cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes

golden mashed potato cakes filled with gooey cheese - these cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes are the ultimate comfort food - at home or on the trail.

hello, my name is sarah and i'm addicted to instant mashed potatoes.

it all started a few months back when ben & i were watching a documentary about the john muir trail (mile, mile & a half - you should check it out!) - the 211 mile trail that runs from yosemite valley to mount whitney in california, and i turned to him and announced that we needed to hike that trail. clearly he agreed, because here we are, getting really into this whole backpacking thing - gear, different routes, the whole shebang.  and of course, the food. . disclaimer: we aren't hiking the whole thing, just 8 days-worth because, well, a then-eight-year old helena might be a wee bit young for the entire thing.  we'll see, and we're doing it in two years, not now.  but planners gotta plan, and so here we are.  two years out and already testing trail recipes.

funny thing is, i've never been backpacking. as in never, not once.  the closest i ever came was that one time, years ago, when i was awake half the night convinced there was a witch lurking in the tree outside our tent.  turns out it was just a tree. i guess my 22 year old imagination got the better of me (cough, cough). whoops.

so. back to the instant mashed potatoes.  i've never liked real-deal mashed taters - you know, the fresh potatoes boiled and smashed with butter and cream.  no idea why, but they've just never been my thing.  and then ben brought home a package of idahoan brand four-cheese instant mashed potatoes (because they're the perfect trail food) and it was love at first bite.  

i don't know what it is, but there's something about that processed, slightly too salty bowl of creamy goodness that just speaks to me on some basic level.  sure they're a perfectly engineered food product but my whole-grain, veggie loving, avocado obsessed self just needs them.

in my defense, i must add, that in the backpacking world instant foods (i.e. mashed potatoes) are quite the thing, because after hours and hours spent on the trail, there's nothing better than a quick, tasty, filling meal (or so i've heard). instant mashed potatoes are like backpacking gold.

it turns out that helena, despite being a typical 6 year old and all (as in loves chips, fries, candy - you know, the normal processed foods) surprisingly won't touch my beloved instant mashed potatoes. clearly she has better taste than me, because she loathes them, but you know what?  good for her!  more for me!

now our pantry is stocked with all of the different flavors, and since we're having these potatoes at least once a week, i've begun to branch out and actually make them into things.  like these cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes.  sure, we probably can't make this exact recipe on the trail, but we're not on the trail yet, right? gooey cheese, creamy mashed potatoes. what's not to love? it's the perfect flavor combination. helena still won't touch them, but that's ok because, you know, more for me.

of course you can do the respectable thing and make these cakes with real mashed potatoes. i'll just be over here gleefully stirring my powdered potato mix into boiling water, marveling at the magic of food science.  but regardless of what type of mashed potatoes you choose,  these soft, tender, cheese-stuffed cakes are sure to become a staple in your recipe collection.  on the trail or right here at home.





recipe: cheese-stuffed mashed potato cakes

yields: 4 large or 8 small cakes


  • 1 prepared, 4oz package instant mashed potatoes (idahoan 4-cheese flavor used), or 2 c real mashed potatoes, cooled - the potatoes need to be thick, so use less liquid than usual.
  • 2 Tbsp whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c, packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • pepper & garlic powder - to taste


  1. combine the cream cheese & cheddar cheese
  2. add a few grinds/pinches of pepper and the garlic powder to taste
  3. spoon about 1/4 (if making 4 cakes) of the potatoes  mixture into the palm of you hand, and about 1 generous Tbsp of the cheese mixture.  
  4. top with another Tbsp of potatoes and carefully tuck the potatoes around the cheese. cheese into the center of the potatoes, until the cheese is fully encased in the potatoes
  5. set on a plate or parchment lined sheet and repeat with remaining mashed potatoes
  6. set the cakes in the fridge for 30 minutes - the chilled cakes are less likely to fall apart when cooking
  7. when the cakes are fully chilled, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat
  8. gently transfer the cakes into the hot pan, being careful not to crowd them - we did them in batches of two.
  9. cook the cakes for 3 - 5 minutes on the first side, until they are beginning to brown
  10. carefully flip and cook another 3 minutes on the other side and remove from heat.
  11. serve & enjoy!


s & h