Making Latkes Article -
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Making Latkes

The best latkes are golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside.

Latkes are traditionally eaten at Hanukkah, but they're a treat anytime you crave crispy, savory potato pancakes.

Treat Your Potatoes Right

For best results, use russet potatoes. They are high in starch, which is necessary to form pancakes that don't fall apart. If you peel the potatoes before making latkes, put them in water between peeling and shredding to prevent oxidizing and discoloring.

    Just Grate!

    Have the onions and any other veggies trimmed and peeled, have a piece of cheesecloth ready and waiting, and measure out the other ingredients your recipe calls for: matzo meal or flour, baking powder, eggs, cheese and seasonings.

    • If you have a food processor with a shredder attachment, this will make the process go faster, but a good old-fashioned hand-held grater will perform the job just fine.
    • Alternate the potato with the onion and other vegetables while you shred in order to keep the potatoes from oxidizing too quickly.
    • If you want lacy latkes with rough, crispy edges, shred those potatoes coarsely. If you prefer denser latkes with smooth edges, use the fine side of the grater.

    Squeeze your Spuds

    The potatoes need to be dry and the oil needs to be good and hot so that the exterior of the latke will get crispy and prevent the pancake from absorbing too much grease.

    • To squeeze out the potato mixture, place it in a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze it.
    • When you cannot get any more liquid out, open up the cheesecloth, stir the mixture around a little, and then squeeze it some more.
    • Empty the contents of the cheesecloth into a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients.
    • If you're using matzo meal, let the mixture sit for a few minutes in order to allow the matzo to soak up any remaining liquid.

    Fry Away

    Heat a heavy-duty pan with vegetable oil ¼- to ½-inch deep. When the oil has reached a temperature of about 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), it's time to fry!

    • If you don't have a deep-fat thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by dropping a small amount of latke mixture into the pan. If it turns golden brown within one minute, the oil is ready.
    • Form the latkes by carefully placing spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil, then flattening the mounds with a spatula.
    • Fry until nicely browned on the bottom, then flip the latkes with a spatula and brown the other side.
    • Drain the latkes on paper towels and serve them immediately, if possible.
    • If you aren't able to serve them right away, keep them in the oven at 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet. To keep them nice and crispy, don't stack them or cover them.

    Serve hot latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

    Latke Troubleshooting:

    The latkes are too greasy

    The oil is probably not hot enough. Allow it to come back up to temperature between batches of latkes.

    The latkes fall apart

    Did you squeeze out excess moisture from the shredded potato mixture? Extra eggs, matzo meal, and shredded cheese will all help bind the mixture together if it seems too "loose."

    The potatoes turn brown

    Keep peeled potatoes immersed in a bowl of cool water until the second you're ready to shred them.

    The latkes are still chewy and starchy on the inside

    To remedy this problem, you can shred the potatoes more finely, make sure the oil is hot enough, make the latkes thinner, or pre-cook the potatoes.

    The latkes aren't crispy

    Again, pay attention to the type of potato and the temperature of the oil. These are the two most important factors in achieving latke perfection--and for best results, latkes should be served hot from the pan to the plate.

      Dec. 9, 2009 11:05 am
      Has anyone every frozen homemade potato pancakes? Any ideas when you have to make dozens.
      Dec. 9, 2009 12:20 pm
      I reheat/crisp them in the oven @ 375 or 400 degrees. All the great taste & the mess is long gone!
      Dec. 11, 2009 11:37 am
      I have been making latkes for over 50 years. I do it differently, and have always been praised by all who eat them. I have made as many as 400 for one hanukah. Yes I do freeze some and find that the toaster is a very good way to heat if you just need a few. Otherwise I do not completely fry them so the can be finished by frying if you need a lot. I use one large onion to about 5 pounds of potatoes. I beat about 6 egs, ad garlic powder and then gering the onion and mix with the egg. This keeps the potatoes from turning brown. I grind my potatoes and add to the egg and onion without draining them. This allows me to make many more pancakes as I can add more matzo amd flour to the mixture until it hold together. I then heat grease to high temp, and using a spoon add the mixture and press it down. Cook on both sides till done. Try it, you'll like it.
      Jul. 30, 2010 8:28 am
      This may be a bizzare question, but.. I don't have cheese cloth, and I don't have a caulander to drain liquid.. and it does tend to give me problems. I really can't buy said items right now, either... What I do have is a juicer. What would happen if I ran the potatoes through the juicer, threw away the juice (or mixed in a little) and used the leftover potatoe now un-juicy? Would they turn out disgusting or really badly textured, since it'd be ground so fine?
      Oct. 14, 2010 7:27 am
      I agree with Myers. I have always had trouble grating the onion because of all the liquid and have always been so disappointed because I love them so. I have tried the box(kosher);but I guess I just have to keep trying till I get it right and their is a mess to clean up. Latkes, blintzes. It's killing me I can't do a good job.Anything I make in quantity like that--pancakes, waffles, etc. I always freeze, put them in the toaster and voila! Always delicious like that. Thank you for posting this, all comments, etc. helped me greatly to try and try again.
      Oct. 15, 2010 12:33 pm
      In place of cheese cloth, you can use a large piece of cotton cloth, or the back of an old cotton shirt. It can be washed and kept for just such use in the kitchen.
      Nov. 18, 2010 4:12 pm
      Nov. 20, 2010 4:45 pm
      Thank you all.
      Nov. 29, 2010 6:58 am
      There are a zillion things you can use instead of cheesecloth; as long as it's a clean piece of fabric, it doesn't matter what it is: dishtowel, nylon stocking, white t-shirt/undershirt, pillowcase, cotton dinner napkin, etc. Just rinse it out several times first to make sure that there isn't any leftover soap or detergent or fabric softener in it from when it was washed last.
      Nov. 29, 2010 8:35 am
      Does anyone know if there is any way possible to grind the potatoes the day before frying them. I do not mind frying them before the party but grinding them and then frying them prior to the company is very time consuming. If i could have the potatoes ready it would be much easier. any suggestions...signed grateful
      Nov. 30, 2010 8:32 am
      grate them and keep the grated potatoes in water, then squeeze out the water when you are ready to use, as long as the grated potato is covered with water it will not turn black. I hope this is helpful.
      Dec. 1, 2010 7:51 am
      Is there a good way to make potato latkes by baking instead of frying?
      Dec. 2, 2010 10:36 am
      There's a recipe for baked latkes at
      Dec. 3, 2010 9:52 am
      I will be making fifty latkes to take to a party. How do I make them at home and still keep them fresh for the party? The place where the party is being held does not have a stove. I could take my electric skillet but I would prefer to make them at home and not have to cook other than warm up. There is a small microwave for heating things up. Thanks
      Dec. 3, 2010 10:55 am
      Grannie, After making the latkes I put them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen I put them in plastic bags, but you can also use a storage container if you prefer. Reheat in the oven, never the microwave.
      Dec. 4, 2010 6:46 pm
      Has anyone ever made latkes in advance (meaning put them together), and kept them in the fridge until ready to fry. I'm having a Hanukkah party on Monday night, but have to work during the day on Monday. I was hoping to get as much done in advance as possible. Thanks!
      Dec. 5, 2010 12:05 am
      I agree with myers39. I never drain the potatoes; I just add matzoh meal until the batter is thick enough. And make them flat so they cook. Also, I have found that using a food processor works great -- but don't use the top blade that makes hash brown-like strips, only the bottom blade. Cut the potatoes into quarters and process til the consistency is like grated potatoes. No more bloody knuckles. It does a great job grating onions also.
      Feb. 8, 2011 10:50 am
      I just use paper towels to remove excess liquid.This works everytime.
      Feb. 12, 2011 5:36 am
      Mar. 21, 2011 5:32 pm
      Speaking as a chef/scientist you must squeeze out the liquid. Water and hot oil are a disaster. adding more flour or matzo meal is really not the answer as is only creates a gooey batter. Press water out through a colander or squeeze water out by twisting the ends together like a "tootsie" role. I like a large cast iron pan (keeps the oil consistent) crisco oil from the tub, and DO ADD A bit of baking powder into the mix for crispness. Drain well, salt and serve. Problem with paper towels is too much of the mix will stick to the paper and then you get pancakes with bits of paper. YUCK
      Mar. 21, 2011 5:36 pm
      OOO. and do add either matzo meal or flour. Cannot use flour for Passover. Sorry for the mistake. I was referring to leaving the water in the mix. Squeeze out water from the mix of onion/potato...then place in bowl and add matzo meal, flour and baking powder.
      Mar. 31, 2011 10:53 am
      I make potato pancakes but use a ricer to extract the excess water from the grated potatoes. The pancakes are lighter since you add less flour to absorb the liquid.Perhaps FRUITFRESH can be used to slow down the blackening.
      Sep. 27, 2011 8:52 pm
      1 rounded Tablespoon of flour for every potato, 1 medium onion, and 1 egg for ever 5 medium size potatoe, 2 teaspoons salt, MIX and FRY. Thats how I was taught.
      Oct. 1, 2011 12:42 pm
      You really don't need fancy straining, any strainer-but strain over a bowl to save the starch in the bottom.add it back in. Frequently, we add whatever we have around, carrots, sweet potatoes to the latkes. adds color.
      Nov. 28, 2011 10:43 am
      Someone said i might buy shredded potatoes to save a step. Has anyone tried it, and if so, should i defrost them and/wash them prior to adding everything else?
      Dec. 4, 2011 10:47 am
      For a lot of recipes that require the potatoes to be fried, I bake the potatoes the day before and grate them just prior to using them. You don't get the water problem because they absorb no water in the cooking of them.
      Dec. 6, 2011 2:04 pm
      For some reason they come out better with solid shortening than with the oil. Fortunately, there are some healthful ones available. I will try coconut this year. Still can't duplicate my mom's, though.
      Dec. 7, 2011 10:32 am
      I always fry them in olive oil which is a healthy oil. Use the lightest you can find. Thanks for all the tips on freezing.
      Dec. 16, 2011 4:06 pm
      How do I store them if I make them in the morning? Last time I did it the insides turned black when they were reheated.
      Dec. 18, 2011 10:22 am
      After peeling the potatoes I cut them into cubes and use the shred disc on my Cuisinart. To drain I simply take a fistful of potatoes and squeeze with both hands. I make sure the onions and eggs are mixed first and mix in the drained potatoes as I go along to keep them from getting discolored.
      Dec. 19, 2011 6:52 am
      Thank you all for the wonderful hints.
      Dec. 21, 2011 5:02 pm
      Freezing/Reheating questions - Is it better to defrost the frozen latkes in the refrigerator the night before and then heat them in the oven at 350 the day of the party? If so, how long should they cook at this temperature. I already cooked and froze the latkes (I think I should have undercooked them a little but I didn't. Or, is it better to reheat the latkes directly from the freezer? If so, at what temperature and for how long? Thanks!
      Dec. 27, 2011 12:59 pm
      always fry in peanut oil - it absorbs less because you can heat it higher - been making these by the hundreds for over 50 years, never had a soggy or greasy one yet!
      Jan. 18, 2012 12:03 pm
      To keep potatoes from turning brown, add 2 tablespoons of milk to the top of the batter. Mix in when ready to use.
      Jan. 23, 2012 3:05 pm
      to grannie: to freeze potato cakes fry them up then put them on a cookie sheet or tray not touching, not covered. After a couple hours or when frozen good. put them in a freezer bag and take out as many as you want when ready to eat them. Thaw and heat in microwave.
      Mar. 5, 2012 11:30 pm
      These potato pancakes are really very simple to make. I always have all my ingredients measured out,I do the potatoes last. Peanut oil is good but I find coconut oil is better.Leaves no greasy aftertaste, and it is a much healthier product. I use the Gold Label. I use a large cast iron skillet,it maintains the heat better. Adding a tsp of baking powder makes them nice and crispy. The 3 main things to remember is use russet potatoes are high in starch and that helps make a good potato pancake. Squeeze out as much water as you can,and make sure your oil or what ever you use to cook them in is very hot 350* Eveyone has little tips that they use, mine is I have one of those little electric choppers and I mince my onions very fine,we love onions so I use extra, never had a complaint yet. I also use shredded cheddar cheese,and garlic in mine my family and friends love them. Whenever we have a gettogether I am asked to make my potato pancakes I am not Jewish but a friend of mine is and she g
      May 17, 2012 4:56 am
      Latkes freeze beautifully for about 30-45 days-like they last that long around here! Take them out of the freezer about 45 minutes ahead of time, put on a baking sheet in 425º over for about 6-8 minutes. You will swear you just made them.
      May 22, 2012 10:11 am
      I want to put this in my recipe box and it dosen't have anything to click on it's the one that tells you how to make them
      Dec. 7, 2012 8:47 am
      How many pounds of potatoes to feed 23 guests?
      megan kalu 
      Jul. 13, 2013 10:16 am
      I added "Potato Salad Tips" on here for pre-preparation for potatoes. My g/mother's quick tip. Boil potatoes in 1/2 c. salted water for 25-30 minutes with skins on, strain and let them dry and cool for 15 min., put them in freezer bags and that's it. When you're ready to use, leave out for 15 min. to thaw, then easy peel (or leave peels on), cut, & make your potato salad. The secret is the salt. It keeps in the freshness and you don't get that discoloration by leaving & freezing with skins on. They stay fresh for 3 months.
      Dec. 16, 2014 3:50 am
      We use russets; cut them up skin and all, and put in the food processor which grinds them as desired. My sister goes finer than I do. I tend to grind the onions and put them in the bowl first so when we mix in the potatoes they do not brown. The big debate in our house is apple sauce vs. sour cream. To me sour cream is blasphemy!
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