness are perfect for soaking up gravy from your Steak and Ale Pie or Stewed Hare with Root Vegetables. The key to success is patience. If you trust the recipe and walk away for a good ten minutes before flipping them then you’ll be rewarded with perfectly crisp, wonderful examples of how common, country people in Tolkien’s day often had tastier meals than their wealthier city cousins.


  • 1 c / 200 g shredded potatoes
  • 2 c / 200 g mashed potatoes
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • ½ c / 100 g shredded cheddar (or your favorite cheese)
  • ¼ c / 60 ml whole milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp softened butter, plus 4-6 tbsp butter for frying

Peel and grate your raw potatoes. To reduce the starch, soak them in cold water for five minutes. Don’t skip this step. It makes a big difference. While the raw potatoes are soaking, mix your leftover mashed potatoes, flour, minced onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, milk, shredded cheese and softened butter. You should end up with something a little thicker than lumpy pancake batter. Drain your raw potato shreds, give them one last rinse, and mix them into the batter.

Melt a tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat – no hotter! Drop in a heaping tbsp full of batter and use the back of a spoon to flatten it slightly. You should be able to fry 3 potato cakes in a round pan or four in a square one.

Here’s the hard part. Once your potato cakes are nice and round, leave them alone. Let them sizzle away over medium heat for about ten minutes. Low and slow wins this race. If your first batch starts to burn before 10 minutes are up, turn down the heat.

When you flip the tater cakes, the bottom side should be a lovely dark golden brown. Let them crisp up for another 6-8 minutes on the second side.

Since they are a bit time-consuming, don’t be afraid of making two pans at once. Just stagger the flipping. Put down three potato cakes in the first pan. Wait five minutes, put three in a second pan, wait five more five minutes. You can get into a good rhythm of flipping one skillet and adding new batter to the other.

In addition to making great gravy sops, these small, round potato cakes also taste surprisingly good with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a dollop of fresh applesauce.


Peel and dice 3 large potatoes. Boil them in vegetable broth until they’re just tender. Substitute this for the mashed potatoes. Instead of milk, substitute ¼ c of the broth you boiled the potatoes in. Double the salt, pepper, and garlic. Substitute the cooking oil of your choice for the butter. Other than that, the ingredients and techniques are the same.


Need more Hobbity goodness in your life?

Preview even more recipes from An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery, available now!

An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unauthorized Book of Hobbit Cookery

Sample recipes from all seven chapters of An Unexpected Cookbook:

Breakfast – Poached Pears Stuffed with Frumenty
Second Breakfast – Beef and Mushroom Stuffed Hand Pies
Elevenses – Shire Seed Cake
Luncheon – Stewed Hare with Root Vegetables and Dumplings
Afternoon Tea – Shortbread
Supper – Stuffed Roasted Mushrooms
Dinner – Boxty on the Griddle with Bacon

Need more? Buy your own copy of An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery from Amazon.com.