Crispy Cheesy Latkes

published Dec 12, 2022
hanukkah
Crispy Cheesy Latkes Recipe

Everything you love about nachos and latkes combined into one, perfect, three-bite appetizer.

Serves5 to 10

Makes10 latkes

Prep30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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loaded latkes on a plate with tomatoes and other fixings to top them
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling; Anne Eastman

As a proud Jew, I both am obligated to and actually do love potato latkes. That said, I’ve eaten latkes at least once a year since before I could even form memories — so I like to find new, fun ways to make them.

If you don’t know about potato latkes, here’s a quick crash course in their historical Jewish tradition: The significant thing is that they’re fried in oil! The oil represents the miracle of Hanukkah, during which the oil for the menorah in the ransacked Second Temple of Jerusalem lasted for eight days, even though it shouldn’t have lasted for more than one. Many fried foods are eaten to celebrate Hanukkah for this reason, but latkes are far and away my favorite of them all.

Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling; Anne Eastman

The base of this dish is my family’s beloved recipe. It’s barely different than any of the wonderful, traditional potato latke recipes you’ll find all over the internet: shredded potatoes, onion, eggs, and starch bound together and fried to create potatoey, crispy, crunchy goodness. And for my new take, I was inspired by tatchos, or tater tot nachos. Dare I say, latkes are a larger, better, tastier vessel for the toppings! The cheddar is sharp and salty, and the sour cream is tangy and cooling in contrast with the spicy, pickled peppers. To serve, I like setting a bar — the hot, cheesy latkes on a platter surrounded by little bowls of the garnishes so guests can pick and choose what they like. They make a perfect, hearty appetizer or side dish. Or, if you’re me, you can eat half of them and call it dinner! 

Crispy Cheesy Latkes Recipe

Everything you love about nachos and latkes combined into one, perfect, three-bite appetizer.

Prep time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Makes 10 latkes

Serves 5 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the latkes:

  • 2 1/2 pounds

    russet potatoes (4 to 5 medium or 3 large)

  • 1

    medium white onion

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 2

    large eggs, beaten

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    vegetable or canola oil

For the toppings:

  • 4 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup shredded)

  • 1/2 cup

    sour cream

  • 10 to 12

    pickled jalapeño slices

  • 4

    pickled cherry peppers

Instructions

  1. Line a large bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Peel 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes and 1 medium white onion. Grate on the large holes of a box grater directly into the towel. Gather up the sides of the towel to form a bundle and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible into the bowl. Set the bundle aside and let the liquid sit for about 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, grate 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on large holes of the box grater (rinse and dry the grater first, about 1 cup). Thinly slice the whites of 3 medium scallions. Thinly slice the greens and reserve for garnish. Cut 4 pickled cherry peppers into 1/4-inch rings.

  3. Slowly pour off the excess liquid in the bowl, leaving the starch at the bottom behind. Add 2 large eggs and whisk to combine. Add the potatoes and onion, scallion whites, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper. Stir with a flexible spatula until well combined.

  4. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and fit a wire rack onto a second baking sheet.

  5. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, scoop 1/2-cup portions of the latke mixture, packing it in tightly, and place on the parchment.

  6. Working in batches of 4, carefully transfer the latkes with a flat spatula to the skillet, spacing them at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Use the spatula to gently press each one down until about 1-inch thick and 3-inches wide. Fry until the bottoms are deeply golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the latkes with the spatula and fry until the second side is deeply golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes more. If latkes are browning too quickly, reduce the heat as needed so they fry the full amount of time to make sure they cook through. Transfer to the wire rack and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.

  7. Sprinkle the latkes with the cheese (about 1 heaping tablespoon per latke). Bake until the cheese is melted, 4 to 5 minutes. Let your guests top the latkes on their own with the sour cream, pickled jalapeño slices, cherry pepper rings, and scallion greens. Alternatively, top before serving: Divide 1/2 cup sour cream among the latkes, top each with a pickled jalapeño slice and cherry ring, and garnish with the scallion greens.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The latkes can be fried up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Sprinkle with the cheese and reheat in a 400°F oven until warmed through and crisp again, 5 to 10 minutes. The toppings can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers.

Freezing: The fried latkes can be frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid, then transferred to a zip top bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Sprinkle with the cheese and reheat from frozen in a 400°F oven until warmed through and crisp, about 10 minutes.