Eating latkes – golden brown potato and onion pancakes – is one of the great Hanukkah traditions to look forward to every year. For a smaller batch, I use an oven skillet method for this delicious potato latkes recipe – less fry smell! (Don’t worry, we included the traditional fry method too).
Latkes are a Jewish tradition for Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah). It’s a holiday where you are supposed to eat fried foods to celebrate the oil lasting 8 nights instead of 1 after much suffering in ancient times (long story).
As much as I like fried food, I hate frying because it smells up my kitchen, my hair and my clothes. Yuck.
Most latke recipes are pretty similar – just a few simple ingredients – potatoes, flour, oil, onions, egg, baking powder. This one is no different – except for the method.
What to expect
Method: The oven method starts with a two-minute pan fry, then the latkes are transferred to the oven to bake. As you can see in the pictures below, the side that starts with frying comes out darker than the other side.
Oven skillet method
I have been searching for a non-fried method and found a couple of recipes online. I decided to go with Jennifer Segal’s from Once Upon a Chef (her recipes always work) with a few changes in the method.
- I used a skillet instead of sheet pans.
- I chopped my ingredients in a processor instead of grating them (I was lazy).
- I made a couple of giant latkes and cut them in wedges instead of making little individual ones.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Potatoes: Russets are best for latkes as they are starchy and not waxy. You can also use sweet potatoes or a combination of sweet and white. I used one sweet potato for color and 3 white ones when I quadruple the recipe.
Onions: Yellow onions are traditional, but go ahead and use sweet onions if you prefer. They’re a little milder. Here are the bare essentials about onions that may be handy.
Seasonings: Feel free to add some garlic powder and fresh or dried herbs such as thyme or dill.
Step-by-step instructions (skillet oven method)
Also see the fried method in the recipe notes.
What to serve with potato latkes – toppings
Sour cream or apple sauce is traditional, but you can also change it up a bit.
Using a processor is WAY faster than hand-grating potatoes and onions.
Latkes are best fresh from the oven or skillet, but make ahead works well too. Especially for a crowd. See recipe notes for instructions.
Which method is better – fried or skillet-oven?
Well, they both taste the same and the texture is similar too. As I said, the skillet-oven method starts with a two-minute fry, so I cheated a bit. It was definitely less smelly, but the process takes longer.
I guess it’s a trade off – smellier vs faster. You choose. I included the fry method in the recipe notes if you prefer to go that way.
The other day, my friend Judi said she knew someone who made the latkes outside in an electric skillet to avoid the smell in her kitchen. Clever!
The bottom line, regardless of method, is good latkes. Tender on the inside, crispy on the outside.
Twist on latkes
For a twist on latkes, try our very popular mashed potato pancakes. They are made with cheese and leftover mashed potatoes. Delish!
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Potato Latkes Recipe (Skillet Oven Method – less smell)
- 1 large russet/baking potato, peeled (about 1 pound/450 grams). Use part white, part sweet potato is desired.
- 1 small onion yellow onions are traditional
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup (31 grams) flour
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt (or a bit less)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (need high smoke point) don't use olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425F/218C.
- GRATE/CHOP POTATO AND ONION: Cut potato and onion into chunks. Place in processor and pulse to get small rice-size pieces. Alternatively: grate onion and potato by hand using a box grater OR use grater attachment for food processor, feed potato and onion pieces through the feed tube to grate. Note 1 if doubling/tripling recipe.
- SQUEEZE WATER OUT OF POTATO AND ONION: Have paper towels ready on counter. Taking handfuls or potato/onion at a time, squeeze as much water out as you can between your two hands over the sink. Place on paper towels. Repeat until all potato/onion pieces are squeezed dry. Wrap in paper towels and squeeze to get more moisture out. Place in bowl.
- FINISH LATKE MIXTURE: Add flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper to potato and onions. Mix well to combine.
- SKILLET OVEN METHOD: Heat oil in large cast iron or other oven-proof skillet (12 inches/30.4cm or more) to medium-high heat. Add latke mixture in two large circles or ovals. (You can make one giant latke, but it's harder to flip). Fry for 2 minutes then place in oven. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove, flip latkes over, return to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Note 2 for skillet fry method.
- SERVE: If making a couple of giant latkes, cut each into wedges with a pizza cutter or large knife. Serve with toppings such as sour cream, Greek yogurt mixed with dill, applesauce, chutney or pesto.
- If doubling or tripling the recipe: Grate or chop onion and potato in smaller batches or you will be left with tiny pieces plus many large unprocessed pieces.
- Skillet Fry Method: To save time (but much smellier!), heat oil in large cast iron or other skillet (12 inches or more) to medium high. Add latke mixture in two large circles or ovals. Or make small 3 inch latkes. (You will have to make two batches, adding extra oil between batches). Lower heat to medium and fry on each side for 2-4 minutes, depending on how big you make latkes. Transfer to paper towels to absorb oil.
- Make Ahead: Freeze latkes in a single layer on tray for an hour. Then transfer them to a tightly locked container or ziploc bag and store in freezer for up to 6 weeks. Reheat from frozen at 425F/218C for about 15 minutes or at 450F/232C for 5-7 minutes. You can under-do latkes a bit if making ahead.