- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- makes About 16 medium (or 32 silver-dollar) latkes
Everybody loves a latke—fried potato pancakes, how could you not?—but everyone does not love the way they make your kitchen, clothing, and pets smell like fry oil for a week after the meal. At least, I certainly don’t. There are ways to mitigate this (open all the windows, set up fans, burn incense), but none are particularly effective or easy to manage while handling a pan of hot oil. The most natural solution is of course to make baked latkes. Perhaps very obviously, the absence of fry oil in baked latkes prevents your house from smelling like a deep-fryer, though it also means the latkes lack what makes them so flavorful and crisp. Case in point: To make potatoes taste really good, and, just as importantly, to make latkes crispy, you have to use oil, and quite a bit of it. Setting out to make an actually good baked latke might as well have been called Mission: Impossible.
But guess what? I did it. The key to deeply flavorful, crispy-exterior, tender-interior baked latkes is essentially to oven-fry the pancakes. Though the ¾ cup of peanut oil (or a very neutral vegetable oil) is in fact much less fat than I’d use to fry latkes on the stove, the decent slick paired with ambient heat of the oven—you’ll heat the oil in the sheet pan just before baking—makes for some of the most satisfyingly crisp latkes I’ve ever had. Even better, when you bake latkes, you can make at least 8 palm-sized latkes or 16 silver-dollar latkes at a time—significantly more than one skillet can handle, so cleanup is as easy as washing a sheet pan (very).
peanut or vegetable oil, plus more as needed
medium russet potatoes (1½ to 2 pounds), scrubbed
large yellow onion, peeled and halved
panko, matzo meal (not matzo ball mix), or all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flaky sea salt
Latke fixin’s such as applesauce, sour cream, lox, smoked trout, lemon wedges, chopped chives, and chopped dill, for serving
- Heat the oven to 425°F and pour a generous ½ cup of the oil on a sheet pan.
- Use a box grater or a food processor fitted with the coarse grater attachment to grate the potatoes and onion.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean kitchen towel and place over a large bowl. Gather the edges of the towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you possibly can from the onions and potatoes. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes after you think you’ve squeezed it all, then squeeze again—there’s always more water. Keep the potato mixture in the towel for a moment. Let the liquid sit in the bowl for 5 minutes, then gently dump out the water from the bowl, but make sure to leave any milky white potato starch that’s accumulated in the bottom of the bowl.
- Place the oiled sheet pan in the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. Transfer the potato mixture from the towel to the bowl with the potato starch along with the egg, panko, matzo meal, or flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and lots of black pepper. Mix with your hands until totally combined.
- Carefully remove the sheet pan from the oven. Scoop 8 lightly packed ¼-cup-sized mounds of the latke batter into your hand, then very firmly flatten between your hands. (If you prefer “silver-dollar” latkes, do 2-tablespoon mounds.) Transfer to the sheet pan, then use a fish or offset spatula to flatten each mound as thin as you can. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (or 15 to 20 minutes, for silver dollars), until deeply golden brown on the bottom and edges of the latkes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and flip the latkes, pressing down on the pancakes and letting any excess oil pool around the pan, then bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until deeply golden brown on both sides. Transfer the latkes to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with flaky salt. Let sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving plate. Add another ¼ cup or so of oil to replace what was soaked up by the first batch, transfer to the oven for 10 minutes to warm the oil, then form and bake the remaining latkes while you eat the first round. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, lox, smoked trout, lemon wedges, and/or chopped chives and dill.