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What Are Latkes? Plus: A Simple Potato Latke Recipe

What Are Latkes? Plus: A Simple Potato Latke Recipe


Latke (pronounced LOT-keh, LOT-kah or LOT-kee) is Yiddish for “pancake.” On Chanukah, it is traditional to serve latkes (most often potato) fried in oil to celebrate the Chanukah miracle, which involved the oil of the Temple menorah lasting for eight days instead of just one (read the full story here)

Jews eat foods that reflect the significance of a holiday—such as matzah on Passover and apples dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah—and Chanukah is no exception. For at least the last thousand years, Jews have traditionally eaten oily foods on Chanukah.

You can also make latkes with cheese, carrot, zucchini or just about anything else that fries well. In fact, eating jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot in Hebrew) on Chanukah is a very close cousin to this custom, sharing the same source (see our sufganiyot recipes).

Check our curated collection of the most amazing latke recipes, guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

Why Latkes Go With Sour Cream

Potato latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and/or sour cream, but they are perfectly tasty with nothing at all (please, oh please, do not disgrace them with ketchup).

In addition to being delicious with fried foods, sour cream is symbolically significant. Dairy treats are reminiscent of the milk-based (and intoxicating) meal that the brave Judith fed the Greek general before she decapitated him in his sleep. (Read the full story of Judith’s heroism, as well as our delectable dairy latke recipes.)

A Classic Chanukah Potato Latke Recipe


5 large potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¾ cup oil for frying

Use: 10-inch skillet
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Grate potatoes and onion on the fine side of a grater, or in a food processor; or put in a blender with a little water.

Strain grated potatoes and onion through a colander, pressing out excess water. Add eggs, flour, and seasoning. Mix well.
Heat ½ cup oil in skillet. Lower flame and place 1 large tablespoon batter at a time into hot sizzling oil and fry on one side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and fry on other side 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Continue with remaining batter until used up, adding more oil when necessary.

Serve with applesauce on the side.

Variation: Zucchini or Carrot Latkes: Substitute 5 medium zucchini or 5 medium carrots for potatoes.

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Anonymous Omaha September 16, 2012

Latkes I grew up loving my Mom's "potato pancakes" which were really latkes. My great-great grandmother was Jewish, so that's how we came by the delicious food. Although we were raised in another religion, people of the Jewish faith are my spiritual ancestors. Having worked in a business owned by folks from the Jewish tradition I learned a lot about your faith, customs, food, beliefs, and so on. It is all good!!! Reply

mark johnson washinton, dc 45234 September 30, 2010

shalom these are amazing i made them for a school project and my classmates loved them. they told their parents who phoned me asking for the recipe. they said it had been so long that their kids had told them somthing that they realy liked Reply

Sarah B-D Mississauga, Canada December 31, 2009

Added herbs Great traditional recipe (and a necessary side at pesach with matzo meal in place of flour)..tho I admit I enjoy adding Italian herbs to give them extra flavour. Reply

Chani Benjaminson, December 21, 2008

reheating see the tip right above your post, personally when I have a crowd coming over I prepare the latkes days in advance and freeze them. I then reheat them without a problem, they are quite delicious. Reply

Anonymous December 20, 2008

chanuka latkes made ahead is it possible to make latkes an hour or so in advance of serving and reheat them to their original crispness or will they come out limp and soggy? Reply

Chani Benjaminson, December 16, 2008

soggy latkes A tip I saw on this site is to place the latkes on a rack on top of a pan in the oven. You also may be better off not keeping them in the oven for long, but rather warming them up for five minutes on a 350 flame right before serving. Reply

Lisa B. Tenafly, NJ December 8, 2008

Chanukah Latkes I will need to double the recipe to have enough for my family. But my question is this. While I am cooking the entire batch, I like to place the latkes into the oven to keep warm. When I do this, they get soggy, and come out awful looking, even though they were nice and crisp originally. Any ideas? Reply

Chani Benjaminson, December 3, 2008

servings while I don't know of a recipe conversion site offhand, if I were you I'd triple or quadruple the recipe for the amount of people you'll be hosting. Potato latkes go like hotcakes usually as they're delicious!
Enjoy Reply

Recipe Help? ny/usa December 2, 2008

recipe conversion to increase servings? Hello. I really like the recipes on this site, but unfortunately, I am really no good at re-configuring the amounts of ingredients to accommodate more people. For example, I would like to try the Chanukkah Latkes recipe, but it's for 4-6 serviings, and I will be serving about 10-15 people. Anyone know of a good recipe "conversion" chart I can refer to? Thaks. Reply

donna toronto, canad December 7, 2007

hannukah the latkas recipe looks delicious ... thank you ... and God bless the Eternal Existence of Israel ... Amen forever Amen. Reply

Janet Brooklyn, NY December 6, 2007

Vitamins To get us kids to each spinach my mother mixed mashed potatoes with canned spinach (well-drained, of course) and fried them. Although nothing can take the place of potato latkes, that's one way of getting children to eat vegetables/spinach. Reply

Sandra Sherwood, Ar. December 5, 2007

a southern version? Our family isn't Jewish but my mother made a version of the potato latkes out of left over mashed potatoes. They were delicious. She called it potato pancakes, but the idea must have originally come from a latke recipe. Reply

Anonymous December 5, 2007

oil Thanks!
Just a tip: use olive oil!
It tastes so much better than other kinds, even when there's a lot. The diffrence is quite noticable. Plus it's healthier! Reply

Stephen MD December 5, 2007

latkes in a can? Manishevitz it was, but I guess they tasted better fried crisp but not burned. I haven't found anyone else who has heard of latkes in a can. Homemade is much better, for sure. Reply

Dorothy Goldie North Oaks, MN December 4, 2007

Latkes in a can I do remember and think they were Manishevitz. And they were NASTY. Out of the box is a huge improvement, as I recall. Reply

Anonymous Silver Spring, MD December 4, 2007

latkes in a can? Anyone heard of potato latkes in a standard-size can? I had them as a child: Open both ends and use one lid as a plunger to push the potato meal through to the desired thickness, slice the loaf and fry in a skillet. Manuschevitz brand? Reply

Valarie Kingston Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada November 30, 2007

latkes i also will be making my first latkes.
i have tasted them previously and now wish to do my own.
happy chanukah and shalom Reply

Kandie Rosales Logan, Utah November 30, 2007

latkes I shall make my very first latkes and I'm watching everyday for more Jewish holiday cooking. Happy Chanukah to all and Sahlom. Reply

Harriet-New York Lindenhurst, New York November 29, 2007

potatoe latkes you cn grate your potatoes in the food processor. I make the latkes ahead of time and freeze them, then just heat and serve, it helps when you have a large crowd in the the house and it is much safer. Enjoy. ALso, you can freeze the batter in a zip lock container and then defrost and fry when needed for a small group. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI April 9, 2007

Chanukah Latkes Yes! My mother was a wonderful cook and always enjoyed holiday cooking and baking.

Unfortunately, we never tried the other varieties of potato latkes, except for the matzah meal latkes. Reply

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