Latke is the Yiddish word for “pancake.” It is a Chanukah tradition to serve latkes, which are basically grated potato pancakes fried in oil, to celebrate the Chanukah miracle—that a small amount of oil burned for eight consecutive days.
Latkes are my favorite holiday food! My mom has been making them for as long as I can remember. As a child, I can recall the hours my mom would spend in the kitchen frying batch after batch of latkes for upwards of twenty people. The smell of the fried oniony-potatoes would linger in our house (and on our clothing!) for many days afterwards.
On one hand, latkes are incredibly simple: potato, onion, and egg. But if you’ve ever made them, you understand that latkes are a true labor of love. They require quite a bit of time—grating and wringing out potatoes, standing over a hot skillet—and are generally made on the holidays when you are feeding a houseful of relatives.
But if you’ve ever tasted a latke, you know that they are worth the effort!
To help simplify the process, I’ve consulted with the foremost expert on the subject—my mom—and she has shared her recipe and tips with you this holiday season.
- Food processor with shredder disc or box grater
- 2 large bowls
- Cheesecloth or cotton towel
- Sheet pans covered with paper towels
- Large non stick skillet(s) for frying
MiMa’s Chanukah Latkes
by Judy Gass
5 lbs of Yukon or Russet potatoes
3 medium yellow or sweet onions
3 eggs beaten
1.5 tsp sea salt, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
Canola or grape seed oil for frying
(have extra potato starch available if needed)
- Peel the potatoes and place them in cold water.
- Peel the onions and cut them into quarters.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
- Remove a couple of potatoes from the water, towel dry and chunk to fit into your food processor.
- Using your food processor or a box grater, alternately grate the onions and potatoes. Grating alternately together in the processor helps slow down oxidation. You might have to do approximately 2 potatoes and one onion and then repeat the process.
- Place each grated batch into a cotton dish towel or cheesecloth doubled and squeeze over an empty bowl until most of the liquid is out. The potato starch will quickly settle on the bottom of the bowl.
- Put the grated onions and potatoes into the large bowl with the beaten eggs and stir to combine.
- Pour the liquid out of the other bowl, reserving the starch and repeat the process until all potatoes and onions have been mixed with the eggs.
- Scrape the reserved potato starch into the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture oozes more liquid while sitting, you can add a little more potato starch or carefully pour some liquid out.
- Pour the oil into a large skillet, about 1/4” deep, and heat but don’t overheat to smoking!
- Drop about 2 Tablespoons of mixture per latke into the skillet, press down slightly and fry until golden and edges are browning. Flip over and fry until brown on both sides and edges have crispy shreds of potato. Repeat with additional batter, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Add more oil as needed for more latkes, trying to keep it at a consistent temperature.
- Remove the cooked latkes and place them on paper towels to drain. (This is when my family prefers to eat them😋)
- Latkes can be served immediately or reheated on a sheet pan or on a wire rack over a sheet pan. They can also be frozen and reheated to crisp in a 350-400 degree oven.
- Serve with applesauce or sour cream or any topping you prefer. Enjoy!