As the holidays approach, it’s becoming more and more clear that Hanukkah will probably look quite a bit different this year. While I’m not Jewish, I enjoy learning about other religions and cultures through travel and food. Since travel isn’t possible this year, I’ve made more of an effort to explore and understand where traditional dishes come from through cooking.
Prior to making this recipe for vegan potato latkes, my latke knowledge was limited. I knew that latkes were made from potatoes and that they are traditionally enjoyed during Hanukkah. As with all recipes with a rich history, especially those rooted in religion, there was so much more to dig into.
The Hebrew word for latkes is levivot, which is what latkes are called in Israel. Each family has its own latke recipe that is passed from generation to generation, but nearly every iteration is made with the same ingredients: potato, onion, egg, and matzo meal or breadcrumbs.
Like other traditional foods enjoyed around Hanukkah, latkes are fried in oil. Latkes are fried in oil to pay homage to the miracle of Hanukkah, when a small portion of oil kept the menorah in the Jewish temple lit for eight days instead of one (you can read more about this here.)
You’ll want to choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or grapeseed oil, otherwise your latkes will burn.
For the crispiest latkes, choose a potato that is on the dry, mealy side. I found russet potatoes to be perfect. The potato will oxidize and change color as soon as it’s shredded, but this won’t affect the flavor.
Place the shredded potato and onion in a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Season the potato and onion with kosher salt and black pepper and stir in some matzo meal to help the latkes bind together. In place of an egg, I used a flax egg, which is simple to make by combining ground flaxseed with water.
When you’re ready to cook your latkes, use enough oil to coat the bottom of your skillet, but not so much that the latkes are swimming. You’ll need to add more oil to the skillet in between each batch as the latkes absorb it.
When they’re deeply golden brown and crisp on both sides, place the latkes on a wire cooling rack to drain. Avoid draining the latkes on a paper towel, which can prevent them from staying crisp.
Depending on how much potato mixture you use for each latke, you can make these vegan potato latkes very thin and crisp or crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Serve with vegan sour cream or applesauce for dipping. I think both are delicious!Print
These vegan Potato Latkes were inspired by traditional latkes enjoyed during Hanukkah. They're perfectly crisp on the outside and soft inside!
- 1½ tablespoons ground flaxseed (also called flaxseed meal)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1½ pounds russet potatoes
- ½ yellow onion
- ¼ cup matzo meal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Several twists of black pepper
- Canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil, for frying
- Green onion, finely chopped, for serving
- Vegan sour cream and/or applesauce, for serving
- Combine the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl to create a flax egg. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 325F degrees and place a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.
- Scrub the potatoes and cut them in half crosswise. Drape a tea towel over a mixing bowl.
- Shred the potatoes on a box grater and transfer the shreds to the tea towel. Shred the onion and add it to the tea towel to join the shredded potato.
- Lift up the ends of the tea towel and twist to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the shredded potato and onion (I extracted ½ cup of liquid). Pour off the liquid and transfer the potato and onion to the bowl.
- Add the matzo meal, kosher salt, and black pepper to the potato and onion and gently mix. Then add the flax egg and work it into the ingredients.
- Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.
- Scoop golf ball sized amounts (about 2 tablespoons) of the potato mixture into the skillet and press down with a spatula to flatten. With latkes this size, you should get about 16. For thinner, crispier potato latkes, use half the amount for each (you should get 30 to 32).
- Working in batches, cook the potato latkes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned and crispy. Add more oil to the skillet between batches as needed.
- Place the wire cooling rack/baking sheet in the oven. As you finish a round of potato latkes, transfer them to the cooling rack/baking sheet in a single layer.
- Top the potato latkes with finely chopped green onion and serve with vegan sour cream and/or applesauce.
- Reheat leftover potato latkes in a cast iron skillet until warm and crispy.
- Serving size is four latkes.
- Nutrition information does not include vegan sour cream or applesauce.
Keywords: vegan latke recipe, easy latke recipe