Ah, lefse. Potato flatbread. That wonderful Norwegian holiday treat that's best enjoyed when slathered with butter and sugar. Those that haven't had it before may be puzzled at the idea, but if you grew up in the Midwest you're probably salivating at the thought.
I'm not Norwegian or Scandinavian. I'm German-Russian. I didn't grow up with a family who made lefse every holiday season, so it's not traditional to me. However, I live in Fargo, North Dakota. And Norwegians are all over the place. And as a result, we may as well drape lefse around the town the same way we proudly display bison statues, signs, and paintings wherever we can. So this year, when the holiday season was creeping up, I took it upon myself to create a gluten free lefse so that I could join in the holiday lefse hype, too.
Honestly, Otto's Cassava Flour made it pretty easy. I simply looked at traditional lefse recipes and made some quick-and-easy subs. Coconut milk for milk/cream. Ghee for butter. Cassava flour and a little arrowroot starch for wheat flour.
I eat white potatoes, which aren't strict paleo (depending on what strict paleo is to you...), but if they aren't your thing, just sub in Hannah sweet potatoes (they're pale/white, not orange or purple).
In sum, if you know how to make lefse, this recipe will be exceedingly easy for you because only the ingredients are different. The method is the same. The important part is not to mix in the flours until you're ready to make the patties - if you leave it overnight, it can result in a too-mushy dough.
There's plenty of fancy lefse-making equipment out there, like lefse sticks, lefse griddles, lefse mats. But you don't need any of them. I don't have any of that - I just made smaller patties so they were easier to transfer to my cast iron skillet.
Oh, and for topping, just use ghee and honey. So, so good!
I grew up only eating lefse with butter and sugar, but I recently discovered there are other things you can do with this flatbread (go figure). Enjoy a savory version with smoked salmon and cashew cream cheese. Use eggs and bacon for breakfast lefse. Use it as a wrap with your favorite sandwich fillings. Or, slather some nut butter in that baby and roll it up. There are lots of possibilities...but I'll admit, I went through the entire batch using just ghee and honey because that's where it's at!
Even though the holidays are over, we're in for a long (albeit mild) winter. It doesn't have to be Christmastime to eat gluten free lefse. Trust me...I'm noshing on the last of it right now!
Before making this, I hadn't had lefse in years and years and years. Neither had my fiancé. So while I'm almost certain this recipe is legit, I'm not willing to buy gluten-filled lefse to compare. Please, if you give this recipe a go, give me some feedback so I know if it needs tweaking. I'm totally willing to
Gluten Free Lefse
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: lotsa lefse
- Category: Side dish
- Method: stovetop
Join the holiday lefse hype with this gluten free lefse recipe! A few simple swaps make this recipe gluten free and dairy free.
- 3-4 cups peeled and cubed white potatoes
- ¼ cup ghee
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 1 - 1 ½ cups cassava flour (I used Otto's Cassava Flour, but my go-to brand recently is Anthony's)
- Prepare the potatoes. Peel potatoes and cut them into large, uniform chunks. Measure out 3-4 cups of potatoes and put in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring the pot to a low boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork - about 15 minutes (depending on the size of your potato pieces). Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.
- Using a fork, potato masher, or potato ricer, mash the potatoes until no lumps remain. Add the ghee, coconut milk, honey, and salt, and mix until completely combined. At this point, you can refrigerate overnight and add the flour/cook the lefse the next day. Alternatively, you can just continue on right away.
- When you're ready to make the lefse, add the arrowroot powder and 1 cup cassava flour to the potato mixture and mix until fully combined. At first, it will be very crumbly, but eventually it starts coming together into a workable dough (patience is a virtue).
- Clear a large work space and sprinkle with arrowroot flour. Turn the dough onto the counter and knead a few times to bring it to a smooth ball. If you find that your dough is too wet and it sticks to your hands or your workspace, add additional cassava flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer too sticky to work with. If you add too much flour, and the dough will no longer stay together, you can add coconut milk or ghee a teaspoon at a time to bring it back to a dough consistency.
- Using your hands, make equal-sized balls out of the dough. Size varies depending on how big you want your lefse to be. I made balls about an inch in diameter.
- Heat a griddle or large cast iron pan to medium-high. Sprinkle a little more arrowroot flour onto your work surface. One at a time, flatten your dough balls and roll out very thin with a rolling pin. Using lefse stick/spatula (if you have one), transfer the thin patty to the griddle. Let cook for about 1 minute on each side or until slightly golden.
You don't need fancy lefse equipment to make this, but it helps. If you don't have the special equipment, just make small patties - they're much easier to transfer to the griddle!
Note: This recipe was updated 9/9/16 to clarify some measurements!
Keywords: gluten free lefse
Jennifer Smith says
This recipe was terrific! I love making lefse and this was one of the best I have tried, in fact I have decided that in the future this is the only recipe I will use.
Wow, Jennifer, thanks so much! I'm so glad to know that you LOVED it! 🙂
I had never heard of Otto's Cassava Flour, is it really that good? Can people tell what you baked wasn't made with wheat flour? I would love to find a flour that works great for baking. Thank you. BTW... I live in Fargo, ND too! 🙂
Hi, Kari! Nice to hear from a Fargoan! I've really become fond of Otto's Cassava Flour. There are other cassava flours out there that I haven't tried (just being up front about it!) but I like the company behind Otto's so I continue to buy from them. I don't bake incredibly often, and basically everyone I know is aware that anything I make is gluten free, so that may affect their views on my baking...but so far, no one has turned away any of my recipes, so that's a plus. 🙂 The cassava flour can be a challenge at first, since it settles quickly so it's easy to use too much...but otherwise, it subs 1:1 for wheat flour, which makes it pretty easy to use. Otto's has a lot of recipes on their website and you can find plenty more with a Google search!
Okay, I know I rambled a lot! Point is, Otto's cassava flour is my go-to non-wheat flour. Two thumbs up!
There are many different types of lefse, the ones my grandmother made was thicker and we just ate them without anything on them. But with the thinner kind you make, I recommend sprinkling it with cinnamon too. Cinnamon, butter and sugar is common for the thinner ones. Just a little tip from a norwegian from Norway 🙂
Cool! I've never seen anything thicker - even the lefse available in grocery stores here is very thin. I didn't know there was anything else. You've expanded my horizons! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 And a sprinkling of cinnamon sounds amazing as a topping. I'll try that next time!
You mention in the beginning this being a Scandinavian flat bread. Lefse is, well, lefse. Because Norwegians also have a flat bread as well as this crispier. Just an FYI. This looks like a great and simple recipe. My son was diagnosed as celiac a couple of years ago so enjoy finding recipes for those delicacies we've always liked. Thanks for posting
Hey Carol! There are surprisingly LOTS of variations of lefse (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lefse). I looked into it when I wrote this post and I was amazed at all the little differences! But like you said, lefse is lefse (at least the lefse I know!). Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your son loves the lefse!
I'm very excited to make this recipe for my family reunion this weekend! We'll be using it as a Paleo substitute for Lebanese Flatbread; using white sweet potatoes and leaving out the honey. I have a quick question before getting started. You listed 2-4 cups of potatoes and 1-1/2 cups of flour. Do you have better estimate on the quantity of potatoes and cassava flour? I don't want to mess this up! Is there a certain consistency of dough I should be looking for? Thank you!
The 2-4 cups doesn't help much, does it? I'm surprised I left the recipe with that big of a range! Shame on me. I'm going to update the recipe to clarify this a little better! The reason there's such a range on the potatoes is because you'll measure them before making the mashed potatoes. Hard chunks of potatoes are difficult to measure accurately...even so, I updated the recipe to clarify 3-4 cups of peeled and cubed potatoes (hopefully that makes a bit more sense)!
When you mix the dough, start with 1 cup of cassava flour. After the dough is mixed and you start kneading/working with the dough, you'll be able to tell if the dough is too sticky. If it's too sticky, most of it will be stuck to your workspace and your hands, making it extremely difficult to knead or make balls of dough. Then you can add additional cassava flour a little at a time until you can actually work with the dough. On the flip side, if you find you added too much flour and the dough no longer stays together, you can add a teaspoon at a time of coconut milk/ghee to help bring it back together.
As mentioned in the instructions, the dough will be very crumbly when you initially start mixing it, but eventually it comes together into a large mass. The dough might not seem smooth, but you'll knead it a couple times to get it there. At this point, it may stick a little bit, but as long as you are able to form dough balls and roll them out on a powdered surface, the slight stickiness shouldn't be a problem.
Best of luck - I think this will work well with white sweet potatoes!
Donna in Inwood says
I would be interested to hear back how this recipe turned out being made with white sweet potatoes. Thanks.
With a Norwegian Grandma, I grew up eating lefse, a family tradition! I am anxious to try your version with the cassava flour!!
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tessa! I hope you like this version of lefse! If all goes well, it should remind you exactly of the lefse you had growing up. 🙂
Looks good! I learned to make lefse decades ago and it was always a Christmastime favorite with my sons. Back then, I had the real tools: a toothed rolling pins, and A lefse stick. A move suddenly found me without the tools, and I have since improvised with a regular rolling pin and made a lefse stick. I used a yardstick sanded (power tool) down to a very thin tapered end. You could also use a paint stirring stick tapered down too! So glad you shared this and I am going to try your recipe to be gluten free.
Wow, Mardi, you are dedicated! Hope you enjoy the recipe!
Making this right now but can’t use cassava, trying it with a mix of rice and potato flour with a smidge of xanthan gum..hoping it turns out! I have amazing memories making this with my Norwegian Gran
Hey Kate! Thanks for checking out the recipe - did your substitutions work?
Have you tried freezing this to see if it rolls good after it thaws
No, I have not tried freezing it. Might have to give that a try this year!
I don't think I have ever taken the time to comment on a food blog, but I couldn't not with this one. I love lefse. I grew up making it for the holidays, and as an adult, I made it in-between just because because I love it so much. It's one of the things I've sorely missed since going gluten-free years ago. I never attempted one because they didn't look like leafs and I figured what's the point if it's not going to taste like the real thing. THIS TASTES JUST LIKE LEFSE! Soft and chewy and delicious. Oh, and it rolls like lefse, too!!! I'm so used to paleo substitutes of recipes requiring you to pour something that should be rolled, or to roll it between two layers of parchment paper. Nope! I rolled it thin just like regular lefse with my rolling pin. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe - 10 stars!!!
LeAnn Knoeck says
Sorry, but this isn’t anything close to traditional lefse. I remade the recipe and have one that now works….but this was way too moist which required too much flour, so the lefse came out super tough and chewy,
Bummer that it didn't work for you. Typically cassava flour soaks up more moisture than wheat flour, so it usually requires a little more moisture in most recipe. At any rate, I'm glad you found something that works for you, even if it wasn't my recipe.
Cheryl Tebben says
I want to try this! I bought 24 oz of Gluten Free All Purpose Flower (Divided Sunset) at Walmart. Have you (or Anyone) tried GF All Purpose flour? (any GF brand) My Son-in-Law can't have Gluten or Dairy. He loves my Lefse & baking but pays for it later if he tries any of it. His father is the same way...but he cheats on my lefse.
Potatoes...Has anyone figured out the weight? I boil the potatoes with the skin on, it makes peeling a breeze! I usually boil 10Lbs.
Hey Cheryl! I've never tried this with gluten free all purpose flour, and I'm skeptical it would turn out the same! Cassava flour is really quite specific, although it is gluten free on its own. 🙂 Gluten free all purpose flours are usually a blend of multiple types of flours, and I'm just not sure that would react well here.
I've also never weighed the potatoes, as this recipe makes a smaller batch. 10lbs would be waaay too much - I'd say this recipe takes about 3-4 large potatoes, but it's been a while since I've made it last so I can't say for sure!
Gretchen Lai says
Thank you for sharing this recipe and a paleo one too! I didn’t have ghee, so I used grassfed butter, and it worked out great! I found the dough takes some finesse and can’t be rolled as thin as some like to make traditional lefse. I also couldn’t use the traditional lefse stick because it broke too easily. BUT rolling the dough out on a flexible plastic chopping board and sliding the lefse onto a griddle with a spatula to release it a bit worked really well. It tasted sooo good!