For a smaller batch, I use an oven skillet method for this delicious potato latke recipe – less fry smell! But the traditional skillet fry method works great too.
Latkes (potato pancakes) are a Jewish tradition for the Chanukah holiday. 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.
Since I was assigned to bring latkes to our family Chanukah party this year, I decided to look for a non fried method. I found a couple of recipes including Once Upon a Chef and Food in Jars and started formulating a plan.
I was also determined to use my new cast iron skillet (many chefs swear it’s the best for latkes). Most latke recipes are pretty similar – just a few simple ingredients. I decided to go with Jennifer Segal’s from Once Upon a Chef (her recipes always work) with a few changes in the method. One, I used a skillet instead of pans. Two, I chopped my ingredients in a processor instead of grating them (I was lazy). And three, I made a couple of giant latkes and cut them in wedges.
Since I had to quadruple the recipe for a large party, I ended up using both methods – oven and fry. The recipe below gives instructions for both methods. The oven method does start with a two minute fry to be perfectly honest. As you can see in the pictures below, the side that starts with frying comes out darker than the other side.
Which method is better for a potato latke recipe? Well, they both tasted the same and the texture was good with both methods. As I said, the oven method starts with a two minute fry, so I cheated a bit. It was, however, definitely less smelly, but took longer so I fried the last two batches of latkes to save time. I guess it’s a trade off – smellier vs faster. You choose. 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. This year, we’re going to try our latkes with a dollop of dill sour cream and smoked salmon.
- Using a processor is WAY faster than hand grating potatoes and onions.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use sweet potatoes or a combination of sweet and white. I used one sweet potato for colour and 3 white ones when I quadrupled the recipe.
- 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.
- Add some garlic powder.
- Incorporate fresh or dried herbs such as thyme or dill.
- Sour cream (traditional)
- Apple sauce (traditional in our family)
- Herbed sour cream
- Smoked salmon and dill
Make Ahead Potato Latke Recipe
- Best fresh from the oven, but make ahead works well too. Especially for a crowd. See recipe below.
Potato Latke Recipe (Oven or Fried)
- 1 large russet/baking potato, peeled (about 1 pound). Use part white, part sweet potato is desired.
- 1 small onion yellow onions are traditional
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 tsp salt (or a bit less)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (need high smoke point) don't use olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- GRATE/CHOP POTATO AND ONION: Cut potato and onion into chunks. Place in processor and pulse to get small rice-size pieces. Alternative 1: grate onion and potato by hand using a hand grater. Alternative 2: Using the grater attachment for 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 skillet (12 inches or more) to medium high. 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 for about 15 minutes or at 450F for 5-7 minutes. You can under-do latkes a bit if making ahead.