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How to Make Great Potato Latkes - Crispy Potato Pancakes, Every Time!
I worked in Jewish bakery and deli for a while as a teen (it’s where I learned to make bagels) and there I learned a wholehearted enthusiasm for all things latke.
A latke, if you’ve never made one is a potato pancake formed from grated potato that is fried until golden and crisped on the outside and to creamy tenderness on the inside. Eaten with a little sour cream or a little applesauce, there are few things finer.
If you’ve never made a latke, you owe it to yourself and to those you love to whip up a batch soon, and if you’ve made latkes before but never really had much success, follow the tips and instructions below for a great result, every time.
Potato Latkes (makes about 20 small latkes)
- 1 pound of peeled potatoes. A starchy potato, like a russet (a baking potato) works great here, although some people swear by Yukon Gold. Do not try to make latkes using a new potato as it lacks enough starch to really hold together well.
- 1 small onion
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbls of flour
- ½ tsp plus a pinch of salt
- A tiny dusting of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Grate the potatoes and the onion using a cheese grater or the grating disk on a mandolin. Fill a bowl with ice-cold water and transfer the grated potatoes (but not the onion) to the bowl to soak for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, take the potatoes out of the water and place on a clean dish towel with the grated onions. (don’t discard the ice water yet). Use the towel to wring out as much water as you can from the potatoes. This step is important, as the secret to non-greasy latkes lies mostly in the potato drying step, so take your time and repeat until you really can’t squeeze out any more water from the potatoes.
- Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl
- Now, carefully drain off the water from the bowl. At the bottom of the bowl you will see some thick, ‘pasty stuff’. This is pure potato starch. Take this starch and add it to the drained potatoes in the mixing bowl.
- To the mixing bowl, add in the salt, egg and flour – and stir it all together well to mix.
- Get out a heavy skillet and heat it over medium with about ¼ inch of oil in the bottom.
- When the oil is hot (shimmering) add in a heaping Tbls of the potato ‘batter’ to the oil and squish it down so that it is less than ½ inch thick at its thickest point. Repeat, placing as many latkes as you can fit in the pan without crowding in one batch (do not overcrowd or you’ll have greasy latkes).
- Fry for 4 or 5 minutes on each side. If the latkes are browning too quickly, the oil is too hot and the pan needs to be turned down. If the oil is too hot, you will end up with an undercooked exterior and a burnt exterior – not what you’re looking for!)
- As the latkes finish, transfer them to a rack set over a baking sheet and hold in a warm oven. You are better off not draining and letting rest on paper towels, as the steam created can soften your light and crispy latkes!
Repeat until all your latkes are fried, and then serve with sour cream or applesauce.