Traditional Potato Latkes

These traditional potato latkes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream for the full experience.

potato latkes

Last week, we were the grateful guests in a latke celebration. These potato latkes are traditionally made during Hanukkah, but our friend Leah was in town from New York for Thanksgiving so we got to enjoy them early. She and her family hosted us and taught us all about their method for making traditional potato latkes and their family’s tradition with them (not to mention plenty of other wonderful conversation and a tour around the lovely Greensburg, IN).

Latkes are quite delicious. I love how something so simple can be so good. We had a little bit of a science project going on – comparing hand grating vs. food processor, and Crisco vs. vegetable oil. Turns out all the methods tasted good! We made three batches of latkes to serve six hungry people, and ate them as a main course along with a fancy salad and wine.

What are latkes?

Yiddish for “pancake,” a latke is a mixture of grated potato and onion that’s been fried in oil. Oily foods are traditionally eaten during the eight days of Hanukkah to celebrate the miracle of the oil. According to History.com, the Jewish priest Matthias and his sons led a rebellion against the Syrian king who had taken their land and desecrated the city’s holy Second Temple. Within two years, the Jews had driven the Syrians out. They then cleansed the Second Temple and lit the menorah, which has seven branches and is meant to burn all night. Although the Jews only had enough oil to light the menorah for one day, it remained lit for eight. It’s because of this miracle that Hanukkah lasts for eight days and why oily foods like potato latkes, jelly donuts, and more are enjoyed during this holiday.

Although latkes are typically made out of potatoes, you can also make them with carrots, zucchini, or anything else that fries well. They’re usually eaten with sour cream or applesauce, and are fairly flat and crunchy on the outside.

How to make latkes

Making potato latkes is surprisingly easy, although the process is a little time consuming. First, you need to grate the potatoes either with a box grater or a food processor (both methods work well). Next, you’ll need to mince some garlic and grate an onion. Mix everything together before adding in the binding agents (flour and an egg). The key to making good potato latkes is to not overwork the mixture once the egg and flour have been added in. The mixture should hold together but shouldn’t be doughy.

When you add the latkes to the hot oil, don’t overcrowd the pan. I know it’s tempting to add in as many latkes as possible, but this will drop the temperature of the oil and they won’t cook evenly. Not to mention you’ll wind up with super oily latkes this way. You’re looking for perfectly golden brown latkes that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Looking for more easy holiday recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Potato Latkes


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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x

Description

These traditional potato latkes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream for the full experience.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/41/2 cups flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Neutral frying oil

Instructions

  1. Heat about 1/2 inch of your favorite frying oil in a skillet (or two for efficiency) over medium-high heat.
  2. Wash and dry 4 large potatoes. Using a food processor or box grater, grate the potatoes (skins on) and place in a large bowl.
  3. Grate 1 onion and add it to the bowl of potatoes. Mince 1 clove garlic and add it to to bowl. Add about 2 teaspoons kosher salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper.
  4. Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients in the bowl using a folding motion. Don’t over work them. Add 1 egg and flour (about 1/4 cup, maybe more if you used the food processor). You want the materials to hold together but not be doughy.
  5. The oil is ready when it sizzles at the addition of a piece of potato. When it is ready, drop medium size clumps of the potato mixture into the oil. Don’t crowd them—we did 4 at a time in a large skillet.
  6. Fry for several minutes on each side until browned, flipping only once. You are looking for a nice crispy brown. Place the finished latkes on a plate covered with a paper towel to remove excess oil, and transfer to a low oven to keep warm until serving.
  7. Serve warm with sour cream and homemade applesauce. Enjoy!

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Jewish

Keywords: potato latkes

 

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah
    December 3, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I have made three more batches since you all were here….definitely like the food processor texture a little better…crisper edges. But…be careful they don’t sog up too much…sometimes patting the potatoes with paper towel prior to adding the other ingrediants helps. We LOVED having you! Best.
    Wonder if I EVER will master getting the silly food processor to always engage…ugh

    • Reply
      Sonja
      December 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      We had a blast — thank you so much for having us! I can’t wait to make these again. And I’m glad the food processor method works!

  • Reply
    naama peled
    December 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    happy hanukka from tel aviv!
    These latkes look sooooooooooo good!

  • Reply
    kateiscooking
    December 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Don’t you love the tree in the courthouse???

    • Reply
      Sonja
      December 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Haha, we did! Our tour guide made sure to point it out :) Are you from that area?

  • Reply
    Keshav Dutt
    August 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    what is kosher salt?

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