Karjalan Piirakkaa, My Family's Post-Thanksgiving Tradition

Most people don’t realize how central their kitchen counter is to their life… until that is, they start blogging. Once you start photographing all the awesome things you are scheming, making and baking, you really start to notice the back drop aka your kitchen counter. Hopefully you have a beautiful and well-maintained one. Or if you are like me, its white plastic that stains easily and was once used as a cutting board by the previous owners of your home. The only option at that point is to head to your mother’s when ever you want to post a recipe.

Therefore, here is a warm welcome to my mama’s kitchen where you will learn to make Karelian Potato Piirakka or Perunapiirakkaa.

Karelian Potato Piirakka

A Piirakkaa is a traditional Finnish pastry, it’s savory not sweet. It is a rye crust that can really be filled with anything. My two favorite are the potato or  creamy rice filled ones. Today my mom and I made potato filled ones using leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving.  This recipe originally comes from a Finnish cookbook (my Mummu, Finnish for Grandma, is originally from Finland) and has been adapted by my Mummu for ease and further adapted by me and my mom to be dairy-free. I haven’t figured out how to do them gluten-free yet but if that happens, trust me, I’ll blog about it.

To make them you will need:


  • 1 C water
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T melted dairy-free butter, I like Earth Balance.
  • 1 1/2 C white flour
  • 1 1/2 C rye flour
Basting Sauce
  • Approximately 1 C almond milk
  • 2 T melted dairy-free butter (more)
  • 2 C cooked mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 C almond milk
  • 2 T melted dairy-free butter
First off, mix the filling ingredients together and set aside for later.  To start the crust off, add the water, melted butter and salt into a mixing bowl and stir, then mix in the white flour.
Piirakka Step 1
The mixture should look like the image on the left, then add in the rye flour mix it in as much as you can. It is a very dry dough. Depending on where you life, you  might not be able to get all of the rye flour in. I live in Salt Lake City, UT, where it is very dry and we were not able to get it mixed in, if you live somewhere humid, you probably can. When it looks like the image on the right, you’ll want to flour your kitchen counter and dump the dough out to kneed it.
Piirakka Step 2

Kneed the dough until it’s smooth and then roll it into a 2 inch thick log.

Piirrakkaa Step 3

Cut the log into 12 rounds and place them back in your empty mixing bowl. Then get your counter covered in flour again and find your rolling-pin.

Piirakkaa Step 4

One at a time, roll each piece of dough out into an oval, it should be pretty thin. Then, fill it will 2 or 3 tablespoons of potatoes, leaving the edge clear. Before you close it up, dip your finger in water and trace the edge of the oval to moisten it.

Piirakkaa Step 5

Then use your fingers to pinch the sides up around the filling. Place it on a pan and repeat, about half-way through, you’ll want to get your oven heated. Once the pan is full, stick them in to bake at 450° F for about 15 minutes or when the tops start to brown.

Piirakkaa Step 6

Before they pop out of the oven, add the almond milk and dairy-free butter to a sauce pan over low heat to melt the butter and warm the milk. Find a dish and cover the bottom with wax or parchment paper. When they are lightly browned on top, pull them out of the oven. One and a time, use the spatula to drop them into the pan of sauce. Use a big spoon to make sure every part of the piirakkaa gets cover in the sauce. Then use the spatula to lift it out and drain it slightly before placing it in the dish you prepared. Do the same thing with each one, layering them with pieces of wax or parchment paper. Cover and allow them to sit for a bit to soften.

Piirakkaa Step 7

Once they’ve been allowed to soften, you can either freeze them for later or serve them up with your favorite spread.

Potato Piirakkaa

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. I look forward to making Karjalan Piirakkaa with my mom every year, they are delicious and we usually quadruple the recipe so we have lots of leftovers to freeze.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If you love them and want to try the rice filling, let me know and I can post that some time as well. Enjoy!

A BIG THANK YOU to my mama for letting me take over her kitchen this afternoon and being a hand model for me so I could take pictures, isn’t she lovely? My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture of us making them together and that my Mummu wasn’t able be there. 

This post is my entry into the Alt Summit Blog Contest sponsored by Wilsonart International, Inc.

19 Responses to Karjalan Piirakkaa, My Family's Post-Thanksgiving Tradition

  1. These look awesome! I love the sound of the potato filling. I just discovered your blog through #SITSSharefest and I love it! Can’t wait to check out your other posts. I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

    • So true! Crust makes all the difference. (PS I tried to comment on your post but I got an error… anyhoo, my favorite apps are the wordpress app, my fitness pal and pandora. Enjoy your new phone!)

  2. That’s definitely something I have never heard of before but they sound good. And I know what you mean about the kitchen counter. Mine is old white tile and the tile and the grout are both stained. Makes kitchen photos tricky to say the least. Happy SITS day!

  3. I would love to hear if someone gives you a gluten-free tip for this recipe. My husband’s family is Norwegian and there’s a big Finnish community here, too. Sounds yummy. Smart Balance is a good dairy free margarine. Thanks for the post. Visiting from SITS.

  4. I love this recipe!!! As a food blogger, I completely understand your backdrop issues but how nice to make something that is meaningful to you with your mom. Happy SITS day!

  5. That looks delicious, my stomach is rumbling! How sweet your mom was your hand model and I couldn’t help but admire her beautiful kitchen countertops….countertop envy here. Family recipes are the best! Thanks for sharing. Visiting from SITS!