I’ve finally nailed an easy latke recipe. These homemade potato latkes are crispy and delicious. Best of all, this recipe lets you feed a hungry crowd while still having time to enjoy the Hanukkah party!
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No more spending the whole night over a hot pan of oil frying potato pancakes. This post will give you tips for making delicious, crispy, golden-brown latkes with minimal effort.
Potato Latkes Are a Hannukah Must-Have
The main thing I remember about my childhood Hanukkahs is my mother’s crispy latkes. And not just the latkes themselves—as delicious as they were, crispy-fried, fresh from the frying pan.
There is also the image of my mother in the kitchen, first peeling and hand-grating (the food processor just doesn’t cut it here) piles of potatoes and then hunched over a pan of hot oil frying the little potato pancakes to a crispy golden brown.
Every year my mother threatened not to make them, but every year, our whining and declarations of how she was the best mother/cook/latke-maker won out. And again, she’d spend an entire night toiling away in the kitchen while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves.
Why do we eat latkes during Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is the festival of lights that is celebrated for eight short, dark days in the winter. The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple in the 2nd century.
We light the eight menorah candles to celebrate the miracle of the oil that should have only been enough for one night, but that lasted for eight. We also celebrate the miracle of the oil by eating fried foods latkes and Sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts).
What ingredients do you need?
I learned how to make latkes from my mother, but over the years, I’ve adapted her recipe to be easier and more streamlined. Here’s what you need:
- Large thin-skinned potatoes (some people use Russet potatoes, but I prefer the thin-skinned Yukon gold potatoes or red because they don’t need to be peeled)
- Flour (use any type, or use potato starch or matzo meal instead of flour)
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Cooking oil for frying
- Applesauce or sour cream, for serving (or both!)
What kind of potatoes should you use?
This is a typical case of “ask two Jews, get three answers.”
I prefer to make latkes using thin-skinned potatoes because it eliminates the need to peel them (and I don’t care for bits of peel in my latkes). I use either Yukon gold or large red potatoes.
Many a Jewish cook will tell you that Russets are the way to go, and they are a great latke potato. They have a higher starch content so that your latkes will hold together well even without added flour or starch.
I usually add a bit of potato starch to my latke recipe, or use flour or matzoh meal. Whatever you use, it easily makes up for the lower starch level.
I have successfully used red potatoes, as well. Many say red potatoes are “too waxy,” but this hasn’t been my experience. Perhaps we get less waxy red potatoes where I live? Who knows.
I love the texture and flavor of Yukon golds, as well as the thin skins. That’s why Yukon gold potatoes are my first choice for making latkes.
To Hand-Grate Your Potatoes or Use a Food Processor?
I’ve tested a lot of recipes for potato latkes over the years, trying earnestly to find one that doesn’t require me to grate pounds of potatoes by hand or spend hours hunched over a pan of hot oil.
In the end, I’ve concluded that delicious crispy latkes have to be fried in hot oil, not baked. Because, really, the whole point of the holiday is to celebrate the oil, right?
But here’s a great trick. Grate, mix, form, and chill the patties ahead of time. This frees you up at party time, but it also makes the cooking process worlds easier. The chilled patties hold together much better, making it so much easier to fry them.
As for grating the potatoes by hand, yes, I do believe it is essential. The good news is that I’ve learned that if you boil the potatoes briefly, they become much easier to grate. I also use thin-skinned red potatoes rather than the more traditional russets, because you don’t need to peel them.
What Kind of Pan Do You Fry Potato Latkes In?
I like to fry my potato pancakes in a large cast-iron skillet (or two if I am able to borrow one from my neighbor!) The oil gets nice and hot and it heats evenly throughout the pan.
This is my favorite cast-iron skillet.
In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, I can fry up to 6 good-sized latkes at a time.
When I have two skillets going, that’s an easy dozen at once. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, don’t worry. You can use any good, heavy-bottomed, large skillet.
What kind of oil should you use?
I recommend using any neutral-flavored, high smoke-point oil. Grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, canola, or avocado are all great options.
I do not recommend using olive oil, which has a lower smoke point so it will burn before it gets hot enough. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, but may add too much coconut flavor to your latkes.
What Makes this Latke Recipe So Easy?
The first trick is using potatoes that you don’t need to peel. Thin red-skinned potatoes are perfect. Trick number two is to boil them briefly before grating to make it easier.
The third trick is to shape the patties ahead of time and then chilling them in the fridge until you are ready to fry them.
You can even do this step well ahead of time. Shape the patties in the morning, cover with plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge. They’ll be ready for frying whenever you are.
When you’re ready to fry them, use a sturdy spatula to lift them off of the baking sheet and slide them right into the hot oil.
Here’s How I Make My Latkes
- Boil potatoes briefly and then drain and rinse in cold water.
- Shred potatoes and onion on a box grater.
- In a large bowl, mix the grated potato and grated onion with the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
- Form the potato mixture into patties and arrange them on a baking sheet.
- Chill the patties in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Fry the patties for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy about the edges.
- Transfer the latkes to a plate lined with a kitchen towel or paper towels to drain.
- Serve with applesauce and sour cream.
With this super easy potato latke recipe, you can finally have your potato pancakes and eat them, too, right along with your guests!
What do you serve with latkes?
The big question is always, do you prefer to serve your crispy potato latkes with applesauce or sour cream? I am a big fan of serving both. Of course, you can’t go wrong with my easy Instant Pot Applesauce, but a good store-bought one will be fine as well.
Sometimes I like to serve my crispy latkes topped with sour cream, lox, and capers. It makes a great holiday brunch!
Can you freeze latkes?
Yes! These freeze beautifully. Here’s how to freeze latkes:
- After frying your latkes, let them cool completely either on a paper towel-lined baking sheet or a cooling rack.
- Once they are completely cool, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Set the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Once the latkes are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag. If needed, you can put squares of parchment paper in between to prevent them from sticking together, but I don’t usually find this necessary.
- To serve , arrange the frozen latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet and heat in a 400ºF oven for about 10 minutes, until they are heated through and crisp.
More Jewish holiday recipes you’ll love
- Sufganiyot or Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah
- Classic Chopped Liver
- Vegetarian Chopped Liver
- Matzoh Fattoush
- Matzoh Toffee
- Honey Cake
- 2 pounds large thin-skinned potatoes or peeled russet potatoes
- 1 onion
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
- vegetable oil, for frying
- Applesauce or sour cream, for serving
- Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and just cover with cold water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cook for 6 to 7 minutes (less if the potatoes are small) until the potatoes are just barely tender but not soft.
- Drain the potatoes, cover with cold water. Drain again, cover with cold water again and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them sit in a colander until ready to proceed with the recipe (the longer the better).
- Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the potatoes (you can leave the skins on, discarding any pieces that come off in large sheets). Grate the onion on the same holes.
- In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes and onion with the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Form the potato mixture into patties about ¾ inch thick and 3 inches across and arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet (use additional baking sheets if necessary). Chill the patties for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to cook, as long as 24 hours. If chilling for more than 30 minutes, cover with plastic wrap.
- Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add several of the patties, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, flip and then cook until browned on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Transfer the cooked patties to a paper towel-lined platter and serve immediately. If you’re cooking a large amount, place the cooked
patties on a baking sheet and keep them warm in a 250ºF oven.
Amount Per Serving Calories 250Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 188mgSodium 1000mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 10g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.