You read it correctly: Potato Candy! This recipe has been a favorite in my family for generations. Don’t be alarmed by the potatoes, they’re a critical ingredient that you’d never guess is hidden in this sweet old-fashioned candy!
My family loves making this potato candy around the holidays, especially for Christmas and Easter. You might even recognize the candy base as I’ve shared it before in my Easter Egg Candy. Be sure to read through the post for all of my most important tips before you begin!
If you’ve read this far you’re either really, really intrigued or you grew up making your own Potato Candy and already know how amazingly delicious this recipe really is.
I’m guessing we lost some people with the title, but trust me, they’re missing out. You’re going to be so glad you stuck around (and I’m so grateful for you for trusting me on this one!).
This recipe came from my grandmother’s grandmother. While the potatoes may seem off-putting at first, I promise you that you won’t taste them in the finished product. They mostly serve to bind the candy “dough” together, and they do so without making it too sweet (if you left out the potatoes, you’d have a much too sweet buttercream candy that you couldn’t roll into this cute pinwheel shape).
I do have lots of tips and tricks for making this recipe, so let’s jump in. I highly recommend you read through this entire post before venturing out to make your own Potato Candy.
Tips for Making Potato Candy
- Let the potatoes cool completely. Don’t refrigerate them, just leave them at room temperature once you’ve drained them until they are completely cooled, and then mash them until no lumps remain. If your potatoes are still warm when you add them to your mixture, there’s a good chance they’ll melt your butter and your sugar, resulting in a watery dough that you’ll have to toss out.
- Add more sugar as needed. The dough will need to chill before you can roll it out, and it will be too tacky when first mixed up, but it should be somewhat shapeable. If it’s too sticky, you can always add more sugar, up to 2 cups more.
- Dust your surface and your rolling pin with powdered sugar, it will make the whole process easier and your dough less likely to stick.
If the Mixture Becomes Watery, There’s a Good Chance You’ll Have to Start Over
Here’s my biggest warning about this recipe, a mystery I haven’t yet been able to solve: Every so often I’ll have a batch that turns out watery.
The first time this happened, I thought I hadn’t cooled the potatoes correctly and they melted the sugar. While that is definitely your most likely issue (and why I included the notes above) I’ve found that sometimes, even when I follow every instruction carefully and precisely, occasionally my dough turns out too runny. So runny that no matter how much sugar I add I just can’t salvage it.
Why this happens is still a mystery to me, and my best guess at this time is that it’s an issue with the potatoes. Perhaps they’re too old? Perhaps they’ve been boiled a minute too long? Not long enough? It may even have nothing to do with the potatoes (could it be the humidity?)!
If you have any suggestions I am ALL ears, I’ve spent so much time trying to solve this and have finally conceded the fact that this is just a risk of making this recipe. It only happens rarely now, especially now that I’ve learned to be so careful with cooling the potatoes (again, your most likely culprit), but it does still happen from time to time and I want you to be fully informed. It’s an issue that would typically cause me to not publish a recipe, but this is one that’s been in my family for generations and I felt it deserved publishing, just with a warning.
Alright, hopefully you now feel fully informed to make your own potato candy! Enjoy!
More Recipes You May Enjoy
- ½ cup mashed potatoes* see recipe notes for cooking instructions (105g)
- ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter softened (113g)
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar plus additional for dusting (800-910g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Creamy peanut butter for filling
- Combine mashed potatoes, butter, and one cup of sugar in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to stir until combined.
- Add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time and stirring until combined after each addition. Once you've added 6 cups of powdered sugar, check the consistency. If the dough is not moldable in your hands and can't be rolled into a ball, continue to add sugar until it is firm.
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (if you chill longer it may become too firm and brittle and will just need to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until it is pliable).
- Once chilled, divide dough into two pieces and place one piece on a clean surface that you've generously dusted with powdered sugar. Dust the surface of the dough with additional sugar, and use a rolling pin to roll dough out into a rectangle about ¼" thick. If your dough is too sticky or falling apart, you may need to add more sugar, re-shape it into a ball, and start over.
- Once dough has been rolled into a ¼" thick rectangle, spread evenly with peanut butter, leaving a small amount of space peanut butter-free around the perimeter of the dough.
- Starting with the longer side of your rectangle, gently but tightly roll into a log.
- Use a knife to slice into pieces about ¼-½" thick.
- Repeat steps 5-8 with remaining half of dough.
- Serve and enjoy. Store leftover candy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Cinnamon CigarsAnother (peanut butter-free) version of this candy can be made by rolling the filling into cigar shapes and rolling in 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon for Cinnamon Cigar Candy. I've also used this potato candy recipe to make my old fashioned Easter Egg Candy.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Hi there! I wanted to share some information to you and your followers about the Potato Candy that could be helpful in the future and it will explain the common situation regarding the dough becoming watery. [Spoiler Alert: you CAN save the dough!]
I used two small, peeled golden potatoes, boiled them nice, mashed them and refrigerated them. Later, I added the vanilla and confectioners sugar and BAM, watery mess. Here’s why. Just like how salt will draw out moisture, sugar can break down cell walls in the potatoes thus releasing water. No fret though because I threw the mixture into a sauce pan on medium-low heat and whisked that baby until it’s starting to brown (a sign that water has been evaporated). After cooling in the refrigerator, I added more confectioners sugar (if you’re worried about sweetness, add some corn starch) and it surely became a dough! Doing this I have successfully made Potato Candy with Peanutbutter and Guava paste. Delish! Hope this is helpful and it will save more time and potatoes!
Thank you so much for the tips, Ashley! 🙂
Joyce L. McNeill
We use white sweet potatoes to make this candy. The “dough” is always really nice.
If you’re having issues with watery potatoes, also consider stabbing the potato with a fork several times and microwaving it for 6 minutes on high. Does the trick!
Hi, although i never tried potato candy i might have a solution for your wattery dough problem. Potatos come in many different varieties. Try the one with high starch content (i could give you the name but i seriously doubt that you can buy polish cultivar`s in any english speaking country). I had the same problem while making potato dumplings.
Thank you so much for the tip, Mike! 🙂
Success first time. Made for a friend. Thanks for all the tips because otherwise it may have not turned out so good.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Wonderful! We’re so happy it turned out for you, Alice. Thanks for trying our recipe ❤
When I make potato candy I mash about 1/2 a small potato with a fork then add a little powdered sugar to form a liquid. I then add whatever flavoring I am using and a couple drops of food coloring. I wear rubber gloves to not dye my hands. Then I keep adding powdered sugar a little at a time until I have dough. I then kneed it until smooth(dusting hands with powdered sugar so it doesn’t stick to my hands). Once dough is smooth I put wax paper on cutting board and sprinkle a little powdered sugar on the wax paper. Dust my rolling pin and roll out the candy dough. Then I spread peanut butter over the candy and roll it in to a log. Then I wrap the candy in the wax paper, twist ends of wax paper. Then I put candy on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours until it’s firm. I then cut it and put it in air tight container putting wax paper between layers. This tray I made a batch of mint and a back of rum flavored. Going to make a batch of strawberry flavored for New Years Eve.
I did try this recipe on Christmas Day & it came out watery. I had to add a whole bag & a half of confession sugar to get any kind of consistency. I think the butter is the problem. I made potato candy a couple of years ago & the recipe I used didn’t have the butter in it & it came out fine & took a lot less time to make because I didn’t have to keep adding sugar.
Store brand butter can have a higher water content than other brands. That may be the cause of the candy being watery.
The recipe I grew up with used only potato, powdered sugar, and peanut butter. And as another commenter mentioned, my mom always said not to make it on a rainy day. But this candy always brings back good memories!
That is the way I made it too. When I had a friend over, Mom would let us make it to keep us busy. They were simple ingredients that were always on hand in our farm kitchen.
I have microwave baked my potato also, as a time saver, it usually works great also.
Thank you so much! My Nana’s mom passed this recipe down, but my Nana knows it by heart without any quantities. Lol I really appreciated your post to help me adapt my Great Nana’s recipe. While we also don’t use any butter, I would still sometimes have it come out runny. Using your cooling method before mashing will definitely help with that. Thank you again.
I have seen this recipe a few times but have yet to try it. I wanted to suggest something that might help with wateriness. This year for Thanksgiving I made make ahead mashed potatoes that called baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. Leave them unpeeled, bake, and scoop the flesh out while hot. Add milk, butter, etc. They were exceptional. I wonder if you could bake the potatoes for this candy and avoid the watery problem. It might be too dry, but worth a try.
Using a baked potato vs boiled won’t make any difference. It’s the sugar that brings out the moisture of the potato. I usually microwave mine. My grandma taught me how to make potato candy when I was around 6 (about 50+ years ago!). We never put butter in it, but I’m going to try it tonight. Fingers crossed!
My mother made these all the time. She always said to never make on a rainy day, because they would not hold their shape. So may be the answer to you “watery” problem.
Can these be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer?
That will work just fine. 🙂
Potato candy is a recipe that has been handed down in my family. My Grandmother taught me how to make it. We boil our potato with skin on. Peel potato and cool completely! We never added butter. Just cooked, mashed potato mixed with the powdered sugar. Never had any to be watery. I have made this every year for Christmas since I was 14. I’m now 54 and my Son says it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. I think people who try it really love it, or they hate it. It is extremely sweet!!! (and messy!)
I haven’t tried your recipe but after reading it and the other person’s comments about not using the butter, I wondered why you didn’t try adding some instant mashed potatoes to the recipe if it came out too watery and the powdered sugar wasn’t enough to soak it up I would think a tiny bit of dry potatoes would be just the ticket.
Hi Deborah! I’m just really not a fan of instant potatoes.
My grandma, then mother, then sister and I and I am now going to teach my 40 year old daughter. That’s 65 years for me.
Love this candy same here as most have said my grandma always made it for Christmas, and also like most have said she always just used a potato,sugar,and peanut butter, she always told the story of how it was popular in the depression because of how cheap it was to make and it was a candy for poorer families with children who couldn’t afford store bought candy, now I make it every year for Christmas I have four children and they love it thank you for bringing memories back
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy this recipe brings back some sweet memories for you, Gary 🙂 Enjoy!
So i know it may sound really really weird but myself and my grandmother have never used the stick of butter and i have never had mine turn watery. And they are still just as sweet as ever.
My family made this for generations. We use no butter, and instead of boiling potatoes (which will add more moisture to them), I bake my potatoes in the microwave.