Traditional recipes

Perfect-Every-Time Latkes

Perfect-Every-Time Latkes

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After researching the art of making latkes, The Daily Meal Cook Editor felt that everyone had their own opinion on what flour and oil to use for the perfect latke, and Roger Mummert uses matzoh meal and safflower oil in his recipe. For the perfect latkes, make sure the oil is extra hot and that you don't overcrowd the pan.

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons matzoh meal, or white flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Cups safflower or canola oil, for frying

Hanukkah Recipes: Latkes, Applesauce, and Donuts

Todd Coleman

Custom dictates that Hanukkah is celebrated with a spread of fried foods, in commemoration of the miraculous oil that provided the victorious Maccabees with eight days of light. From classic potato latkes and spiced homemade applesauce, to sweet, flaky rugelach and more, these 16 decadent recipes make the Festival of Lights a tradition worth celebrating—no matter your religion.

Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

Applesauce is the perfect foil for these savory, golden fried pancakes, a mix of starchy potatoes, flour, and eggs. Get the recipe for Potato Pancakes »

Bubbe’s Latkes

These potato pancakes, Bubbe’s original recipe from Avram Honig’s cookbook Feed Me Bubbe, taste just as good right out of the frying pan as they do reheated from the freezer.

Holiday Applesauce

A mix of baking apples, such as Cortland and Macintosh, and eating apples like Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious, provides a texture of plump, soft apple chunks suspended in a rich, satiny sauce. Try a mix of varieties such as Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn or whatever you find.

Jelly-Filled Donuts (Berliners)

If piping the jelly into these donuts proves challenging, use a paring knife to hollow out the side of the donut, making a cavity for the jelly.

Modernist Latkes

A creamy mashed potato filling is coated in instant mashed potato flakes and potato starch before being pan-fried to a flawless golden crust. Get the recipe for Modernist Latkes »

Rugelach (Cinnamon, Apricot, and Walnut Pastries)

The recipe for these flaky crescent pastries was inspired by one from Karmela Balo, owner of the Cari Mama bakery in Budapest. See the recipe for Rugelach (Cinnamon, Apricot, and Walnut Pastries) »

Zucchini Fritters (Kolokitho Keftedes)

Based on a recipe from author Nancy Harmon Jenkins, this Cretan meze dish can be served hot or at room temperature.

Rugelach

These airy pastries have a dainty elegance due to their flakey cream cheese dough and compact crescent shape.

Sweet Noodle Kugel

Kugel—the creamy egg noodle casserole that’s a staple of Jewish holiday cooking&dmashgets a Midwestern topping of cornflakes in this Thanksgiving side dish.

Funnel Cakes

These lacy doughnut-like treats, which one makes by pouring batter through a funnel into hot oil, were once known as “plow lines” and were served as a snack to field-workers. It’s believed that the old moniker may refer to the cake’s squiggly lines, which were thought to resemble the reins of a horse-drawn plow.

Nutmeg Doughnuts

Buttermilk gives these old-fashioned cake doughnuts their tangy appeal a dusting of sugar and freshly grated nutmeg adds a spicy crunch. Get the recipe for Nutmeg Doughnuts »

Perfect Every Time Latkes

Don’t overcrowd the pan while frying these latkes, warns Roger Mummert, who gave this recipe to us and makes copious batches of them each year. See the recipe for Perfect Every Time Latkes » The cranberries add a nice tangy twist to otherwise ordinary applesauce. See the recipe for Apple Cranberry Sauce »

Classic Latkes

Author Joan Nathan likes her latkes with applesauce we find them equally delectable with sour cream. Alternating between onion and potatoes when grating keeps the potatoes from darkening. See the recipe for Classic Latkes »

Larry’s Firecracker Latke Poppers

These spicy latkes taste great served with sour cream and mango chutney, or plain, if you prefer. See the recipe for Larry’s Firecracker Latke Poppers »

Horseradish Applesauce

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Killer Latkes: Perfect Potato Pancakes Every Time

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional food enjoyed during Hanukkah, but you won't have to try very hard to find them on breakfast and brunch menus year-round.

The ultimate latke has great browning, with crisp edges and a light, fluffy center. From there, there's limited directions you can take this perfect little starchy pancake. This includes the type of potato you use, what other ingredients you mix in, and even what you dollop on the side. (Some will swear by applesauce, others go in a much more savory direction.)

Oil
Use grape-seed or olive oil for frying, suggests Craig Kanarick, founder of Mouth. the indie food and spirits purveyor. Make sure the oil is super hot, but not smoking hot.

Avoid a Mess
Potatoes are wet, so they'll splatter. Wear an apron! “Little bits of the latkes are going to come off in the oil, so use a slotted spoon to remove some of them (those are the bits we usually fight over until they get super burned),” says Kanarick.

Have Fun
Making the latkes should be part of the party because they're best when hot, right out of the pan,” says Kanarick. "Just like the first pancakes in a batch are never perfect, the first few latkes won’t brown as well as the ones that follow," says Kanarick.

RELATED: How to Cure Your Own Salmon

Classic Latkes
"One of my favorite things about being a chef is the yearly rotation of seasons and the holiday foods that come along with them. I look forward every year during Hanukkah when I can grate potatoes and make them golden and tasty. My wife, Emily, and I will usually have a latke party at our house for friends. We will lay out lots of topping options. I turn classics like sour cream into whipped feta cheese instead as a creamy topping. I skip the apple sauce but instead make an apple-and-walnut jam with Italian dessert wine that is always a crowd pleaser. Go outside of the box and think about smoked whitefish salad, salmon roe with frisee and lemon, and a curried egg. When making your latkes, don't be so worried about getting that crust on both sides. The side you place down first will always look the best and should be served facing up," says Alon Shaya of New Orleans' Shaya (Esquire's Best New Restaurant of 2015 and Eater's Restaurant of the Year).

  • 3.75 lb russet potatoes, peeled & grated
  • 1/2 lb onion
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 7 egg whites, whipped until frothy
  1. Grate the potatoes and onions through a cheese grater. (Please note, the weight of the potatoes and onions in the recipe is after they are grated.)
  2. Combine the grated onion, potato, salt, and lemon juice together and place in a towel over a colander to drain.
  3. Add weight to the colander to press out any excess liquid. Let it sit for 1 hour, then ring out the mixture to dry it even more.
  4. Fold the whipped egg whites, cornstarch, and green onions into the russet mixture.
  5. Pan-fry the latkes in thin, even layers in clarified butter until golden brown on both sides. Canola oil can be substituted for clarified butter.

For Clarified Butter: Place the butter in a saucepan and slowly melt over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the top, and slowly pour into a container, discarding the milky solids in the bottom of pan.

Southern sweet potato latke cake with a Cajun and scallion crème fraiche

"Our sweet potato latke draws inspiration from Southern ingredients and the ?anukah spirit. The sweetness from the potato is balanced by a savory scallion crème fraiche and topped with salmon roe to add a delicious burst of savoriness. Garnished with pickled mustard seeds, because we're Jacob's Pickles, this new take on an old favorite is perfect for celebrating the holidays," says Jacob Hadjigeorgis of Jacob's Pickles in New York City.

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatos
  • 1 tbsp spoon kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp spoon white pepper
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

Cajun and scallion crème fraiche

  • 2 cups crème fraiche
  • 2 tbsp spoon Cajun spice
  • 1/4 cup scallion (green onion) finely slice on a bias
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  1. Using a French mandolin, shred the sweet potatoes using the small teeth of the mandolin.
  2. In a small non-stick pan, add EVOO, when the oil is hot to the smoking point, take off heat and add the shredded sweet potato, put back on the heat and add half the salt and pepper.
  3. Make circular shape using a rubber spatula. After 6–8 minutes, turn over and add the remaining salt and pepper.
  4. Place in oven and cook for additional 15 minutes. Place on a rack after taken out.

Cajun and scallion crème fraiche

Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and slowly whisk together until all is incorporated evenly

Sunchoke latke with smoked sablefish and American caviar

"The Sunchoke latke with smoked sablefish and American caviar is a great way to dress up your holiday with some indulgence. The earthiness and sweetness of the sunchokes pair well with the sable and caviar," says Executive Chef Ben Pollinger of Oceana in New York City.

  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 4–5 large sunchokes
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ pound smoked Alaskan sable, flaked
  • 2 tbsp chives, minced
  • 2 oz American hackleback caviar
  1. Peel and grate potatoes and sunchokes on large hole of a box grater.
  2. Mix with egg and starch.
  3. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Loosely form into four latkes and pan-fry in ¼ inch neutral oil until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook another 2 minutes.
  5. Divide sour cream on top of the latkes.
  6. Toss sablefish with chives, divide among the latkes, placing on top of sour cream.
  7. Divide the caviar among the latkes, placing on top of the sable.

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Traditional Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 6 potatoes peeled
  • 1 medium onion peeled
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6-8 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tsp. Kosker salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • sour cream
  • applesauce
  • 1 sprig dill for garnish (optional)

Instructions

…The Backstory continues: Latkes just go hand in hand along with so many other wonderful Hanukkah mainstays like gelt, sufganiyot, (jelly doughnuts), lighting the menorah, and spinning the dreidel.

And like so many of these wonderful traditions, there are just as many variations of the perfect latke recipe that I could spend and entire day poring over stacks of recipes (and the family stories that go with them) to determine which one should make the cut for The Jewish Kitchen.

In the end, I had to go with my mother’s simple, delicious, tried and true recipe. These latkes are crisp, thin (but not too skinny, if you know what I mean) and foolproof every single time. No matter how many times my mother made them for my brother and me as a child, she still said they weren’t quite as good and lacy as her Bubbie’s, even though the recipe is the same. Go figure. I always felt that way when it came to my own grandmother’s eggs, lox, and onions recipe. I make it the same way she always did but for some reason, it never tastes the way hers did. I used to think it was because of the oval flowered bowl she served it in, until I served it in that very bowl. Let’s just say it wasn’t the bowl. I think it was the love and intention.

These are best served immediately although they can be made ahead and reheated, but those of us who’ve grown up eating latkes know the difference, right? Serve right away if you can and don’t skimp on the sour cream and applesauce! My mouth is literally watering at the thought of these gorgeous, crispy pancakes. How many more days until Hanukkah?


Related Items

1 Know your spuds

Yukon golds are great for potato salad and red potatoes are lovely for roasting. But when it comes time for frying, it’s russets you want to seek out. Why? These classic potatoes have the high starch content that’s necessary to make sure your pancakes don't fall apart.

2 Grate your potatoes

If you’re not short on time, grate your potatoes on the large holes of a box grater instead of prepping them with a food processor. The box grater will yield thinner strands, which make for wispier, crispier latkes. Placing the grater on top of a dish towel (which you’ll use to wring out the potatoes later) also helps cut down on cleanup. As for onions, it’s fine to use the food processor, since grating them is a needlessly tear-jerking experience.


Oven-Fried Potato Latkes

Latkes, or crisp onion-scented potato pancakes, are a traditional Hanukkah dish. Go to any Hanukkah party and you’ll find an apron-clad Jewish mother or grandmother standing at the stove frying and doling them out, a tradition I loved and cherished until I became the poor mother who had to make them. Cooking short order-style with hot oil splattering all over the kitchen and children running underfoot—no thank you!

Enter these oven-fried latkes. They’re no healthier, mind you, but they’re just as good, half the mess, and so much easier than the traditional stovetop version. To make them, you’ll need two non-stick rimmed baking sheets. Be sure they are truly non-stick, otherwise, the latkes will stick.


A Genius Method for Making Latkes

Joan Nathan has found the crisp potato pancakes of her dreams, inspired by Swiss rösti.

A few months ago, I had brunch on the lawn at the Outermost Inn on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts. So happy to be at a restaurant after months of quarantine, I ordered the potato rösti, which arrived thick and square, topped with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. When I dipped my fork into the potato, I found that it was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. And when I put a morsel in my mouth, I realized that this was the flavorful latke of my dreams.

I talked with the chef Nathaniel Wade, who explained the technique he’d used for the Swiss rösti. He had learned it at Misery Loves Co., a restaurant in Winooski, Vt., that he ran with his sister and brother-in-law before he left for Martha’s Vineyard.

“You want to dry the potato, but you don’t want to cook it through,” he said. “So you have starch, but not too much.”

I did what he suggested, baking the potatoes until some of the moisture had cooked out, but they remained raw in the middle. The technique worked perfectly.

I also followed his suggestion of grating the baked and cooled potatoes by hand. My food processor is always on the counter, but I was testing the recipe at my son’s house, where it’s stored in a closet. For four potatoes, I thought, why bother taking it out? Using a box grater carried me back to memories of my mother and my grandmother, who made potato pancakes in a world before the food processor. And holding the baked potato skins protected my fingers against cuts from the grater.

But I made some changes. Instead of pressing the grated potatoes on a sheet pan into a large rectangle, thicker than hash browns, I formed them into individual round patties like proper latkes, left them on a plate, and refrigerated them for a few hours. Because the potatoes were almost cooked through, I did not have to worry about oxidation: The latkes remained perfectly white. And since they went straight from the fridge to the frying pan, they crisped easily without needing to deep-fry them.

I might even dare say they are the best version of latkes, though that would be presumptuous since taste is so personal and purists might fret that there is no binder like matzo meal, onion or egg in them. (If you are vegan or gluten-free, this is the latke for you.)

The result is just pure potato with a little salt and pepper and, if you want, saffron or rosemary. Serve it for Hanukkah with brisket or top it with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and chives, or treat it as a blank slate and let your imagination take you where it will.

“The cool thing about it is you can put anything on it,” Mr. Wade said. “You can put peanut butter or chocolate on it, and it will still taste good.”


Make Homemade Pancake Mix

You can make the dry mix and add the liquids whenever yo want.

Homemade pancakes can be very healthy option. They don’t always need to be stacked either.

I am going to give you a completely foolproof recipe and a few ways to jazz it up. With that recipe in hand all you need to practise is the cooking.

There are lots of ways to make pancakes, but this recipe is very straight forward and simple, no separating eggs, no buttermilk – no tricks. It is also very long lasting. That means you can make a batch and keep the mix in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Now I am not saying that this is the only wonderful recipe. There are other fantastic ones that I use like my Coconut Caramel Banana Pancakes or Gluten free Banana Pancakes. But it is easy and quick as shaking up a bottle. One of my favourite recipes is a Jamie Oliver Pancake recipe. These are light and so good but you will have to separate eggs and beat things and that is not what we are wanting here.

So give this recipe a try and let me know how yours turn out.


Shred potatoes with the grating disk of a food processor. After every 2 or 3 potatoes, wrap shreds in cheesecloth that has been folded over twice. Tie corners around the handle of a wooden spoon and twist bundle until water flows out. Collect water in a bowl and squeeze all potatoes until dry. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl along with diced onion.

Let drained potato water sit, undisturbed, until a pool of brown water forms on top of a slurry of pale potato starch. Carefully drain off water, then mix starch into potato and onion mixture with your hands. Mix in eggs, one at a time, alternating with 1/4-cup additions of matzo meal, until latke mix can be formed into patties that just stick together in your hands. Add salt incrementally.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a shred of potato immediately bubbles when added to pan. Form a small amount of latke mix into a disk and fry on both sides until golden brown to test for seasoning. Taste and add more salt as needed.

Form latke mix into patties about 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick in the center. Slide into pan, cooking no more than 4 at a time. Fry until a golden-brown crust forms on bottom, then flip with a slotted spatula and fork until same color is achieved on other side. Flip as needed to get a firm, darker-than-golden crust on both sides.

Transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to cool for 2 minutes, then serve with applesauce and sour cream at the table.


The Crispiest Potato Latkes Recipe of All Time

Fact: Everyone should adopt the latke into their recipe rotation. (Because what&rsquos not to love about fried potato pancakes?) The trick, whether you&rsquore making them for Hanukkah or otherwise, is to get them super crispy. Here&rsquos how.

1 small onion, peeled and halved

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

1 large egg, lightly whisked

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Place a large, clean kitchen towel on your counter, and place a box grater on top of it. Grate the onion on the coarse section of the grater. Remove the grater, wrap the shredded onion in the towel and squeeze over a large bowl (or your sink) to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. If the towel is very damp, open it to a new section or get a fresh towel. Grate the potatoes on the coarse section of the grater over the towel. As you finish each potato, squeeze out the moisture as you did with the onion. Repeat until all the potatoes are grated and squeezed. Transfer to the bowl with the onion. Toss the mixture to combine. (Note: If the mixture still feels wet to the touch, dry it one more time.)

3. Add the egg and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

4. In a large skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Working in batches, scoop ⅓ cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil and butter. Use a spatula to flatten slightly. Cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes per side