Potato Latkes Recipe (Classic Potato Pancakes)

Classic Potato Pancakes are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The perfect latke is seasoned with flaky salt and ready to be served with a side of sour cream and applesauce. Perfect for Hanukkah, but you’ll want to enjoy them year round. 

PS – Love latkes? You’ll also love these smashed potatoes. 

Who else welcomes winter just so we have an excuse to bring on the big sweaters and carbs?

I can’t think of a more winter-appropriate side dish than potato latkes. 

  • They’re crispy. 
  • They’re golden. 
  • They’re fluffy inside. 
  • They’re delicious. 

I’ve been working on mastering this classic potato pancakes recipe for a few months now, and I think I’ve finally nailed down the perfect method. It’s made with simple ingredients and results in the most crispy latkes.

Ingredients Needed

  • Russet Potatoes – About 4 large potatoes, unpeeled.
  • Yellow Onions
  • Plain Breadcrumbs
  • Eggs
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt & Pepper
  • For Frying: Canola oil or chicken schmaltz (or a combination of both).
  • For Serving: Applesauce and Sour Cream (optional).

How to Make Classic Potato Pancakes

What Kind of Potatoes to Use

  • Russet potatoes are preferred in this latkes recipe because of their high starch content. However, yukon golds and baby potatoes will also work. 

How to Grate the Potatoes 

  • You can either use the large holes of a box grater or the grater disc of a food processor to make shredded potatoes. You can use the same method to grate the onions that will be combined with them. There is no need to peel your russets before grating them. 

How to Prepare the Potatoes for Frying

  • After grating the potatoes and onions, you want to be sure to remove any excess moisture. To do that, add them to a large, clean kitchen towel or a piece of cheesecloth. Gather ends of the towel and wring it out over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. 
  • An alternative method for removing any excess liquid is to add them to a salad spinner and give them a good spin in there. 

How to Bind the Potatoes

  • There are several different types of binding options. I’m using plain breadcrumbs since they’re easily accessible and most of us already have them on hand.
  • Another option is to use matzo meal, which will give the latkes almost a cracker like flavor.
  • Recipes that call for using flour to bind the potatoes usually come out a bit more gummy and is not my preferred method.
  • Along with the breadcrumbs, I’m also adding a couple eggs to help the ingredients bind together. If you find that your latke mixture is not binding, or are too dry, try adding in a bit more egg. 

What Kind of Pan to Use

  • You’ll want to use a large, deep skillet. One that is around 12-inches wide is great as it will allow you to fry about four latkes at once. If you use a larger frying pan, you will also need to use more oil. 

What is the Best Oil to Fry Latkes in? 

  • You will want to use an oil with a high smoke point so that it doesn’t scorch when frying.
  • Grapeseed, avocado, canola and peanut oil are all good options.
  • Olive oil on the other hand has a low smoke point, making it not the best option for frying.
  • Traditional latke recipes often call for frying the crispy potato pancakes in schmaltz (chicken or goose fat) which adds a delicious flavor.
  • My recipe fries them in a combination of chicken schmaltz and canola oil. You can look for schmaltz in the freezer section of many grocery stores. 

Regardless of which type of oil you use, you will want to be sure to add enough oil to the pan so that when the latkes are added, the oil comes halfway up the sides of them. This ensures even cooking. 

To season them, I’m both adding salt to the potato mixture and sprinkling on salt once they come out of the hot oil. Be sure to sprinkle the salt on when they’re hot so that it will stick to them.

How to Make Baked Latkes

  • Though they won’t have the same crispy exterior, you can also bake latkes in a 425 f oven for about 30-minutes, flipping halfway through. 

How to Reheat Latkes

  • Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. 

Recipe FAQs

What Nationality are Latkes? 

Although jewish latkes ARE often associated with Hanukkah, latkes originated in eastern Europe. They were eaten in German, Russia and Poland as a peasant food because the potatoes used to make them were cheap, abundant and easy to store for long periods of time. 

What is the Difference Between Potato Pancakes and Latkes?

Potato pancakes tend to be a bit less crispy, and more dense than latkes and they are always made with potatoes. Latkes on the other hand can be made with any grated vegetable like beets, turnips, zucchini and carrots. 

When Should You Eat Latkes?

Latkes are traditionally eaten during the Hanukkah celebration. However, they can be eaten year round. They are great for breakfast, brunch or dinner. 

How Do You Eat Latkes? 

They are traditionally served with sour cream and applesauce for topping.  


Wine Pairings

  • Bubbles (champagne, prosecco, cava) make an excellent and festive pairing.

What to Serve with Latkes

More Potato Recipes

Did you try this recipe for classic potato pancakes?

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  • Preheat oven to 250-degrees.

  • Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate potatoes and onions.

  • Transfer to a large kitchen towel or piece of cheesecloth. Gather ends of towel and wring out over sink to remove as much liquid as possible.

  • Whisk breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large bowl. Add potato mixture and stir until well combined.

  • Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Set a wire rack inside another large rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

  • Heat oil and/or schmaltz in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (You will want to be sure to add enough oil to the pan so that when the latkes are added, the oil comes halfway up the sides of them.)

  • Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties.

  • When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, flip. Cook until the second side is browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer latkes to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm, then transfer to wire rack. Place wire rack with latkes in oven to keep warm while preparing remaining latkes.

  • Serve warm latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

Calories: 65kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 212mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

Check out the web story here.

This recipe was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2023 to add new information. The classic potato pancakes recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

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