A beloved Jewish tradition, potato latkes are golden fritters made up of shredded potatoes and onions. These crispy potato pancakes are salty and savory, making them an ideal appetizer or side dish for any hungry crowd.
Every Jewish family has their own take latkes, whether it’s a special frying method or a favorite dipping sauce. This potato latkes recipe is foolproof whether you’ve grown up eating these salty bites or you’d like to try making them for the first time! The savory aromas of simmering onions and fried food that fill the kitchen while making potato latkes always bring me that warm holiday season feeling.
These are traditional Hanukkah eats, but I always wind up making them throughout the year — they’re so simple and delicious. I love them topped with homemade applesauce (which is also included in this recipe), but they also go great with creamy hummus.
Whether you’re looking to shake up your typical breakfast or you’re hoping to carry on a family tradition, this potato latkes recipe is sure to satisfy.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Russet Potatoes - These extra-starchy potatoes are ideal for forming potato latkes. Substitute with Yukon gold potatoes, but expect a slightly less dense result.
- Yellow Onion - Add lots of flavor. I don’t recommend substituting with another variety as the flavor won’t be the same.
- Eggs - Needed to bind everything together.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - Breadcrumbs also act as a binding agent. Many Jewish cooks use matzo meal instead. See notes for more substitutions.
- Salt & White Pepper - Plenty of kosher salt is a must for this potato latkes recipe. White pepper adds a more robust depth of flavor, but black pepper will work if it’s all you’ve got.
- Ghee - A clarified butter, this is a kosher-safe ingredient. Traditional Jewish recipes use schmaltz chicken fat because it’s kosher and really enhances the depth of flavor in this dish. For non-kosher diets, regular butter may be substituted.
- Vegetable Oil - A versatile oil that works great for frying. Canola oil is a good substitute.
- Sour Cream - Used as a garnish. A healthier substitute can be plain Greek yogurt.
- Honeycrisp Apples - For applesauce, this variety has the the perfect amount of sweetness. I recommend McIntosh and Golden Delicious as an alternative — Granny Smith is just too tart.
- Sugar - Since apples have high water content, some extra sugar is needed to keep the applesauce sweet.
- Cinnamon - Adds a lovely warmth to the applesauce. For more complex flavor, try pumpkin pie spice, Chinese Five Spice, or Garam Masala!
HOW TO MAKE POTATO LATKES
- Make Applesauce. Peel and core apples before cutting ½-inch slices. Add to a saucepan with sugar, cinnamon, and water, then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan, and cook 15-20 more minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.
- Prep Onion & Potatoes. Peel and grate the onion and potatoes before transferring to a bowl. Mix in salt and white pepper.
- Drain Mixture. Transfer potato and onion mixture onto a kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the mixture and squeeze over a bowl to drain liquid.
- Add Ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes and onions with eggs and breadcrumbs until combined.
- Form Latkes. Scoop out ⅓ cup of mixture and form into round patties, about ¾-inch in thickness and 4 inches wide.
- Fry. Add ghee or chicken fat and oil to a skillet and heat until oil is shimmery. Then, add latkes one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until deep golden brown, flip, and cook for 2-4 more minutes each.
- Drain, Salt & Serve. Place cooked potato latkes on a wire rack and sprinkle salt on top. Garnish with sour cream or applesauce to serve.
What Type of Potato is Best for Latkes?
Russet potatoes tend to be the best to use since they help keep the fritters binded together. Yukon gold or red potatoes will work similarly.
What’s the Difference Between Latkes and Hashbrowns?
Though both involve fried, shredded potatoes, potato latkes include egg and breadcrumbs. The finished result is a compact, bound-together patty that is more like a pancake than a hashbrown.
What Toppings are Good With Potato Latkes?
Traditional toppings include sour cream and chives or applesauce, but these potato fritters are very versatile. Spread creamy hummus on top, dip them in a cool tzatziki, or even make them breakfast-friendly with cream cheese or eggs.
What to Serve With Latkes?
Traditionally, potato latkes are served on Hanukkah alongside beef brisket or kugel. However, you can serve these with any roast meat, cream cheese, and smoked salmon, or sautéed vegetables. They’re very versatile and can function however you’d like them too!
- 4 large Honeycrisp apples (See Note 1)
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (See Note 2)
- 3 lbs russet potatoes
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs (See Note 3)
- 3 tablespoon ghee or shmaltz chicken fat
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- sour cream
- Peel and core each apple. Cut apples into ½ inch slices and place in a saucepan with the sugar, garam masala and water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully transfer into a blender and blend on high until smooth or use an immersion blender. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
- Peel and grate onion then potatoes. Transfer to a bowl along with a kosher salt, white pepper and toss to coat.
- Lay a kitchen towel on counter and transfer onion potato mixture in center. Fold the towel over potatoes tightly and squeeze and discard the liquid.
- Add potatoes to a large bowl with eggs and panko, tossing until combined.
- Take ⅓ cup of potato mixture and form into patty, ¾-inch thick and 4 inches wide. Lay on lined baking tray and repeat with remaining potatoes.
- In a deep heavy bottom skillet (cast iron my pick), add ghee or chicken fat and oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add latkes one at a time (See Note 4). Fry 2-4 minutes and a deep golden brown. Flip and repeat.
- Place on a wire rack to drain and season with salt immediately.
- Serve latke topped with sour cream and applesauce.
- You can also substitute apples of choice, like McIntosh or Golden Delicious apples.
- You can also substitute with Pumpkin Spice blend, Chinese Five Spice or Garam Masala.
- You can also substitute ground matzo meal or regular bread crumbs.
- Don’t over crowd the pan or let latkes touch. We want these crispy, not steamed.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.