Sunday, November 30, 2008

best potato latkes


While I am delinquent with telling you about an ingenious way to reinvent your turkey after Thanksgiving, because let’s face it, turkey leftovers can only get so exciting, I am way ahead of schedule in prepping you for the holidays. And here it goes. Hanukkah or not, I have not met a soul who doesn’t like latkes. And what’s not to love? Crispy, fried, and if done right, lacy pancakes that melt in your mouth. And a Hanukkah with out latkes is like Christmas without a Christmas tree – it’s a must. For all the various latke recipes out there, including the permutations with sweet potato, zucchini and other vegetables, I hold the classic potato recipe near and dear to my heart. A classic is a classic for a reason – its sheer simplicity and elegance outshine any attempts for a trendy update.

Latkes Latkes
Latkes Latkes

Ironically though, it is the simplest and most elementary of things that are at times hard to get just right. I’ve had my fair share of latkes – some good, some bad. The really heavy ones drenched in so much oil, you wonder where the potato went, the really bland mushy ones that aren’t at all crispy, really good ones you pile a ton of sour cream on (I didn’t grow up with apple sauce on my latkes and I still don’t enjoy it).


But this recipe has completely flipped my latke world upside down. I’ve never had latkes so good and the fact that I ate the entire batch I made in just about one sitting is proof enough. I even called my mother to tell her that our family recipe, which I boasted as being the best – was going to have to take a backseat to this one. Martha Stewart, yet again, has exceeded my expectations – because her latkes recipe (her mothers, in fact) is tremendous. Perhaps, it is because she ingeniously figured out a way to decrease the amount of moisture, while maintaining the same starch ratio, which makes the latkes extra crispy. Also, no matter what anyone tells you, you should hand grate the potatoes using the coarse side of the grater. It only takes a few minutes more than the food processor, and the results are a lacier latke, which means a crispier, more delicious latke.

Latkes Latkes
Latkes Latkes

Of course, that means you are in danger of eating your own batch and not sharing with anyone. Hardly a problem in my book, especially if you have plenty of sour cream on hand.


Potato Latkes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 small white onion, finely grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Applesauce (optional)
Sour cream (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees [F]. Shred potatoes using the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl of ice water. Alternatively, place half the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the shredding disk attachment and process until shredded. Repeat process with remaining potatoes; transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Let stand 5 minutes to settle. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, transfer potatoes, reserving liquid, to another large bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel; gently squeeze dry. I find that it’s a less painful on your hands if you do this wearing rubber/latex gloves; otherwise the ice water really stings after awhile.

2. Set reserved liquid aside for 10 minutes to allow starch to sink to the bottom; carefully pour and discard the liquid from the bowl, reserving milky residue (potato starch) at the bottom. Transfer potatoes back to bowl with potato starch.

3. Add onions, eggs, flour, salt, and pepper to the potatoes and mix to combine.

4. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. In a large, heavy skillet (such as a cast iron), heat 1/4-inch of oil. Spoon scant 1/2 cup of potato mixture per pancake into skillet, working in batches and taking care not to crowd the skillet.

5. Fry latkes on both sides until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to prepared baking sheet to drain; and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining potato mixture. Serve hot with applesauce and/or sour cream if desired.

Serves 4 to 6

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  • 1
    Tatiana said:

    Ohh, those look so good and the simple addition of SAVING the potato starch is super clever! Any excuse to eat potato & sour cream is good by me… these will find their way out of my kitchen this week for sure.

    November 30, 2008 3:18 pm
  • 2
    Dana said:

    OMG, I love latkes. I have never made them – fear of frying – but you make it look easy. Do you think they would keep for a few hours if they could be warmed up in an oven? I’m afraid they would lose their crunch…

    November 30, 2008 5:04 pm
  • 3

    My grandmother used to say that if you didn’t scrape your knuckles and bleed a little bit while grating the potatoes and onions, you weren’t doing it right! I think she made the world’s best latkes, and her recipe is nearly identical to yours.

    December 1, 2008 7:54 pm
  • 4

    A big hearty congrats to you for being on Bon Appetit! Beautiful! And since I have never made latkes before–I can’t wait to use your recipe.

    December 10, 2008 11:53 am
  • 5
    radish said:

    Thanks everyone — and Lisa, let me know what you think – i ate all of them in one sitting, which couldn’t be good for the waistline :) but they were so tasty!

    December 10, 2008 12:39 pm
  • 6
    Annie said:

    Wow – I just found your blog through Bon Appetit (congratulations) and I am here to stay. I can’t wait to try making these! And I’m with you…applesauce just isn’t something to put on latkes.

    December 10, 2008 1:59 pm
  • 7
    maggie said:

    Made these the other night and topped with (delicious but sort of untraditional, at least in my family) salmon tartar from Russ & Daughters. Congrats on getting this in the Bon Appetit slideshow!

    December 10, 2008 4:00 pm
  • 8
    radish said:

    Annie – i’m glad you’re here to stay – let me know how they turn out!
    Maggie – i really like your topping idea. It’s just apple sauce – for some reason, I just don’t get it as a latke topping. Could be habit?
    httpmom – i hope you take the crown with this – the starch thing is super clever, no? let me know how it goes!

    December 11, 2008 9:07 am
  • 9
    Merry said:

    My recipe is nearly Identical to this, except for the Ice water and starch trick. I will try them out tomorrow.
    Expecting much Yum.

    December 20, 2008 5:26 am
  • 10

    Delicious! Have made these a few times now, since I found your site through Blog Envy on Bon Appetit! Posted about how mine turned out today, and linked to you!

    March 14, 2009 3:03 pm
  • 11
    Rake said:

    I was so excited to find this recipe. They turned out wonderfully! So nicely in fact that I made them again adding green peppers, shredded carrot and a little jalapeno. Not the traditional way, but equally delicious! :)

    June 10, 2009 12:50 am
  • 12
    radish said:

    Oh I’m thrilled you loved it AND that you innovated – I bet your version was delicious!!

    June 10, 2009 9:45 am
  • 13
    Erica said:

    Ooooo.. This is the first time I made Latkes and it turned out great! Thank you so much!

    September 7, 2009 12:58 am
  • 14
    Elvi said:

    What I don’t get is what the soak in ice water is for. If you’re going to keep the starch in anyway, why wash it off the potatoes at all? Is it to keep the potatoes from going brown?

    I have a canister of potato starch in the pantry. I wonder if there’s an optimal amount, and if adding extra would help…

    December 11, 2009 11:33 am
  • 15
    Radish said:

    Elvi, you keep the potatoes from going brown, but also preserving the starch. i.e. when you carefully pour the water out and then squeeze out your potatoes, you will decrease water % and by adding the starch back in, increase starch %, thus getting yourself a crispier latke. Hope this helps! Happy Hannukah.

    December 11, 2009 11:56 am
  • 16

    Wow – my mouth is watering!

    December 13, 2009 2:57 pm
  • 17
    River said:

    The MS magazine this recipe came from also has a simple and yummy recipe for making your own applesauce – a nice compliment to the latkes!

    December 28, 2009 8:56 am
  • 18
    Anna said:

    You do not mean this ‘Spoon scant 1/2 cup of potato mixture’ ? Did you mean spoon? Just curious. Everytime I try latkes (not this recipe but similar) they always come out raw on the inside. I am not sure if I am using too much batter or not frying long enough or need more oil or should use a lid or should completely flatten them etc. Same thing happens when I try to make zucchini pancakes or anything else.

    December 13, 2011 12:45 pm
  • 19
    Niki said:

    I just made these and they are great! Thanks so much!

    December 18, 2011 12:26 pm
  • 20
    Radish said:

    Niki – yay!! so pleased!!

    December 18, 2011 11:08 pm
  • 21
    Jennifer said:

    Made these for Hanukkah brunch and everyone raved about them. Said they were the best!

    December 25, 2011 11:54 am
  • 22
    Radish said:

    Jennifer – that makes me so happy to hear! Happy Hannukah!

    December 25, 2011 1:16 pm
  • 23
    Ellen said:

    just made these for Night 2 this year and we love them! So happy you came by the office and talked about the potato starch trick…made me curious to try that and it works beautifully. So crispy! Yet lacy! I do them in olive oil in my big cast iron pan. My husband compared them to the Second Ave Deli latkes we had last night, Night 1, and says these are way better–much more flavor, great texture. Thank you for these!

    December 9, 2012 4:52 pm
  • 24
    olga said:

    Ellen – I’m so SO pleased you’re happy! Yay! That makes me grin from ear to ear. Happy Hannukah to you and your family!

    December 9, 2012 8:23 pm
  • 25
    Samantha said:

    These are the best latkes I’ve ever had! WOW! The starch trick is awesome. My one comment is: I do not think you need that much salt! I used about half the amount called for, maybe even less. Yummm! They turned out awesome.

    December 12, 2012 10:48 pm

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