Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 20 latkes

You see all kinds of ubercreative latke recipes around Chanukah time: apple-parsnip latkes, sweet potato–leek latkes, sweet cheesy latkes, savory cheese and chive latkes. Truth is, you can’t go anywhere in the world of latkes until you’ve mastered the classic. So first I’ll teach you this special recipe from Ma and Uputzi. They always made incredible pureed potato latkes.

I go back and forth between the puree and the shoestring version. You can do whatever you like. No adjustments necessary; just change the food processor blade or the side of the box grater. Of course, Ma and Uputzi grated theirs by hand on the box grater. But when I want to fry up a hundred latkes, I hug my food processor, give it a big kiss, and whisper, “Thank G‑d I have you.”

When I have guests, I stick to a classic—then I go wild with toppings, creating a latke topping bar, so your Chanukah party guests can mix and match or try all. Try guac and an over-easy or poached egg, or slices of mozz, tomato, plus a few fresh basil leaves. Oooo, and I love a shmear of brie topped with a dollop of jam, or blue cheese, pear, and arugula piled high. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here? Endless, endless, endless possibilities.


  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal or matzoh meal
  • 1 1/4 cups crème frâiche or sour cream
  • Caviar, for garnish


  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Peel the potatoes, cut them into quarters lengthwise, and place them in the bowl of cold water to prevent browning.
  2. Combine the eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat about 1 inch of the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Put the onion and potatoes in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Transfer the mixture to the large bowl with the eggs. Add the cornmeal and mix to combine.
  5. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  6. Using a ¼-cup measuring cup, scoop up the potato mixture and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Use the back of the measuring cup to flatten the latke. Fill the pan with as many latkes as you can, but do not let them touch. Do not overcrowd your pan, or the latkes will be soggy instead of crispy. Fry until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  7. To keep the latkes warm and crispy once fried, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 200°F oven until ready to serve.
  8. To serve, place the latkes on a large serving tray and garnish each with a generous tablespoon of crème fraîche and caviar.

Quick Tip

I can’t say it enough times: Remember, don’t overcrowd your pan when frying. Make sure the latkes aren’t touching and there is room around each for the edges to crisp. That’s the perfect latke: soft, fluffy, and creamy on the inside with crispy edges.


Sweet Cinnamon Latkes

My friend Anita’s grandmother used to make her latkes with a pinch of cinnamon. Full disclosure: When she mentioned her grandma’s sweet secret, I snagged it for this book.

For a sweeter version, omit the onion and the pepper, reduce the salt to a pinch, and add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar. Mix 1 cup sour cream with ¼ cup maple syrup and serve it on the side.

Pair It

Drappier Brut Champagne (Carte Blanch e or Carte d ’Or). This dish deserves bubbly . . . splurge here and go for the champagne.