These are the potato latkes of my life. The are simple, they are delicious and crispy and have just one rule: only turn once. That’s right, that’s the whole secret to these perfect, simple potato latkes.
If you’ve celebrated Hanukkah at any point in your life, with your family, with friends, with co-workers or college roommates, you’ve probably tasted a potato latke. Maybe it was made the day before, maybe it was packaged (and that’s okay), maybe it was from your favorite deli. These are not latkes like any you’ve had before and these potato latkes aren’t just for Hanukkah anymore. These are Grandma Alice’s potato latkes and they are what latkes are all about. (Grandma Alice was my maternal grandmother and the best potato latke maker there ever was)
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What’s a latke?
For those of you who don’t know, a latke is a pancake typically made from grated potatoes. It is typically eaten during the holiday of Hanukkah because they are fried in oil. (For more on that connection, check out this article on Hanukkah 101). The word latke comes from the Yiddush work for little pancake, so it all makes sense really.
An important piece about how you say the word “latke”. In my home growing up in metro-Detroit, we said “lat-kah”... as far as I’m concerned, the only correct way to say the word.
However, since I’ve been in Chicago, I find people saying “lat-kee”. Now, you make the choice, but please know that I think you should say it “lat-kah” in your head while you read the rest of this post...just sayin’.
While traditionally latkes are made out of grated potatoes, they can really be made out of any grated vegetables. I love make zucchini latkes, sweet potato latkes, and I’ve even experimented with sweet peas, broccoli and cauliflower. I’ll try to share a few of these other types in the future. The list is ever growing!
What’s the best kind of potato to use in these latkes?
As you may or may not know, different potatoes have different starch content which can affect the outcome of a recipe. The two potatoes that I’m comfortable recommending in this recipe are the Russet potato (the brown one you think of when you think of a classic baked potato) and a Yukon Gold (the yellower looking one you’ll find in the grocery store).
I would stay away from using little red potatoes. They are just too soft. In a pinch, you could probably make them work, but they aren’t my first or even second recommendation. If you are looking for something fun, purple potatoes will totally work!
As for other varieties, I caution you to use at your own risk. Some will work great, others not so much. For a great guide to 10 types of potatoes, check out this article. Then make your decision from there.
How do you make potato latkes?
Remember, these are going to be super crispy latkes, not fluffy and creamy on the inside. These directions will get you there.
In order to make these the way my Grandma Alice always did (and her’s were the best!) you are going to need to make a decision: Are you going to hand grate 12 potatoes (which she always did using this contraption), use a box grater, or use a food processor (like my mom and I do using)? Whichever tool you use, you’ll want to make sure you are using the course grating holes. It’s helps ensure the crispiness of the latke.
You’ll first get your pan ready to go. In a large frying pan, pour in the oil, enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan. Don’t turn on the heat just yet. Next, measure the salt, pepper, sugar and flour into a small prep bowl.
Then it’s time to grate the potatoes and onion. You can do this all into the same food processor bowl. Once everything is grated, squeeze it out really well, as you’ll want to get as much moisture and liquid out as you can.
I like to use a kitchen towel to help me with this.
Now turn on the stove to medium high heat and let your pan get hot. Put the squeezed potato and onions in a large mixing bowl, add the small bowl full of the rest of the ingredients and the eggs, and stir it all together gently.
Now it’s time for frying...remember ONLY TURN THEM ONCE.
Into a super hot pan you’ll put spoonfuls of the potato mixture being sure not to crowd the pan. I like to press them down a bit so they aren’t heaped in the middle, my mom doesn’t bother, so it’s up to you. You’ll fry them until they are brown on the edges, flip them once until they are well browned underneath and move them to a paper towel lined plate.
Try not to eat them straight from the pan because you’ll burn your tongue off. Do eat them one minute later 🙂 Serve with applesauce, homemade if possible.
Tips and Tricks:
- Many people serve latkes with either sour cream or applesauce...in my family, its applesauce ALWAYS! Here's the recipe, or you can use store bought, but either way, I vote applesauce.
- You can definitely make these a few hours ahead of when you want to serve them. To reheat just a few, I would use the toaster oven. To reheat many, line a baking sheet with foil and heat the potato latkes in the oven in one layer.
- Don’t flip these more than one time when you are making them. I’m serious. It’s the most important piece to making these.
Looking for other recipes from my family? Check these out!
perfect & simple potato latkes (just like grandma made)
- 12 potatoes russet or golden
- 1 large onion
- 3 eggs + 1 egg white
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for frying
- grate potatoes and onion in a food processor or box grater
- let drain in a colander or by squeezing out in a dish towel
- cover the bottom of a large frying pan with about ¼" of olive oil (you will need to add more after you fry your first few batches) and put it over medium high heat
- in a large mixing bowl, put the drained potatoes and onions and mix in the eggs, flour, and sugar
- mix carefully until combined, then add the salt and pepper to taste
- spoon heaps of potato mixture into the hot pan, pressing them down a bit so that they are flat (more surface area = more crispy bits)
- when the edges start to turn dark brown, flip them one time...and only one time.
- once browned on both sides, move to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain
- sprinkle with kosher salt if desired
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