Traditional Knish Dough

One of the nice things about this dough is how easy it is to prepare and store. You just mix it up, let it sit for an hour, and it’s ready to use. Or, you can refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it, up to several days.

11 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose (AP) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegetable oil (very soft rendered chicken fat [schmalz], if you can find it, is even better)
1 tsp vinegar
4 ounces (1/2 cup) lukewarm water

Whisk together your dry ingredients, beat the egg in a small bowl, and combine the vegetable oil, vinegar and water in a separate bowl or measure. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten egg and the wet ingredients. Bring the dough together with a spatula, then knead lightly into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for an hour at room temperature to relax and hydrate.

41 thoughts on “Traditional Knish Dough”

  1. Thank You for your secret in making the dough. I find it very hard to make it. Since you are telling us how to make it I will make it. I miss the knishes of 40 years ago. A man use to walk with a cart staying by our school. I believe he made the best knishes I ever tasted.

    1. Hey Joe! Forget about it! This coming from a real former Brooklyn New York Jew! With a slight adjustment because I doubled the recipe and added flour until the proper consistency. I make knishes the size of Andre the Giant’s fist. Man I set the oven at 375 and let me tell you my brother ate it he said, the best I ever ate

      1. Mr. Mike, you sure know how to make this Chicago boy feel GOOD!

        I’ll remember that the dough can stretch to Andre proportions. That’ll come in handy the next time Mrs. Pastry asks me to do some that are Schimmel-sized. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. And tell your brother he’s OK in my book!



    2. Orchard street nyc, eighty years ago.
      I was a little boy holding on to my mother with one hand and onto the kasha knish with the other.

      1. I never lived on the Lower East Side, just the West Village, but I’ve tasted the knishes many times! I’m going to spend some time with your poems, Erci.

        Thank you for the comment!

        – Joe

  2. If I only have Pastry flour, how do you think these will come out? I’m a bit worried it won’t stand up

    1. Hi Natasha, pastry flour might work, just be gentle since the dough won’t stretch much.


      – Joe

  3. Hello Joe, glad to have found your site! I haven’t made knish for a while so am eager to try your recipe.

    Can you clarify the flour measurement? I see you say 11 oz = 2 cups, however I use King Arthur AP flour, and they say their flour is 4 1/4 oz (or 4 1/2 max, can’t remember off hand). So, should I still do 11 oz?

    Also, how many lunch size knishs will this recipe make? (you say you have more dough than filling) I just need a rough estimate about how far the dough will go with approx 3-4 inch knishs. Thanks Joe!

    1. Hi Lyn!

      Yes, just about everyone has a different idea about what a true “cup” of flour is, which is why I prefer weights (use the ounces).

      As for the larger knishes I confess I’m not totally sure since I usually make smaller ones. I’d guess about 10-12!


      – Joe

  4. This is a wonderful dough!
    I love to wrap my Thanksgiving leftovers in it each year–a little mashed potato or stuffing, some shredded turkey, and/or some sweet potato casserole all make good fillings.

    Because rolling and twisting these are fun, sometimes I just put all the leftovers out on the counter with the dough and let all the houseguests stuff and roll their own. It’s nice activity while we are lounging around the kitchen all weekend.
    A knish and a bowl of soup is really all we need for an easy meal while we are watching football–or after we come in from a brisk autumn walk.
    (Shhh–don’t tell the purists–I made a few of these this weekend stuffed with red bean paste. Mmmm! )

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe and technique!

    1. Thanksgiving knishes…what a great idea, Sialia! Thanks for writing in with it, and it does sound like fun for a crowd. I shall remember it!

      – Joe

  5. Would this work with a mixer or does it have to be done separately and with a spatula?

  6. Need to know, how many cups is 11 oz because here in Canada, we use cups not weights

    1. Did I not mark that? I’m sorry. That’s 2 cups, I shall make the correction. Thanks, Shelley!

      – Joe

  7. Joe THANK YOU ! This is an excellent recipe ! I just made it for the
    first time yesterday and it was so easy and delicious that I’m making
    making it again today ! When I bit into these little beauties it reminded me of the knishes ( at least VERY similar ) my parents
    would buy from a local delicatessen! I’m already trying to get this
    recipe out to my friends as , to me at least , it’s fantastic . MANY thanks for sharing your recipe !

    1. You made my day, K!

      Knishes are like that, aren’t they? After you make them once and realize how easy they are you end up doing them again and again. No wonder they were a household staple once upon a time. Keep spreading the word and maybe they will be again! 😉

      Thanks so much for the note. Your friend,

      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe, I love this recipe and have made them, but this is a far cry from my great-grandmother’s knish recipe. The dough she used was much more like strudel or filo dough and the resulting knish are flaky. The pastries themselves are much smaller (I cut them about 2 in logs) but the shape is the same. It is interesting to me how different areas of the world make the same things differently! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Hey Emily!

      There’s no question that when it comes to cultural classics, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of ways to do them. Ultra-thin dough sounds very interesting indeed. Maybe I’ll try something like that one of these days!

      Many thanks,

      – Joe

  9. I was trolling the Internet for a good knish dough recipe and came across this one. After reading the assurances that the dough is easy to handle, I gave it a try. The dough is entirely foolproof. It can be rolled extremely thin, and even if it tears, it’s no problem. Is it flaky? No, not really, but it’s definitely good, extremely easy to handle, and makes a good knish.

    1. Hey Sara!

      Thanks so much for the feedback! The thinner you roll the dough the more layers you create and the flakier the knishes get!

      Cheers and here’s to the venerable knish!

      – Joe

  10. Dear Joe:
    I remember when I was small, I stood by my grandmother’s dining room table as she pulled the knish dough by hand, using the backs of her hands. She was Romanian and used oil in the dough, which was so thin that the ceiling light could be seen through it. She rolled it over the filling like a jelly roll, almost always potato filling, dividing the knishes off with the side of her hand.. Schmaltz is so much better in the potato filling that it is a shame to not give a schmaltz recipe. Not only did she put in schmaltz and grebenes (crispy fried chicken skin and onion bits), but also an egg or two, salt, and lots of black pepper.


    1. Thanks for that, Rachel! I love stores like that.

      I do recommend that people use schmaltz in the dough if they have it handy, but I like the idea of putting it in the filling as well. Thanks for the suggestion!


      – Joe

      1. She never made potatoes for a meat meal with anything but schmaltz and an egg.
        She didn’t use schmaltz in the dough.

  11. What a perfect receipe! We had some knish in a restaurant for the first time and knew I had to figure out how to make them. So much easier and faster than our usual perogies. It is the easiest dough I have ever worked with. At the restaurant they asked if we wanted ours turnpike style. We did, it’s really good, melted butter, chopped parsley and chopped garlic poured on top. Thank you so much for sharing! (I’m definitely trying your other commentors idea for Thanksgiving)

    1. Love that story, Amy!

      Glad this worked out so well. And yes, after you make them once you realize why they were a go-to in so many homes way back when. They’re easy to make and a great way to use up leftovers. And I’d never heard of Turnpike style…I’m gonna try that!


      – Joe

  12. I haven’t had a knish in at least 55 years. I am a Polish-Italian Catholic girl raised in a Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. I have since moved west to Colorado but I always remember the knishes, taiglach and chopped chicken liver. Now that I am in my 70s, I am looking forward to making these delights for a selfish reason: ME in my old age!
    Do you have a good recipe for taiglach and/or chopped chicken liver that you might share? Thank you. Blessings and peace.

    1. Hi Carol!

      So glad you’re going to make these. I want to know how they go! And I do have a good chopped liver recipe for you, from a little old French lady who was happy to share one of her go-to secret weapons!

      Prep the livers (trim them to remove any veins or green spots) and dry them off with a paper towel. Sautéed them in brown butter salt and pepper them generously. Cook to medium-well. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool slightly. Chop them coarsely, add finely diced red onion, a few capers to add the occasional “zing” (be careful or they will overpower the livers) a crushed and minced clove of garlic, some chopped parsley, a little drizzle of nice olive oil and a generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper. Serve with crackers or toast points.

      Blessings to you — and have fun!

      – Joe

  13. I love this recipe- the dough is so easy to roll out and use, and it’s delicious and turns out perfectly. I did notice that it was slightly easier to give it a quick kneading after it had rested- it made the dough hold together better and the oil was absorbed more into the dough.

  14. Hi there Joe. I mixed up the dough last night for knishes tomorrow. It looks quite oily after all ingredients were mixed together. Oil is even pooling under the dough. Is this normal? I am just wondering if I mismeasured my ingredients.

    1. Sorry not to get back with you, Linsy. Did they turn out OK. Some greasiness is indeed normal.


      – Joe

      1. Yes, they turned out beautifully. In fact I’m making more right now. I found they froze really well and made for fast dinners. Tonight I am experimenting with a curried sweet potato and chickpea filling. Many thanks for this wonderful recipe!

        1. Rock on!! That sounds great! My younger daughter is curious about knishes, possibly as an alternative to the same ol’ sandwich she gets in her school lunches. However I’ve hesitated to make them because big sis doesn’t like mushy textures. But you’re inspiring me to try some other fillings. I think I can make them in a way that satisfies both audiences.

          Thanks for these comments!


          – Joe

  15. Thanks for the dough recipe!
    Now I need a how to on rolling it out and forming the knishes.

  16. Nice recipe for knish but the Brooklyn knish has a shell that seems to be like corn base or Buckwheat. Does anyone know how is the shell of the original Knish is made off?

  17. Kick in the tush. Thank you Joe. I grew up earning a few shekels so I could buy a Gabila potato knish from the old man. Once in a while a kasha knish. Thought the “dough” was softer? Saw a recipe using a little mashed potato in the dough, any experience for you?

    1. Hey Carmine!

      Great to hear from you, and I love that story. Sometimes the softness of the dough is simply a factor of the baked knish sitting out for a little while, which softens the crust. Though to your point, I know a lot of people who put things like extra fat (schmalz, etc.) or mashed potato in the dough to achieve a more tender effect. If you try that, start by swapping mashed potato for about 15% of the flour, and see where that gets you.

      Good luck and let me know how they turn out!



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