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Michael Symon's Tips For Perfect Potato Pancakes

Michael Symon's Tips For Perfect Potato Pancakes

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional dish found on many Hanukkah tables. They're also frequently found in chef Michael Symon's kitchen. He's been enjoying potato pancakes his entire life; when he was little, his dad would make them for breakfast. Last week, I was lucky enough to experience Symon's crispy, flavorful latkes firsthand. While he cooked up a batch, Symon provided some tips on how to make the ideal potato pancake. Get his suggestions, after the break.

  • Use russet potatoes. Symon prefers russets for their "perfect ratio of starchiness to liquid."
  • Remove as much liquid as possible. Line a bowl with a thin kitchen towel and let the grated potatoes drain. Then, wrap the towel around them and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
  • Don't incorporate too much flour. Add just enough flour to barely bind the potatoes. "You don't want pancakes with potatoes in them. They should be potato pancakes."
  • Fry in animal fat. According to Symon, extra virgin olive oil has a low smoking point. Thus, cooking at a high temperature will cause the oil to break down and lose flavor. He likes to fry his potatoes in bacon fat.
  • Work quickly. Potato pancakes are hard to make in advance. Air will cause the potato to oxidize and turn brown, so fry the cakes soon after forming. Cook for about two minutes per side, until the potatoes are "GBD — golden brown and delightful!"

What's your secret for making potato pancakes? Please share with us below!

Source: Flickr User kthread

limelightqueen limelightqueen 7 years
I learned to make Latkes from my dad. Do you guys puree the potatoes or grate them? I always preferred grated, just like my dad. I always use olive oil.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I love latkes! To those who are chiding him for saying he uses bacon fat, latkes aren't just a Jewish tradition. Hungarian and Polish cultures (among others, I'm sure) also eat latkes often. Jerewhon, I've had them both ways (in animal fat and in oil), and I have to say, you're right, they are fine with oil. But, they are much better than fine with animal fat!
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
ooooh i might have to try that this year lyrical! i wonder if that's the way my grandmother made them. i remember them being much lighter than the oily ones my mom made.
lyricalsoul lyricalsoul 7 years
My grandmother taught me to make latkes, and we've always cooked them in schmaltz. We also used beaten egg whites and the starch from the potatoes to hold them together. (No flour or matzo is used). They're light, crispy, and delicious.
poissondujour poissondujour 7 years
Do you think he realized how ridiculous/potentially offensive the bacon fat advice was? Or did he just assume no one reading a blog keeps kosher?
zeze zeze 7 years
--sorry, meant to say Party, not Yum.
zeze zeze 7 years
I love Hanukkah foods! I suggest frying in corn oil if bacon isn't an option. Yum, I would be great if you could include recipes from other holidays besides Christmas and Hanukkah, add a little variety and some new dishes haven't already eaten, cooked, or heard of everywhere else.
mek123 mek123 7 years
Snarkypants, I noticed the bacon fat as well. Don't think it would go over too well at my Hanukkah party. I need to find out how to make them without oil/grease covering my kitchen by the time I'm done.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
lol snarky good point. "and serve with a side of bacon cheeseburgers"
michlny michlny 7 years
snarkypants - I picked up on that too....pretty ironic. :)
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
hahahaha frying latkes in bacon fat! might not want to bring those to a hanukkah celebration :ROTFL:
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