Crispy potato pancakes – also called latkes – are a delicious side dish or appetizer. Shredded, seasoned potatoes are pan-fried to tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Who doesn’t love a crispy fried potato cake with a dollop of sour cream and applesauce?
What is the Difference Between Potato Latkes and Potato Pancakes?
Potato latkes and potato pancakes are basically the same thing, though some potato pancakes have a creamier, mashed-potato-like center. Latkes are firmer and have more defined strands of potato.
Often served in Jewish households during the celebration of Hanukkah, Jewish potato pancakes take a bit of work to make – but they are oh so worth it!
I’ve been making these crispy potato pancakes for years. This potato latkes recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine and uses the potato starch, rather than flour or matzoh meal.
How to Make Crispy Potato Pancakes
Start by grating your potatoes with a box grater. Toss the grated potatoes, onion and one teaspoon of salt in a bowl.
Place half of the potato mixture in the center of a dish towel or a few layers of cheesecloth. Gather the ends together and twist the towel tightly to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, reserving the liquid in a measuring cup.
Transfer the potato mixture to a second bowl and repeat the process with remaining potatoes.
Let the potato liquid sit undisturbed for at least 5 minutes so the potato starch settles to the bottom.
Cover the potato mixture and microwave until just warmed through, but not hot – 1 to 2 minutes, stirring mixture every 30 seconds. This helps dry out the potatoes and makes for crispier latkes.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over a rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes.
Carefully pour off the water from the reserved potato liquid, leaving the thick, white potato starch at the bottom. Add eggs to the starch and stir until smooth. Mix potato mixture together with potato starch and egg, tossing until evenly combined.
Set a wire rack on a clean, rimmed baking sheet and line with a triple layer of paper towels.
Heat 1/4 inch depth of oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. (350 degrees F.)
Place a 1/4 cup mound of the potato mixture in the oil and press with spatula into a 1/3 inch thick disk.
Repeat, adjusting heat as necessary so the fat bubbles around the latke edges. Cook until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer.
Drain your potato pancakes on paper towels and transfer to a baking sheet in the oven, set at 200 degrees to keep warm. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
Repeat until all latkes are fried, adding oil to maintain 1/4 inch depth.
Potato Latke FAQs
Whether you are making Hanukkah latkes or potato pancakes for any time of year, here are some tips for success.
What are the best potatoes for latkes?
Russet potatoes are definitely best for this latke recipe. They have a high starch content, which helps them bind together and eliminates the need for added flour.
Should I peel the potatoes?
There’s no need to peel the potatoes. Just scrub and rinse them, then grate them with a box grater.
What type of oil is best for frying latkes?
Vegetable oil or peanut oil are best due to their mild flavor and high smoke point. Oil should be kept at 350 degrees F for even cooking of the latkes.
Can you make potato pancakes ahead of time?
Yes! Cooled potato latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Reheat the latkes in a 375 degree oven until crisp and hot, 3 minutes per side for room temperature (6 minutes per side for frozen).
Latkes can also be frozen on a baking sheet until firm and then transferred to a zip-lock bag and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.
What do you serve with potato latkes?
Hanukkah potato pancakes are traditionally accompanied by sour cream and applesauce. You might also like additional latke toppings such as scallions, chives or other fresh herbs, greek yogurt, crème fraîche, hot sauce, fruit preserves, or even smoked salmon.
If you’re serving the latkes as part of a meal, this Lemon Chicken is a delicious main dish. It’s dairy free, so kosher friendly. A simple side dish that’s perfect for autumn is Roasted Delicata Squash with Sage.
Crispy Potato Latkes
- 2 pounds russet potatoes unpeeled, scrubbed and shredded with the coarse side of a box grater or food processor.
- 1/2 cup grated onion I alternate potatoes and onions to keep the potatoes from browning
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
- Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Toss potatoes, onion and 1 teaspoon salt in bow. Place half of potato mixture in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid in liquid measuring cup.
- Transfer potato mixture to second bowl and repeat process with remaining potato mixtureSet potato liquid aside and let stand so starch settles to bottom, at least 5 minutes.
- Cover potato mixture and microwave until just warmed through, but not hot, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring mixture every 30 seconds.
- Spread potatoes mixture evenly over second rimmed baking sheet and let cool 10 minutes.
- Pour off water from reserved potato liquid, leaving potato starch. Add eggs and stir until smooth. Mix potato mixture together with potato starch and egg, tossing until evenly combined.
- Set wire rack in a clean rimmed baking sheet and line with triple layer of paper towels. Heat 1/4 inch depth of oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. (350 degrees F.)
- Place 1/4 cup mound of potato mixture in oil and press with spatula into 1/3 inch thick disk. Repeat, adjusting heat as necessary so fat bubble around latke edges, until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer.
- Drain on paper towels and transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat until all latkes are fried, adding oil to maintain 1/4 inch depth. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
- TO MAKE AHEAD
- Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 4 hours. They can also be frozen on a baking sheet until firm and then transferred to a zip-lock back and frozen for up to 1 month.
- Reheat latkes in 375 degree oven until crisp and hot, 3 minutes per side for room temperature and 6 minutes per side for frozen.