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.

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24 Responses to Traditional Knish Dough

  1. Rita Das says:

    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.

  2. Natasha Pereira says:

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

    • joepastry says:

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


      - Joe

  3. Lyn says:

    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!

    • joepastry says:

      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. Sialia says:

    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!

    • joepastry says:

      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. Pingback: » Knishes filled with smashed red potatoes, caramelized onions and sharp cheddar Cupcake Friday Project

  6. Etan Ogorek says:

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

  7. Shelley says:

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

    • joepastry says:

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

      - Joe

  8. K. says:

    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 !

    • joepastry says:

      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

  9. Emily says:

    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!


    • joepastry says:

      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

  10. Sara says:

    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.

    • joepastry says:

      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

  11. Rachel says:

    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.


    • joepastry says:

      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

      • Rachel says:

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

  12. Amy Tatusko says:

    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)

    • joepastry says:

      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

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