The secret to how these easy vegan latkes (potato pancakes) hold together is using cooked oatmeal or quinoa flakes instead of the traditional eggs.
Make them easy with frozen hash browns. And the secret to their ease is starting with a good brand of frozen hash brown potatoes. This is especially handy if you don’t have a machine with a grating blade.
Organic hash browns are best. My preference is Alexia® Organic Hashed Browns (seasoned). I learned that lesson once when I made this latke recipe with a generic brand of supermarket hash browns. What a waste — no flavor at all, and rather mushy, not the ideal outcome for the culinary star of Hanukkah.
I prefer baking rather than frying the latkes, but …
If you still want to grate fresh potatoes and fry, feel free! If you feel that the grating and frying of potatoes to make latkes is part and parcel of the Hanukkah ritual, far be it from me to talk you out of it. You’ll need a pound of potatoes, same as the weight of the pre-grated hash browns.
But for me, the endless grating (even when I had the grating blade for my Cuisinart, which broke, and which I never was able to replace) and the heavy, greasy fried aroma that lingered and permeated my entire house, my clothing, and even my hair, finally got old.
Granted, it’s the ultra-crispy oiliness that are part of the charm of latkes for some people, but if you’re looking to give up the grease for greater ease, you might enjoy giving the baked verson a try.
Double this recipe for a bigger portion. This makes a batch of 20 to 22 latkes; a modest individual portion would be four per serving, though some people who shall remain nameless can practically breathe in half a batch. So double the recipe if need be; it’s easy to do.
You can make these gluten-free. If you use GF oats or quinoa flakes and omit the matzo meal, these easy vegan latkes are gluten-free.
Use a good vegan sour cream. Two brands are Follow Your Heart and Kite Hill. Of course, you can make your own using a package of silken tofu, pureed, with lemon juice and salt to taste. Vegan cream cheese is sometimes easier to find than vegan sour cream, so if you go that route, thin it with a little plant based milk to loosen the consistency a bit, and add a splash of lemon juice for tang. You may need to do this in a food processor or mini-prep.
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats (oatmeal) or quinoa flakes
- 16-ounce bag frozen organic hash brown potatoes
- 1 cup grated carrot (use pre-grated carrots for ultimate ease)
- 1 small onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup safflower or other neutral vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup matzo meal (or use more oatmeal or quinoa flakes)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Vegan sour cream
- If baking, preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Combine the oats with 1 1/2 cup boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Stir and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
- Combine the potatoes, carrot, onion, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Both the hash browns and pre-grated carrots can have long strands, so reach in with kitchen shears and cut here and there to shorten if so; this will help the latkes to stick together a bit better.
- Stir in the matzo meal (or alternative) and cooked oatmeal and stir together. If need be, add a little water to make the mixture easy to stir together (about 1/4 at a time) — the cooked oatmeal should be distributed evenly throughout. Season with salt and pepper.
- For baking: Line one or two baking sheets with parchment. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the potato mixture onto the parchment (don't pack tightly!), then flatten with the bottom of the cup. If you'd like these to turn out a little crispier, you can spray them lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then check; if the bottoms are golden brown, flip gently to the other side. If not, let them bake for 5 minutes or so longer. This will greatly depend on how accurate your oven is, and the position of the rack (which ideally should be in the center for these, though they’ll work wherever!).
- After flipping (you can spray lightly again if you'd like), bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the second sides are golden as well.
- For frying: Heat a generous amount of neutral high-heat oil (like safflower) in a sturdy non-stick skillet. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the potato mixture into the skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides. You'll need to do this in batches, so when each batch is done, transfer to a paper towel-lined casserole dish and cover; repeat until all are done.
- Serve warm with applesauce, vegan sour cream, or both.
If you like this veganized Jewish classic, you might also enjoy …
A selection of Jewish vegan recipes