This Potato Latkes recipe first appeared on Savory Experiments where I am a contributor.
This 5 ingredient Easy Potato Latkes Recipe yields perfectly crisp potato pancakes in less than 30 minutes. Learn my secret to making golden potato pancakes without burning.
Traditionally served on Chanukah, these classic latkes are a deliciously crispy vessel for sweet or savory toppings like homemade apple sauce or sour cream.
With just a few staple ingredients, like russet potatoes, onions, and garlic powder, you will have perfect latkes ready and on the table in just 20 minutes.
What are potato latkes?
Potato latkes are crispy, round potato “pancakes” made in majority from shredded potatoes and flavored with onion and garlic, then pan fried in a skillet. They’re traditionally served on Chanukah, but they are so versatile and would make a delicious appetizer or side dish to chicken, steak, or salmon.
Nothing smells more like Chanukah to me than the incredible aroma of potato lakes. While I don’t have my Grandma’s potato latke recipe, I do have the perfect technique for creating crisp potato latkes that don’t fall apart when they hit the pan and don’t burn.
Fun Fact: did you know latkes have been around since around the mid-1800s?
What is the difference between potato pancakes and latkes?
Although very similar, potato pancakes and potato latkes are a bit different. Both call for similar ingredients like potatoes and something to bind them with, however:
Potato Pancakes call for grated potatoes using the finest grater attachment. This allows for a fluffier or pancake like texture and consistency.
Potato Latkes call for shredded potatoes using a medium or large grater attachment. This gives us that crispy, crunchy, and lighter consistency.
Of the two, potato latkes are faster and easier to make…and in my opinion, tastier!
Ingredients You Will need
Chances are, you already have all, or most, of the ingredients to make potato latkes and you might not even know it!
Potatoes: for this recipe, I used large russet potatoes. The potato is the highlight of the dish, so it is important you use a high-quality/high in starch potato.
Onions: one small white onion will do. However, you can also use a small sweet or yellow onion here if needed.
Herbs and spices: you don’t need much here, latkes get most of their flavor from the potato and whatever you decide to top them with. Keep it simple with a touch of garlic powder and kosher salt.
Eggs and flour: these ingredients act as binding agents to hold everything together and provide some structure to the pancake shape.
Olive oil: you will want to use an oil with a high smoke point to keep the latkes from burning. There are various olive oils with high smoke points; you can also use avocado oil or vegetable oil.
Garnish: freshly chopped chives are a nice garnish for latkes. You can also use fresh chopped parsley.
*For a detailed list of ingredients and measurements, please reference the recipe card down below.
How to Make Latkes
1. Preheat the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Grate potatoes and onion. Start by grating your potatoes and onions using the medium grater attachment for your food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a hand grater to shred the potatoes.
Transfer the shredded potatoes to a large bowl of ice water to keep the potatoes from browning and remove some of the starch. Soak the grated potatoes for 15 minutes.
When you are just about ready to start cooking, drain the potatoes. Either place them in a mesh strainer and release the excess moisture by gently pushing down with your fingers or wring them out in a tea towel to dry them as best as possible.
3. Make the potato mixture. Transfer the potatoes and onions to a medium mixing bowl and toss with the flour, egg, garlic powder and salt. Mix gently until fully combined.
4. Fry the latkes Heat a large skillet (I prefer non-stick) over medium-high heat with about 1/8 inch of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, scoop a 1/4 cup of the latke mixture into the pan and flatten with a spatula. Fry the mixture for 4-5 minutes, or until crispy. Flip and fry for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.
I like to place latkes on paper towels right after frying to remove excess oil.
Garnish and serve. Garnish with fresh chives and serve with applesauce and sour cream!
Place cooked latkes on the baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm while you finish frying the remaining latkes.
Why Is My First Batch Better Than The Rest?
Have you ever noticed when you are frying latkes, the first batch usually comes out the best?
This is because the longer you keep your pan over the heat, the hotter the pan gets and it’s hard to keep the oil at that same temperature. Here are some tips to help your second, third, and fourth bathes look and taste just as good as your first!
- Remove any burnt bits. After each batch makes sure to remove any burnt bits from your pan. If you keep them in the pan they will mix with your oil. This will cause your fried latkes to taste burnt, even though they aren’t burnt.
- Keep the oil moving. It’s very important to move your oil around the pan once in a while. This will ensure evenly proportioned browning of your latkes so you get that great crisp in every bite!
- The importance of potatoes. Since potatoes are high in starch, they absorb oil while they are cooking. Be sure to check on the amount of oil in the pan regularly and add more if necessary.
- Increasing temperatures. As the pan gets hotter your latkes will cook faster in batches two and three than they did in the first one. That said, it’s important to always keep an eye on the pan. After the first or second batch, you might want to reduce the heat a little bit to keep the oil from getting too hot.
How to Keep the Oil From Burning
No one wants burnt latkes or burnt oil! If you are new to frying, keeping your oil from burning can be a difficult process. However, the trick is to make sure you use olive oil with a high smoke point.
If you start to notice the latkes are browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium heat or medium-low to keep the oil from getting too hot. I usually do this after my second batch of latkes.
Make sure there is always enough oil in the pan. It’s more likely to burn as more and more gets absorbed by the potatoes.
Why frying latkes in oil is important
Frying latkes is something deeply rooted in the Jewish faith. The use of oil for Hanukkah is very important. Oil is used to represent the oil that miraculously burned for 8 days straight when it was used to light the menorah.
Oven Baked Latkes
Although frying latkes is the traditional and quicker route to making latkes, oven-baked latkes will come out very good and a fraction of the oil.
Oven-baked latkes will still have the classic potato latkes flavor and similar texture, a soft inside and crisp outside. If you are looking to make the healthier version, oven-baked latkes is definitely the way to go.
Air Fryer Latkes
You can also make latkes in the air fryer! Toss your latkes in the air fryer with a spritz of oil and air fry them at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Looking for that perfect crisp? Looking to keep the Hanukkah tradition alive by using oil? Looking to cut calories?
Toss your latkes in the air fryer with a spritz of oil and air fry them up at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes, then flip and air fry for 5 more minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Don’t overload the air fryer – your latkes need space to fry. If they are packed in too tightly they won’t get crispy and they will just steam.
Toppings and Dipping Sauces
In my opinion, there is nothing better than serving up some hot and fresh latkes with a dollop of apple sauce. Sour cream is also a popular potato latke topping.
Traditional latkes are great, but sometimes it’s fun to step outside the box and get creative! Below are some fun variations you can try too.
- Smoked salmon and sour cream latkes – enjoy latkes for breakfast with a smoked salmon, sour cream, salmon roe, and capers topping.
- Sweet potato latkes with applesauce – swap out russet potatoes for sweet potatoes.
- Zucchini latkes – make latkes with zucchini instead of potatoes for a lower carb option. You can top them with pine nuts, basil, and parmesan cheese.
What country are latkes from?
Of course we associate potato latkes with Chanukah, but did you know latkes descend from Jewish-Italian pancakes that were made with ricotta cheese?
The first connection between Chanukah and pancakes was made by a rabbi in Italy named Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (c. 1286-1328).
According to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks, the Rabbi “included pancakes in a list of dishes to serve at an idealized Purim feast, as well as a poem about Chanukah.
After the Spanish expelled the Jews from Sicily in 1492, the exiles introduced their ricotta cheese pancakes, which were called cassola in Rome, to the Jews of northern Italy. Consequently, cheese pancakes, because they combined the two traditional types of foods–fried and dairy–became a natural Chanukuh dish.”
What type of potato is best for latkes?
Russet potatoes are traditionally used for latkes and they produce the best latkes.
Russets make for crispier latkes over other potatoes because they have a higher starch content. This means the latkes are less likely to fall apart and they come out crispier.
WANT TO TRY THIS EASY POTATO LATKE RECIPE?
PIN IT to your Chanukah recipes or potato recipes board to save it for later!
Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes. I’m always pinning!
Did you make this recipe? Post a photo on Instagram and tag me @JZEATS or #JZEATS so I can see! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think, too!
More Potato Recipes To Try
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Roasted Garlic Potatoes
- Mexican Sweet Potatoes
- Creamy Mushroom Hasselback Potato Gratin
- BBQ Chicken Baked Sweet Potatoes
Easy Potato Latkes
- Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the oven and preheat to 300° F.
- Using the medium grater attachment for your food processor, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the shredded potatoes to a large mixing bowl of ice water to keep the potatoes from browning and remove some of the starch. Soak the grated potatoes for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the potatoes and onions to a medium mixing bowl and toss with the flour, egg, garlic powder and salt. Mix gently until fully combined.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with about 1/8 inch of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, scoop 1/4 cup of the latke mixture into the pan, flatten with a spatula, and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until crispy, flip and fry 3-4 minutes on the other side.
- Place the latkes on the baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm while you finish frying the remaining latkes.
- Garnish with fresh chives and serve with sour cream and apple sauce.