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What oil for frying latkes?

I've never made potato latkes before, and looking on the internet was surprised to see that Ina Garten fries them in clarified butter. I'm going to make some this week, and would like to know what oil folks recommend. Also, my largest frying pan happens to be a non-stick. Is there any reason not to use this for frying the latkes?

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  1. I like to fry mine in schmaltz (chicken fat). If I don't have enough I will add a little vegetable oil to stretch it.

    Have you friend anything in your non stick before? I only use cast iron for frying as it gives me that crispy crust I love. I never seem to be able to duplicate that in a non stick pan but I understand some of the new non stick pans (scan pan, etc) can still produce a nice crust so if you have successfully fried in yours before you should be fine. Maybe you can test run a small batch and if it doesn't work borrow a pan from a friend?

    1. Great way to start an argument around the Hannukah table! There are those who say nothing will do but olive oil (from the Sephardic tradition) and those who say use any oil BUT olive. Corn and canola are often recommended, too. Never heard of using clarified butter. Sounds goyishe to me. But I agree with foodieX2. Schmaltz is the way to go if you've got it. I also do mine in cast iron so have no advice on the non-stick query.

      1. I do 20lbs of potatoes each year with Canola oil in a non- stick and they work out fine. Make sure your pan is very hot, then add oil, let it heat up until very hot but not burning. Add your mixture in small spoonfuls and then leave it alone. Do not flip until you can see that it has browned on the bottom side. Then flip and leave it alone. in my pan, about 3-4 minutes per side. if i rush it they come out a soggy oily mess. The first batch may burn if you don't control the temp of the oil by adjusting the temp on your stove but don't be tempted to turn down the temp too much as they won't brown. I also find that my smaller fry pan works better as it just covers the burner ( I have a small electric stove) and so I get no cold spots in my pan

          1. I LOVE latkes! The shredded NOT the grated kind. I shred the potatoes and use them raw, with a bit of onion, a bit of flour, potatoes rinsed and drained a bit, but trying to repurpose a bit of the potatoe starch rather then much flour. Sometimes they do not seem cooked enough.

            Has anybody tried duck fat.?


            1 Reply
            1. re: Shrinkrap

              I have made regular and sweet potato latkes fried in duck fat before and they came out great. I have a pan with straight sides that is not cast iron or non stick that I use for frying.

            2. Olive oil is the most obvious choice, given the origin of the holiday. In colder climates with less historical access to olive oil...goose fat, duck fat or, failing that, chicken fat were traditional; fats that are solid at room temperature give a different mouthfeel as the latkes cool, and I suspect Ina was going for that effect in using clarified butter. I'd stay away from canola oil for frying, as its fat profile can lead to a fishy taste detected by many (not all) when used for frying.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Karl S

                If I don't have schmaltz I use a half olive half peanut oil combination.

              2. Obviously not "proper," but since I seldom have schmaltz, I've added a spoonful of bacon fat to the (either) olive or canola oil.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pine time

                  Glad I'm not the only one augmenting olive oil with bacon fat. I'm cooking for a decidely heathen crowd so the pork is not an issue and it does add a nice flavor, IMO.

                  1. re: pine time

                    i do the same. although im also no jewish.

                  2. Ha! I TOLD you this was a subject everyone could get into a fight over!

                    I was curious, so I just looked it up in my two Jewish cookbooks. A very old book, given to me by my grandmother, just says to cook them "in a well-greased skillet." Claudia Roden, in "The Book of Jewish Food," says to use "oil for frying." I guess they didn't want to get into it either. LOL.

                    1. Everytime I make potato pancakes I try to fry them in veggie oil. Olive oil is my backup option. I'll use butter if I have to, but it's not optimal. The smoke point is too low.

                      I shred my potatoes by hand and mix them with a bunch of different stuff for potato pancakes. I'm not Jewish, but I love potato pancakes and make them fairly often.

                        1. Not for your your kosher friends but Lard is great for frying Potato Pancakes and the Traditional fat in Germany, Poland,
                          Czechoslovakia, Austria.........

                          1. I'm presently frying in the rendered Beef tallow from yesterday's Prime Rib Roast

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: fourunder

                              shmaltz is my preferred fat, but olive oil is not in my experience a good choice as it doesn't get hot enough to give the crispness i want - if no shmaltz i'll use peanut oil or grapeseed oil.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                It would never have occurred to me to fry latkes in beef tallow, but I read your post just before I might otherwise have thrown out the fat rendered from a standing rib roast and gave it a try. I was afraid the beef flavor might be overwhelming, but it wasn't at all. Very tasty latkes, indeed.

                              2. I have used canola in the past but I am very curious about using duck fat, as some have posted. As others have said you have to get the oil really hot to get the good crust. As an aside, the last couple of years I have made them using the side burner on our gas grill, to alleviate permeating the house with the smell of oil. Enjoy!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sbgirl

                                  My mom also uses the side burner on the outdoor grill! She hated cleaning up the mess it made on her Steve top.

                                2. As a total aside...I made the traditional from scratch latkes, fried them in canola oli, and then compared them with the Trader Joes latkes whiched I baked in the oven until very crisp. The TJ's weren't bad...indeed less greasy and crisper and they didn't stink up the house. The homemade were better, but....not that much. Next year, I ...???