Sweet Potato and Carrot Latkes (Gluten-Free)

Tina Wasserman
Recipe by
Tina Wasserman

Enjoy this recipe from Entree to Judaism for Families, Tina Wasserman's newest cookbook featuring tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

When I was the food columnist for Reform Judaism magazine, a reader who followed a strict gluten-free diet wrote to me looking for traditional Hanukkah recipes that she could eat. Because she couldn’t eat flour or matzah meal, most potato pancake recipes were out, so I created this recipe, as both a gluten-free alternative to traditional latkes and as a tribute to the Beta Israel Ethiopian Jewish community.

The flavors in this dish are commonly found in Ethiopian cooking. Teff is the smallest cultivated grain in the world; it grows in the mountains of Ethiopia and also happens to be gluten-free. It has a mild, slightly molasses-like sweetness that goes well with many vegetables besides those in this recipe. Ground teff seeds are the basis for injera bread, the spongy, slightly sour, soft flat bread that is used as plate and fork and eaten at Ethiopian meals.

Teff can be found in many supermarkets, especially those oriented toward natural foods, as well as in most health-food stores. As an alternative, I suggest ground flaxseed, which will also help the latkes hold together. This is a high-nutrient dish that could easily serve as an entrée with fruit sauce and Greek yogurt or sour cream. Kids love the color and taste too!

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
½ pound carrots, peeled
1 small onion, cut into eighths
1 large clove garlic, cut into 3 pieces
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
15 grindings of black pepper
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon dried oregano or ½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil or ½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 large eggs
¼ to ⅓ cup teff or ground flaxseed
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish (optional)
  1. Cut the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1½-inch chunks, and grate them using the fine grating disk on a processor. Empty the mixture into a 3-quart bowl.
  2. Place the onion and garlic pieces in the food processor work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the machine on and off until the onions are finely chopped. Return half of the potato/carrot mixture to the processor workbowl, and pulse on and off about 5 times to combine the ingredients. Empty the workbowl into the mixing bowl with remaining potato/carrot mixture.
  3. Add the spices, the eggs, and ¼ cup of the teff or ground flaxseed to the mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly. Add a little more grain if the mixture seems too loose and watery. Do not make the mixture too firm or the finished product will be dry and heavy.
  4. Heat a large skillet or griddle on high heat for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to totally cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil for 10 seconds. If the oil begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium-high.
  5. Drop 2 tablespoons of the potato/carrot mixture into the hot pan using a food scoop or spoon. Each time before you scoop up some of the latke batter, stir the contents of the bowl. Repeat with more mixture to fill the pan, but do not overcrowd.
  6. When the bottoms of the pancakes are golden, gently turn them over using two slotted spatulas. When golden on the second side, remove to a plate that is covered with crumpled paper towels.
  7. Proceed with the remaining mixture.
  8. Serve plain or with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Kitchen Conversations

  • Talk about the story of Hanukkah and its use of oil. Do you think Ethiopians told this story to their children? Why or why not?
  • What other vegetables can you add in place of the potato or carrot to create your own holiday treat? Write it down and start your own Hanukkah tradition.
Additional Notes
  • Children of all ages can help make the batter for the latkes, but only children over the age of eight or nine should be allowed to fry the pancakes. Because this mixture has so much natural moisture, there is a stronger likelihood that the oil will splatter. Only taller children should be allowed to work at the stove. Younger children can watch, but not sitting on the countertop nearby.
  • Using the grating disk on a food processor guarantees no nicked knuckles. However, do pay attention to make sure the feed tube plunger is used!

Watch Tina demonstrate this recipe:

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