Porto’s Bakery is a popular local chain known for its Cuban-inspired baked goods and sandwiches. One of their most beloved menu items is the potato ball – a savory, fried snack filled with mashed potatoes. But what exactly goes into making these tasty treats? Let’s take a look at the ingredients and find out!
The Potato Filling
The star of the potato balls is, unsurprisingly, potatoes! Porto’s uses Russet potatoes, a starchy variety that makes smooth, fluffy mashed potatoes. The potatoes are peeled, boiled until tender, and mashed with butter, cream, and seasonings.
According to Porto’s own cookbook, their mashed potato filling contains:
- Russet potatoes
- Heavy cream
The potatoes are mashed until completely smooth, with no lumps. This creates a soft, creamy texture that provides a nice contrast to the crunchy exterior of the fried potato ball.
The Outer Coating
Surrounding the fluffy potato filling is a golden brown shell made from breadcrumbs. The breading provides a crispy texture and allows the potato balls to hold their round shape.
According to recipes and descriptions online, Porto’s potato ball breading consists of:
- All-purpose flour
To create the coating, eggs are beaten with salt and pepper to make an egg wash. The potato balls are then dredged in flour, dipped in the egg wash, and rolled in breadcrumbs until completely coated.
The type of breadcrumbs used seems to be panko, Japanese-style breadcrumbs noted for their light, crispy texture. Using panko helps ensure a nice crunch in each bite.
An essential step in achieving the signature taste and texture of Porto’s potato balls is how they are fried. Based on employee accounts, the potato balls are deep fried in vegetable oil at a high temperature of around 350°F.
Deep frying provides even heat distribution so the potato balls become golden brown all over. The high heat also dehydrates the outer surface, sealing in the moist potato filling. This gives each potato ball a crispy exterior with a soft, creamy center.
The potato balls are fried in small batches to maintain the oil temperature. They’re turned frequently while cooking to ensure even cooking. Once browned, they’re removed from the oil and allowed to drain on paper towels or a wire rack.
While quite simple in ingredients, it’s the perfect balance of flavors that makes Porto’s potato balls so crave-worthy. In addition to the salt and pepper in the mashed potato mix and breading, other seasonings provide signature flavor notes.
According to Porto’s cookbook, their potato balls contain:
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
These dried alliums add subtle onion and garlic undertones without overpowering the potato flavor. Some online recipes also suggest a small amount of nutmeg could be used to add a touch of warmth and complexity.
Putting It All Together
With simple, quality ingredients and careful technique, Porto’s creates potato balls with that perfect balance of crispy and creamy.
Here is a summary of what goes into Porto’s famous potato balls:
- Mashed Russet potatoes seasoned with butter, cream, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
- Dredged in flour then dipped in egg wash
- Coated with panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper
- Deep fried at 350°F until golden brown
It’s the little touches like using Russets for fluffy texture, panko for crunch, and frying at high heat that elevate these potato balls from good to great.
Part of the appeal is also their simplicity. With just a few humble ingredients, Porto’s creates a comforting, crave-worthy snack that has diners lining up out the door.
Want to recreate the magic of Porto’s potato balls at home? Here is a copycat recipe to try:
- 3 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
- Add butter, cream, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and nutmeg. Mash until smooth.
- Form potato mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on baking sheet.
- Set up breading station. Place flour in one bowl, egg wash in another, and panko in a third.
- Roll balls in flour, dip in egg wash, then coat thoroughly in panko.
- In deep pot or dutch oven, heat 2 inches vegetable oil to 350°F.
- Working in batches, fry breaded potato balls for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flipping occasionally. Drain on paper towels.
- Serve warm.
Adjust seasoning if needed, adding more salt and pepper for flavor. For an extra crispy crust, fry at 375°F. Be sure to let the oil return to temperature between batches.
Now you can enjoy crispy, creamy potato balls without the long lines! Pair them with a cold beer or your favorite dipping sauce.
Like most fried appetizers, Porto’s potato balls are a high-calorie indulgence. Here is the nutrition info for a single potato ball (about 70g):
|Per 1 potato ball
As you can see, a single potato ball delivers over 200 calories and 12g of fat, mainly from the deep frying. There are also 270mg of sodium, which is over 10% of the daily recommended amount.
However, potato balls can be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. Here are some tips for lightening them up:
- Share an order – splitting a half dozen helps control portions
- Opt for oven-baked instead of fried – cuts down on calories and fat
- Dip in Greek yogurt instead of sauce – adds protein with less sodium
- Pair with vegetable sides for more nutrition
Keeping portion sizes reasonable allows you to satisfy that potato ball craving without going overboard on calories or fat!
Are Potato Balls Gluten Free?
For those avoiding gluten, Porto’s potato balls are not inherently gluten-free. The main source of gluten comes from the breadcrumbs used to coat the potato balls before frying.
Breadcrumbs are typically made from wheat bread, which contains gluten. Panko breadcrumbs, in particular, are derived from bread made with wheat flour.
So unless Porto’s uses specialty gluten-free breadcrumbs, their traditional potato balls are not suitable for a gluten-free diet due to the breading.
However, you can certainly make gluten-free potato balls at home! Simply prepare them with gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs instead. Here are some substitutions to try:
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour blend instead of regular flour
- Gluten-free panko-style breadcrumbs
- Cornstarch or potato starch instead of flour
- Crushed corn flakes or rice cereal instead of breadcrumbs
With a few simple swaps, you can still enjoy the spirit of Porto’s potato balls while avoiding gluten. Just be sure to check labels carefully for gluten-free certification when purchasing ingredients.
While Porto’s classic potato balls are beloved as-is, some creative home cooks have come up with fun flavor twists. Here are a few potato ball variations to try:
Mix shredded cheese like cheddar or Monterey Jack right into the mashed potato filling before forming into balls. The cheese will melt into gooey goodness when fried or baked.
For a spicy twist, add diced jalapeños or jalapeño powder to the filling. Use a cream cheese-based filling instead of plain mashed potatoes. Crumble crisped bacon on top for popper-esque potato balls.
Season the mashed potatoes with cumin, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro. Top cooked potato balls with guacamole, salsa, or smoked turkey.
Add Italian seasoning blend, parsley, basil, garlic, and grated Parmesan to the mashed potatoes. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Mix shredded rotisserie chicken, hot sauce, ranch dressing, and cheese into the filling. Top cooked potato balls with more hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles.
The possibilities are endless when you start customizing potato ball fillings and toppings! Change up the herbs, spices, mix-ins and sauces to create your own signature flavor.
Where to Get Potato Balls in Los Angeles
If you don’t have time to make them from scratch, you can still get your potato ball fix in Los Angeles. Here are a few spots to grab pre-made potato balls around town:
Naturally, the most authentic place to enjoy potato balls is at Porto’s Bakery. With locations in Burbank, Glendale, Downey and West Covina, the beloved local bakery serves up freshly fried potato balls by the half dozen daily.
The Gourmandise School
This recreational cooking school in Santa Monica offers potato ball making classes a few times a year. You’ll learn to make and fry your own under the guidance of their chefs.
The Golden Potato Ball
This food truck located in Koreatown and West LA specializes in gourmet potato balls. Choose from creative flavors like Bulgogi beef, kimchi fried rice, and daikon radish.
Hot N’ Creamy
Stop by this food stall at the Smorgasburg LA food market for potato balls topped with everything from chicken tikka masala to Chinese five spice brisket.
The bakery at this popular Venice restaurant sells baked potato balls stuffed with broccoli rabe and mozzarella. They’re available to go for a quick snack.
Can’t decide? Organize your own potato ball crawl to sample the city’s best versions!
With a crispy exterior and creamy interior, Porto’s potato balls are the ultimate comfort food. Now that you know what goes into making these favorites, you can recreate that irresistible balance of textures and flavors right at home. So invite some friends over for a potato ball party, and don’t skimp on the dipping sauces!