Baked potato pancakes (also called latkes) are a traditional Yiddish dish served on Chanukah. While it has a deep religious significance among the Jews, and is also considered a meal staple in Central and Eastern European countries.
However, these savory, crispy pancakes are now enjoyed by people from all cultures and countries—because it is delicious, easy to prepare, and made of very simple and affordable ingredients.
Baked potato pancakes use the typical ingredients found in any savory vegetable pancake: onion, eggs, and flour. However, modern potato pancakes can have numerous variations, including optional ingredients and different sauces to serve it with.
In this article, we’ll share the basic recipe and then give suggestions on how to switch things up based on your personal tastes, dietary needs, or even the available ingredients in your refrigerator.
How to make baked potato pancakes
This dish is one of the best things to prepare on a budget, because the ingredients are cheap and easy to find.
- Potatoes. Any potato variety will do in a pinch, but since it’s the main ingredient of the dish the final result will depend on what you use. Ideally, use starchy or mealy potato varieties like the Russet, since it releases less moisture during cooking and will lead to a crispier pancake. The second-best choice is an all-purpose potato like Yukon Gold.
- Onions. Using fresh onions add flavor and crunch, and more “heft” to the mixture that helps keep the pancake from falling apart.
- Egg. This acts as a binder, so the pancakes hold their shape. If you’re on a dairy-free diet, just add more flour.
- Flour or starch. Traditionally, you will need flour, but you can substitute with potato starch if you’re on a gluten-free diet, or just like a stronger potato flavor.
- Salt and pepper. You can adjust the amount according to taste, but most people like adding a generous amount of pepper.
- Oil. Since you need to keep the pan hot, use an oil that has a high smoke point like canola, or any vegetable oil. Do not use extra virgin olive oil, which is really more suitable for salads than
Tips and tricks
How do you make pancakes crispy, and what variations can you make? Here are some tricks that will help you get delicious results each time.
- In order to prevent pancakes from falling apart when you turn them, be sure to drain and squeeze out as much of the water as you can. You can also make smaller pancakes, which are easier to turn.
- If you are using a potato variety that is starchy and has a lot of water content, such as French fingerlings, red potatoes, or new potatoes, use more flour or potato starch in your batter.
- Get the texture you love by changing the way you grate the potatoes. Coarsely grated potatoes will be crispier, though you will have to cook them longer. Finely grated potatoes will be creamier and softer. That’s why this recipe uses a combination of both—but if you have a personal preference, you can always adjust the ratio.
- Feel free to add other ingredients to your basic potato recipe, such as finely chopped vegetables like carrots, finely chopped mushrooms like button or cremini, Parmesan cheese, chives, or finely chopped bacon or other meats. Just adjust the amount of eggs and flour to bind the ingredients better.
- If you don’t have an oven, you can pan-fry the potatoes. Just make sure you wait until the oil is hot before you place the batter.
- You can pre-prepare the batter, and store in the refrigerator to bake the next day. However, the batter will be more watery, so you will have to squeeze out excess moisture again before cooking. Never freeze the batter, because the pancakes will end up very mushy.
- Serve the baked potato pancakes with different kinds of sauces or dips. You can use sour cream, garlic aioli, spicy Korean dipping sauce, or even chimichurri sauce or a sweet-savory sauce like a citrus cranberry.
This easy, versatile dish can be served in so many ways and occasions. You can make a big batch for a filling breakfast, or make just enough to be a side dish for lunch or dinner. You can even make smaller pancakes topped with dollops of sour cream for fancy appetizers, or a crunchy snack while you have a cold beer. Enjoy!