Traditional Hanukkah Potato Latkes

Potato latkes are key to the taste of Hanukkah. Starchy, crispy, and light, these latkes are sure to please your family.


Hanukkah Potato Latkes

  • 10 medium (about 4 pounds) Russet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 54 grinds of fresh pepper (54 = “triple chai,” a lucky number), about 1 teaspoon
  • 4 whole eggs
  • Peanut oil for frying


  1. Cut potatoes and onions in large chunks (to feed through the food processor).
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a grating disc, feed the onions and potatoes together (or coarsely grate with a box grater). Once the processor fills up, dump the contents in the flour mixture and repeat with the remaining potatoes and onions.
  3. Break one egg at a time into a small mixing bowl, and check to see if there is a red blood spot on the egg yolk. (Fertilized eggs are unkosher). If there is, discard it and crack another egg. Transfer each egg into the large mixing bowl.
  4. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add 1 inch of oil. Allow the batter to heat until it shimmers.
  5. Mix the batter thoroughly. (As you go, the batter will grow wetter and wetter, but it doesn’t matter!) Working with a heaping tablespoonful at a time, squeeze the liquid out of the batter (using your impeccably clean hand) and then transfer back to the spoon. (You don’t want your hands in hot oil, right?) One squeezed-out spoonful at a time, lay the batter gently in the oil and press lightly to flatten. I arrange the latkes around the outside, and then put one in the center (about 6 latkes per pan) because the center one will cook the fastest. Cook the latkes, turning once, until they are dark brown, not golden. (Please see my note above about how to make sure they’re ready to turn).
  6. Transfer the latkes to a platter or baking sheet covered with paper towels. Turn once to drain both sides. Serve with sour cream or crème fraiche and applesauce on the side! Happy Khanike!

Kitchen Tips

  • Never walk away from frying latkes. Put on some good music and commit to standing over the stove.
  • Squeeze excess moisture out of each spoonful of batter before you place it in the oil – this will give you a latke that sticks together and, more importantly, prevents splattering. (There is no good “how I burned myself making latkes” story).
  • Never turn the latke more than once. How you can tell when it’s ready: Use your eyes. If it’s browning around the edges, it’s time to check. Using the tip of your metal spatula, gently lift a corner of the latke. If the whole latke moves, it’s time to turn it over, and it should turn easily. A perfectly fried latke is a cooperative latke.
  • These latkes freeze beautifully. Simply lay the cooled latkes in a single layer in a lidded container (use wax paper between layers) and freeze. Before serving, preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

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