18th Century Potatoe Balls

A traditional relish/dinner recipe found on recipes,history.org
18th Century Potatoe Balls

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this recipe is Mary Randolph’s direction to boil the potatoes with skin on to keep the starch in for frying. In many historic recipes, the technique is not spelled out as one would require in modern recipes. However, 18th century cookbook authors assumed that the reader was already a cook and familiar with a variety of processes.

Original recipe from the 18th Century

Mix mashed potatoes with the yelk of an egg, roll them into balls, flour them, or cover them with egg and bread crumbs, fry them in clean dripping, or brown them in a Dutch oven. They are an agreeable vegetable relish and a supper dish.

— Randolph, Mary. “The Virginia Housewife.” pg.120.

21st Century recipe

2 lbs. russet potatoes
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 cup vegetable oil
flour or seasoned bread crumbs


[1] Boil potatoes with the skin on until tender. This will retain the starch in the potato and make it hold together better.

[2] Drain potatoes and allow to cool slightly before mashing.

[3] Add egg yolk to mashed potatoes and mix well with a fork to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper.

[4] As this is a very sticky mixture, the easiest way to form the balls is to coat your hands with flour. Then, taking a tablespoon of the mixture at a time, shape into balls and dredge in a dish of flour.

[5] Beat the remaining egg. Dip potato balls in the egg, then roll them in bread crumbs to coat.

[6] After all balls have been coated, place in refrigerator for 15 minutes up to an hour.

[7] These potato balls can be baked in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Or, for a better flavor, fry them in vegetable oil until lightly browned.