Classic Potato Latkes

Classic Latkesfor the Jewish Holidays - Hanukkah Recipe

I’ve tried many latke recipes over the years, some from family friends, others from cookbooks. I took elements from each of my favorite recipes to come up with this classic potato latke recipe. These latkes are crispy and salty on the outside, soft and melty on the inside. It wouldn’t be Hanukkah in our house without a plate of these delicious fried treats on the dinner table.

If you’re frying latkes for the first time, check out my latke primer: Latkes 101 – Perfect Latkes Every Time. It will give you lots of useful tips for making a crispy, perfect latke.

You’ll notice that I suggest using schmaltz (aka rendered poultry fat) in the latke oil. Schmaltz was the oil of choice for Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America in the late 1800’s. Back then, rendered goose fat was the most common form of schmaltz. Nowadays we tend to use chicken fat because it’s easier, cheaper, and more widely available to kosher consumers. Schmaltz can be made at home or purchased; it’s stocked in the freezer section of most kosher markets. While schmaltz may not be the healthiest of oils (there is some debate on this subject), it imparts an authentic flavor that can’t be replicated with vegetable-based oil. Because of its high cholesterol content, I only use a bit of schmaltz in the frying oil. This gives a hint of schmaltzy flavor without saturating the latke. If you want to splurge, you can replace the frying oil completely with schmaltz. If you can’t locate schmaltz or don’t have time to make your own, no worries– the latkes will taste great without it, too.

Note: If you’re serving latkes with dairy sour cream and want to keep things kosher, do not add the optional schmaltz to the frying oil, or choose a non-dairy sour cream.

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Classic Latkesfor the Jewish Holidays - Hanukkah Recipe

Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large white or brown onion, shredded
  • 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup schmaltz (optional)

You will also need

  • hand grater or food processor with shredding disc attachment with choice of large holes or fine holes, clean tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, skillet or electric skillet for frying, colander, large mixing bowl, medium bowl, metal spatula, wire cooling rack
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 22-24 latkes
Kosher Key: Pareve or Meat with optional schmaltz
  • Before you begin making the latkes, place your wire cooling rack close to the area where you will be frying the latkes. Place a layer of paper towels below the cooling rack to catch excess oil.
  • Cut the potatoes into large chunks and shred using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with large holes (large shreds). I really recommend using the food processor, it saves a ton of time and will help you avoid onion tears when grating the onion.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahPlace grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahMeanwhile, grate the onion using the grater or food processor attachment with fine holes (small shreds).
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahDrain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahPlace drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahWrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahPour potato and onion into the clean dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Jewish Potato Pancake Recipe for HanukkahIn a skillet, add oil to reach a depth of 1/8 inch. Add 1/4 cup of schmaltz to the oil if you'd like, it will add more savory flavor to the latkes. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the matzo meal,beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper into the potato and onion shreds. You can add salt and pepper to taste. I add about 1 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. You can sprinkle on more salt to taste after cooking, if desired. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Step by Step RecipeScoop up 3 tbsp of the potato mixture and shape into a tightly compacted disk. I do this by first filling a 1/8 measuring cup and then filling again halfway.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Step by Step RecipePlace the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the “feel” for it.
  • The oil should sizzle, but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.
  • Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 3 tablespoons of potato mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that – don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren’t holding together, stir more potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the batter “holds”. You can also add another egg to the mixture and more matzo meal, if needed.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Step by Step RecipeRemove the latkes from the pan using a metal spatula and place them on the wire cooling rack to drain.
  • Classic Potato Latkes - Step by Step RecipeI recommend serving latkes fresh within 10 minutes of frying them, if your cooking schedule permits. If you need to make them ahead, fry them 4 hours or less before serving. After allowing the latkes to drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature until ready to reheat. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (7 if using a convection oven), until heated through, just prior to serving. Sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream (or dairy free sour cream).
  • Classic Latkesfor the Jewish Holidays - Hanukkah Recipe

Comments (25)Post a Comment

  1. This shiksa (also married to an Isreali Jew) thanks you a million times!! This will be my first time making these, and I hope to make you, my husband, and my Jewish grandmother (may she rest in peace) proud. Chag semeach!!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I tried your other potato latkes, fabulous. Also made potato latkes with 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, onion, eggs, and added 1 grated parsnip. Delicious. My favorite. Don’t know whether I got it from your blog but can’t find recipe. If it’s your recipe, please reprint it. Thanks.

  3. I made these tonight and all I can say is THANK YOU!!! This was the first time I ever made “picture perfect pancakes” for Hanukkah! My 5 year old devoured them so fast you’d have thought they were candy! I was just so excited that they didn’t fall apart! You better believe this will be a permanent addition to my Hanukkah recipe file!

  4. Tori, I’ll be making my potato pancakes (Grandma’s recipe, she never said “latkes”) for a crowd this year. Can you think of any problem if I were to grate the potatoes the night before and leave them in water in the fridge to cut down on same day work?

    1. Hi Valerie– it shouldn’t be a problem. The only issue you might run into (depending on your recipe) is that the mixture might not hold together as well due to the starch that is rinsed away with the water. You can remedy this by buying a can of potato starch and adding 2-3 teaspoons to the batter (or more if needed) to find the latkes together. If it’s for a really large crowd, try using a food processor with the shredding attachment– it cuts down a lot on prep time. Good luck!

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    To cut down on the amount of oil in one’s diet you broil latkes, or will that just spoil one of life’s wonderful foods?

    1. Some people do, but I feel it really spoils the way the latkes taste. I only indulge in latkes a few times a year, and I fry them the old fashioned way. To each his/her own!

  6. In the past I have made & frozen latkes so that we have some extra throughout the holiday. I am making a larger than normal batch this year for Thanksgivukkah & they will also need to be transported (about an hour away). Any suggestions on the best way to make them in advance, freeze, & transport them?

    1. Hi Dana, sorry I didn’t get to your question before Thanksgivukah, I was inundated with hundreds of comments and questions. With my family in town I just didn’t have time to get to all of them. For future reference, while I much prefer making latkes fresh, when you have a large batch it is kind of tough to do. Fry the latkes golden brown. Once they have drained of oil, place them into a sealed freezer bag or Tupperware in single layers separated by parchment or wax paper. Freeze. When ready to reheat, place on an ungreased baking sheet in a 400 degree oven straight from the freezer until heated through just prior to serving (it will take 10-15 minutes).

  7. Eric

    You are taking in very little to no oil if you fry these correctly. If you have the heat too low however yes, they will suck up oil like a sponge and be a mess.

    Don’t be afraid of frying. Just because you put loads of oil into the pan doesn’t mean you will be drinking it all.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I tried these tonight and the unthinkable happened – my FIL said the latkes were delicious!! Thank you for all the detail. It took days to track down – but I think the schmaltz made ALL the difference. We ate so many that I have a ton of turkey left over this Thanksgiving/Chanukah :/

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Love the tutorial. The pictures are also great but i just want to mention the schmaltz. You said in the recipe tutorial and the latke 101 post the you only use a little schmaltz because of cholesterol and it’s high fat content. But chicken fat isnt any higher in fat than the equivalent measure of olive or peanut oil. Cholesterol may be different but not the fat content.

    1. Hi Carrie– I’m no nutritionist, so you may be right about that! It definitely has more cholesterol than most vegetable-based fats. Then again, there is debate on whether dietary cholesterol plays a large part in rising cholesterol levels in the body. It’s all food for thought! :)

  10. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Made these tonight for our first Hanukkah and they were great! About the chicken fat – will have to try that next time. I’m a firm believer that high fat is NOT bad for you. A great book on the subject is “Nourishing Traditions” cook book. Has recipes for home made mayo and ketchup and lots of great information about health. I’m bookmarking and pinning your site! :) Thank you!

  11. These were absolutely the best latkes I’ve made. The recipe was awesome and the details you gave for exactly how to make them were the missing link for me. From one shiksa to another- thank you for posting!!

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    My 7 year-old daughter asked me this morning if we could celebrate Hanukkah, as she was learning about it in her first grade class. I told her that we didn’t celebrate it because our family isn’t Jewish. “Darn,” she said, ” now I won’t get to try those yummy-sounding pancakes!”

    Needless to say, I went looking for latke recipes, and came across your blog. I made do with the ingredients I had at home, using russet potatoes, brown onion, eggs and plain bread crumbs, and fried them in avocado oil, which also has a high smoking temp.

    They were wonderful, my entire family LOVED them, and my daughter was so happy! Thank you for your wonderful directions and great photos. You made this shiksa into a hero at dinner time!

  13. Thanks for the beautiful photos. They make my mouth water!
    Another suggestion: I don’t peel potatoes. Just scrub really well and begin the process. They look a little darker, but maybe more nutritious.

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