Get Fried (for Hanukkah!) with Latkes

feature image via shutterstock

As a high-holiday Jew whose strongest religious connection is with Jewish cooking, latkes are one of my most visceral foods. They smell like my birthday and my mom making my favorite food and eating with my hands standing next to the stove while I wait for the next batch to fry. Holidays are a weird time for me living thousands of miles away from my friends and family, and making my tiny one-room apartment smell like fried potatoes for days and days helps me feel a little less far away.

Latkes are also really easy, can be made with everything found in a severely understocked kitchen (hi, I’m single and I live alone, why do you ask?), and everyone likes them because they are literally just fried potatoes and everyone loves fried potatoes. Not that you need any more reasons to cook latkes, but it’s Hanukkah this week and latkes are a traditional food so you get to eat fried potatoes under the guise of tradition! This recipe makes about 15-20 latkes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes (otherwise known as the normal potatoes found in every grocery store across America, but found in exactly zero stores in all of Switzerland so I used smaller potatoes and they came out fine)
  • 1 onion (white or yellow)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup of oil (I used sunflower, pretty much anything is fine)
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: lemon juice, if you’re not cooking them right away
  • a cheese grater, or a food processor if you’re fancy
  • a frying pan
  • paper towels

Preparation

First step: peel your potatoes. As I peel them I put them in a bowl of cold water after they’re peeled which keeps them from browning I think? We always put them in cold water and at this point I’m too superstitious not to.

they get more delicious I promise

They get more delicious I promise

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Grate the potatoes into a bowl using a regular cheese grater, or if you have a food processor you can use that. I’m not even going to get into the pulverized versus shredded debate, but I am #teamshredded. Peel the onion and grate the onion into the bowl as well (warning: this will get onion juice everywhere. I was determined to continue grating despite impaired vision and accidentally grated my thumb. I instead recommend these stylish onion goggles).

Once you’ve grated the onion and potatoes, you have to press out the extra water, which makes the latkes fry better. I do this by covering the top of the bowl in a couple paper towels and pressing down hard a couple times. You could use a dish towel if you’re the kind of person who regularly washes their dish towels, or you could use a fine sieve or colander (see above re: understocked kitchen).

Next, add the eggs, flour, and salt and pepper to taste (I don’t know, follow your heart, I just shake it in for a while) and mix everything up. Important: if you are not going to cook the latkes right away, cover the potatoes in lemon juice otherwise they will turn black! Also put them in the fridge, very important!

oh did I not mention you are going to get shredded potatoes everywhere?

Oh did I not mention you are going to get shredded potatoes everywhere?

Frying

Once it’s all mixed, you’re ready to start frying! Put some oil in your frying pan (enough to thinly cover the bottom), put the heat on medium-high, and give the pan a few minutes to heat up. Take a medium-sized spoonful of potatoes and put in the oil, then flatten it out with the spatula until it’s about 1/4-/1/2” thick. Fry for 1-2 minutes on the first side (or until light-brown), then flip, and fry the other side also until golden brown. When I take my latkes off, I like to put them on a plate with a paper towel, which absorbs the extra oil. I usually change the oil every two rounds of frying, but it’s up to you!

this is approximately what they should look like at this point

This is approximately what they should look like at this point

If I’m making a lot of latkes, to prevent the earlier batches from getting cold I turn the oven on to 200F and put them on a cookie sheet, or just serve them right out of the frying pan as they’re ready, as my mom always does.

Last but so very much NOT least, I feel really, really strongly about what latkes should be served with. There are only two appropriate condiments for latkes: sour cream and applesauce. You do you, but if you put ketchup on your latkes my Jewish grandmother will turn over in her grave. I got really ambitious during this round and cooked applesauce while I was prepping the latkes using this recipe and I didn’t even burn anything.

Just don't tell my mother I couldn't find any candles that would fit in the Menorah

Just don’t tell my mother I couldn’t find any candles that would fit in the Menorah.

Software Engineer, Autostraddle intern, and bay area native. Chloe recently packed her life into 5 boxes to live in Switzerland for the indefinite future. Primary interests include gender issues in tech and her growing collection of onesies. She can be reached at chloe [at] autostraddle [dot] com.

Chloe has written 7 articles for us.

32 Comments

  1. “You could use a dish towel if you’re the kind of person who regularly washes their dish towels”

    that’s it, i’m in love with you.

    i’m completely #TeamShredded, too. even when we cheat with the boxed mixes, we always add at least one hand-grated potato. a friend of mine makes a TON of latkes each year, and she uses frozen hash browns – they don’t have any seasoning, just plain shredded potato. i’m stealing that idea for next week when my office has a pot luck. i’m 100% sure nobody will have a clue.

    how long does shipping to switzerland take? i would totally have sent you candles!

  2. If you, like me, struggle to make latkes that actually stick together, this recipe will solve your problems.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/12/how-to-make-latkes-chanukah-hanukkah-recipe-guide.html

    It’s mostly the same as the above, but you squeeze even more liquid out of the potatoes with the power of a wooden spoon, cheesecloth and physics, and then you let that liquid separate into water and nature’s glue, potato starch. Then you use the super potato glue to bind together the latkes, along with the traditional stuff. My dad’s 60, and this recipe let him succeed at making latkes for the very first time.

  3. #TeamShredded AND #TeamDishtowel! my friends and I did latkes (very similar to this recipe!) on Night 1 and they were AMAZING AS EVER. I hope that everyone is able to cook these delicious fried potato pillows of goodness before Hanukkah is over!

    Also, Chloe, I too have a “falls around Hanukkah” birthday and get upset that I can’t celebrate at home. Your line “They smell like my birthday and my mom making my favorite food and eating with my hands standing next to the stove while I wait for the next batch to fry” really strongly resonated with me. <3

  4. Yesterday, my sister and her roommate made FOUR different kinds of latkes, and they were all delicious!

    FYI, the four kinds were:
    – traditional potato and onion (with applesauce)
    – sweet potato and carrot (with sour cream)
    – chickpea (with lemon aioli spread)
    – beet (with horseradish)

  5. Cool water does keep peeled potatoes from browning. Soaking them in vinegar supposedly makes them fry crispier.

    I’m mildly startled how similar these latkes are to a thing I do/discovered trying to find ways to eat a potato other than in french fry form. Just minus the flour.

      • I’m sad to say I don’t have any non-dairy alternatives for sour cream! But for vegans, I think it would be really easy to sub out the eggs for something else, i.e. a chia-seed egg substitute (seriously, google it) or maybe even a couple spoonfuls of applesauce inside the latkes. I haven’t tried it though! Report back!

      • Make cashew sour cream! I like it even better than tofutti. It’s just pureed cashews and something to thin them out (you can use a variety of liquids) and salt and apple cider vinegar for flavoring. This is a recipe that’s similar to what I’ve made: http://www.therawtarian.com/raw-sour-cream-recipe. It doesn’t taste exactly like cow sour cream (tofutti is much closer), but it is yummy and creamy and hits the sour cream spot for me despite tasting a little different.

  6. I hate sour cream, but I love recipe sharing and found this Wednesday paper:

    Spiked Chipotle Sour Cream

    1/2 cup sour cream

    1 chipotle in adobo sauce, pureed or finely minced

    1/2 teaspoon lime juice

  7. I tried to make latkes in my dorm because Hanukkah is almost over and I needed to consume them before that happened but I didn’t have a cheese grater so I just tried to chop the potatoes and long story it ended badly and I ended up eating fried potatoes with applesauce on top.

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