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!
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 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 Yukon gold 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 large 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.
create your holiday menu
I have lots of Jewish holiday recipes. Check out 55+ Best Rosh Hashanah Recipes and 29+ Best Hanukkah Recipes.
Latkes are the perfect side, especially for Hanukkah. Roasted Beet Salad with Harrisa Dressing is another great holiday dish.
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with Sufganiyot, Honey Cake, Honey Cookies, Hamentashen, Orange Sponge Cake, or Lemon Coconut Macaroons.
- 2 pounds large thin-skinned potatoes like Yukon gold 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.
22 thoughts on “Super Easy Latke Recipe for Hanukkah”
I love the look of these latkes – they’re so perfectly crispy and golden and delicious. Love the dirty little secret on how to speed up the process, although I think there’s a certain satisfaction in starting the whole process from scratch and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Absolutely. I would always choose fresh, hand-grated potatoes if I had the time, but sometimes shortcuts are what make entertaining for the holidays fun rather than a chore.
Yes, hooray for the frozen hash browns. I’ve been doing that for years and feeling like a total cheat!! And there is something extra special about not grating your knuckles into the mix. Thanks, Lazies.
I am using hash browns for the first time but don’t know how many cups of hash browns equal a potatoe
Hi Jerri! Sorry, I only just saw this comment. You can measure by weight as in the recipe, so it doesn’t really matter how many potatoes/cups.
And here I thought I had invented the idea! Ha ha! So much for my unparalleled genius.
If I choose to freeze my latkes, do I defrost them first before heating up, or can I pop them in the oven still frozen and know they’ll be heated through in 10-15 minutes?
You can just put the frozen latkes on a baking sheet and pop in the oven (preheated). They should be nice and hot and crispy in 10-15 minutes, for sure.
I’ve also used a food processor with a grating disc to grate the potatoes. It seems to make them “juicier” than using a hand grater, but if you’re careful about squeezing out the liquid afterwards, it can be a time (and knuckle) saver.
I actually ended up doing this today, using the food processor to grate the potatoes and onion, and I think they actually turned out really well, so I am rescinding my prohibition against using the cuisinart for latkes!
I recently started using the shredding blade instead of the grating blade on my food processor when makeing latkes. The results look exactly like the defrosted frozen hash browns and give the latke that nice “lacey” texture.
However, I have always had a problem reheating frozen latkes so they turn out crisp. Typically I defrost them the night before and bake them at anywhere from 350 to 450 degrees (over the last few years I’ve tried a wide variety of teperatures).
What can you suggest?
Interesting, Mitzi! I guess what I have is the shredding blade. Is the grating blade finer? As for reheating, I don’t defrost them. Just reheat from frozen, 450 for about 10 to 15 minutes, and they come out nice and crisp.
Actually the “grating” blade is called the “chopping” blade and it is significantly finer. It can produce a very mushy texture in very short order which is where your prohabition against food proccessors began, I would imagine. Meanwhile, thanks for the tip on reheating from frozen. I will try it on Monday at our Chanukah party.
P.S. To eliminate the extra liquid I pour the mixture from the food proccessor into an extra large strainer. The strainer is hooked onto my large plastic mixing bowel to catch the juice. Press down on the mixture until the desired level of dryness is reached and then transfer to separate bowl. Also, a product called “Fruit Fresh” adds no additional taste or calories and completely eliminates darkening. You can find it in most groceries with the canning and preserving products. (It also works great on the sliced apples we use at Rosh Hashanah. I can slice them in the early afternoon and they’re fresh and clean at dinner time.)
My Bubba always said that the little bits of skin that got into the latkes and the gefilte fish from her knuckles on the grater made them taste that much sweeter. I, grossed out over the years by this story, have always used my food processor. I squeeze and drain through cheesecloth in an oversized strainer and let them sit and then squeeze again.
ALSO – remember not to use a metal bowl. The latkes will turn green!
Excellent point about using a non-reactive bowl. Thanks for mentioning it! And yeah, that’s gross, about the skin! Ewww. Cheesecloth is also a great idea. I hate going through so many paper towels, and also they fall apart.
can’t wait to try them thanks for the recipe!!
These turned out great. I may never grate a potato again. Although I do grate the onion and add a some chopped onion too.
What keeps the potatoes from turning brown if you don’t cook them right away?
In my experience this is not a problem. They turn brown when you fry them, so it’s all good! I cover the pan with plastic wrap while chilling (I will add this to the recipe because I see I left this out).
“I do not recommend using olive oil, which has a lower smoke point so it will burn before it gets hot enough.” This is not true. The oil that filled the temple lamps was olive oil, which will not smoke until it gets above 415ºF–and 360ºF is the right temperature for frying. Read my book Virgin Territory to find out more about cooking with extra-virgin and why most of what you read is quite simply false.
@Nancy Harmon Jenkins, That’s so interesting! I’ve always thought you don’t want to do high-temp frying in olive oil. It’s true that the lamp oil was olive oil, but that doesn’t mean it is the best for cooking–and I think you can still celebrate the miracle of the oil while using a different oil for your cooking, but I guess that is a question for the rabbis.