Traditional Chanukkah Latkes are served during the Jewish holiday of Hanukah to remind us of the miracle of the burning of the oil lamp.
All the flavor of traditional Latkes, without all the grease. These latkes can be made in your Air Fryer or you can use the traditional method and fry in oil, which is super fantastic too! Both methods are included in the recipe card below.
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What is Chanukkah?
- In 164 BCE, Judah Maccabee and his group, saw that the Oil Lamp (the eternal flame) had only enough oil to last one day. It took them eight nights to replenish the Oil. Miraculously, the Oil Lamp burned for eight days, until there more Oil was obtained.
- Chanukkah starts on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar and lasts for eight days.
- It falls between late November and December each year. This is based on the Hebrew Lunar Calendar. It is about eleven days shorter than a solar year. Every two or three year, an intercalation of a month is added to the Hebrew Calendar to bring it in line with the solar year.
- Chanukkah is also known as “The Festival of Lights” or the “Feast of Dedication.”
Latkes are traditionally cooked in Oil during Chanukkah. I like to use Avocado Oil and/or Vegetable Oil, or whatever you like. Just make sure that whichever oil you use, works well with high temperatures.
Ingredients for Traditional Chanukkah Latkes
- Oil – I like to use a combination of Avocado Oil and Vegetable Oil
- Matzo Meal and/or Potato Starch
- A few more simple ingredients
Why Do Jews Fry Latkes in Oil?
- Latkes symbolize and commemorate the miracle of the burning of the oil lamp in the Jewish Temple.
- In other countries, doughnuts are fried in oil, are eaten during Chanukkah. If attending a Chanukkah party, you may notice many types of food served, have been friend in Oil.
The onions should be peeled and quartered first and set aside while you work on the potatoes.
Peel or Not to Peel Potatoes?
- Either way is fine. I quickly peel mine, but do leave on some of the skin.
Wait until all potatoes are peeled before starting to process onions and potatoes.
Pro Tip: Shred the potatoes and onions together (alternating between onion and potato in the food processor shoot) to help the potatoes from oxidizing so quickly.
A Food Processor is your best friend! I recommend the Cuisinart Large Food Processor when making Potato Lakes. Traditionally a box grater is used. It’s done by hand, by love. 🙂 However, I prefer saving my knuckles from getting cut.
Keep Potatoes from Oxidizing
Potatoes oxidize pretty quickly and brown latkes are gross.
- Place the peeled potatoes in a Medium Mixing Bowl with water and a bit of vinegar to prevent the oxidation.
- Try to shred the potatoes and onions quickly and then place back into the bowl of water/vinegar. This will keep the potatoes from oxidizing as well as allow some of the potato starch to sink to the bottom of the bowl. That creamy potato starch is great to add into the squeezed potato and onion mixture!
Pro Tip: If you want to get really authentic, after grating the potatoes, just place about 80-90% of them into the bowl of the vinegar water (where you had the whole potatoes soaking) and then use the chopping blade and give the rest of the potatoes/onions a quick pulse. The two textures are terrific.
- Some people like to make savory style latkes to eat with their meal. Herbs, such as Chives and Scallions can be added for additional flavor. Oh, those are really good!
- Garlic Powder, Nutmeg and Allspice are sometimes used in making savory latkes too. An interesting twist for Thanksgiving is to add bit of Pumpkin Spice to the potato mix. OMG, that is good!
What Binds the Potatoes together:
- Matzo Meal or Potato Starch
- Chia Seeds are wonderful in binding and add a slightly chewy taste to the center.
The addition of melted butter and chives really kicks my Traditional Chanukkah Latkes up a notch. They are truly the best I have ever had.
Soaking Potatoes for any use, makes potatoes taste better. Check out my Air Fryer Perfect French Fries and my Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes. There is a reason the reviews are so terrific. Soaking potatoes is key to better tasting potatoes!
It is super important to get out as much water from the potatoes and onions as possible. This is KEY in getting a perfectly crisp latke. Use a Tea Towel or a strong Paper Towel and squeeze out as much water as possible. Extra water will cause the Latkes to fall a part, which is not good.
After draining the water from the Potatoes, you will see some pure white starch left behind. Save that Potato Starch!!
Pro Tip: The starch in the bottom of the potato water is great to use! It helps to add extra crispness
Add the shredded potatoes and onions to a medium bowl and then mix in the other dry ingredients, along with the chopped chives.
Scrape out the Potato Starch from the Bowl where the Potatoes were soaking and mix it into the Latkes mix. Notice the color of the Mix. No brown or green color here. I have a story about that. Check the other Latkes recipe for that story.
Air Frying Method v. Stovetop Method
- Both are delicious. Below you will find photos for using the air fryer. In the written directions in the recipe card below, you will find instructions for both methods.
Grab about 1/4 cup of Latkes mix and form into a flat circle.
Coat Air Fryer Latkes with Potato Starch
- Potato Starch will help hold the latkes together and will help give them the crisp they need.
Often times, Chremslach, Yiddish for “fried pancake,” appear on deli menus as Potato Pancakes. They are not the same thing as Latkes, which are thin and crispy. Chremslach, are made with potatoes that are first mashed and then made into a thick batter. Almost like a Knish, but without the crust.
Pro Tip: This is only done when making latkes in an air fryer.
Prior to using your Air Fryer, make sure to read my Article on How to Properly Season an Air Fryer. I like to use a glass oil mister and I suggest this Glass Oil Mister. It doesn’t clog and once you pump it, you can spray and spray and spray.
You will want to completely coat the latkes with the oil, so spray, spray, spray.
Pro Tip: After coating the latkes in the potato starch, you can dip them in a bowl of oil and then place into the air fryer.
I have another Latkes recipe. Check out my Air Fryer Potato Latkes Bites. They are super yum and crispy too. Those are easy to make and fun to serve at parties.
Don’t worry about making perfectly shaped latkes, after all, latkes are not perfectly shaped and pieces of the potato stick out all around and become super crispy.
Air Fryer Latkes are just about as good as pan fried and definitely better than baked in the oven!!!
You can be proud of them, knowing that they are the real deal. After all, Jewish law never indicated how much oil one had to be use for frying latkes.
This what Potato Latkes look like pan fried. Really delicious. You can see the chia seeds and chives in the latkes. So much yum!
More Jewish Recipes to Make:
- Grandma Rose’s Kugel
- Pressure Cooker Sweet & Sour Stuffed Cabbage
- Pressure Cooker Shabbos Brisket
- Pressure Cooker Lokshen Mit Kaese [Noodles & Cheese]
Kitchen Equipment and Essentials
- Ultrean 8.5 Quart Air Fryer
- J.A. Henckels Classic 7-inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife
- Amco Advanced Performance 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
- Simply Gourmet (Dry) Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
- Cuisinart Large Food Processor
- Rösle Stainless Steel Flat Whisk– a MUST have, probably my most used utensil
- Cilio Olivewood Spatula
- Alton Brown Salt Box and Electric Pepper Mill
- Olive Oil Sprayer / Mister for Cooking
- My FANTASTIC Teak Cutting & Charcuterie Board & Compartments
- 3.5 Quart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl
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Here is the handy printable recipe:
- 3 pounds Russet Potatoes peeled
- 1 large Yellow/Brown Onion
- 4 Fresh Chives
- 4 large Eggs
- 3 Tablespoons Melted Butter cooled
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1/3 cup Matzo Meal or potato starch
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- Potato Starch for dusting (air fryer only)
- Avocado Oil and/or Vegetable Oil mix
- 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
- Cut away ends of onion, peel and cut into quarters.
- Scrub Potatoes, peel and place into a large bowl of water + 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar.
- Use a shredding blade in your food processor and turn on motor.
- Slice potatoes lengthwise and alternate adding potatoes and onions into shoot of Food Processor.
- Remove approximately 80-90% of onion and potato from food processor and put it into the bowl of vinegar water.
- Use the food processor's regular mixing blade and pulse, three times, the remaining potatoes and onion.
- Add the chopped potatoes and onions into the bowl with the rest of the potatoes and onions and let soak for a couple of minutes.
- Place butter in microwave safe bowl and melt. About 10 seconds is enough. Remove from micro and set aside to cool.
- Little by little, squeeze out potatoes and onions in a cheesecloth and place each squeezed section into a large colander.
- Place colander of potatoes and onions over bowl of water.
- Press and squeeze potatoes and onions so that any excess water drains into the bowl. the drier the mixture, the better!
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper and melted butter.
- Remove colander from over bowl and dump onions and potatoes into a large mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle matzo meal (or potato starch), chopped chives, chia seeds (if using) and baking powder over shredded potatoes and onions. Mix it all in really well!
- Slowly and gently drain out water from bowl, being careful to allow the thick potato starch remain in the bottom of the bowl. Scoop out the starch from the bowl and add to latkes mixture.
Air Fryer Baking
- Use a cookie scoop place scoops onto flat surface and dust on a bit of potato starch. With a spatula or fork, flatten latkes to nor more than 1/4 thick.
- Spray one side of Latkes well with Oil. Place oil side down in well oiled Air Fryer. Generously spray Latkes with Oil. (Alternatively, dip latkes in a bowl of oil and place in air fryer.)
- Air Fry at 380 degrees for 9 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes. Serve with Applesauce and Sour Cream.
Stove Top Directions
- Heat 1/4-1/2 inch of oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
- Place dollops of latke mixture into skillet and flatten with fork.
- Fry for about 5-7 minutes, turning after ends begin to brown.
- Place latkes on the inside of a brown paper bag or on paper towels.
- To keep the latkes traditional with the oil, you can always dip the latkes in the oil and then use the air fryer, so that would make them closer to traditional without pan frying and without all the splatter all over your oven!