Eight Potato Latke Recipes for the Eight Days of Hannukah

After doing a little bit of Google research (a new statistically insignificant method of acquiring knowledge quickly), I have concluded that there are as many opinions about the best potato latke recipe as there are viewpoints about how to manage the impending fiscal cliff. Fortunately, you needn’t waste your breath arguing over what method works best; just sort through the choices below and if you can’t decide, there are eight days of Chanukah – try them all. By the way, you can spell Hanukah at least eight different ways as well – so if you can’t decide, try them all too!

potato latke recipe

Photo used with permission and courtesy of Cheryl Sternman Rule of the blog 5SecondRule.typepad.com

Each method and recipe offers at least one key component that makes it work. Below are my summaries of these helpful tips and the links to the recipe posts:

1. The Onion/Potato Ratio:

In this recipe appearing on the James Beard web site, Mitchell Davis says that it is his mother’s ratio of onion to potato (two potatoes, 1 onion) that is key to its success.

Sonny’s Special Potato Latkes

2. Hand Grating:

Olga Massov of the blog Sassy Radish insists (as do many other experts) that you must grate the potatoes by hand. She offers the food processor approach, but says the texture you get from hand grating just can’t be matched.

Sassy Radish’s Potato Latkes

3. Sideways in the Food Processor Plus Cheesecloth and Reheating:

And then there’s Deb from Smitten Kitchen, who must know what she’s talking about cuz she can crank out gorgeous results in her tiny kitchen in NYC and write a cookbook all at the same time. She suggests putting the potatoes sideways in the food processor to get the closest approximation to hand grated and offers two other helpful tips: strain the potato/onion mixture in cheesecloth (rather than a kitchen towel) and most importantly, yes you can reheat latkes to their crispy state – a true revelation if you are trying to feed a crowd and might actually like to visit with them while they eat your latkes.

Smitten Kitchen Potato Pancakes Even Better

4. Temperature of Oil and Timing of Salt:

And from Cheryl Sternman Rule, the brilliant voice behind the blog 5SecondRule and the co-creator of the cookbook RIPE: A Fresh Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables, I learned from her friend Alison’s recipe that in addition to the crucial need to squeeze out all the liquid, it’s key to fry them in oil that is hot enough. Be careful to maintain oil temperature and be sure to salt them right after you take them out of the pan so the latke and salt become one with each other.

5SecondRule Shares her Friend Alison’s Perfect Potato Latke (and the photo above!)

5. Panko Bread Crumbs Instead of Flour or Matzo Meal:

And then there’s Tori Avey of the The Shiksa and History Kitchen blogs. She offered a new spin on her traditional latke using panko bread crumbs, which are generally used to coat tempura fried Japanese cuisine. She feels they yield a super crispy result – three cheers for a little Asian flair added to a traditional Ashkenazic dish.

Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

6. Corn Starch Instead of Flour or Matzo Meal = Gluten Free:

From executive chef Robert Soriano of Bernard’s Market, who is of Tunisian descent, we have the tip of using corn starch which not only helps the latkes crisp up, but provides the added benefit of making them gluten free.

The Best Potato Latke Recipe Ever (that’s what they all say!)

7. Use Starch from Bottom of Bowl:

How could I not see what The Kosher Channel had to say and their recipe, among other things, espouses the use of the starchy liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the bowl after squeezing the juice from the potato/onion mixture. The accumulated starch should help to crisp up the latkes.

The Kosher Channel Recipe 

8. Use Baking Powder to Make them Lighter:

And last, but certainly not least, from a very thorough post on a barbecue website called Amazing Ribs (really) about the various steps and techniques to achieve latke perfection, we have the use of baking powder to lighten them up – but if you prefer dense, leave it out.

Amazing Ribs Potato Pancakes

And What About the Oil?

And finally, if you look at all of these recipes (and more), you’ll see many different suggestions for what oil to use to fry these crispy pancakes – the suggestions run from peanut oil to canola oil to olive oil and the amounts range from a couple of tablespoons to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. I would lean towards using an oil that can handle high heat (not olive oil) and to heed Cheryl and Alison’s advice – keep it to temperature before putting the next batch in if you want to achieve a crispy exterior.

Cheers to a wonderful holiday season, no matter what holiday you are celebrating or how you choose to spell it.

What’s your top tip for making the best potato latkes ever? Or have you tried a new type using sweet potatoes or zucchini? Please share your wisdom and experience – I’d love to know!

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18 Responses to Eight Potato Latke Recipes for the Eight Days of Hannukah

  1. Sharon Vinick December 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Panko breadcrumbs. No, I say, no. That is just not right.

    • Beth December 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      LOL – I’m a traditionalist myself and like to stick to flour or matzo meal but I thought it might elicit some conversation so there you have it!

      • Beth December 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

        PS – I still laugh when I think of your mom scolding me for turning a latke before it was quite brown enough…

  2. Stu Borken December 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Today is Thursday. We made latkes at our home on Sunday, last Sunday. I opened all the windows. I took off the glass storm doors and put on screens and opened the doors. I turned off the furnace so it would not circulate the air out of the kitchen through the house. OK. So, today I get up and walk out of the bed room and I still smell latkes in the entire house. it’s not a bad smell. In fact our neighbors could smell them frying while they were in their front yard.
    We make the traditional ones. I read about adding shredded carrots just for color. Who needs color? I like golden brown crispy outside and white soft interior. stu b

    • Beth December 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Ok, well now that you’ve brought it up, I will admit it – I am secretly glad that I host Thanksgiving and my SIL hosts Hannukah so I don’t have to smell the oil in my house for days. But I’ve decided that I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make some for myself this year anyhow. I know they’ll be worth the smell. Why else install such a massive exhaust fan if not for frying latkes right? But which method to choose. And there will be no carrots, zucchini, sweet potato, dill, just potatoes and onions, a bunch of oil, and homemade applesauce. Thx for sharing your story Stu – removing the storm doors still has me chuckling :-)

  3. Betsy Torop December 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Cheryl said it right: “Also, I don’t screw around when it comes to latkes. Please keep your sweet potatoes to yourselves.” No Panko. No Zucs, Sweet Potatoes etc. No tampering with perfection!

    • Beth December 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Three cheers for traditional latkes – you can feed me any of the alternatives any other time but for Hannukah, I crave the flavor of potatoes and onions and my SIL’s homemade applesauce!

    • Cheryl December 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      It’s so nice to have validation! I’m all for creativity in the kitchen (really!), but if I see one more beet latke recipe, I’m going to lose it.

      Thanks for this great round-up, Beth, and for including me above.

      • Beth December 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        You’re welcome – I learned so much and feel armed and ready to fry! (and yeah – I saw a recipe yesterday with sweet potatoes and feta – come on!)

  4. Hannah December 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Love this round up, Beth! I like hand grating, too, but when you’re making a huge batch nothing beats the food processor. We’re going to a latke party on Saturday night where everyone brings a different kind. Can’t wait to taste the variety! In the end, I always prefer the traditional potato and onion. We always have a night with my brother’s recipe, too – includes cream, Swiss cheese and green onions. Rich and tasty! Happy Hanukkah to you!

    • Beth December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

      You too Hannah! Saturday night sounds like fun! We have our big family party Saturday night – I just sliced the 8 lbs of brisket for that and start the rugelach making tonight.

      I plan to try the hand-grating on a small batch – I don’t really mind it – almost easier than washing the processor unless it’s a big crowd as you said.

      Cheers and enjoy!

  5. Carol Sacks December 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    It’s Latke-palooza! Helpful post. Hope you and yours have a wonderful eight crazy nights:)

    • Beth December 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      Just to stay on theme – I made 8 lbs of brisket this afternoon :-). Merry Merry to you and the family as well!

  6. Tanya December 10, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    My son ate latkes at a friends house and was asking me to find a recipe. Glad you have me several options and ways to make it gluten free or with an Asian flair :). Visiting from SiTS!

    • Beth December 10, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      A hot, crispy potato latke is addictive – so glad he came home wanting more! And thanks for visiting – so happy to have you here to talk about food!

  7. Karen (Back Road Journal) December 12, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    I’m glad I saw your post. So many wonderful ideas for potato latkes, which I love.

  8. Sheila Skillingstead January 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I’m visiting from SITS in response to your comment on my site. These recipes look delicious. I haven’t made latkes in a long time. I do an oral story about a bear and latkes. I’m going to pin this. Thanks for the visit.

    • Beth January 3, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      Hi Sheila – I know just the story you are talking about. Used to be my go-to story for every class visit for my kids and without exception – everyone loved it. In fact, my 14 yr old requested it this year still! Hope your SITS day was fantastic — what a great way to start the year! And thanks for visiting.

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