Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sweet Potato Lefse (AIP)

Chances are, unless you grew up somewhere with a large Scandinavian population, you’ve possibly never heard of lefse. If that’s the case, it’s ok, I won’t hold it against you :) Lefse is a potato flatbread cooked on a griddle. Think of it like a scandinavian tortilla. It remains very flexible after cooking and is usually spread with butter (and sometimes sprinkled with white sugar) before it is rolled up into tubes and eaten.

I grew up eating lots of lefse, especially at Thanksgiving & christmas time, but never making it.  Every lefse recipe is a little bit different & many families are staunch traditionalists when it comes to “their” family recipe. Families will gather together sometime during the holiday season and spend an afternoon making loads and loads of lefse. Most versions include white potatoes, butter, dairy of some sort (cream, milk, etc), salt, sugar, and flour. My good friend Kelli & her family make lots of lefse each year & I’m very thankful she consulted on this recipe with me :)

To be honest, neither Kelli nor I were very confident that an AIP version of lefsewas possible. It was a tall order, since I needed to find AIP appropriate substitutions for every ingredient, minus the salt. The salt was fine, haha. But, the thought of having to go yet another year without lefse was a hard thing for me. In past years I’ve had to skip out on the lefse because it isn’t gluten free. This year, I felt like I should at least attempt a version, even if it didn’t taste or look exactly like traditional lefse.

The first order was to find a substitute for the white potatoes. Though I’ve been able to tolerate reintroductions of some things to my AIP diet, white potatoes, a member of the nightshade family, are not one of them... Instead, these days, I eat a lot of sweet potatoes, in different varieties.  Funny, prior to AIP, I had no idea there even were different varieties and colors of sweet potatoes. Hands down, my favorite kind is the white sweet potato, the Hannah variety, because it is a little less sweet & a little more starchy in texture.

I’m not sure if it was a good thing or not that I’ve never actually made homemade lefse before this adventure. From what I can tell, and I am most definitely not an expert, the rules for this AIP lefse are very different from it’s traditional counterpart. I’m not entirely sure how this AIP lefse works, but it just does :) And for that I am very thankful. Traditional lefse can be quite finicky and require an experienced touch. This lefse is more forgiving. I’ve made a couple batches, just to try to troubleshoot any challenges & to ensure that my first recipe success wasn’t just a fluke. The dough is more forgiving & doesn’t require as delicate a touch. Because it doesn’t contain gluten, you don’t need to worry about overworking it when mixing the dough & rolling it out.  It’s best mixed, rolled & cooked all in one day, but I find that it tastes more lefse-esque the day after it’s been made.

If you’re someone who is missing lefse because you’re following Paleo or AIP or are gluten free, I hope this recipe will be a great resource for you. Traditionally, I’ve really only eaten lefse during the holiday season, but given the reality that my “bread” choices are pretty non-existant, I forsee us making this recipe often & using the flatbread in a similar manner as tortillas.

Sweet Potato Lefse
yields approximately 16 small pieces 

14 oz White Sweet Potatoes (I used the “Hannah” variety)
Water, to cover

12 oz Riced White Sweet Potatoes
2 Tbl (22 g) coconut milk
28 g (2 Tbl) coconut oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Maple Sugar
90 g Tapioca Starch, divided approximately in half
1 1/2 tsp Coconut Flour

a lot additional Tapioca starch for dusting

  1. Wash & peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into rough cubes & place into a stock pot. Add enough water to cover the potato pieces. 
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat & cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. 
  3. Drain the potatoes into a colander. 
  4. Rice the potatoes back into the stock pot, using a potato ricer  Return to the burner over low heat & cook, stirring constantly, for 1.5 minutes, to help evaporate some of the residual water. 
  5. Remove from the heat & add the coconut milk, coconut oil, salt & maple sugar. Stir to combine. 
  6. Add half the tapioca starch & the coconut flour. Mix well. Add the remaining tapioca starch. 
  7. Divide the dough into 2 Tbl pieces. Roll into small balls. 
  8. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. 
  9. Liberally sprinkle the work surface with additional tapioca starch. Flatten a ball of dough & sprinkle with more tapioca. Roll out, trying to keep the shape as round as possible, until very thin--almost see-through, but making sure the bottom isn’t stuck. Use a small offset spatula to run underneath the rolled out dough. If the dough tears, don’t panic--gather the dough together into a ball again & re-roll it. 
  10. Very gently lift the dough & slide your hand underneath the dough. Transfer it to the preheated skillet. Cook until lightly browned on one side, flip, and continue cooking until that side is also lightly browned. Once flipped, the lefse may bubble--use a heat tempered spatula to gently press down on the big bubbles. On our electric stove set at roughly 4.5, mine took about 1 min 15 sec on the first side & an additional 1 min on the second side. 
  11. Transfer cooked pieces to a plate & repeat with the remaining dough. 
  12. Once the lefse cools completely, store in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature for one day maximum, then refrigerate or freeze for longevity.  I find the lefse tastes more like traditional lefse the day following when it was made.   


  • The recipe doubles very well, but the individual cooking process is more laborious. I cut my original batch in half because I got tired of running back and forth from rolling the lefse to cooking the lefse. 
  • I do not recommend making the dough ahead of time & refrigerating overnight--I found  the dough to be much more fragile the second day. 
  • If you have an actual lefse griddle, feel free to use it, though I do not personally have one & have not tried using any surface other than a non-stick pan. 
  • A lefse stick won’t work because the dough is too fragile. 
  • To serve, roll the lefse sheet into a tube. I usually like my lefse with butter and sugar on it, but this sweet potato version is naturally sweeter & I find it doesn’t need any additional butter or sugar. My husband, on the other hand, likes his spread with jam. 

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  1. Beautiful! I've never had these before, but they look so delicate. I imagine they could be filled like a crepe, either sweet or savory?

    1. Yep! Either would work. They're similar to tortillas & might make an excellent AIP sandwich wrap? Though I prefer to just eat them on their own ;)

  2. <3 Collaborate with me anytime! Xox

  3. Do you think arrowroot would work. I can't eat tapioca. Thanks.

    1. Try it and see? Usually that substitution works, but I have not personally tried it.

  4. You just made me the happiest girl! I grew up in the Midwest and this was ALWAYS a tradition! I am SO HAPPY to be able to eat lefse again! Thank you, thank you for making this possible!!

  5. Thank you! I will try it with arrowroot as I eat lower carb to cope with my Lyme disease. I also will not be reintroducing white potato into my diet but can tolerate the white sweet potatoes. My dad is Norwegian and undergoing cancer treatment so is also on a strict diet and misses lefse! We like ours with butter and cinnamon sugar. Heather from Canada

    1. Hi we made it today and arrowroot worked just fine although we did need more than 90 grams. We ended up soaking the sweet potatoes in cold water for a day before cooking them and it pulled quite a lot of the sweetness out of the potatoes which was good. My dad is Norwegian and he declared these to be as good or better than the ones he had growing up so that's a huge compliment! I'm going to use them for wraps and souvlaki. Thank you again! Heather from Canada

  6. Is there anything that can be used add an alternative to a potato ricer?? I don't have anything like that. Thanks!!

    1. I just mashed the sweet potato really good with at fork - it worked fine :)

  7. I dont have a scale! :((( do you know the approximate measurements in cups? Thanks!

  8. I just made these - they are amazing! I looove(d) the traditional lefse, but as I can't eat those anymore, this is definitely a good sub! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!

  9. Thank you SO much! Lefse is always served for holidays in my family and I'm just 2 months in on AIP and realizing I would be without lefse this holiday season. Now I can make my own. Thank you so much, you've made this Scandinavian woman very happy!

  10. Oh NO! I brought all my lefse supplies to the sea with us for Thanksgiving, but forgot my kitchen scale! :-( Do you have measurements in cups? Pleeeeease... I've made this awesome recipe before & want to again! It is part of our family holiday tradition. -One super sad Norwegian girl.

  11. Hi, have you had any luck freezing these & reheating? Thank you for the recipe!

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  13. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I have made similar ones with cassava flour and it works nicely as well. No tapioca or coconut flour, just cassava.

  14. Thank you! I recently started aip and can't imagine Christmas without Lefse! I've been eating it all my life.

  15. It is interesting how the thing you call lefse in the US we call lompe in norway now. But there is a few people who say potetlefe. Lefse is generally made with wheat and always has a "filling" (they are made in large rounds, topped with a mixture of cinnamon, butter and sugar, and follded into a square shape). But the recipe looks delicious :)

  16. I am Norwegian and have had to give up many traditional treats due to my auto-immune condition. Although we certainly ate lefse growing up, and it is still eaten in Norway, it is more of an olt timey dish as most people now eat vaffler, which I sorely miss. But lefse would make an excellent substitute and i am so glad to have this recipe in my arsenal. Thank you!!

  17. These are delicious in their own right. Not to mention safe for those of us with nightshade and gluten issues. A couple of notes. I cannot do tapioca or arrowroot, but can use sweet potato starch (an Asian ingredient). These worked just fine with that sub. To cut down on the starch I rolled them out between two pieces of parchment, sprinkled the bottom sheet and the top of the ball with starch before rolling, then put starch on my hand before peeling off the last sheet. Lastly, I used a pancake griddle set to about 350 degrees so that I could work on more than one at a time. Thanks so much for creating this recipe!!!!!