The Best Latke Recipes for all Eight Nights of Hanukkah

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If you’re looking for the best latke recipe, you’re in the right place! Confused by all the different “must try” techniques for making crispy potato pancakes? Don’t be! This post explains the “why” for each one. Besides, you have eight days of Hanukkah, why not try all the recipes, starting with mine!

3 potato latkes with 3 toppings

Is There Really a Best Latke Recipe?

After doing a lot of research, I have concluded that there are as many opinions about the best latke recipe as there are viewpoints about how to lose weight. Fortunately, you needn’t waste your breath arguing over what method works best. Just sort through the choices below or jump straight to my recipe at the end of the post. If you can’t decide, there are eight days of Chanukah – try them all.

stack of latkes with hanukkiah in the background

Tips and Tricks to Make the Best Potato Latke Ever!

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:

Many people suggest that it is the magic of the ratio of potato to onion that makes it all just right. In this recipe on the James Beard website, Mitchell Davis says that it is his mother’s ratio of onion to potato (two potatoes, 1 onion) that is key to its success. I don’t personally subscribe to this 2 to 1 ratio, but more fried onion sounds like a pretty good thing, don’t you think?

onions and potatoes for latkes in clear bowl unmixed

2. Hand Grating vs Food Processor:

Many potato pancake experts insist you must hand grate your potatoes on a box grater for the ultimate potato flavor and texture for your pancakes. In this Guardian article by Dave Bry, you can digest all the pros and cons of this heated debate then decide for yourself. In my view, if hand grating means you won’t bother to make them, then pull out the food processor!

Beth Lee using food process to shred potatoes for latkes

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

And then there’s Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen, who suggests putting the potatoes sideways in the food processor to get the closest approximation to hand grated. She offers two other helpful tips: strain the potato/onion mixture in cheesecloth (rather than a kitchen towel).

And most importantly, 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.

squeezing water out of potatoes for best latke recipe

4. Temperature of Oil, Squeeze Liquid and Timing of Salt:

And from my good friend Dana of the blog Foodie Goes Healthy, we have her Grandma Shirley’s recipe. Dana also shares many tips and tricks including the crucial element of keeping the oil hot. If you crowd the pan or don’t let the oil reheat between each batch, you will end up with soft pancakes that soak up too much oil.

She also reminds us to strain as much liquid out of the potato and onions as you can before mixing in the other ingredients and frying. And one last tip from my friend Cheryl Sternman Rule, be sure to salt them right after you take them out of the pan so the latke and salt become one with each other. Do this please! (You’ll thank me.)

potato latkes on parchment showing salt

5. Flour or Matzo Meal to Bind your Potato Latke:

Not sure whether to use flour or matzo meal to hold the pancakes together? So many opinions. I like to use matzo meal and in this analysis of the “perfect” potato latke on Epicurious, they draw the same conclusion.

It also makes your pancakes Passover ready, if that matters to you. But should you panic if you don’t have matzo meal and have to use flour? — NO! Go for it, many latke mavens use flour and serve crispy pancakes year after year.

And if you celebrate Passover and didn’t quite finish that can of matzo meal – here’s your chance! Or find even more ideas to use up that stash here.

matzo meal mixture for potato pancakes in bowl

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.

7. Use Starch from the Bottom of the Bowl:

How could I not check out what The Kosher Channel had to say about frying potato latkes? They espouse 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.

potato starch at the bottom of the bowl for latkes

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.

hand holding a cross section of latke

What Oil should you use for the Best Latke Recipe?

These recipes offer many different suggestions for what oil to use to fry these crispy pancakes – 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.

My potato latke recipe uses canola or vegetable oil, both of which can handle high heat. But more and more information suggests that olive oil can also withstand the temperature needed to fry these crispy potato pancakes.

testing one latke to cook in oil in cast iron pan

More is Less When it Comes to Oil

The most important advice about the oil is to bring it back to temperature before putting the next batch in. To achieve the crispy exterior, you need hot oil. The temperature should be about 375 degrees. You can drop a bit of the batter in to test if it’s hot enough. 

And don’t be shy with how much oil you use. The oil creates a heat bath for the latkes to cook in – not enough and they just soak up the oil without getting crispy or cooking throughout. We find that we use less oil to fry our latkes when we put more in the pan and maintain the heat.

several latkes cooking in cast iron pan

Can you Really Make the Best Latke Recipe Ahead of Time?

Also up for much debate but YES, you can. I didn’t believe it until I did it. But I went to a Hanukkah party at a neighbor’s house and brought this plate of latkes. I made them ahead of time and then reheated them in her oven. If they were crisp to begin with, they will be crispy again. Really.

Potato Latke Recipe -- potato latkes on purple plate at an angle

Crispy potato latkes ready to eat – these were reheated and maintained their crunch!

 

What to Serve with the Best Latke Recipe

One cannot live on potatoes alone - try some of these other dishes to serve with your version of the super crispy best latke recipe ever!

The Best Toppings for the Best Latke Recipe

The traditional toppings are sour cream and applesauce. Making your own applesauce is really easy. Jenni from the blog Pastry Chef Online has recipes from apple butter to apple sauce.

Or try something new! Top your latkes with cranberry sauce. Really. And specifically, try my cranberry orange jam. It is so easy to make, has apple in it, and you can make it for Thanksgiving and just save a jar in the fridge for Hanukkah. (Or make it again!)

3 latkes with 3 different toppings

Kitchen Tools for Crispy Latkes:

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

3 potato latkes with 3 toppings made with the best latke recipe
4.86 from 7 votes
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Crispy Classic Potato Latkes

These classic potato latkes were inspired by years of studying cookbooks, cooks, and bloggers who have made many more latkes than I have. Latkes have few ingredients – it is all in the technique and organization. And if you can grab a helper or two, even better!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Jewish Holiday Cooking
Keyword Hanukkah, potato latkes, potato pancakes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 30 pancakes
Calories 202 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled and grated by hand or in a food processor
  • 2 medium onions grated by hand or in a food processor
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley optional
  • oil of choice for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate your potatoes and onions.

    onions and potatoes for latkes in clear bowl unmixed
  2. Have a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a towel ready over a large bowl.

  3. Squeeze as much of the liquid as possible out of the potato onion mixture.

  4. Before you toss that liquid, there should be some potato starch accumulated at the bottom of the liquid. Try to pour off the liquid reserving that potato starch.

  5. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, baking powder, matzo meal, white and black pepper, salt, and parsley.
    egg mixture for best latke recipe
  6. Put the strained potato and onion mixture back in the large bowl with the reserved potato starch (if there was any – don’t worry if there wasn’t). Add in the egg mixture and combine well.

  7. Have two or three paper towel lined sheet pans ready and the oven preheated to 200 degrees or so to keep cooked latkes warm.
  8. Heat one or two 10- or 12-inch frying pans on the stove top with a ¼ - ½ inch of oil in them. If you are working alone, I’d say use only one. Heat to about medium to medium high – you don’t want the oil to splatter but you want it to “get excited” when you drop in some latke batter. As Dana of Foodie Goes Healthy suggests – drop in a small amount and test it out. See if it starts to cook vigorously. And cook it through and taste it for flavor. You can adjust seasoning before cooking all of them.
    testing one latke to cook in oil in cast iron pan
  9. I like to flatten the batter right after I put it in the pan so it is an even depth and cooks all the way through. So don’t crowd them when you drop the batter in. Give them room to spread and room to cook.
  10. When they are dark brown on one side, flip them over. When they are nearly burnt, as my friend’s mother would say, take them out and place them on the paper-towel lined sheet pans. If you have a helper, have them salt them immediately. If you salt while hot, it adheres and the latkes taste so good, your guests will tell you they are the best latkes ever!

    several latkes cooking in cast iron pan
  11. If you are not serving them right away, they will crisp up in a hot oven. Really they will. Don’t stress out trying to make enough latkes for a crowd while the crowd is there.

Recipe Notes

Serve with sour cream, apple sauce or cranberry jam. Or if you are feeling fancy, serve them with crème fraiche and smoked salmon.

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34 Responses to The Best Latke Recipes for all Eight Nights of Hanukkah

  1. Marcia Maiten December 24, 2019 at 12:29 am #

    Beth, this is my recipe for the easiest homemade applesauce. I make a batch every 2 weeks. We eat it foe dessert and sometimes i put it on cereal instead of milk.

    Instant Pot Applesauce
    8 Cosmic Crisp apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp also work) well rinsed, cored and cut into 1 or 1 1/2 inch pieces. Leave skins on.
    1/2 cup water
    1 or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon.

    Add all ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir up.

    Cover and set IP to Manual, high pressure, 8 minutes. When done let it depressure naturally for 8 to 11 minutes.

    Use an immersion blender to blend to desired consistency. The less blended, the more taste of apple skins. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. It can be frozen.

    • Beth Lee December 24, 2019 at 5:56 am #

      I am going to try this! Thank you so much

  2. Sandi December 13, 2019 at 1:58 pm #

    5 stars
    I LOVE all of your easy to follow directions. You make this look so much easier than I thought. I also can’t wait to try some of the menu suggestions….you knocked this out of the park 🙂

    • Beth Lee December 13, 2019 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks Sandi – this is one of those recipes/dishes that is really all technique – once I focussed on that, they seemed so much easier to make!

  3. Laura December 13, 2019 at 7:36 am #

    5 stars
    WOW! This post is chock full of great information. I definitely squeeze out the extra liquid from my potatoes, but now I’m going to use matzo instead of flour and try your recipe. We love our latkes extra crispy!

    • Beth Lee December 13, 2019 at 8:39 am #

      Oh I know yours will be crispy and delicious Laura! Still thinking about your chicken katsu!!

  4. Rita December 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm #

    I might try a half recipe, since we’re a household of two

    • Beth Lee December 2, 2018 at 7:38 am #

      That would be perfect Rita! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. Dini November 30, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    5 stars
    My husband loooooves potato latkes, and I’m so glad I came across your recipe and wonderfully informative post. They look so scrumptious, and I think I just might try all the variations here too! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Beth Lee December 2, 2018 at 7:38 am #

      You bet Dini – hope your husband (and you) love them!

  6. Shadi Hasanzadenemati November 30, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

    5 stars
    I’ve decided to give latkes a try! These look so good and I can’t wait to make them!

    • Beth Lee December 2, 2018 at 7:39 am #

      They are always worth the effort !

  7. Douglas Lee November 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

    5 stars
    Yummy and crispy!

    • Beth Lee December 1, 2018 at 9:53 am #

      Getting excited for a batch tomorrow night!

  8. Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy December 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    Fun round up and great latke tips Beth! I agree. One tip I will add is that I like to push the batter flat with the spoon so that the finished latke is thin and crispy. My preferred ratio is a lot of crispy on the outside and just a little bit of potato softness on the inside. Happy Hanukkah.

    • Beth Lee December 13, 2017 at 7:30 am #

      Thanks Dana! Yes that’s a great tip. Are you a matzo meal or flour person in your recipe?

      Sure wish we could share some oily foods together this year 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!)

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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…

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