Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

During Hanukkah, it is Jewish tradition to eat food that is deep fried in oil, a tasty and caloric reminder of the Holy Temple miracle (learn more here). Once a year, we are given guilt-free rein to enjoy fried foods like latkes. In fact, we’re encouraged to do so! Now that’s a tradition I can totally get on board with.

The perfect latke is crispy on the outside while hot, soft and fluffy in the center. It’s aromatic and salty and oniony and delectable. A well made latke is nearly impossible to resist. Forget the calories and fat, forget all of that. If you’re going to make latkes, indulge yourself and make them the way they were meant to be enjoyed… fried, salted and devoured. I’ve been making latkes for about 10 years now. In that time, I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of latkes. I’ve managed to learn quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t in a latke recipe. Sharing is caring, so I’m going to pass along some of my best tips here! You’re welcome. :)

When it comes to making a hot, crispy, fluffy, delicious latke, there are many schools of thought. Some folks like to fry their latkes in olive oil. Others use “liquid gold,” schmaltz– aka chicken fat– to fry the latkes. It tastes amazing, but lordy is it ever fattening (though I will admit to using it from time to time!). There are those who say that you must add garlic and seasonings to give the latkes flavor. Others believe in the basics– onion, salt and pepper. There’s the question of size– some like large, flat latkes and some prefer small, crisp, hash brown-style treats. Some use matzo meal to bind the latkes, others use flour. And then of course, there are the toppings… applesauce or sour cream? Some will even top their latkes with ketchup– blasphemy! Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. Whatever floats your latke boat. It’s all good!

Over the years, I’ve really honed my latke technique. I generally use grapeseed or peanut oil for frying– each has a high smoke point, making them ideal for deep frying. Sometimes I’ll add a few tablespoons of schmaltz to the oil to give it a schmaltzy flavor. I use fine potato shreds, rather than large ones, which helps the latkes to hold together better. I squeeze the heck out of the potato and onion shreds to remove as much liquid as possible. I also add some potato starch to the mix, which helps bind the latkes without making them gummy. And I always drain them on a wire cooling rack… this keeps them from sitting in their own oil and getting soggy.

Recently, I decided to use Japanese panko-style breadcrumbs as a binder for the latkes, instead of matzo meal or flour. I loved the resulting latkes– they were golden brown and super crispy, while perfectly light and fluffy inside. Panko has the ideal texture for holding these bad boys together. Follow the steps in the recipe carefully, and you’re sure to end up with a seriously delicious plate of latkes. Chag Sameach!

Looking for a gluten free potato latke recipe? Click here. What’s your favorite way to make latkes? Are you an applesauce or sour cream aficionado? Share your own tips in the comments below!

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Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grapeseed or peanut oil for frying

You will also need

  • hand grater or food processor shredding disc attachment with fine holes, clean tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, skillet or electric skillet for frying, metal spatula, wire cooling rack
Servings: About 22 latkes
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Before you begin making the latkes, place your wire cooling rack close to the area where you will be frying the latkes. Place a layer of paper towels below the cooling rack to catch excess oil.
  • Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes (small shreds). I really recommend using the food processor, it saves a ton of time and will help you avoid onion tears when grating the onion.
  • Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.
  • Meanwhile, grate the onion using the same grater or attachment you used for the potatoes (fine holes for small shreds).
  • Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.
  • Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth.
  • Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.
  • Pour potato and onion into the clean, dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.
  • Pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the panko breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper into the potato shreds. You can add salt and pepper to taste. I add about 3/4 tsp of salt and a 1/4 tsp of pepper. You can sprinkle on more salt to taste after cooking, if desired. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.
  • Scoop up 3 tablespoons of the potato mixture. I do this by using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and filling it 3/4 of the way full.
  • Squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid (if you squeezed the potatoes out thoroughly in the cloth, you may not have much excess liquid to squeeze out).
  • Shape the potato mixture into a tightly compacted disk.
  • Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they're very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together--frying them is like the "glue" that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the "feel" for it.
  • The oil should sizzle but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don't fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.
  • Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 3 tablespoons of potato mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that-- don't crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side till brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren't holding together, stir more potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, till the batter "holds." You can also add another egg to the mixture and more panko, if needed.
  • Remove the latkes from the pan using metal spatula and place them on wire cooling rack to drain.
  • I recommend serving latkes fresh within 10 minutes of frying them, if your cooking schedule permits. If you need to make them ahead, fry them 4 hours or less before serving. After letting the latkes drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature till ready to reheat. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (7 if using a convection oven), until heated through, just prior to serving. Serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.

 

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Category: Finger Foods and Dips, Hanukkah, In the Kitchen, Pareve, Recipes, Side Dishes, Slide Show, Thanksgivukah, Tomato Free, Vegetarian

Comments (76)Post a Comment

  1. RV Goddess says:

    Thanks so much for the panko tip. I will try it this year. Since we are usually traveling in the sunny SW during Hanukkah, I prepare latkes in my motorhome kitchen… so I cheat (shhhhh) and use already-shredded potatoes (Simply Potatoes brand). I like ‘em crispy and small, and top them with a bit of creme fraiche, lox and fresh dill.

    • Tori Avey says:

      I love RV-ing! So much fun! If you’re using the pre-shredded potatoes, the shreds tend to be larger and they don’t hold together as well. You may need to add more egg and panko to get everything to hold together. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. :)

  2. Tamar Leah says:

    I found a way to prevent a latke mixture from turning weird colors(you know…. the pink/brown/gray transition)-I soak my potato shreds in water w/a little citrus juice (approx. 1-2 tbsp. per quart) to prevent oxidation of the potatoes’ starch. I can’t wait to try latkes with panko-sounds like a great solution to the dreaded “soggy latke”. Hag Sameach!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Great tip Tamar! I usually don’t have a problem with greying/browning if I put the shreds directly into the water, but the lemon juice certainly wouldn’t hurt. :) Chag Sameach to you, too!

  3. N. Russell says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this recipe. I’m so excited about these. Can’t wait to make them!! I’ll have to wait, though, because we have to go to Kiev for the weekend. :( When I get back, this is gonna be my first meal. ;) Enjoy your weekend!! ttyl Thanks, again!!

  4. Manda says:

    I love your cooling rack! May I ask where that is from?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Manda! I got this rack years ago, I can’t remember where it came from to be honest… but I have a couple of racks in my market that would work just as well! Here are the links:

      link to theshiksa.com

      link to theshiksa.com

      The main thing I like about these racks is that they’re stackable and don’t require a lot of counter or storage space. If I had to do it again, I’d buy one of these. The rack I have currently needs to be spread out into thirds… a stackable would save me a lot of precious counter space. Hope that helps!

  5. Phyllis Keith says:

    Instead of using orange juice, a chef suggested a Vitamin C table. It works just fine!

  6. Judith Matthias says:

    I’ve been making latkes for 40+ years, and have never thought to make them this way. I can’t wait to follow all of your tips. I am sure my family will be thrilled at the results–they expect latkes every night of Hannukah!

    By the way, even though I don’t comment on all of your posts, I do read every one, and have tried a number of your recipes. Yum!!

  7. Elayne says:

    What a great idea to use panko. I can’t wait to try these!

  8. Yael says:

    Your latkes look like the best I have ever seen!

  9. Stella says:

    Genius! Absolute genius.

    This looks like the most efficient and tasty latke recipe ever. I’m definitely going to try it – though, sadly, I don’t have a fancy enough food processor for that tip. I have a little one with no attachments. But I have a mandoline that will work just fine, if a little more slowly.

    I love that blue plate in the main pic, too. You always have the prettiest serving plates and bowls!

  10. Craig says:

    Hi –

    Love your blog and try things here and there. I want to make these Latkes, but I can’t find Potato Starch. I went to 2 main stream supermarkets. Nothing! Looked in the baking and ethnic food sections. Where can I find it?

    Thanks,
    Craig

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Craig! Sorry you’re having trouble. It’s easier to find at Passover, though it is becoming more widely available now that so many people are going gluten free. Did you check the kosher food section? If yes and still no luck, then go ahead and make them without the starch. If you find your latkes are crumbling and not holding together well, you can add more egg and panko. You can also use flour as a sub for the potato starch, though I like the consistency of the starch better.

      One more note– when you drain the potato shreds, drain them slowly you’ll notice a milky white substance has collected at the bottom of the bowl where they soaked. That’s potato starch. Scoop it up with a spoon and throw it into your potato shreds, it should help the batter “stick.” Good luck!

    • Craig says:

      Thanks. Guess I also should have put 2 + 2 together and realized “Jewish” food, look in the Jewish food section! I also live in Boston (specifically in the Brookline area) so I should be able to find it here year round considering we have MANY Hasidic Jews in the area. Thanks again.

  11. Leah says:

    These look amazing. I love the idea of Panko as the binder. I always make Yukon Gold potato latkes. I think I’ll be making these next weekend.

    • Tori Avey says:

      These will work great with Yukon Golds, Leah, and you won’t have as much of an issue with browning. YG’s naturally have a bit less starch, though, so add more potato starch if you need to keep them from falling apart. Enjoy!

  12. Chaseburgmama says:

    I stopped peeling potatoes years ago for latke making. I just scrub them well before quartering them and grating them in the Cuisinart. Haven’t seen skinned knuckles/ ruined manicures
    Forever. Looking forward to using the Panko crumbs.

  13. Dana says:

    Love the panko idea! For the potato starch, I acutally save the liquid I squeeze from the potatoes and onion. That liquid is mostly water, but there’s also quite a bit of starch from the potatoes. Just drain the water, and add the potato-flavored starch!

  14. Donald says:

    To keep the potatoes bright white, I add some crystal vitamin C (sold at Trader Joes and health food stores) to the water in which I put the grated potato. Cover with a paper towel and sprinkle some more of the Vit. C on. It will keep in the fridge for more tha a day.

  15. Alice says:

    Looks yummy, thanks for the tips!!

  16. Sheila says:

    These look amazing. I have never made them myself…and dare to say I have probably never had a truly delish latke. Might have to give this a whirl this season. And oh yeah I prefer applesauce!

  17. Sam says:

    Love the panko and starch ideas. Have you ever tried frying in coconut oil? Gives them a lovely extra flavor ( but I usually do that for parties NOT during Chanukah)

  18. Antonia says:

    I am wondering if part of the secret is the thinness of the potato shreds. I noticed that the food processor on your site has two sizes of shredding: fine and medium. And the photos show a very fine shredded potato. My relatively old food processor, a Cuisinart, only has medium. My latkes tend not to hold together well, and I am wondering if it is something to do with the size of my “shreds?”

  19. Pearl Rosenberg says:

    HELP – I need recipe for gluten free potato latkes and would also like recipe for sweet potato (yams) latkes. My daughter tasted them somewhere and said they were really delicious.
    Thanks.

  20. Susan Rosen-Robinson says:

    I haven’t made latkes in ages and I am embarassed to admit that I only used the Manischewitz boxed mix. I cannot wait to try this recipe. However, I have to say, after printing this recipe out I said, “This better be good because I’ve never cooked anything that had 3 pages to the recipe before.” I say this in jest because I’m dying to cook some of the wonderful things I grew up eating as a child.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hey Susan! Just FYI, the recipe prints long because I tried to be VERY detailed with the process. The more details I include, the less of a chance somebody might go wrong. It’s really not a very complicated recipe. Enjoy!

  21. Brenda says:

    I live in London and would like to make your Latkes but what are Panko crumbs?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Brenda, click the link in the blog above and it will take you to my market so you can see what they look like. They’re basically Japanese-style breadcrumbs (the same you would use for tempura), but they’ve become more mainstream recently and can be found in most American markets next to the regular breadcrumbs. If you have trouble finding them, try a Japanese market, or you can substitute regular breadcrumbs if you like. Enjoy!

  22. Jacqueline says:

    I am definitely going to try mine this way. I love crispy latkes with sour cream and sometimes a little horseradish. I usually stick with traditional potato latkes but I do like spinach and leek latkes.

  23. Laureen Hart says:

    Loved watching you on TV this morning and your sense of humor at calling yourself a shiksa. A very beautiful one at that!
    I also used a tablespoon of lemon juice to stop the oxidation and browning of the potatoes. I made then last week for fun, with an Italian twist, using parmaesan cheese and chopped basil in the mixture. They were delicious. I will definitely try them with panko crumbs since I use them a lot for my Chicken Schnitzels.

    • Tori Avey says:

      So sweet of you Laureen, I’m happy you caught the segment! The Italian version sounds awesome. My friend from Mexico also makes a version with cheese, she’s going to teach me soon. Can’t wait!

  24. Ilke says:

    Great! I am set to go make latkes! :) This recipe yields a lot of latkes for just two of us but I guess it is worth if I am going through this anyway. Will try them soon! My choice to dip would be a yogurt dip with herbs to stay on the healthy side :)

  25. Connie says:

    I first need to commend you and your blog. I stop by occassionaly. Today, I originally stopped by to check out your Hannukah fritters and then latched onto this recipe. (though I may need your forgiveness, I am not Jewish, yet I have deep respect for tradition and foods) I intend to try your fritters for a lovely Sunday brunch along with the latkes with eggs on the side. Have a wonderful day. Now off I go to check out your shop.

  26. Alexan says:

    Hello,

    we don’t have potato starch here. Should I use normal starch?
    Kind regards from Africa
    Alexan

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Alexan! As I mentioned to a reader before you, go ahead and make them without the starch. If you find your latkes are crumbling and not holding together well, you can add more egg and panko. You can also use flour as a sub for the potato starch, though I like the consistency of the starch better. Also, when you drain the potato shreds, drain them slowly you’ll notice a milky white substance has collected at the bottom of the bowl where they soaked. That’s potato starch. Scoop it up with a spoon and throw it into your potato shreds, it should help the batter “stick.” Good luck!

  27. Alexan says:

    You can use the wire rack of your microwave!
    Alexan

  28. Alexan says:

    thank you very much.
    Alexan

  29. Gaby says:

    I know it’s a little late to ask this as I’m ready to make them now, but your pictures look like you used a lot more than 1/8 of a teaspoon oil! Are my eyes deceiving me? I’ll use your recommended amount and see how it goes. Gotta run, my family is coming for lunch. Oh, by the way, a new family tradition at my house is Leite’s apple fritters, not sufganiot. If you’ve never tried them, do! They are fantastic! Chag Sameach!

  30. Lisa Powers says:

    Do you use dried/crispy Panko Crumbs?

  31. Gail Srebnik says:

    Made these tonight – used white potatoes, hand grated and squeezed out what I could. Fried them in grapeseed oil …we loved them!

  32. Linda says:

    I just made your recipe for potato latkes last night and they were loved by all. My mother gave me the suggestion years ago to give the shredded potatoes a quick spin with the regular metal blade in the quasinart to make it less hashed brown looking. I did and they were great. Only problem with latkes are the clean up, but well worth the effort.

  33. Toby says:

    Your recipe sounds amazing and will want to try it with the Panko crumbs… always wondered about those. My question is: if you’re going to squeeze the liquid out with a cloth, why do you bother rinsing it in water? To me that just seems to add more liquid, while washing away the flavour, especially since you’re going to put the potato starch (or other binder) right back in since you want the ingredients to stick together. Made mine this way the other night & they were yummy I have to say.

  34. Carol says:

    These look really great! I’ve always used Joan Nathan’s recipe for latkes which suggests squeezing out the water from the shredded potatoes, and using the starch left over. But I’m going to try the panko crumbs this year. I also have some goose fat that I’ve been saving for just this sort of thing, so I’ll add to the grapeseed oil. Can’t wait! (Thanks, BTW, for the encouragement to forget calories/fat/etc. I will do just that!!!)

  35. ARI says:

    1 like your posting bold to name such,
    2 This recipe sound very similar to the one I use but I will try your refinement of Panko read crumbs sounds great

  36. ARI says:

    Donna and I love your step by step photos and directions ,too bad all can not be saved in recipe box.

  37. Peggy says:

    I’ve always used flour in my latke-making, but definitely willing to change it up and try the panko! These look gorgeously golden brown!

  38. These latkes look so crispy and fluffy! Yum…and I like to eat mine with sour cream AND apple sauce.

  39. Diana says:

    Best latkes I’ve ever made. They were soft, light and just scrumptious. Thanks, Tori! You don’t disappoint.

  40. Craig says:

    Yes, THE best latkes I too have ever made! The one tip I can pass along is to make sure you really get out as much of the water from the potatoes as you can before frying them.

    This is certainly one for the recipe box to keep hold of for easy access. Thanks Tori!

  41. Andy says:

    This looks like a great recipe. One suggestion that I’d like to contribute is that instead of using a towel to remove the excess liquid from the potatoes, try using a potato ricer. I’ve been using one on the potatoes that I use for hash browns for years, and it really does a great job. It is important though to just use the ricer to compress the potatoes (and onions in this recipe, I suppose) to squeeze out the moisture- I’ve heard tell of somebody that wasn’t clear on that particular instruction and they ruined their ricer by trying to force raw potato out the holes… As a Goy, I haven’t had latkes since grade school, but I look forward to trying this recipe! Oh, and as I recall, I was a fan of the sour cream as a condiment.

  42. hira razzaq says:

    ur recipe z amazing

  43. the best latkes ever! I made it for the seventh nigth. Love the panko and potato starch. They came out perfectly! Thanks for share!
    Carmen

  44. Julie says:

    Tip for drying potatoes – use a salad spinner. You can dry in a towel as well but the spinner does most of it.

  45. Jessica says:

    Quick question… if I’m being lazy and using frozen pre-shredded potato, how many cups equal the 2 1/2 lbs of whole potatoes? Thanks for the recipe! :)
    Adding some spinach to mine

  46. Lorene says:

    I just made these last night ( we had to start Hanukkah a little late this year because hubby was out of town for work) and they came our perfectly! Thank you so much for the detailed, step by step instructions. Loved the pictures too. I usually dread making latkes but your instructions helped ease my angst. This Shiksa will not fear them next year :) Mahalo from Honolulu!

  47. Sarah says:

    I have always been leery about trying to make latkes myself and have often settled for the box mixes or going to one of our local delis and purchasing them. Thanks for all the great tips it’s going to be hard now to reserve this just for Hanukkah.

  48. Susan says:

    I’m glad somebody FINALLY said that the potatoes needn’t be peeled. Why would anyone in 2013 peel potatoes when so many of the vitamins are directly under the skin. I haven’t peeled a potato in twenty years!
    Thanks for your tips. I will not be using Panko but I understand why you suggest it.
    Best!

  49. Samantha says:

    I have to make about 200 for a large party this year. Do you have a recommendation for freezing and reheating?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Samantha, while I much prefer making latkes fresh, when you have a large party like that it is kind of tough to do. Fry the latkes golden brown. Once they have drained of oil, place them into a sealed freezer bag or Tupperware in single layers separated by parchment or wax paper. Freeze. When ready to reheat, place on an ungreased baking sheet in a 400 degree oven straight from the freezer until heated through just prior to serving (it will take 10-15 minutes).

  50. Jeanio says:

    Wow! This fried up so crisp and pretty. I did leave the skins on and it didn’t seem to make a difference.

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