Craving a crispy and classic Potato Latke Recipe? Latkes are a beloved side dish you traditionally serve during Hanukkah and Passover, but they’re also perfect for breakfast or snacks!
What are Potato Latkes?
Classic Potato Latkes are starchy potatoes that you grate by hand and mix with matzo meal, egg, onion, kosher salt and pepper. The cooking method involves dropping them into hot oil and frying in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and crispy.
If following Jewish tradition, you’ll want to serve latkes with sour cream or apple sauce during Hanukkah and Passover. Be sure to make latkes with matzo meal (ad) during Passover since it’s important to use unleavened bread.
What’s the Difference Between Latkes and Potato Cakes?
While traditional latkes are made from shredded russets, you pat potato cakes into thick patties using leftover mashed potatoes.
Southern cakes fry better if you form them into thick rounds, but latkes are thin, delicate and crispy. Although completely different, both fry nicely in a cast iron skillet and are equally delicious.
Want the best potato latke recipe? Use simple and traditional ingredients! See recipe card for quantities.
- russet potatoes – have a high starch content which produces better results
- onion – grated or pulsed in a food processor
- matzo meal – the binder that holds latkes together
- large egg – also acts as a binder
- kosher salt – to season
- black pepper – additional seasoning
- canola oil – or chicken fat (ad) known as schmaltz
- mixing bowls
- cast iron skillet
- slotted spoon
- drying rack
- sheet pan
- cheesecloth (ad) or thin towel
1 – Peel potatoes and place them in a bowl of ice cold water.
2 – Grate potatoes and onion by hand into a bowl of ice water to prevent them from discoloring.
3 – Place grated onion and potatoes in a cheesecloth or thin kitchen towel over a bowl.
4 – Wrap the mixture up in the towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out all of the liquid.
5 – Drain all of the liquid out of the bowl except the white potato starch. Leave it in the bottom of the bowl to help bind the cakes together.
6 – Add grated potatoes, onions, kosher salt, pepper and matzo meal to the potato starch in the bowl. Mix together with a beaten egg.
7 – When mixed, batter should be thick enough to form spoonfuls.
8 – Drop tablespoons of batter into a frying pan filled with a shallow amount of cooking oil on medium heat. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes on one side until edges start to brown.
9 – Flip cakes over with a slotted spoon or spatula and fry on the other side for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown.
10 – Transfer latkes to a wire rack with paper towels under it. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve hot off the rack with sour cream and applesauce.
Love this dishtowel? Make it yours! (ad)
During Hanukkah, frying food in oil symbolizes the miracle that happened when only a small amount of oil was left for the holy light to burn in the Temple, but it miraculously burned for eight days.
Matzo meal is unleavened bread that has been ground into fine crumbs that resemble cornmeal. It’s unleavened because it’s made without yeast or any type of raising agent. Matzo meal is used as a binder to help food retain its shape, or to coat food for frying or baking. Since it’s made from wheat, using matzo meal does not make your latkes gluten-free or keto friendly. You would have to leave it out completely if you’re following a special diet.
Hash browns are shredded potatoes fried in a skillet. Latkes are grated, then drained and mixed with matzo meal, egg, onion and seasonings. They’re two completely different food items. It’s not recommended to use frozen hash browns to make latkes because the potatoes need to be grated to bind together.
When you make fried latkes, it’s best to drain them on a cooling rack instead of paper towels. Using paper towels can cause fried food to be soggy and keep it from crisping. The best way to keep latkes crispy is to place them on a sheet pan on a rack and keep warm in an oven until ready to serve.
Although I’m not Jewish, I love learning about different types of foods and traditions. I have to admit that it took several tries before I got the hang of latke making! It takes a little practice to get it right.
Since I’m a beginner, I did my research. I learned that every family has a different way of making latkes. Some are completely flat and crunchy, while others are thick and chewy.
One thing is for certain…if you want to make an authentic latke, you need to grate the potatoes by hand. If you do this, you’ll have potato starch left in your bowl which is a good thing!
Your little cakes will turn out with a crispy crust and a tender center which is exactly how I like them.
Prep and Storage Ideas
- Gather all of your bowls and pans ahead of time.
- Potatoes will discolor as soon as the air hits them. To avoid this, grate potatoes into a bowl of ice water and keep cold until time to drain.
- Soggy potatoes make gummy latkes. Squeeze the liquid from potatoes and onions in a cheesecloth.
- Too much matzo meal will make the cakes too thick. Using less is best.
- Instead of patting potatoes into cakes, drop them by the spoonful into hot grease and press them down with the back of a spoon to flatten.
- Freeze latkes and reheat later in a 350 degree oven.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and reheat in a 350 degree oven until crisp.
More Potato Recipes
If you’re looking for more delicious potato recipes, try these favorites…
- Loaded Hash Brown Casserole
- Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Loaded Sweet Potato Casserole
- Buffalo Chicken Tater Tots
Potato Latke Recipe
*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.
- potato peeler
- box grater
- mixing bowl and spoon
- wire cooling rack
- Peel potatoes and immediately place in ice water.
- Grate potatoes over a bowl of ice water using a box grater with medium holes.
- Grate onion or pulse in food processor.
- Put grated potatoes and onion in a thin dish towel and wring it into a large bowl. Squeeze the towel until there is very little liquid left in the potatoes.
- Dispose of the excess liquid in the bowl but leave the white potato starch on the bottom.
- Add grated potatoes and onions to the bowl with matzo meal, beaten egg, salt & pepper. Mix until blended.
- Heat a shallow amount of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until a small amount of flour sizzles when added to oil.
- Using a tablespoon, drop a heaping spoonful of batter into oil and press it down with the back of the spoon to make a flat pancake.
- Fry latkes until crispy and golden brown which takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
- Transfer to a wire rack to drain, then keep warm in a 170 degree oven until ready to serve.
- Serve with sour cream or applesauce and an extra sprinkle of kosher salt.
- Potatoes will turn grey or pink as soon as the air hits them. To avoid this, grate potatoes into a bowl of ice water and keep cold until time to drain.
- Squeeze the grated potatoes and onions in a kitchen cloth until there is no water left. Soggy potatoes make gummy latkes.
- Do not be tempted to pat the potatoes into cakes. Instead, drop them by the spoonful into hot grease and press them down with the back of a spoon to flatten.
Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.
Reference: Pelaia, Ariela. “What Is a Latke?” Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, learnreligions.com/what-is-a-latke-2076658
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