Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

Last year I posted a recipe for Potato Oyaki, little mashed potato pancakes or dumplings filled with salty-sweet meat soboro and pan-fried until crispy on both sides. It’s been one of the most popular recipes posted on this site, despite the fact that I managed to bury it within a whole bento description, so that if you were searching for individual recipes in the recipe index, you couldn’t find it!

To correct this oversight, I have repeated the recipe for the Potato Oyaki here. To accompany it is a new variation recipe that uses sweet potatoes and finely chopped cooked carrot. This has a small amount of ham and cheese in the middle; you could do so with the same meat soboro used for the Potato Oyaki, or any precooked chopped meat. It’s also good without any stuffing. If you happen to have any leftover boiled or baked sweet potato and carrot from Thanksgiving dinner, this is an interesting way to transform it for bentos.

Now, why is the Sweet Potato Oyaki shaped like a pig? That mystery will be revealed later.

First up is the Potato Oyaki recipe, with some modifications from the originally posted recipe.

Recipe: Potato Oyaki With Meat Soboro


Makes 8 oyaki, each approximately 2.5 inches / 6 cm in diameter.

  • 2 cups (approx. 440ml) precooked plain mashed potatoes (no milk, butter etc. added)
  • 4 Tbs. cornstarch or potato starch (katakuriko)
  • Salt to taste (Omit if the potatoes were boiled in salted water)
  • 8 heaping tsp. meat soboro or other savory filling
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce

Make the potato dough the night before or earlier. Use hot mashed potatoes; if you are using leftover mashed potatoes, heat them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high until hot. Add the cornstarch and salt, and mix well until the dough has cooled.

In the morning, take out the cooled mass and knead it a bit, and divide into 8 pieces. Round and flatten each piece on your palm. Put 1 heaping teaspoonful of soboro in the middle. Gather the dough over the filling, then make a smooth round flat cake. (The dough is very easy to manipulate so this doesn’t take much time).

Heat up a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.Drizzle a little bit of sesame oil in the pan, then put in the formed oyaki (do this in 2 batches if your pan is small). Cook until browned underneath, 5-6 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Brush the cooked side with a little soy sauce using a brush or drizzle on a bit with a spoon. Turn once more and brush the other side with soy sauce.

Remove from the frying pan to a plate, and let cool before packing into bento box.

Formed oyaki can be frozen. Place in a single layer on a sheet of freezer paper on a metal tray. When frozen solid, put the oyaki into freezer bags or a freezer safe container. Use up within a month if possible. The best way to defrost them is in a non-stick frying pan over low heat, which will crisp them up on the outside nicely. You can also microwave them on the high setting, 3-4 minutes for 1 oyaki, 8-10 minutes for 4.

Next up is the sweet potato variation.

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki


Makes 8 2.5 inch / 6 cm diameter oyaki as above, or 20-24 small pig shaped oyaki

  • 1 1/2 cups (approx. 330ml) precooked and mashed sweet potatoes potatoes (no milk, butter etc. added) - a large sweet potato will yield this amount
  • 4 Tbs. cornstarch or potato starch (katakuriko)
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked carrot
  • 4 Tbs. finely chopped cooked ham
  • 4 Tbs. shredded hard cheese, such as Cheddar or Gruyere
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil

Make the potato dough the night before or earlier: Sweet potato is more watery than white potato, so after it mashed, put it in a dry pan over low heat, and stir until it’s dried out and rather floury. Add the cornstarch or potato starch, salt, sugar and carrots. Mix well. Let cool, and store in the refrigerator.

Mix the cooked ham and cheese together well with your hands to form a sort of ham-cheese paste.

Take out the cold dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into 8 pieces for regular sized oyaki, or 20-24 pieces for little oyaki. Fill each piece of dough with the ham-cheese paste, and form into rounds or pigs or whatever strikes your fancy.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Put the oyaki in the pan, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook on the first side for 4-5 minutes, turn and brush with a little soy sauce. Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Turn again and brush with a little more soy sauce.

Remove from the frying pan to a plate, and let cool before packing into bento box.

These can also be frozen - follow the instructions for Potato Oyaki.

Oyaki filling alternatives

  • The miso, tahini and nut paste, with the amount of chopped nuts doubled, is a very nice filling. Use one level teaspoonful (not a heaping teaspoonful) per oyaki.
  • Finely chopped Japanese pickles such as shibazuke or narazuke
  • Well squeezed out and finely chopped kimchi
  • Cooked and well seasoned vegetables
  • Grated or shredded cheese
  • Leftover gyoza dumpling filling (cook the oyaki a few minutes longer to allow the filling to cook through)
  • Chopped up braised pork belly
  • Crumbled leftover meatloaf (brush the surface with ketchup or steak sauce instead of soy sauce and sesame oil)
  • And..why not? Leftover chopped up turkey, or stuffing.

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Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

omg, going to make the sweet potato one as soon as I possibly can. Mmmmmm


Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

This looks delicious! Thanks for continuing to share these tasey dishes despite your busy schedule. I've never made a bento quite right, they never look as good as the pictures on these pages. But I'll keep trying...

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

I made the sweet potato version last night, and I made my soboro using vegetarian "ground beef substitute" from Morningstar (that stuff is tasty :D)

I saw the more recent post where you say you cut the piggies out after you cut them. I was afraid to do this and see mine fall apart, so they way I shaped mine (bunny, heart and flower) was:

My dough was probably moister than was ideal because I wasn't sure what you meant when you said to dry it out over low heat until "powdery" although I did try.

I let the dough sit overnight in the fridge. I separated it out into what I decided were the right portions, then split each portion in half. I took my cookie cutter and smooshed half the portion into it, made a dent for the saboro, and then smooshed the other half in. I had no problems lifting the cookie cutters.

The only drawback was that it made them kind of hard to flip in the pan. One of the bunnies nearly lost his head ;_;

Other than that, I can't wait to eattttt minnnne. When is lunchhh?

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

What I meant by the cook until floury part is to just stir the mashed potatoes in a pan over fairly low heat, until it dries out a bit and becomes rather floury (rather than wet-looking). That helps the dough to hold together slightly better.

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

Can I use mash with milk and butter in it? Does it make a difference to the texture? I have some leftover normal mash and these are looking really good!

Also would orange sweet potato work as well?

Re: Potato Oyaki

Finally got around to making the potato oyaki (I had katakuriko and used that).
The surprise was how similar they are to potato farls - a specilality of Belfast/Ulster (and a few other parts of the British Isles).
Whilst I've made potato farls before, it would never have occurred to me to turn them into stuffed dumplings (but I guess that using starch instead of flour means that you don't have to worry about parts of the dumpling having a raw flour taste). And the final brush with shoyu on the oyaku is delightful! I must try that on a potato farl next time I make them.

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

In the spirit of using up leftovers, I made these up tonight with some leftover mashed potatoes. I stuffed one with turkey and gravy and the other with turkey and dressing. Will see how the daughter likes them tomorrow for lunch but I was getting hungry cooking them and we'd just finished dinner! Love your blog! I don't do traditional bento but gets lots of good ideas for packing good and healthy lunches here.

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

I loved these last time I made them, but I decided to fiddle with the cooking a bit to make them more to my personal tastes.

The dough was, as expected, very very mushy - not a bad thing, but I like crispy food. I added about 1/4 white flour and a few table spoons to see if I can get it more doughy without risking burning anything. I really can't stand frying anything in oil, so I pulled out a heart-shaped-cupcake pan I have and I'm going to bake them.

I will let you know how they come out :)


Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

I've been eyeballing this recipe since it was posted and finally got around to making them...just now!

I used a yam, mashed and pan-fried until drier. I added finely diced carrot, thinly sliced scallion, about 2 oz of shredded smoked cheddar, and about 1 tsp of homemade roasted garlic compound butter. I also used the corn starch, but added about 2 tbsp each of rye flour and 10 grain cereal (Bob's Red Mill). I didn't brush them with soy because of the cheese and butter, and I didn't stuff them--I just mixed everything in. They are beautiful and tasty and the texture is great!

My fiance and I are taking them for lunch tomorrow with blanched asparagus and umeboshi, cucumber, mashed banana with curry powder and pine nuts, and a macaroon :)

I love bento!

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

I've been thinking that the miso-tahini-nut paste would be delicious with a little maple syrup added, and that combination sounds like the perfect thing for a sweet (rather than savory) sweet potato oyaki. I think I will try that combination this weekend and see how it goes. (I adore sweet potatoes, so this cannot possibly be anything but delicious!)

I tried

They're delicious, thanks for sharing this recipe! What a great way to use up leftover mash... I stuffed mine with the leftover sauerkraut we had with it and it was lovely. Thing is though, cold they were near inedible. Dry, crumbly, floury. Is it supposed to be like that? Would oil help?
I have to admit I made them straight after making the dough though... maybe I should've kept the dough overnight like you said.
Anyhow, they were tasty hot.

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

okay so i've tried this over the past two nights and mine come out really gooey, i don't believe its supposed to be like that but i'm wondering if they're like that since they're made by mashed potatos, also i rolled my dough up into a ball and placed into the freezer over night and it was rock solid in the morning ;c i let it thaw but it became extremely moist, both times i couldn't mess with the dough in my palms the dough would stick to my hands, i don't know what im doing wrong ;c they taste like hash brown, please help me, I'm an amateur at cooking if you can't tell already

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

It sounds like your potatoes are rather high in moisture. When you mash the potatoes (they shouldn't have any milk, etc. added!) try drying them out in the pan over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan too much (a bit will stick, don't worry about that) until the potato turns a bit floury. Then cool and proceed. Freezing the dough probably made it soggier too (you should just cool it down in the refrigerator, not freeze it).

Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

I tried the sweet potato and it came out quite well, thank you for the recipe, the kids loved them in the bento boxe that we purchased, I took some photos and looking forward to trying this again.


Re: Potato Oyaki and Sweet Potato and Carrot Oyaki

The dough looked good when I first made it but after refrigerating for several hours it became quite wet. I added some extra flour and tried my best to make them work out and they turned out alright. Tomorrow I will try gently heating in a pan. Do I heat the mashed potatoes or the dough? Thanks

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