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Tori Avey’s Gluten-Free Matzo Balls – Potato Knaidelach


A knaidel (plural knaidelach) is an Ashkenazi Jewish dumpling added to soups or stews. The most common form of knaidel, known as the matzo ball, is made from unleavened matzo meal and served in chicken soup for Passover. Matzo meal contains wheat, making it unsuitable for those on a gluten free diet. I developed this potato knaidel recipe as a delicious and gluten free alternative to matzo balls. It creates a firm yet fluffy dumpling that goes quite nicely in a bowl of piping hot chicken soup


I came up with this recipe after a LOT of experimentation. I used a German potato dumpling recipe as a starting point, then modified from there to make it flavorful and completely free of gluten. Follow the recipe instructions carefully; making modifications, substitutions, or skipping steps will lead to a pot full of mush, rather than nicely textured knaidelach. It’s worth the effort; these potato dumplings are truly delightful. In fact, some members of my family actually prefer them to matzo balls!


Make the "Matzo" Balls


Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Scrub the unpeeled potatoes till clean. Boil the unpeeled potatoes until tender—it will take about 45 minutes. Drain. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature. Peel the skin from the potatoes and discard. 


Chop the peeled potatoes into large chunks. Place in the refrigerator and chill until they are cold all the way through (at least two hours). You can refrigerate them overnight, if you need to. 


Place a fresh pot of salted water on the stove to boil. From this point on, work quickly, or refrigerate the ingredients between steps. The potato mixture works best when it’s cold. 


Remove potatoes from refrigerator and pat them dry if any moisture has accumulated. Place potatoes in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or run them through a ricer. Mash again with a fork to get out as many lumps as possible. 


By now your water should be boiling. Turn the stove heat down until the water is nearly boiling—the water should be “shivering” slightly, just on the verge of a boil.


Keep the dumplings covered with a clean, damp towel until ready to serve. Serve one or two knaidelach per bowl of soup. They go great in chicken soup as an alternative to matzo balls (if you need a recipe, check out My Favorite Chicken Soup recipe on toriavey.com). They can also be added to vegetarian soup or cholent. 


Form potato dough into balls using a quarter cup of dough for each. 


Gently place the knaidelach into the hot water. The dumplings will sink to the bottom of the pot and slowly rise as they cook. 


Cook knaidelach uncovered in batches of four to five at a time; do not cook more than that or they will stick together and fall apart in the pot. 


The dumplings will lose a little bit of their potato coating as they cook, but should retain their shape.


Let the knaidelach cook for 10–15 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish. 


Mix in the egg, potato starch, one and a half cups of almond meal, one and a quarter teaspoons salt and a pinch of white pepper to form a dough. If the dough seems sticky, or if you prefer a denser and heavier matzo ball (aka “sinkers”), you can add more almond meal. 

Notes: Make sure your potato starch and almond meal are certified gluten free.


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