Classic Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

Latkes are traditionally served for Hanukkah because they are cooked in oil (to commemorate the vial of oil lasting for eight days). However, since they are parevepareve(פַּרְוֶה (יידישFood products that are made with neither meat nor milk products and therefore, according to customary kashrut practices, can be eaten with either. Produce, grains, fish, and eggs are considered pareve. The word also is used colloquially to mean “neutral” or “without strong opinions.”  when served without sour cream, they are also a perfect accompaniment to a beef or chicken entrée. For an elegant appetizer, prepare as small rounds and top with sour cream and caviar.

6–8 large thin-skinned potatoes, California long whites or Yukon Gold
3 eggs, beaten well
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup matzah meal or cracker meal
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
Oil for frying
Applesauce (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
  1. Grate the raw potatoes using the large grating disk on a processor or the largest holes on a grater if doing it by hand. Place the grated potato in a colander, rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain.
  2. Combine eggs, salt, pepper, and matzah meal or cracker meal in a 3-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly. 
  3. Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add the onions to the work bowl. Pulse on and off 5 times. Add 1/4 of the grated potatoes to the onion and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Add the drained potatoes to the bowl and mix thoroughly, using a large spoon or your hands. 
  5. Heat a large frying pan or large skillet for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat for an additional 10 seconds. Drop mounds of potato mixture into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Drain the fried latkes on a platter covered with crumpled paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.
Additional Notes
  • Grated potatoes turn black when exposed to air. Rinsing the potatoes under running water washes away excess starch, the discoloring culprit. 
  • Always grate the potatoes separately from the onions so that you don’t lose any of the flavorful onion juice when you drain the potatoes. 
  • The best way to drain fried foods is on a plate covered with crumpled paper towels. Crumpling them yields more surface area for absorption.

Watch Tina demonstrate how to make this recipe:

Looking for more holiday dishes to round out your menu? Find additional recipes for a festive Hanukkah