This Spicy Potato Latkes Recipe for Hanukkah blends the vibrant flavors of two cuisines and cultures near and dear to my heart. It’s a Mexican-Jewish fusion dish and unique twist on a classic Hanukkah favorite. With the right potatoes and skillet, you’ll be on your way to making perfectly crispy potato latkes with just the right amount of spice. Be sure to check out more of my small plates and snacks!
SPICY POTATO LATKE RECIPE INSPIRATION
Have you read the children’s book Jalapeño Bagels? One of my friends gave it to me when I was pregnant with Amado and it tells the story of a little boy named Pablo whose father is Jewish and mother is Mexican. Pablo is faced with the decision to present a food at school that represents his culture for International Day and he is torn.
Ultimately he decides to take jalapeño bagels, which represent his culturally rich American family. The story reminded me very much of our own little familia and how we navigate between temple and church, English and Spanish, Christmas and Hanukkah, and tamales and latkes seamlessly.
It’s become somewhat of a tradition to make this spicy potato latkes recipe for Hanukkah, whether we’re at home in Colorado or in California for Christmas (because sometimes the holidays overlap!). I’ve tasted my fair share of latkes, and these are by far my favorites. They’re golden, super crispy, and perfectly spicy.
WHAT ARE LATKES?
For anyone who isn’t familiar with latkes, they are similar to hash browns, and are basically a fried potato pancake eaten during Hanukkah. They’re traditionally served with sour cream and applesauce, but I top mine with pico de gallo, apple salsa, or spicy pineapple jam.
I learned the basic recipe from my suegra, and then added my Mexican twist to it. She also makes similar fried fritters during Passover, but with zucchini and leaks instead of potatoes. I just love this creative use of vegetables!
WHAT IS HANUKKAH?
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish celebration commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Observed in December, it involves lighting the menorah, consuming fried foods, exchanging gifts, and recalling the miraculous oil that burned for eight days, symbolizing hope and resilience.
- Potatoes: I prefer Russet potatoes for latkes because of their high potato starch content and low moisture. The starch from russets helps create a crisp exterior during frying. Some people buy pre-shredded potatoes, or shred them in a food processor, but I like to shred my own and soak them in water overnight to chill before frying. Yukon gold potatoes also work.
- Large eggs: act as a binder for the latkes.
- Seasonings: Diamond Kosher Salt and pepper are all you need for great flavor!
- Onion: thinly sliced green onion or shredded white or yellow onion work well in this recipe; just avoid large chunks.
- Serrano pepper: jalapeños also works if you prefer less spice.
- All-purpose flour: works as a binding agent.
- Baking powder: creates a lighter, fluffier latke.
- Vegetable oil or safflower oil: I prefer safflower oil for frying, but vegetable or canola oil also work. Some people also use schmaltz, a rendered chicken fat, for frying.
RECOMMENDED FOR THIS RECIPE
TOOLS, SUPPLIES, AND EQUIPMENT
- Potato peeler
- Salad spinner or cheesecloth: this is key for spinning out excess moisture from potatoes.
- Cutting board
- Box grater: I use this to shred my potatoes.
- Large bowl
- Large cast-iron pan or skillet: I believe that using a cast-iron skillet is the key to crispy latkes.
- Plate (or baking sheet) and paper towels: for draining excess oil from latkes.
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Peel potatoes and soak them in cold water until you are ready to shred. Once ready, using a box grater, shred potatoes and be sure to soak them in cold water immediately to prevent them from turning brown. You can do this the night before and keep the potatoes covered in water in the refrigerator.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, salt and pepper.
Add onions, flour, and baking powder and mix well.
Next, remove potatoes from water and rinse them very well. Then use a salad spinner, piece of cheese cloth, or a nut milk bag to squeeze out excess liquids. Squeezing as much liquid out as possible is essential to reduce the amount of oil that splashes when frying the potato patties. Add potatoes to the egg batter.
Prepare pan with oil, and set stove to medium-high heat. Once it is very hot (test by adding a piece of potato to make sure it sizzles), form potato patties by scooping a tablespoon of the potato mixture into your hand and shaping it into a flat patty that is about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter.
Working in batches, add potato pancakes to the hot oil and fry until golden brown before flipping and browning on the opposite side. This process should take about 2-3 minutes total for each latke.
Remove latkes from pan and drain excess oil by placing them on a paper-towel lined plate or baking sheet.
HOW TO REHEAT LATKES
Store latkes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat leftover latkes, place them in a preheated oven or air fryer at 325°F for about 5-10 minutes or until warmed through.
LOOKING FOR MORE INSPIRATION?
- Tacos de Papa (Potato Tacos)
- Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
- Spicy Pineapple Jam with Manchego Cheese
- Manchego Cheese with Quince Jam, Agave, and Pecans
- Chiles Toreados (Mexican Blistered Peppers)
- Chipotle Deviled Eggs
Spicy Potato Latkes Recipe for Hanukkah
- Plate or baking sheet
- Paper towels
- 3 Russet potatoes shredded (about 2 cups)
- 2 eggs (large)
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 green onions thinly sliced into rings
- 1 serrano chile pepper thinly sliced into rings
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup safflower oil
- Peel potatoes and soak them in cold water until you are ready to shred. Once ready, using a box grater, shred potatoes and be sure to immediately soak them in cold water to prevent them from turning brown. You can do this the night before and keep the potatoes covered in water in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, mix eggs, salt and pepper.
- Add onions, seranno pepper, flour, and baking powder and mix well.
- Remove potatoes from water and rinse them very well. Then use a salad spinner, nut milk bag, or piece of cheesecloth to squeeze out excess water. Add potatoes to the egg mixture.
- Prepare pan with oil, and set stove to medium-high heat. Once it is very hot (test by adding a piece of potato to make sure it sizzles), form potato patties by scooping a tablespoon of the potato mixture into your hand and shaping it into a flat patty that is about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter.
- Working in batches, add potato pancakes to the hot oil and fry until golden brown before flipping and browning on the opposite side. This process should take about 2-3 minutes total for each latke.
- Remove latkes from oil and drain excess oil by placing them on a plate lined with a paper towel. Taste and season with additional salt while hot if necessary.
A Note from Lola
- Keep latkes hot while frying by placing the cooked ones in an oven at 275 degrees.
- Reheat leftover latkes in an air fryer, toaster oven, oven set at 325 degrees or a hot skillet to maintain crispiness. Place the latkes on a baking sheet in a single layer, ensuring they aren’t crowded. Heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until they are thoroughly warmed and crispy.
Recipe originally published: December 14, 2017
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Lola Wiarco Dweck
Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.