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Dec 7, 2008 02:28 PM

best recipe for latkes

I'm going to make them from scratch this year--would love your best recipe. TIA!

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  1. What style of latkes do you like? Some people like really fine textured ones and some people like them almost like hash browns. My best tip: no matter what recipe you use DO NOT DRAIN THEM ON PAPER TOWELS! That just makes them steam and get soggy. Put them in a single layer on a rack over paper towels (I use a cookie cooling rack) and if you need to hold them for a while, put the rack on a baking sheet and put them in a warm oven.

    If you do a search, there are extensive discussions about latkes every year around this time. Of course, there's no definitive answer: you know the saying "two Jews, three opinions." However I can definitively say that the "best" recipe is your grandmother's.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      However I can definitively say that the "best" recipe is your grandmother's.


      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Whatever Ruth says, although my grandmother didn't leave me a recipe.

        2# yukon gold
        2 medium onions
        cuisinart, grater disc or old knuckle buster.
        wring dry
        2 beaten egg
        2 tbs flour/or matzo meal
        mix, shape into patties (or cheat like I did last year and do one big one in a cast iron pan with a longer cooking time).
        cook shallow pan 1/4 inch vegetable oil
        5 minutes/3minutes medium high

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          This one is basic and great. Never fails. Soaking the potatoes in water and then drying in the dishtowel is key. And if you can cook them in duckfat, you will die happy.

        2. I don't use a recipe for this simple dish - technique is more important. Start with room temperature potatoes. IMO, Yukon Golds are one of the best potatoes for latkes. I recently made some with Idahos and found them bland and watery-tasting. The Borner (Boerner) grater, a flat plastic rectangular thing that costs a couple of bucks and looks like a piece of junk, is perfect for the job. One side grates to a mush, the other the perfect shreds. Half of each makes the ideal blend for latkes. I salt the potato and let it sit for 5 minutes in the bowl, then wick out the accumulated water with paper toweling before stirring in the onion, egg, and flour. Give your pan plenty of time to preheat on medium, add the oil, and wait till that is starting to shimmer before spooning in the mixture. Don't rush them or the insides will be raw-tasting.

          6 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            greygarious is right, the perfect Latke is all about technique -- mind you there are many varying opinions on what the perfect Latke is too. But speaking as a Catholic German-American who learned how to make "potato pancakes" from dear departed Grandma years ago, I can tell you our family's version included the use of an authentic "potato grater" -- googling came up with this entry (never visited the website before...) that gives you an idea of what it is:


            You need to grate your potatoes using this and use starchy potatoes -- I've used Yukon Golds but it just wasn't the same as Grandma's. BUT the reason greygarious had watery results with good old fashioned Idahos was possibly due to a failure to drain the excess moisture from your bowl of grated potatoes. You gotta get your grated potatoes as dry as possible.

            To your dried grated potatoes (grate about 4-5 large russet type potatoes), you need to add about 1/2 cup grated onion, an egg and enough flour to get the mixture to hold together to pan fry.

            You then pan fry them either on the stove top or an electric fry pan in about 1/2 inch oil (canola works good....) about 4 minutes a side or until they are golden-brown on each side.

            Kinda a loosey-goosey recipe but the potatoes don't exactly grow in standard sizes and Grandma never was big on actually measuring out how much of stuff while cooking. For sure I don't like the recipes that use shredded potatoes and matzo meal as much, but I respect that each family has their own potato traditions.

            Been lurking here awhile but I felt honor bound to speak up about the latkes -- Grandma would have been happy to share....

            1. re: HokieAnnie

              If you use a slotted spoon to from the latkes, you can squeeze out even more liquid.

              1. re: HokieAnnie

                HokieAnnie's Grandma's recipe/formula/method is the same as my Russian-Jewish father's mother's mother's, etc. My father made the best latkes. He said it was his mother's recipe and her mother's and so on. The key to his potatoes is the "authentic 'potato grater'" that Parkers sells. My father called it a "ribeisen." Absolutely essential for latkes. No matzo meal used in these pancakes, either. Served with a little sugar and a lot of sour cream, azoy geschmact!

                1. re: HokieAnnie

                  Thanks for the link - I've had mine for about 40 years. They used to be as common as potato peelers in supermarket kitchen tool aisles. HokieAnnie, my parents were Protestant German immigrants so mom used just the potato grater. It wasn't till several years ago that I started doing a mix of shredded and mush, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated, and much prefer it. And the Borner(Boerner) grater is far superior to my trusty wire-mesh potato grater. It makes the same mush but faster and for a fraction of the cost. I'd throw my wire-mesh grater out except that I push hard-boiled eggs through it to make egg salad. I'll certainly never use it for latkes again.

                  My recent Idaho latkes WERE well-drained. They are very large spuds and possibly just not as flavorful as usual. CI recommended the Yukons and I do think they taste better. It wasn't that my Idaho latkes were wet - I guess I didn't make myself clear - they TASTED watered-down.

                  1. re: HokieAnnie

                    My grandmother used the same grater...Mine is called a "safety grater" No skinned knuckles.....

                    1. re: HokieAnnie

                      Yep HokieAnnie is right. Proper potato, proper grater and proper draining. Someone on another thread posted about frying latkes in duck fat. Since I woke in the middle of the night thinking of that and PROMISING myself to get a duck today I thought I should mention that. Roasted duck and latkes fried in duck fat. Stand by with the crash cart.

                  2. My Uncle Phil (whose recipe is immortalized in the Bette's Diner Pancake Handbook, written by his son, Steve Siegelman) has a great "secret" ingredient; Swiss Cheese!! 2 Tbsps. of finely grated cheese does amazing thigs to Latkes. Makes 'em extra crispy and gives a certain je ne sais really can't taste it, but it's there. Probably works w/ any latke recipe, not just his. Adam

                    1. Cooks Illustrated had a great recipe for Roesti Potatoes about 6-9 months ago that could be quickly adapted. Their key was soaking to remove the starch, drying completely, but then adding back some cornstarch to make them stick. I've done it numerous times an it is excellent

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                        CI has its own potato pancake/latke recipe as well.

                      2. Non Jew here too, but still make latkes at least a couple times a year. Last year had good luck with the Cooks Illustrated trick: grate the potatoes and put them in a colander over a bowl. Let them drain for a while. The liquid will separate with the potato starch solids on the bottom. Pour or wick out the water and leave the starch in the bottom. Add the egg, grated onion, grated potatoes (patted dry if possible), and a little flour. It gives a good potato flavor and helps them thicken. I agree that I never follow a recipe either -- just a technique and adjust by eye.