A Small, Smart Tip for the Best-Looking Latkes

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

When Hanukkah starts tonight, Jews around the country and the world will celebrate in a wide variety of ways, but many will involve the delicious but somewhat dumpy-looking fried potato pancakes known as latkes. The holiday calls for feasting on foods that involve oil because the legend behind the holiday tells of when one night’s worth of oil burned for a miraculous eight nights. For some people that means doughnuts, for others olive oil cake. But the most common is latkes — crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and full of delicious, salty potato goodness.

Few people have ever described latkes as beautiful, however. Sure, if you dollop the traditional toppings of sour cream and applesauce on just right and sprinkle on some snipped chives, you can make the plate look good. But the latke itself rarely does more than sit like a tasty but boring-looking lump of potatoes. That is, until recently! A few smart folks on Instagram used one of the trendiest of tools, the spiralizer, to turn their potato pancakes into pretty little lookers.

Instead of grating or shredding the potatoes and onions, explains one Instagram user, you simply run them through the spiralizer. You can’t quite squeeze them out as many people do, so they suggest gently patting out as much of the moisture as possible. “So much faster and easier,” says another Instagram user. “And the results are just as delicious and crispy.” 

While most versions leave the tightly-spiraled tubers pressed together for a neat concentric circles effect, these sweet potato latkes use the spaghetti-like strands pulled out separately to give a cool loopy aesthetic — and probably add more crispy crunchy bits from the extra thin pieces. 

Spiralizing latkes is a departure from tradition, but part of the fun of Hanukkah is how open to interpretation it is — in fact, it’s long been thought that potato latkes were just an evolution from the original cheese pancakes made to celebrate. As long as there’s oil, it’s appropriate!