Not Recipes

How to Make Latkes Without a Recipe

By • November 11, 2013 • 47 Comments

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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw shows us how to make perfect potato pancakes -- without a recipe.

Latkes from Food52

Thanksgiving has its turkey; Christmas has its roast. Fourth of July calls for pie, for crumble; Valentine's Day screams for chocolate mousse. These holidays, while fun and festive and (obviously) delicious, can be fussy. They can be stressful. They can be wonderfully -- or scarily -- high maintenance.

Hanukkah doesn't ask much of you. It wants you to grate some potatoes and onions, mix them with egg and flour, and fry them in oil. And then it wants you eat a lot of them. (Hanukkah is eight nights. You could really eat a lot of these.)

Of course, you can fancy these up; you can use sweet potatoes or parsnips or even mashed potatoes. You can add spices and cheese. You can make a Thanksgivukkah double-down. And, most importantly, you can make these any time of the year: for those high-maintenance holidays, for weeknight dinners, for passed hors d'oeuvres, for snack.

Here's where to start.

How to Make Latkes Without a Recipe

1. Coarsely grate your potatoes and onions by hand (or use the grater blade of a food processor). I use one onion for every two pounds of potatoes, but you can really go with your gut here.

Latkes from Food52

 

2. Gather your shreds in cheese cloth or a tea towel and squeeze the water out. Let it all rest, and then squeeze again. You want to get as much water out as possible (you'll be shocked how much comes out!).

Latkes from Food52

 

3. Lightly beat 1 egg in a bowl (I use roughly one egg for every two pounds of potato.). Add your shredded potato and onion, and mix well. I usually use 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour for every egg, but if you'd prefer these more cake-y and less shred-y, add up to 1/4 cup flour. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper. If you want to add spices, now's your moment!

Latkes from Food52

 

4. Heat 1/8-inch oil in a a saute pan. Drop heaping spoonfuls of your batter into the oil, making sure not to crowd the pan. (Feel free to make these whatever size you'd like.) Fry until golden brown, then flip and finish cooking on the other side. Repeat until all of your batter is gone, keeping the finished ones in a 200°F oven so that they stay nice and warm.

Latkes from Food52

 

5. Dollop with sour cream, applesauce, and/or caviar (it's a holiday!). Eat with a fork -- or your hands. Get ready to make another batch.

More: See how to make applesauce without a recipe. 

Latkes from Food52

How do you make your latkes? Let us know in the comments!

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you make in your sleep, without a recipe.

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (47)

Tags: holiday, latkes, Hanukkah, potatoes

Comments (47)

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Bacon

8 months ago Knightcraft

Best latke recipe ever! Wringing the potatoes out twice was a great trick! We loved every bite. Any other toppings besides sour cream, apple sauce and caviar (yuck)?

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8 months ago Kim Hoskins

We have always served them with a really good Apple Butter...it goes awesome with the latkes! You could also try a whipped cream cheese and add some chives or whatever herbs or seasonings you like...I use the whipped because of the texture....a salsa might even be good....hope this helped some...

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10 months ago Queen Helene

Sharon - on Pesach use same amount of Matzo Meal as you would use flour and it will be fine. I use Matzo Meal all the time because I like the taste it gives the latkes. Flour makes them too bland.

Stringio

10 months ago Sharon Gates

I grate the potatoes in the food processor, put them in a strainer, chane to the steel knife and pulse the onions with the eggs and s&p, then put the egg mix in a large bow;, then I pulse half of the grated potatoes and then mix all the potatoes into the egg and onion mix. I cover the top of the mix with flour, creating a "cover". That was my father's trick to keep the potatoes from turning gray. This way I can prep the mix, and leave it until ready to fry. Then I mix the flour into the potato mix and fry. (If Pesach I do not use any thickener). I reheat, if necessary, in a 400 oven for 10 mins - delish!

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10 months ago Brenda Carder

Approximately how many latkes will 2 lbs of potatoes make?

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10 months ago Adrian Seltzer

About 20 - 24 3" latkes

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10 months ago florence goldenberg

WOULDNT INCLUDE THE skins-- by peeling, you wont get all the pesticides out, but you will get some. better then none.

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10 months ago Janet

How is this not a recipe?

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10 months ago Adrian Seltzer

I just taught a latke class today. Your food processor is your friend when it comes to latkes. I basically do the same as here except: I chop the onions finely in the processor. Use the pulse setting. Remove the blade and put in the shredding disk. Shred the potatoes over the onions. Remove to a bowl and mix well with 1 tsp salt. Mixing the potatoes with the onion will massively slow down the browning of the potatoes. Drain the potato mixture but you don't have to go crazy Use 2 eggs and 3-4 Tbsp matzo meal. Spread the mixture thinner when you add it to the hot oil. The extra egg will keep it together. It will have those great crispy edges. www.cre8ov.com

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10 months ago Nappingisbetter

That sounds awesome

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10 months ago Jessica

To me, latkes are best hot and straight from the pan. That being said, any suggestions for pre-cooking/re-heating? I'm having a party and don't want to stand over the fry pan all evening.

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10 months ago I_Fortuna

I set my foods on a food warmer or teapot warmer. They are like the warmer used for fondue. They are found many places for sale. There are also electric food warmers and all of these are fine with pyrex or oven safe dishes or stainless platters. I suggest a warmer and cover the dish if possible to keep the food from drying out.

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10 months ago Adrian Seltzer

Cool latkes on a rack. Wrap and store. Reheat on a rack set over a sheet pan,, single layer in a 350°F oven for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crisp.

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10 months ago Alan Divack

Though I never thought I would stoop to this, I use a food processor and puree some of the potato shreds. I find that this comes closest to the texture of latkes made with old-fashioned wire graters. check out my method at:
http://alandivack.blogspot...

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11 months ago Meisen

I usually add one shredded carrot for every 2 pounds of potatoes. It adds a little sweetness to the latke.

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11 months ago Achala Srivatsa

Can latkes be made without egg? I don't eat eggs but love the idea of latkes.

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11 months ago chava

More breaking news! You don't have to peel the potatoes. Use baking potatoes (which some of us still call Idaho...) Try it - I've done it for years.

Stringio

11 months ago LeslieR

Yes, definitely matzah meal not flour. And adding the potato starch that settles to the bottom if the liquid helps them stay together. I hand grate but that's because I'm intimidated by the food processor!

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11 months ago SusanIlene

Yes, Matzah meal is the secret to crispy latkes. I don't peel the potatoes either.

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11 months ago SusanR

I am going to make these this year. I have always been a bit afraid of latkes. Here is my super-cheater recipe for latkes: 1 package of shredded potatoes (refrigerated, not frozen), 3 beaten eggs, 1 pkg. of Knoor leek soup mix, 3 chopped scallions, a bit of matzo meal. Mix together, fry.

People love them, but I always feel a bit like a fraud, so I will try this recipe this year.

Stringio

11 months ago tastysweet

Wht is the best potato to use? Russet or Yukon or Red?

Foodie

11 months ago Sharon

Russet

Stringio

11 months ago tastysweet

thanks

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11 months ago suz

...these will be a must for my family this Thanksgiving Holiday! Thanks for sharing the "quick-easy" way with latkes =)...

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11 months ago I_Fortuna

It is important that the oil for frying is very hot. The pancake should not be turned until one side is well browned so it will not fall apart. The use of cornstarch will help too. If you use coconut oil it will take longer for the pancake to brown because coconut oil can be heated to very high temperatures without burning or smoking. It does not oxidize and turn to cholesterol like many vegetable oils therefore, it appears to be healthier by many accounts. (Ref. Dr. Mercola).

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11 months ago Marshacb

No vegetable oil will turn to cholesterol, no matter how high or long you heat it. Cholesterol is an animal product and is not made in any vegetable product.

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11 months ago phyllisgb

You make this sound very do-able. I am really, truly, absolutely going to try this....one day.

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11 months ago Kim Hoskins

I have always had problems making latkes....they always fall apart, or do not cook evenly...I am going to try this "non-recipe" and some of the suggestions in the comments... I do have a question though...when you say grate, do you mean use the side of the grater where you would shred cheese? the bigger holes? I hope this time I can make the "perfect" latke! Thanks...

P.S. I am absolutely loving this site....I have made a bunch of the recipes an all have been hits! Thank you so much for such a great site!

Foodie

11 months ago Sharon

When I make latkes I separate the eggs and whip the whites until peaky and then fold them in as the last step and the latkes are nice and light(er).