Lilly’s Latkes (A Hanukkah Classic from a Real Jewish Grandmother)

We like to celebrate all the holidays (and eat all the holiday foods), and nothing says Hanukkah quite like a plate of freshly made latkes. Since Zach, our resident chef, grew up eating plate after plate of his grandma’s, we thought we would ask him to share the family recipe. Take it away Zach!

I’ve mentioned on the site before that every Jewish kid says their grandma makes the best matzo ball soup. The same goes for latkes. Luckily for me I’m right! With Hanukkah coming up, it got me craving some latkes just like my grandma makes. Growing up, I would go over to my grandparent’s house a few days a week and every time I did, my grandma would ask if I wanted latkes. Whether I said yes or no, she would make them, knowing I was going to eat whatever was in front of me (that still hasn’t changed). When I got older and moved out, I needed to be able to make them on my own, so I followed her around the kitchen learning how she made them so perfectly crisp yet fluffy. She doesn’t measure anything, but this is my best attempt at putting her recipe down on paper.

There are two traditional ways of eating latkes. Some people like them topped with sour cream, others top it with apple sauce. I honestly love both, but if apple sauce is your jam, then I included how I like to make a homemade version. It’s a lot more flavorful and healthier than the store bought kind. Make some for yourself and let us know how they turn out!

Ingredients

for the latkes

  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and washed

  • 1 large gold onion, peeled

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp salt, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • vegetable oil for frying

for the apple sauce

  • 2 honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced

  • 1/2 cup apple juice

  • 1/4 cup sugar

directions

  • Using the finely grated side of a box grater (the side with the small, prickly holes), grate potatoes and onion into a large bowl.
    • Some people use the larger shredding side of a grater for more of a hash brown style latke. This recipe calls for them to basically be turned to mush, which is how you get the light, fluffy latkes pictured here.
  • Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the oil, and mix well until the flour is combined.
  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Pour in oil until it’s about 1/4 inch deep and let it heat up.
  • Drop batter into the pan (about 2 tbsp per latke), cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten the batter into discs.
    • The batter should sizzle when you drop it into the oil. If it doesn’t then turn up the heat slightly and give the oil a minute to heat up before making more.
  • Cook until the edges are browned and crispy, about 4-5 minutes, then flip. Cook another 4-5 minutes until both sides are browned and batter is cooked through. Transfer latkes to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining batter.
    • The latkes will soak up some oil as you cook them so you may need to add more as you cook them. Make sure if you do to give the oil time to heat up before adding more batter.
  • Serve latkes topped with either apple sauce or sour cream and fresh dill.
  • To make the apple sauce put the apples, juice, and sugar in a pot and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until apples have softened.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until no large chunks are left. If you don’t have an immersion blender then a regular blender will work.
  • Transfer to bowl and let it cool.
    • Apple sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time.

  1. Dearest Zach, thank you for sharing your Grandma’s recipe. Love her. Two years ago I inherited the honor of making the matzo ball soup. Maybe I should volunteer to make the latkes. I am so proud of you. Happy Hanukkah!!