Mashed Potato Balls are the perfect way to use up leftovers from Thanksgiving! They’re loaded with cheddar cheese, parmesan, garlic, chives, spices, and coated with crunchy panko. This is the perfect way to use up those mashed potatoes for a crispy snack or appetizer!

mashed potato balls on lettuce on white plate with dip

Meet my golden brown hack for leftover mashed potatoes.

Okay, so you can also use them on the famous Monica Geller Moist Maker sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. But honestly, the thought of mashed potatoes on a sandwich isn’t appealing to me.

 What is appealing is loading them up with more cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, chives, garlic, other spices, and giving them a quick dip in egg wash and panko breadcrumbs. Then we’ll fry them to golden perfection. And if you’ve got leftover gravy, I would not be mad at using that as a dip for these!

I personally can’t remember a time my mom didn’t turn basic, leftover mashed potatoes into these mashed potato balls. Whether they came from a box or were made from scratch, leftovers were always mixed with cheese and sometimes even shredded chicken and turned into a croquette or cutlet of some sort. It’s been a part of my childhood for as long as I can remember.

And now I love using my asiago roasted garlic mashed potatoes and garlic and herb mashed potatoes to make these. And as an adult, I love dipping them in french onion dip, ranch dressing, or gravy to make them a tiny bit fancier.

hand holding mashed potato ball and dipping in dip

Ingredients for leftover mashed potato balls:

  • Oil: You’ll need canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or avocado oil for frying. I like to fry them in a cast iron frying pan or a dutch oven. Cast iron maintains heat very well so these are my vessels of choice for frying.
  • Prepared mashed potatoes: I make most of my mashed potatoes recipes with a hint of sour cream, lots of fresh herbs, sometimes a little cheese, butter, and cream. You can use prepared boxed mashed potatoes for this recipe as well.
  • Shredded cheese: I prefer to use shredded medium cheddar cheese. If you use my cheddar mashed potatoes recipe, feel free to swap the cheese for something else here.
  • Grated Parmesan: adds nuttiness and more flavor. You can swap this for pecorino romano or other similar cheeses as well.
  • Garlic Powder: Helps flavor the potatoes. If you’ve used enough in your mashed potatoes recipe, feel free to omit the garlic powder or use a dash of onion powder instead.
  • Chopped Chives: Adds freshness, flavor, and a bit of color. You can also use parsley or green onions in a pinch.
  • Smoked Paprika: Adds a deep smoky flavor. Feel free to omit if you don’t happen to have any on hand.
  • A Large Egg: We’ll dip the mashed potato mixture in the egg wash and then in panko. The egg is used as a binder, it helps keep the cheese in and aids in getting the panko to stick.
  • Panko Bread crumbs: Panko is what makes the potato bites crunchy! 
ingredinents for potato balls in steel bowl
balls on baking sheet with parchment

How to make mashed potato balls from thanksgiving leftovers:

  1. Start by heating the oil. The oil will take a bit of time to heat up, so this is where you want to start. Add it to a large pot, and set the pot on medium heat. Allow the oil to heat to 350ºF. I use a candy or a meat thermometer to keep a close eye on it.
  2. Make the potato mixture. Add the potatoes, shredded cheddar, parmesan, garlic powder, chives, and smoked paprika to a large bowl. If your potatoes need seasoning, you can also add salt and pepper. Using a cookie scoop, portion out the potato balls and roll them between the palm of your hands to make them smooth. I usually place them all on a baking sheet before moving on to the dredging step.
  3. Dredging. Add the large egg to a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the panko to another bowl. Dip each ball in the egg then the panko. Gently press down to pick up on the panko mixture. Place on a clean plate until you’re ready to fry. You can do this a few hours in advance. Just cover the plate with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fry.
  4. Fry until golden. When the oil hits 350ºF. Add 5-6 potato balls in batches and fry them until golden and crispy. Remember, the potatoes are already cooked through, so you want to fry them just long enough to get the outside golden. Drain the potato balls using a slotted spoon. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate. I like to season with a small pinch of salt right when they’re hot from the fryer. 
fried potato balls on paper towel lined baking sheet

How do you suggest serving mashed potato balls:

I like serving them with homemade caramelized onion dip, spinach green onion dip, or leftover gravy!

Other appetizer recipes you might enjoy:

fried potato croquettes with parmesan and parsley on top

Original recipe published November 2014. Updated with new post, images, and minor recipe edits November 2021.

Yield: 6 servings

Loaded Mashed Potato Balls (For Thanksgiving Leftovers)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Mashed Potato Balls are the perfect way to use up leftovers from Thanksgiving! They’re loaded with cheddar cheese, parmesan, garlic, chives, spices, and coated with crunchy panko. This is the perfect way to use up those mashed potatoes for a crispy snack or appetizer!

Loaded Mashed Potato Balls (For Thanksgiving Leftovers)


  • 1½ cups oil, for frying
  • 2 - 2½ cups prepared mashed potatoes, room temp
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ cups panko breadcrumbs


  1. PREP: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it reaches 350ºF.
  2. POTATO MIXTURE: In a large bowl, combine the prepared mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, parmesan, garlic, chives, paprika, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a silicone spatula until all the ingredients are combined. Using a cookie scoop, roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. DREDGE: Pour the lightly beaten egg into a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, pour out the panko breadcrumbs. Working in batches, dip each ball into the egg mixture, making sure to drip off any excess, then dredge it in the panko breadcrumbs.
  4. FRY: Add the mashed potato balls to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Drain using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with sour cream dip, homemade gravy, or onion dip.


  • SCRATCH MASHED POTATOES: Add peeled and 1-inch cubed potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Return to the pot. Using a masher, break the potatoes up. Slowly add in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and ½ cup of buttermilk to make the potatoes creamy. Add additional buttermilk if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Have you made this recipe?

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