Smoked salmon potato cakes with herbed cream & pink peppercorns are the perfect holiday party appetizer

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Need a substantial nibble to ward off the hunger of your holiday guests while they eagerly wait for dinner? One bite of these smoked salmon potato cakes with herbed cream and pink peppercorns, inspired by Drizzle & Dip, will make them temporarily forget that the holiday dinner is coming up.

Elegant in presentation and oh-so-scrumptious, these potato cakes are a perfect appetizer when you want to serve an impressive comfort food. However, we offer a word of warning: These yummy cakes aren’t just eye-catching, they are belly-filling addictive. We recommend doubling or tripling the recipe!

ALSO TRY: Orange-cranberry sweet potato pancakes

What makes this holiday appetizer so nosh-worthy? For starters, you can’t go wrong with fried potatoes. Grated, shaped into cakes and fried, the potato cakes alone are delish. But it is the sophistication of the smoked salmon, arugula and herbed cream that transforms the potato cakes into an utterly compelling finger food. Be prepared for your family and friends to ask you for the recipe while they’re begging you to serve another platter.

Cook’s note: Pink peppercorns are actually not a true peppercorn. They are the dried semi-ripe berries of the Peruvian pepper tree. Because they are similar in shape and size to peppercorns, they are marketed as pink peppercorns. However, unlike true peppercorns, which have a strong flavor and heat, pink peppercorns have a much lighter, even playful, taste.

Casual variations: Instead of serving these potato cakes as an appetizer, make extra and turn them into a special weeknight meal. Add flakes of smoked salmon to the potato mixture and fry them as directed. Serve the smoked salmon potato cakes on a bed of greens and with a generous topping of herbed sour cream.

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Cover potatoes with cold water

For this recipe, you cook the potatoes whole — no dicing required. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold water.

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Cook the potatoes

Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender but not soft. If they are too soft, they will be hard to grate on the grater. Drain the potatoes and place them in a bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Peel the potatoes and discard the skin.

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Make the herbed cream sauce

Sour cream and potatoes are made for each other. Fresh herbs and a little lemon juice make an herbed cream sauce that is even better than plain sour cream. In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, minced fresh chives, chopped basil, a pinch of salt and the juice from a lemon wedge.

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Make the potato cakes

Using the large side of a grater, grate the peeled potatoes into a large bowl. Add the minced scallions and salt. Mix together gently just enough to distribute the scallions and salt through the potatoes. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop up the potato mixture and level it off. Place the potato mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and use the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten the cakes slightly. Repeat until all of the potato mixture is used.

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Fry the potato cakes

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat or in an electric skillet heated to 350F. When the oil is hot, add the potato cakes a few at a time. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the potato cakes for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until they have turned a deep golden brown and their edges are crispy. Drain the potato cakes on a stack of paper towels.

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Top the potato cakes with herbed cream, smoked salmon and greens

Transfer the potato cakes onto a serving platter. Generously spoon the herbed cream onto each cake, then top with smoked salmon slivers, a few leaves of arugula, chives and a sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns. Serve with lemon wedges.

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The ultimate high-end comfort food

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Such an elegant platter

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No one will believe how easy these were to make!

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Smoked salmon potato cakes with herbed cream & pink peppercorns

Yield 4 servings


  • 1 pound white potatoes, left whole
  • 3-1/2 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges, for sour cream mixture and garnish
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces smoked salmon, cut into ribbons
  • 2 to 3 ounces arugula, stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns, lightly crushed


  1. Place potatoes into a large pot of cold water. Set on medium heat and bring to simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked but not completely soft.
  2. Drain water from potatoes. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Once cool, peel the skin off potatoes. Discard skin.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine sour cream, chives, basil and pinch of salt. Squeeze a lemon wedge of juice into sour cream mixture. Stir until creamy.
  4. Grate potatoes on the large side of the grater into a large bowl. Add scallions and salt. Mix as little as possible to combine ingredients.
  5. Fill 1/4 measuring cup with potato mixture and level off. Place measured potato mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Use the bottom of measuring cup to flatten cakes slightly.
  6. Repeat process until all potato mixture has been used.
  7. In a large skillet, or electric skillet, over medium-high heat (350F), heat vegetable oil.
  8. Once the oil is hot, add potato cakes and fry a few at a time (do not crowd pan) until deep golden on both sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Edges should be crispy.
  9. Transfer potato cakes onto a stack of paper towels to drain away any excess grease.
  10. Repeat process until all potato cakes are cooked.
  11. When ready to serve, place potato cakes on serving platter.
  12. Generously spoon herbed cream onto each potato cake.
  13. Top each cake with smoked salmon, arugula, chives and a generous sprinkling of crushed pink peppercorns.

Courses Sides

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