The Hanukkah story centers around the miracle when a small group of people needed oil for the newly rededicated temple, but they only had enough oil for one night. Miraculously, it burned for eight days.
Thus, Hanukkah lasts for eight days and it is traditional to eat food fried in oil during the holiday.
While there are other food items you can fry in oil, there really is just one food that everyone eats during Hanukkah – latkes (pronounced lat-kas).
Latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil, and are surprisingly easy to make. If you’ve never tried making them, I encourage you to give my recipe a try.
Just to be clear, the picture above is NOT of my latkes, because I don’t have a good cover image of them. The next time I make these tasty treats I’ll be sure to take some better pictures.
Sue, a reader and blogger friend, tried my recipe and took this gorgeous picture. Check out her food blog at Palatable Pastime.
This recipe has been handed down unchanged from generation to generation. Other than me leaving on the potato peels and using a food processor instead of a hand shredder, it’s the same recipe my Grandma made when I was a child.
Thank you Grandma for putting so much love into your latkes. You were the rock of family. The holidays just aren’t the same without you.
Hanukkah Latkes (Potato Pancakes):
Scroll to the bottom for a printable recipe card with nutrition information.
2 large russet potatoes
1/2 onion, cut in half
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
This recipe can easily be increased for large crowds. If you use 2 potatoes, you’ll get about 15 latkes. Everyone loves them so I would allow 3 per person.
Printable recipe card below
Start by washing the potatoes and then cutting them into pieces small enough to fit through the top of the food processor.
Do NOT peel the potatoes. The peels are really healthy and leaving them on the potatoes does not change the taste or look of the pancakes. Trust me on this if you’ve always peeled your potatoes and give it a try this way.
Pull out your food processor and set it up with the shredding blade. Add a mix of potato and onion into the opening in the top so they go through the shredder with the onion mixed throughout. By doing it this way, rather than all of the potato first and then all of the onion, your potatoes won’t turn gray from being exposed to air.
Add the beaten eggs, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Next add the potatoes and onions and stir well.
Here’s were the fun starts.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high in a frying pan. You don’t need a lot of oil. You aren’t deep frying the latkes like they are fried chicken. Rather, you want just enough oil on the bottom of the pan to crisp up the potatoes.
If you are making a double or triple batch, load up every burner with a frying pan to speed up this part of the process.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop about 1/3-1/2 cup of potato mixture into spoon, allowing excess liquid to drain back into the bowl. Drop the potato mixture into hot oil in the frying pan. Flip over the latkes when bottom is browned, then smash them down with a spatula to flatten the potato into a pancake.
Fry the second side until the potatoes are browned. At this point, take them out of the pan and place them on paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Add another round of potatoes to your frying pan and repeat until you fry up all of the potatoes.
You’ll need to keep adding oil to the pan for each round of latkes so keep the oil nearby.
I layer a couple of sheets of paper towels on a dinner plate and let the latkes sit there until the next batch of pancakes is ready to come up of a pan. At this point, I move the ones from the paper towel lined plate to a cookie sheet in a single layer.
Be sure to replace the paper towels when they get soaked in oil.
If you are making your latkes right before dinner is served, then skip the cookie sheets and stack them onto a platter. However, it takes a while to fry up a lot of latkes and the oil splatters a bit, so I recommend making them in advance if you are having a lot of people over for dinner. You can make them up to 1 day before you serve them. Just stick them in the refrigerator. They also freeze well, so you can make them well in advance of your holiday party or freeze the leftovers.
That said, I highly recommend making them the day you plan to serve them, either a few hours before your company arrives or right before you sit down to eat.
If you need to reheat the latkes before serving, put them on cookie sheets in a single layer and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or 7-10 minutes at 450 degrees if they are frozen.
I like my latkes best plain with a little salt over the top, but they are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream. Put the applesauce on the side and a dollop of sour cream on top.
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MORE TRADITIONAL JEWISH RECIPES: