Potato Latkes Recipe And 3 Variations To Try

Potato latkes, (also sometimes called potato pancakes), have a long history that is steeped in tradition and culture. Originating in Eastern Europe, specifically in Ashkenazi Jewish communities, these crispy, fried delights have become a beloved staple during celebrations and even during day-to-day meals.

Although commonly associated with Hanukkah, potato latkes have a fascinating origin story that traces back to Italian pancakes made with ricotta cheese. According to Gil Marks' The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the first link between Hanukkah and pancakes was made by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus in Italy during the 13th century. The Rabbi listed pancakes as one of the dishes to serve during a hypothetical Purim feast, as well as in a poem about Hanukkah. After the expulsion of Jews from Sicily by the Spanish in 1492, the exiles introduced their ricotta cheese pancakes, known as cassola in Rome, to northern Italian Jews. As a result, cheese pancakes, which combined the two traditional Hanukkah foods of dairy and fried foods, became a natural Hanukkah dish.

The story of potatoes latkes is said to date back to the 18th century when potatoes were introduced to Eastern Europe in the face of a mass crop failure. Potatoes were a cheap and abundant crop that could be stored for long periods of time, making them an ideal food source for the harsh winters in the region. Latkes were initially created as a way to use up leftover potatoes, which were grated and mixed with onion, egg, and flour, then fried in oil until golden brown and crispy.

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  • 1 kg potatoes peeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  • Grate the potatoes using a box grater or food processor. 
  • Place the grated potatoes in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.
  • Add the grated onion, beaten eggs, flour, salt, and pepper to the bowl with the potatoes. Mix well to combine.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Working in batches, spoon about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil, flattening each pancake with the back of a spoon.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off excess oil.
  • Serve the latkes hot with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.

Here are 3 more varieties you can try out!

Sweet Potato Latkes: Substitute half of the potatoes with peeled and grated sweet potatoes. Add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to the potato mixture for a touch of warmth and sweetness.

Zucchini and Feta Latkes: Grate 2 medium zucchini and squeeze out excess moisture. Mix the grated zucchini with crumbled feta cheese, chopped scallions, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as dill or parsley. Fry the latkes as usual.

Kimchi Latkes: Mix chopped kimchi and scallions into the potato mixture for a spicy and tangy twist on the classic latke. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt.