Why Do Your Mashed Potato Cakes Fall Apart? (Solved)

Mashed potato cakes fall apart due to wet batter or incorrect ingredient ratios. The ideal is 1.5-2 cups of cold mashed potatoes with one egg and 2-3 tablespoons of flour. Cold potatoes and proper pan heat are crucial for cohesion and preventing sogginess.

My husband loves mashed potatoes. So of course we have them quite frequently.

And even now with the kids gone, I still have leftovers.

I haven’t quite mastered cooking for just two! A great way to use up those leftovers is to make potato cakes. 

When it comes to mashed potato cakes, you need to have the correct ratio when it comes to ingredients or you will be asking yourself “Why do my mashed potato cakes fall apart?”

mashed potato cakes fall apart
The mixture is too wet

Why Do My Mashed Potato Cakes Fall Apart

Your batter may be too wet. This is where the correct ratio of ingredients comes in. 

Too much egg and not enough flour, the wetter the batter will be. Also important is to make sure that your potatoes are cold. 

The warmer they are the harder it will be to get them to stick together. I avoid shaping them with my hands because the heat of my hands warms the potato mixture.

Also, you need to make sure that your pan is hot enough before adding the batter so that you get that sear on them, making them easier to turn, therefore helping to keep them from falling apart as well. 



Eggs are the binder or glue that helps to keep your potato cakes together but too many eggs are like using too much glue. If you use too much glue the surface is too wet and nothing is going to stick. 

This is where the flour comes in. It helps to keep the mixture from being too wet.



The addition of flour helps to keep the mixture the right consistency and not too wet. But too much flour will make your mixture too thick and make your potato cakes dense and taste floury. 

You want your potato cake mixture to be the consistency of cookie dough. A good ratio is 1 1/2 – 2 cups cold mashed potatoes, 1 large egg, and about 2 tablespoons of flour to start. 

Always start with less flour. You can always add more as needed. 

Much easier than removing flour.

A gas stove

Pan Temperature

Using medium to medium-high heat, heat your pan for several minutes before adding your mashed potato cakes. Even though I use a nonstick pan, I add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan and make sure this is good and hot before you add your mashed potato mixture.

If your pan is not hot enough you are going to get a soggy mess. And potato cakes that are going to fall apart when you turn them.

When your pan is hot enough just drop your mashed potato mixture from a large spoon and gently press them down on top. Cook until browned, this usually takes about 3-4 minutes, and then turn and brown the other side.

Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. 

Latkes Vs Potato Cakes

Latkes are made with raw potatoes, eggs, baking powder, matzo meal, and sometimes milk. On the other hand, potato cakes are made with either raw or cooked mashed potatoes, eggs, and flour.

Then there are hashbrowns which are just browned potatoes that are either, shredded, grated, or in small cubes. Latkes are usually made during Hanukka and are typically served with applesauce.

Potato cakes or more specifically mashed potato cakes are made whenever you have leftover mashed potatoes. Many times I have made extra mashed potatoes just so I can make mashed potato cakes the next day.

Mashed potato cakes typically have egg and flour in them but why not get adventurous? Add some sauteed onion, cheese, and crumbled cooked bacon to the mix. 

Looking for more to do with mashed potatoes. Check this out!

My Final Thoughts

  • Insufficient binding ingredients in the mashed potato mixture, such as eggs or flour, can cause mashed potato cakes to fall apart, similar to how meatballs may crumble without enough breadcrumbs or eggs.
  • Overly moist mashed potato mixture can lead to disintegration, akin to how too much liquid in burger patties can prevent them from holding together.
  • Not chilling the potato mixture before shaping and cooking can result in fragile cakes, just as chilling cookie dough helps maintain shape and texture during baking.
  • Cooking at too low a temperature may not allow the potato cakes to form a proper crust, similar to how pancakes need a sufficiently hot griddle to brown and set correctly.
  • Using the right type and amount of oil and ensuring it is hot enough before adding the cakes is crucial for preventing sticking and falling apart, much like the importance of using hot oil for deep-frying to achieve crispy and cohesive results.

If your mashed potato cakes are falling apart then it is more likely that your batter is too wet. A good ratio of ingredients is 1 1/2 to 2 cups cold mashed potatoes, 1 egg, and 2-3 tablespoons of flour. 

Add the flour a little at a time until you get a cookie dough consistency. Make sure that your mashed potatoes are cold. 

This will help keep them together. Many will form their cakes with their hands but this will warm the potato mixture. 

I just drop them into the hot pan from the spoon and lightly press down on top. Make sure your pan is hot enough before adding your potato cakes otherwise, you will end up with a soggy mess.

I hope you found this article helpful in your mashed potato cake adventures. Please leave me a comment below. 

I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. And as always, have a wonderful day!

FAQ: Why Do My Mashed Potato Cakes Fall Apart?

1. What causes mashed potato cakes to fall apart?

  • Ingredient Balance: The most common reason for mashed potato cakes falling apart is an imbalance in ingredients. If the batter is too wet, it can lead to disintegration during cooking. Typically, a good starting ratio is 1.5 to 2 cups of cold mashed potatoes mixed with one egg and 2-3 tablespoons of flour​
  • Temperature of Ingredients: Using cold mashed potatoes helps in keeping the cakes together as warmth can make the batter too loose. It’s also advisable to avoid handling the mixture too much with warm hands​

2. How can I prevent my mashed potato cakes from falling apart while cooking?

  • Pan Temperature: Ensuring that the pan is hot enough before adding the potato mixture is crucial. A well-heated pan helps in forming a crust quickly, preventing the cakes from breaking apart​
  • Consistency of the Batter: Achieving the right consistency is key. The batter should resemble cookie dough; starting with less flour is advised since you can always add more if the mixture feels too wet. Too much flour, however, can make the cakes dense and overly floury​

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