Kitchn Love Letters

Latke Board

published Dec 6, 2023
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Overhead shot of a large wooden cutting board with filled with latkes and an assortment of toppings in small white bowls.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

For the past few holiday seasons, I’ve thrown a latke party for all of my friends. I make punch and unending trays of fried potato pancakes and cover my dining table in various toppings to mix and match. It’s one of my favorite gatherings of the year because everyone loves latkes and, essentially, I get to turn my table into one giant latke board. And while I love a good charcuterie board, I think I like this just a little bit better because it has fried potatoes.

After each party, I go back to my party spreadsheet (yes, I’m that person) and make notes for next-year-me so I can remember what worked and what didn’t. At this point, I’ve got it down to a science and there are a few tricks you should know, whether you’re making latkes for a group of four or a crowd of 20.

First, a Few Latke Guidelines

  • Make them small. Smaller latkes mean more pieces per person to try different topping combinations. Use your favorite recipe (Patty’s classic latke recipe is great), just divided into smaller potato pancakes. I like a tablespoon-sized scoop of potato mixture per latke.
  • Then, make the toppings small. Little latkes need little toppings. Cut your vegetables and other large toppings with scale in mind. 
  • It’s really easy to make these gluten free. Gluten-free all-purpose flour blends and gluten-free breadcrumbs both work as substitutes depending on your recipe.
  • Fry ahead, then reheat in the oven. If you’re feeding a crowd, you can fry earlier in the day, clean up that whole situation, and reheat later on a wire rack in the oven and they will still be crispy (450ºF for 4 to 5 minutes — you’re welcome!). Reheat in batches so people can continue eating hot latkes all night.
  • For a crowd, have some tots on deck. Listen, no matter how many latkes you make, people will eat them. If I’m inviting a lot of people, I like to keep a bag of frozen tots on deck. If we start to run low, I’ll throw them in the oven for one last round of bites.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Toppings

There are endless delicious things you can put on a latke, but as your starting point. Pick a few (or many) things from each category to ensure there is a good mix of options for everyone to try. 

Fish

  • Smoked salmon. I like classic nova lox, but you could also do something flavored like pastrami-cured lox.
  • Whitefish salad. Get store-bought. It’s a surprising hit.
  • Fish roe and caviar. This fancy topping will kick things up a notch, but it is pricey. If I’m serving a large group, I opt for trout or salmon roe rather than black caviar because it’s way more cost-effective. Wasabi- and yuzu-flavored tobiko are also fun and far less expensive. Wait to put this topping out right before serving.
  • Fancy tinned fish. Go for flavored varieties that will taste good right out of the can.

Spreads

  • Classic sour cream. You can’t skip it. The creamy spread will act as a good base for other toppings.
  • Horseradish crème fraîche. I like to stir prepared red beet horseradish into crème fraîche for another option (plus, the color differentiates it from sour cream).
  • Applesauce. It’s a classic and you have to do it. 
  • Whipped avocado. The creamy, dairy-free base goes great with savory toppings. Blend avocado with lemon juice and garlic in a food processor or blender until fluffy.
  • French onion dip. From the packet, of course.
  • Pepper jelly. The sweet heat goes nicely with other spreads as well as toppings. Chili jam or Thai sweet chili sauce would also be delicious.

Veggies

  • Red onion. Finely dice it raw or pickle thin slices.
  • Radishes. Any small variety will do.
  • Fresh herbs. Dill, chives, mint, and scallions will add freshness to any latke.
  • Cucumber. I like smaller Persian cucumbers because they don’t need to be peeled and the for smaller latkes.
  • Beets. Roasted or pickled, the earthy flavor pairs well with creamy spreads.

Extras

  • Capers
  • Chili crisp
  • Everything bagel spice
  • Furikake
  • Hot honey
  • Grated hard-boiled egg
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Lemon wedges for squeezing

The one thing not on my board

It’s ketchup — every time I put it out, no one touches it! So this year, I’m skipping it. However, if you or your guests want ketchup, go ahead and add it.

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