Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

During Hanukkah, it is Jewish tradition to eat food that is deep fried in oil, a tasty and caloric reminder of the Holy Temple miracle (learn more here). Once a year, we are given guilt-free rein to enjoy fried foods like latkes. In fact, we’re encouraged to do so! Now that’s a tradition I can totally get on board with.

The perfect latke is crispy on the outside while hot, soft and fluffy in the center. It’s aromatic and salty and oniony and delectable. A well made latke is nearly impossible to resist. Forget the calories and fat, forget all of that. If you’re going to make latkes, indulge yourself and make them the way they were meant to be enjoyed… fried, salted and devoured. I’ve been making latkes for about 10 years now. In that time, I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of latkes. I’ve managed to learn quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t in a latke recipe. Sharing is caring, so I’m going to pass along some of my best tips here! You’re welcome. :)

When it comes to making a hot, crispy, fluffy, delicious latke, there are many schools of thought. Some folks like to fry their latkes in olive oil. Others use “liquid gold,” schmaltz– aka chicken fat– to fry the latkes. It tastes amazing, but lordy is it ever fattening (though I will admit to using it from time to time!). There are those who say that you must add garlic and seasonings to give the latkes flavor. Others believe in the basics– onion, salt and pepper. There’s the question of size– some like large, flat latkes and some prefer small, crisp, hash brown-style treats. Some use matzo meal to bind the latkes, others use flour. And then of course, there are the toppings… applesauce or sour cream? Some will even top their latkes with ketchup– blasphemy! Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. Whatever floats your latke boat. It’s all good!

Over the years, I’ve really honed my latke technique. I generally use grapeseed or peanut oil for frying– each has a high smoke point, making them ideal for deep frying. Sometimes I’ll add a few tablespoons of schmaltz to the oil to give it a schmaltzy flavor. I use fine potato shreds, rather than large ones, which helps the latkes to hold together better. I squeeze the heck out of the potato and onion shreds to remove as much liquid as possible. I also add some potato starch to the mix, which helps bind the latkes without making them gummy. And I always drain them on a wire cooling rack… this keeps them from sitting in their own oil and getting soggy.

Recently, I decided to use Japanese panko-style breadcrumbs as a binder for the latkes, instead of matzo meal or flour. I loved the resulting latkes– they were golden brown and super crispy, while perfectly light and fluffy inside. Panko has the ideal texture for holding these bad boys together. Follow the steps in the recipe carefully, and you’re sure to end up with a seriously delicious plate of latkes. Chag Sameach!

Looking for a gluten free potato latke recipe? Click here. What’s your favorite way to make latkes? Are you an applesauce or sour cream aficionado? Share your own tips in the comments below!

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Organic Panko Breadcrumbs

Stackable Cooling Rack Set

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Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grapeseed or peanut oil for frying

You will also need

  • hand grater or food processor shredding disc attachment with fine holes, clean tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, skillet or electric skillet for frying, metal spatula, wire cooling rack
Servings: About 22 latkes
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • 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.
  • Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes (small 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.
  • Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.
  • Meanwhile, grate the onion using the same grater or attachment you used for the potatoes (fine holes for small shreds).
  • Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.
  • Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth.
  • Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.
  • Pour 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.
  • Pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the panko breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper into the potato shreds. You can add salt and pepper to taste. I add about 3/4 tsp of salt and a 1/4 tsp of 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.
  • Scoop up 3 tablespoons of the potato mixture. I do this by using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and filling it 3/4 of the way full.
  • Squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid (if you squeezed the potatoes out thoroughly in the cloth, you may not have much excess liquid to squeeze out).
  • Shape the potato mixture into a tightly compacted disk.
  • Place 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 till brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren't holding together, stir more potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, till the batter "holds." You can also add another egg to the mixture and more panko, if needed.
  • Remove the latkes from the pan using metal spatula and place them on wire cooling rack to drain.
  • I 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 letting the latkes drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature till 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. Serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.

 

Comments (79)Post a Comment

  1. Thank you for this recipe and your website! I made a double batch of these latkes last night for my Temple’s 20s & 30s group. They turned out perfectly! And I felt like a cooking rock star with your excellent tips and suggestions, especially as I wowed them with the food processor. All of your recipes are guaranteed to be clear, concise, and easy to follow. I really appreciate it!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    These are, by far, the most delicious latkes I have ever eaten! The panko/potato starch combo is perfect and draining them on a cookie rack over paper towels – brilliant. Thanks, Tori and Chag Sameach!

    ***I served them with Pink Cinnamon Applesauce from Marlene Sorosky’s Year-round Holiday Cookbook (1982)
    1 pound cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
    1/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies
    1/2 cup water
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice

    Place all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until apples are soft enough to mash with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency, smooth or chunky.

    Makes 1 1/2 cups, serves 6 to 8 (but not in my house!)

    1. Sorry to hear that Gary. Not sure where you went wrong, the recipe has worked for many other readers. Can you give me some details so I can help you troubleshoot? When you say spread out, do you mean the latkes fell apart in the oil? If that’s the case, try adding more egg and panko next time, as well as another tablespoon of potato starch. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before forming the patties. This should help.

  3. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hey Tori-I was cruising the net for a Latkes recipe when I found your site and noticed a number of people had trouble finding potato starch. If your’re squeezing water out of potatoes you have potato starch! Squeeze the potatoes into a bowl, let the starch in the liquid settle to the bottom and simply tip to drain the water off. Vio la! Potato starch! How much do you use? What ever is in the bottom of the bowl! Love your site and will be making your Latkes soon. As a Goy I don’t have to wait for Hannakah. And they are great with Hebrew National Knockwurst-steamed. Maybe a little sweet and sour cabbage….it’s the simple things in life, isn’t it?
    So good.

  4. I have always used a potato ricer to press out the moisture in the potatoes versus using a tea towel. I also use the ricer when I have to squeeze out moisture in frozen spinach… Works like a charm.

    Thanks so much for your recipes and the amazing history lessons!

    Happy Hanukah

  5. My mother taught me to soak the potatoes is cold water after pealing. Can’t wait to try placing the potato shreds in the cold water; should speed the process up a bit. Hopefully I will be able to have my food processor mess cleaned up before family arrives. Thanks for your tips, always appreciated!

  6. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Great recipe. My Grandmother always made the best latkes and narishniki(spelling?) for breakfasts actually s we are Polish. I can never get the latkes the same way so I changed ingredients like using meal but, always too soggy, overdone, not patient enough on draining, so fry issues etc. until I ran across the panko idea in Toronto from a Jewish chef. It is perfect and then I found your recipe to make them with, thank you so much.

    So I will share with you a great “new” recipe I found from this chef for Hanukkah, it is a hybrid of the latke and gefilte fish(fish loaf), they are called “Gefatke” and are just awesome and use the panko too as binding. Basically the same recipe with different proportions(I never use them anyway) with the addition of the fish in small cubes and a 1/2 tsp of fish sauce and some additional flour too(or use your starch idea). With the fish the sauce is sour cream adding horseradish and scallions to just compliment it more. There you have it Gefatke, two traditional Hanukkah dishes in one. Try them out to change it up, I know not everyone likes gefite but most like these and they go over very well as a combo. Thanks again and here is a link for the whole recipe. L

    link to thestar.com

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