Grandma Helen’s Norwegian Lefse Recipe

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Family traditions played a pivotal role in my decision to return to Minnesota after residing in California. The pull of my roots, the nostalgia for cherished family customs, and the realization of the joyful moments I was missing out on were all influential factors in my return.

Lefse, a beloved Norwegian flatbread, holds a special place in our holiday traditions. Crafting lefse during this festive season is a cherished activity, bringing family together to roll out the thin, potato-based dough and cook it on a griddle until golden brown. This delicate and flavorful treat, often spread with butter, sugar, or even savory fillings, symbolizes the heartwarming essence of our holiday gatherings—a delicious tradition passed down through generations.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Gathering with these wonderful ladies for these events is an absolute affair! My Aunt Anne orchestrates everything flawlessly, right down to our designated lunch breaks. Each of us has our assigned station—on Lefse day, we had a team of 8 ladies, with 2 adept griddle flippers, 3 skillful rollers, and 1 efficient packager. To top it off, we even had a couple of floaters on standby, ready to assist whenever needed. It’s a well-coordinated effort that makes our Lefse-making day an enjoyable and efficient tradition.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Photo: Family Felse Day 2013

Every year, without fail, we prepare my Grandma Bergland’s cherished Lefse recipe, and it never fails to delight everyone. This traditional recipe holds a special place in our hearts, connecting us to cherished memories and the joy of the holiday season.

Grandma Helen’s Simple Lefse Recipe:

Ingredients Needed: 

  • Russet Potatoes, one five pound bag
  • 2/3 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk’2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Tools Needed: 

To make lefse, you’ll need several essential tools. These tools are key for a successful and enjoyable lefse-making experience!

  1. Potato Ricer: Essential for ricing the cooked potatoes, creating a smooth texture.
  2. Rolling Pin: Used to roll out the lefse dough to the desired thickness.
  3. Griddle or Lefse Grill: An ideal surface for cooking the lefse; it provides even heat and allows for easy flipping.
  4. Lefse Rolling Board with Cover: Provides a spacious, flat surface for rolling out lefse dough and includes a cover to maintain dough moisture and facilitate easy transfer, streamlining the lefse-making process.
  5. Lefse Stick or Spatula: Helps in flipping the lefse while cooking to ensure both sides cook evenly.
  6. Lefse Cloth or Towels: Thin, cotton cloths or towels are used to cover the dough while it’s resting and cooling.
  7. Lefse Turning Stick: Optionally used for transferring the rolled-out dough from the rolling surface to the griddle.
  8. Potato Peeler (optional): If you choose to peel the potatoes before cooking rather than using the peeling technique after they’re cooked.

Grandma Helen's Norwegian Lefse Recipe 1

Cooking Potatoes: Start by cooking the potatoes until they’re tender.

An interesting trick I learned this year was an alternative way to peel the cooked potatoes. Rather than peeling them before cooking, my girlfriend shared a time-saving method—allowing the potatoes to cool and then simply pulling off the skin by hand after cooking. This method drastically cut down the peeling time from over 20 minutes to just about 30 seconds! Once the potatoes were done cooking, I placed them in cold water for around 5 minutes. Then, with a firm grip, I easily removed the potato skins. It was truly a game-changer!

Grandma Helen's Norwegian Lefse Recipe 2

Ricing the Potatoes: Once peeled, it’s time to rice the potatoes. Using a potato ricer, press the potatoes to create a fine and smooth texture. This step is essential for ensuring the right consistency in the lefse dough.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Photo: Family Felse Day 2013

Add Ingredients: Once the potatoes are riced, incorporate 2/3 cup oil, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup sugar into the mixture and blend thoroughly.

Afterward, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge. I prefer to prepare the mixture a day in advance to give it time to settle. If you’re doing it the day prior, put it into the fridge and wait until the next morning. 

When you’re prepared to roll out the lefse, introduce 3 cups of flour to the mixture. You do not to overmix at this stage, so start with less. Begin by adding 1 1/2 cups of flour initially, gradually incorporating more as needed. I find that using your hands works best for this step—once thoroughly mixed, portion the dough into individual balls for easier handling and rolling.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Photo: Family Felse Day 2013

Roll the Dough! Now it’s time to roll out the dough! Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to create the best circle shape possible. Once rolled out, carefully flip the dough onto the griddle or cooking surface for further cooking. This step sets the stage for the next stage of the lefse-making process.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Photo: Family Felse Day 2013

Steam, Flip, Flip: In line with Grandma Bergland’s time-tested technique, the rule for cooking lefse is “steam, flip, flip.” As soon as the lefse starts steaming (typically within seconds of placing it on the griddle), perform the first flip.

Then, when it begins to form small bubbles, execute the second flip. Once both sides are cooked to a desirable golden hue, the lefse is done. To cool them, we traditionally place sheets on our tables, providing an ideal surface for the lefse to cool down.

How to Make Lefse | construction2style

Photo: Family Felse Day 2013

Uff da! After a 5-hour rolling session, within these photos from 2013 – we successfully churned out hundreds of pieces of lefse. Now what to serve on the lefse, the preferences vary widely among us. While it’s traditionally served with butter and sugar, I prefer mine with just sugar. On the other hand, my sister prefers hers with a delightful combination of butter, cinnamon, and sugar. We believe in the freedom to enjoy lefse however one likes best—each to their unique taste! How do you prefer your lefse served?

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8 thoughts on “Grandma Helen’s Norwegian Lefse Recipe

  1. YUMM! One of my favourite treats around this time of the year. great tip about the potatoes I would have never thought to try that.

  2. Can I be a floater next yea? My job can be tasting and making sure the Lefse is being made to perfection 🙂

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